Mr. L with a Kleeschen (St. Nicolas) he made in school and a bunch of treats he got when Kleeschen left all the kids presents for December 6th.
K has commented numerous times about how odd it is to actually be able to tell someone at work. "Merry Christmas", nobody really does the "Happy Holidays" thing here. This has definitely been a fun part of Christmas because we get to say what we really feel without worry of offending someone who doesn't believe in the holiday. We found it really odd that in Europe they are more accepting of religion and religious symbols than America.
One of the other things that has really helped to get us in the Christmas spirit is the numerous Christmas Markets around the region. These markets are soo cool. Basically the town center just becomes a major attraction for everyone, and vendors come and setup shop and sell anything and everything.
A big German Pyramid display at the Trier, Germany Christmas Market.
Some random "Yeast Ball" dessert thing. It was really good...
Can you tell it was good by his clean face?
E and the kiddos enjoying the Merry-go-Round at the market.
Did we say that it can get crowded?
Random things for sale
German guy rocking Jingle Bells. Oh and behind him is an old ancient church building in Trier very pretty.
Since it was so crowded and cold, we went home early and decided that we would find a baby sitter and go just E & K to see the market by ourselves. There was so much yummy food.
Another thing that really surprised us was the party that K's work threw for all the employees kiddos. The party was amazingly fun/over-the-top. It was set up in huge tents and there were a ton of things to do, the kids really wanted to get their face painted and to get a ballon animal, so we waited in line for awhile for both of those things.
Not dandruff, just a sparkly alligator.
After paint and balloons were applied/received, it was our turn to see St. Nicolas and Black Peter. For those who aren't familiar with Mr. Peter, he is the person dressed in lack behind St. Nicolas. The tradition is that he is the one who keeps the books with all the bad kids' names in it. He also has sticks, whip, and a bag to take naughty kids away with him. But, he does have a soft side and has been know to help St. Nicolas scatter candy for the good children.
Ms. H wasn't really into the spirit at the time.
In the end the kids all got decent present from the company, a ton of,food and candy, really crazy big balloons, and a really good memory. Or as Mr. L put it, "Dad, I am really proud of me coming here!"
After we got home, we started talking about how in the US a company would never have a Santa Claus come once again for fear of offending someone. It was a great experience for our kids, and one that they still talk about a week later.
So while we miss our family and friends, the one thing that helps us to cope and fill the gaping hole in our hearts, is that we've got a great opportunity to really feel and appreciate the spirit and atmosphere of CHRISTMAS and we need to take advantage of it.
Well, for everyone who is reading, Merry Christmas, and we hope your have a Happy New Year!