Monday, November 30, 2009

Welcoming December

With Thanksgiving behind us the holiday season is finally officially opened and I have started to decorate the halls...

My youngest is this years Santa's helper...

Being in Germany reminded me again so much of my traditional decorations and even though I do not consider my decorating style traditional I am a traditionalist when it comes to all sorts of holiday decorations.

Christmas market in Nuernberg

and Berlin

Memories, collected toys and ornaments, handed down nutcrackers and smoking man, all that finds a place on mantel and window sills, tables and the piano. I am am not afraid of our private little kitschy stuff, the embroidered table clothes I would otherwise bypass, wooden little figurines and holiday china.

I pull all the stops and let go! I do enjoy wonderfully stylish decorations - elsewhere - but at home I am comfortable with the same every year, maybe some additional things, but nothing less! We come home and start a fire, my youngest (9) still builds villages and train sets from the old wooden toy box and we plan ahead when and what to shop for our comfort foods for Christmas, our Polish/German heritage is in full swing!

Between us we have Stollen and Makowiec (poppy seed pastry), borzsch, potato salad and Wiener sausages, carp and goose, red cabbage and potato dumplings. It's a long feast and we indulge without sorrow! There are Lebkuchen and Christmas cookies, chocolate, marzipan and nougat, chocolate Santa's and sugar angels...marshmallows get roasted and we get sticky stuff all over...

PS: I have been asked about the German 'tradition' of the Xmas - pickle and I can tell you I have never heard of it before I came to the United States...
So, according to my knowledge it's a rather ungrounded myth! Or a good sales trick...

Writing holiday mail is very special and the list gets longer every year! We write by hand and we do not print any mass greetings.
The children have Advent calenders, counting the days from December 1ST to the
We visit every year the holiday bazaar at the German School and enjoy good things from back home.
We see the decorations at the Botanical Garden in the Bronx with the train show and visit the holiday market on Union Square in New York City!

On December 6TH is St.Nikolas Day, everybody here at home gets a boot filled with sweets, the naughty ones a bunch of twigs with a piece of coal...we have all been very good!!!
We go to the Polish district in Brooklyn and bring home my husbands traditional treats.

Every Sunday 'til Christmas adds a light at the Advent wreath, a tradition I brought over from my home country Germany.

Being traditional we also do not get a tree until 10 days before Christmas, at home the tree was actually only decorated on Christmas Eve.
So we compromised for our enjoyment and I slowly add to my decorating until Christmas Eve.

We play music and sing, the kids usually perform one thing or other for us and we simply have ton's of fun!

There is one thing missing though: Usually our families are far back in Europe and apart from phone calls we spend the time by ourselves. We so miss them all, the older boys, our parents, my siblings and their families!

I just love this time of the year, romantic and warm, sensual and full of good cheer!
What's the holidays for you? A stylish affair? Family traditions, a jumble, a mix?
Reunions, large or a quiet dinner for two?
However it might be, Kwanza, Hannukah and Christmas: Here we come!!!

Here you can find a receipe for Gluehwein - mulled wine - a delicious drink for the wintertime! Just not for the children...they get hot choclate with wipped cream!

Enjoy those weeks and do not forget to take time out to relax!!!
To sit and smell the candles, hear the music and the message behind it all:


Pictures all from our own Christmas' past and present, Christkindel market in Nuernberg via google image

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanks, Clarity

Clarity of Clarity in Wonderland, one of my favorite bloggers, bestowed me with the Kreativ Blogger Award.
I am honored, I regard Clarity's thoughtful posts about life and philosophy, her quotes and musings as one of the most original in the blogosphere. Thank you, friend!

Go, see what I mean...her true clarity of thinking moves me every time!


Berlin's Winterfeldt market

Berlin has many beautiful markets. One is held in the city's neighborhood Schoeneberg at Winterfeldt Platz and is one of Berlin's nicest outdoor markets.
Open Wednesdays and Saturdays it attracts regularly hundreds of people, shopping for their weekly fresh produce, savoring the sights and smells of flowers, cheeses, coffees and teas, sausages, meats and baked goods!
More then that, one can find seasonal articles like Xmas decorations right now, toys, clothes, household articles, candles, ceramics, jewelry, food to go, small cafes with offers from espresso to soups, couscous to Berliner sausage with mustard...It's a paradise to stroll through, a sight to behold and fun to shop.
We spend the better part of Saturday there and we not only enjoyed every minute, I took pictures for you to get a glimpse and shopped for small gifts, things, I could possibly bring back to New York without going over the weight allowance from the airlines...I wished I had a container to fill for travel overseas...

I even found a stand which sold dental equippment and we all laughed about the oddity of it...

These are a few of the things I brought home from the market:

A small smoking man, a Saxony tradition for the Christmas time, with small cones to burn, lovely holiday scents I so vivdly remember from my childhood. By now I have a small collection of those and my children love to pull them out comes December each year.
Some felted mats under candles or anywhere else, a wooden play dagger for my youngest boy, a small angel to preside over the coffee table and a lovely butter cow...

Afterwards we all went to a large playground, one of many in Berlin, to climb and jump, but this is another Berlin story which I will tell you soon!
By writing about those days I overcome my sorrow to have left all this so fast behind, sharing it with you brings wonderful memories!

Hope your Thanksgiving weekend is filled with fun and relaxation!


All pictures by V.Zlotkowski
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