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Holiday Meme

I found this meme over at Frippin Frappin Crazy and just liked it.
By the way, I just love Christmas. But you probably already knew. So, here are my answers...

Weihnachtsmarkt06 026Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
First a Hot Chocolate, then an Egg Nog, and then a mulled wine.
Yup, sounds great ...

Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
I don't know. Santa never brought me any gifts. My gifts were brought by the Christkindle ("christ child". By the way, that's where "Kris Kringle" got his name). But the Christkindle is more like an angel. Santa delivers the gifts in the northern part of Germany, but here in the south the Christkindle has to do the work.
Back to the question: the Christkindle wraps presents. Of course!

Colored or white lights?
White. Sometimes real candles.

Do you hang mistletoe?
Unfortunately this custom is more or less unknown in Germany. However, I remember one year my mom hang one. But the entire kissing thing is unknown here.

When do you put your decorations up?
On 1st of Advent I put up an "Adventskranz" (advent wreath), some candles, maybe some angels and "little" things. The christmas tree in Germany is put up on December 24th.

Favorite Holiday memory as a child?
All my Christmases were great. I have no special favorite.
Worst memory however was when my mom and I got stuck in an elevator on 2nd Christmas day because there was a blackout due to a heavy storm. We wanted to visit my grandparents (that's where the entire family meets on 2nd Christmas day).

What is your favorite holiday dish?
When I was younger my mom made a special pie on "Heiliger Abend" (christmas eve). The pie was filled with chicken, mushrooms, and a cream sauce. It's my favourite holiday dish. Unfortunately my mom doesn't prepare it anymore.

When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
What??? Santa isn't real???
Poor children in the northern part of Germany. Their parents are telling them lies. I'm so lucky to have the Christkind deliver them. And the Christkind is real, right?!
Well, I don't know how old I was. I guess about 7 or 8...

Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Of course. In Germany every child gets his/her presents on Christmas Eve. Opening gifts on Christmas morning is unknown here.

How do you decorate your tree?
With white candles (uhm, the candles aren't white, but their light is), and ornaments.

Snow, Love it or Dread it?
I think I'm lucky to live in an area where we have warm summers and cold winters. And of course, a real Christmas needs snow. And I love snow. But, to be honest. If it went away right after christmas I wouldn't mind either.

Can you ice skate?
As graceful as an elephant.

Do you remember your favorite gift?
I still remember many, many gifts I got. But I can't select a favorite one.

What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Seeing my family again. And it's a big reunion each year, because some relatives that live abroad are coming home for the holidays. And if I ever move to New York (keep your fingers crossed), I think I will come home for Christmas as well.

What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Uhm ... I like everything. But the typical Christmas sweets here in Germany like gingerbread and other "Weihnachtsbredla" (christmas cookies) are best.

What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Spending the holidays with the family. Lame answer, I know. But that's really the best part of Christmas.

What tops your tree?
Nothing.

Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
I like ... wait ... oh ... you're talking about presents. That's quite different.
I prefer receiving, because I'm very bad at finding gifts for somebody.

What is your favorite Christmas song?
Sounds odd, but I like the typical American ones best.

Candy canes, yuck or yum?
Uhm ... I'm not really into candy canes. But they're quite uncommon in Germany.

Do you like Christmas music?
Of course! I like traditional songs, but also new ones. And Last Christmas by Wham has a special meaning for me.
Last Christmas, I gave you my heart... *sing*

Forever Young

It really hit me hard, when my 30th birthday came in July. Harder than anyone of my friends, harder than I ever expected. It's a little bit early for a midlife crisis, isn't it? But--you all know--it was good for me. I read some very interesting books and changed many things in my life. I'm not only losing weight, I'm also working on staying young. The books I'm reading are all from the same author, but on different topics. The first was about vitamins which made me curious, and then one about dieting, that's when it all really started. The last one I read was about being forever young. The good thing is, it's always narrowing down to the same things. So what I'm doing does help me lose weight, but also stay young. The name of the whole way of life is called forever young. There might be some companies with that name, but I don't mean them.

There was a show on German TV called "Diät-Duell" (engl. "diet duel"). There were four teams. One team did Atkins/Low-Carb, one Weight-Watchers, one Brigitte (famous German magazine for women, they have their own diet), and one group did "forever young". They're not really comparable since forever young isn't really a diet. Anyway, the results were amazing. The forever young team lost most of the weight, and their percentage of body fat decreased by nearly twice as much compared to the other groups. So, the forever young team won the duel. And it was a very obvious win.
 

Team Body Fat Loss Weight Loss
Brigitte Diät 8,8% 70,8 lb
Atkins/Low Carb 8,0% 86,4 lb
Weight Watchers 9,1% 86,6 lb
Forever Young 17,8% 127,5 lb


I never saw the diet duel show, because I can't receive the station, I just heard of the results after two months of duelling, and it showed me I'm doing the right thing ...

