Brief interlude- I've been looking at some of my writing recently and noticed that I tend to write "anyway" just about every other sentence. I also have a hyphen obsession. And I use semicolons more often that appropriate. And I end sentences with ",though." pretty often, too. I'll try to work on these things.
Hokay. Weihnachten translates to "night of incense" literally, but it just means Christmas. Christmas in Germany is celebrated on the 24th, and a little differently. For one, there are no stockings. I'm pretty sure (but not certain) that that's because the stockings in the US is a perversion of the St. Nicholas day tradition of putting shoes out for Mr. Nick. We already had that here, though, so we don't need stockings.
On the 24th I played with a brass orchester in Travemuende, a suburb of Luebeck. It was right on the coast of the Baltic, so that was very pretty. We just played carols (many of which I had never heard), but it was very nice. The saxophone player in my big band was also there with her family- none of them were playing, but they come every year- and we had hot chocolate in a little cafe beforehand. Her daughters were both very nice, and it was a very good time.
It's kind of a funny story how I ended up performing- a few days beforehand I had been Christmas shopping in Luebeck not so far from the Musikschule where my bigband practices. I really needed to use the bathroom, so I went there. A guy was there who had led one of our rehearsals when our normal director is sick, and he recognized me, and asked if I was interested in playing. I said yes, and that was that. Later, after playing, he informed me that I had earned 40 euro ($60) for performing, which was also pretty cool. Unfortunately, I don't have any good photos of the event. Here's one, but it doesn't show much:
After Travemuende, I met up the Baakes in their church, where there was more carol singing. Anke's mother was also there; she spent Weihnachten and the next few days with us.
The Baake family tradition is to make animal fodder, and then go into the woods and sing songs around a candle hanging on a pine tree. After singing, we spread the animal fodder around the tree and walk back to the house. In front of the house was a big sack filled with presents... the Weihnachtsman was there!
The Baakes have a real Christmas tree with real candles (Hannes made them!), and it's very very pretty. Anyway, we pulled the sack inside and each took turns opening a present in front of the tree. I got some nice work gloves, a groovy pirate hat, a German cookbook, a few grammar books, and ten pairs of socks. I desperately needed the socks! Later on, Sven (Anke's brother) gave me a book of German carols, with sheet music for all of them. It's a pretty cool book.
The Weihnachtman's sack
The rest of the day was more relaxing, singing, and talking. Mia played with her new Speigelreflex Canon Camera, Hannes played with a remote control helicopter, Alex also played with Hannes' helicopter, and everything was good. A wunderschoen day.