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Christmas 2006

December 17-30

Written January 1

Dear Friends and Families,

Christmas has come and gone again. We stayed in Germany this season, both because we had both been to the States just a few weeks ago and because we wanted to enjoy staying at home this year. The house was done and we were able to decorate it as a Bavarian home should be decorated, with an imported, Dutch tree. Such are the new realities of the European Union.


Of course, the other challenge for a German Christmas is to see what Christmas Markets one needs to go to. All together, we did eight or nine. Visits to Wernigerode, Würtzburg, and Rothenburg warranted their own diaries but we saw others as well and this diary is to remind us of a few.

Frankfurt is still our "home" Christmas Market, because we've been there more than to any other. We now recognize where each kiosk is (they stay the same year after year) so it is comforting. We even have eating rituals. Here Marianne has a Kartoffelpuffers, fried potato pancakes, each with hundreds of calories. Every year we try them and every year we say "Why?" Tradition is fattening.

The largest Christmas Market we visit is in nearby Nürnberg. We hit it two or three times this year and, no matter when we visited, it was crowded. I was surprised at the crowd on Sunday morning, until I noticed that 80% of the folks were foreign. Nürnberg. is a very popular destination with the bus and rental car set.

However, despite the influx of tourists, Nürnberg. has a good, local following as well, whether it is a local choir singing in the cold or little kids enjoying the merry-go-round. Seeing these Market fans gets us in the spirit.

Speaking of foreign tourists at Christmas Markets, the smallest one we visit had none. The market in Pommersfelden, our home town, runs for one afternoon and evening and is free from foreign languages but is filled with lots of bi-lingual chatter (German and Frankish) and kids running around the mid-winter bonfire.

And speaking of kids, we had one of our own visiting. Gabby joined us for ten days, including visits to local mountains -- and a few Christmas Markets. It was a great addition. (More photos from Gabby's visit here.)

Our most traditional event this year was dinner on Christmas Day. We were again invited by the Hofmanns to celebrate at their Gasthaus with a traditional goose dinner. The food was wonderful, as usual, and the friendliness of the Hoffman family remains a highlight of our new "Heimat" (home town). The friendliness managed to surpass the language difficulty, even for Gabby, who hung in there smiling as the rest of us jabbered in whatever mix of German-Frankish-English that we could put together.



Finally, our Christmas and our Christmas visitor came and went. It seemed too short, as usual, but we know we can look forward to future Bavarian Christmas Seasons.

We hope your holiday season went well too, and that the new year will bring health, happiness, and self-satisfaction. And, remember, new traditions can be added every year.

John and Marianne


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