Happy Birthday Grandpa

Today is my grandpa's birthday. It's him on the left, next to him is Granny, and on the right is my mom. The anual fall birthday-marathon is on the home stretch. Gramps was in hospital very often this year, but I hope he'll be around for some more years. I love my grandparents, they're very cordial and I love to visit them. Next time I'm gonna see them is on Christmas. I'm looking forward to seeing my whole family there again. Usually we're all visiting them on December 26th, wich is a holiday in Germany (called 2nd Christmas Day). Yes, we're having two of them.

Nikolaustag — Have you been naughty or nice?

Today is Nikolaustag (Day of St. Nick) in Germany. St. Nick often gets confused wrongfully with Santa Claus. But Santa Claus (German: Weihnachtsmann) is not the same as St. Nick (German: Nikolaus).

In Germany St. Nick is coming today. He has a book where all actions of everybody are recorded (I guess some secret service members would pay quite much to have a copy of that book). On December 6th he is riding from house to house on his white horse. He's carrying a huge sack full of small gifts as a reward for all children that have been nice. He's a nice and heavenly creature. Sounds good, doesn't it? Well, there's also Knecht Ruprecht, his menial. But Knecht Ruprecht is a dark creature. Some say it's the devil himself. If the book says that you've been naughty, St. Nick won't give you any gift, instead you'll get a painful spanking from Knecht Ruprecht that you won't forget for the next year. "Just wait until Ruprecht comes" is still a common threat in German homes. So either way, chocolate or spanking, it sounds like fun, huh? Just kidding, And just for the records: I'm not into spanking at all. Far from it!

Each area has a slightly different Tradition. It's also very common to put your boots in front of your door during the night, and when you wake up on the morning of December 6th they're filled with little gifts like chocolates, nuts and oranges.

So, in my area it's a small gift in the boots, and a bigger gift from St. Nick himself in the evening. He usually wants to hear a poem or a song before he's willing to hand over the gifts. Although there are no reports of children that really got spanked during the last years, Nikolaus is still commanding respect. When I was about 3 or 4 years old I was afraid of Nikolaus, although I've always been nice.

Three Musketeers — Each for All, and All for Each

Yesterday I saw the musical 3 Musketiere (3 Musketeers). It's a new musical in Stuttgart, it just started two weeks ago. Yesterday it was a special performance. Stage Entertainment, the company that operates almost all musical theaters and shows in Germany donated the entire show to a local Anti-AIDS organization, i.e. the profit is completely donated to that organization for their projects. They do that regularly and I usually have tickets to that special shows. I think that is very generous of Stage Entertainment, and I'm glad this huge company is supporting that organization.

The musical was absolutely amazing, I like it very much. The music fits my taste quite well, it's a real ear candy, and the stage design made a great visual impact. The story in brief is about the good musketeers that fight the bad. The last song's title was the motto "Each for All, and All for Each", and there were dozends of musketeers dancing. Whenever one needed help, every other musketeer helped. And each one was helping when he realized another one needs help.
I don't want to elaborate to much on that topic, everybody knows what it means. It was very touching.

After the show I as I was walking home from the lightrail station I suddenly realized why this song touched me that much. I'm a very loyal friend and I was always helping the weak. I usually was a class representative, and I tried to help whoever was suffering from injustice.

Stuttgart Christmas Market

For more than 300 years we have a Christmas market in Stuttgart. It's one of the biggest and nicest in Europe. The festively illuminated city center - with a medieval flair due to the Old Castle, the towers of the Collegiate Church and the grand Baroque castle facility of the New Castle - forms the wonderful backdrop of the Stuttgart Christmas Festival.

I like the roofs of the little vendor booths, because they're individually decorated. I visited the Christmas Market (or "Weihnachtsmarkt" as we're calling it), and here are some impressions.

 

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And you can go ice scating in front of the new castle.

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Of course you can get mulled wine ("Glühwein") everywhere. I suppose it sounds odd to some Americans, because I know that you can't have alcoholic drinks on the street. But in Germany there is no problem with that at all.

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Some booths at the Schillerplatz ...

Weihnachtsmarkt06 012At the old castle ...


 

Weihnachtsmarkt06 015In front of the Stiftskirche (Collegiate Church) ...


 

Weihnachtsmarkt06 016More Impressions ...


 

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These sugar canes aren't typical for Christmas here. But I guess it's a homage to the many Americans that live in Stuttgart.


 

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Weihnachtsmarkt06 057I hope you enjoyed the little visit at our Christmas Market. This won't be the last post about Christmas, because I'm still loving Christmas like a little child.

Last Christmas I gave you my heart ...

Yup, Christmas is coming. Today I heard Last Christmas by Wham for the first time this year on radio. You know what that means: Christmas is around.
I remember the trip with Markus to New York for Christmas shopping. It was the trip where I also met a nice guy. Markus picked me up at home in the night. If I remember correctly it was 3.30am. I sat in his car, he turned on the radio and the next song coming up was Last Christmas. We both thought that it perfectly fits to our trip. We heard that song hundred times during that trip. Not on purpose, but it was on everywhere. So this song became the theme song for this trip.


Jenny, thanks for an legendary trip to the Big Apple. I hope we'll have many more. Your bosom friend Rita

A couple days ago while I was looking for a magic book that I've bought during that trip I found a collage that Markus made for me with pictures of the trip. "Rita and Jenny on tour". Rita and Jenny were the names we referred to each other. If he was a girl his parents would have named him Rita, and my name would be Jennifer if I were a girl.

Ok, back to the collage. He wrote some very nice things on it. I've translated some of them and put them in those gray boxes and scatter them all over this post.


You are and you will always be my soul mate. Whatever may happen, I hope this will never change.

Sadly, we had some issues right after the trip. I haven't seen him since April. But I can't forget the absolutely great times we spent together. He was "my big sister". I would be so happy if we were still so close like in that time. *sigh*


I would go on another trip with you anytime. I'll never have a better friend than you.

Actually I was thinking that I'm over this drama. I really was sure this is over, but when I found that collage it really hurt very much. Again. Last time we exchanged some short instant messages I said that I'm sad we're not good buddies anymore. He said that we still are, but each of us is busy and we kind of adjusted our lives and moved on.

Stick to your principles. I'm not the only one who loves you the way you are.

Jesus, it's amazing and frightening what feelings a little song can bring up on a Monday evening...

Happy Thanksgiving

Yet another great US holiday I would love to spend with my friends in New York City. Alas, I'm still stuck in f*ing old Germany where people don't even know what Thanksgiving is. Anyway, I hope you're having a blast at your turkey dinner. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.


Thanksgiving promise: I know, I wasn't blogging much lately. Somehow I feel very uninspired. I'll be back in a few days.

Carnival

Here's another one about German customs. Today: Carnival. Every year on November 11th, 11.11am, a very annoying time starts and lasts till mid of February. Sigh!

Fortunately it's not a big deal in my state, but in many cities there are big parades, people dress up, and no matter which channel you switch on, the f*ing parades are everywhere.

I don't want to be a party-pooper, but I just don't get why people just freak out for no reason, and why such sh*t needs to go on for almost 4 months...

Martinstag

Today it's St. Martin's Day in Germany. On a cold day Martin rode on his horse when he saw a hobo. Martin didn't hesitate, ripped his coat in two and shared generously.

It's a German custom that little children sing special St. Martin songs while walking with self made lanterns in small groups after sunset. In some areas there is also some "Süßes oder es gibt Saures" ("trick or treat").

I remember doing that in kindergarten as well. It was big fun. After the walk with the lanterns all kids and parents went to one's home where there was hot chocolate for the kids and mulled wine for the adults.

Happy Birthday, Mom

The birthday marathon in my family continues. Today's Mom's birthday.

Happy Birthday, Mom. You're the best Mom ever!

And I really mean it. Many people are saying that their Mom is the best. But mine really is. I'm very thankful to have such an amazing mother.

She's coming to Stuttgart today and going to pick me up later, then we're gonna have dinner together in a very fancy restaurant in her town. It's my favourite restaurant, the food is just amazing. They're preparing everything from scratch. And they bake tiny little cookies to serve with a coffee after dinner. They are sooo delicious.

I'm gonna be back on Sunday evening. Take care.

High in the sky

Today I had a cup of tea on top of the Fernsehturm (television tower) in Stuttgart. It was the first television tower in the world, and it has become the technical prototype for nearly all television towers throughout the whole world. It was built from 1954 to 1956. Before that time they only had big antennas to broadcast television signals. You can see the tower from nearly every place in the city. It has been landmarked 20 years ago and is a famous buildig for this area. There are 7 floors in the head of the tower. Two observation decks, one floor contains a café, one floor hosts a restaurant, one floor for the kitchen, and the lowest floor of the head is for the technical staff. You can have a wide look over the city, the vineyards of the Neckar-Valley and then over the Swabian landscape to the Alb in the South over the Black Forest in the West and the Odenwald in the North.

Last time I've been on top of the tower was back in school or with my family when I was about 7 years old. I hadn't planned the visit of the tower and unfortunately didn't take my cam with me. Actually Jim wanted to buy a kitchen for his new appartment, and I joined him. But the shop was very crowded, we didn't even get a parking lot, so we decided to have a tea on the tower instead. Hence, I took this picture off their website. They say that the Space Needle in Seattle was built by someone who visited this tower and liked the idea of a rotating restaurant in the sky. I've been told that a picture of this television tower is in the Space Needle. I regret I didn't take my camera with me, but you can have a look at the live webcam here.

Update: The restaurant is closed since last year. They did some reconstruction on the head of the tower last fall (and I guess they ran out of money), but I've read that they're going to perform plays up there. It'll be a theater up in the sky.
Talking about money. The webpage says that after 5 years they got back all the costs of the tower just by the visitors. I can't believe they've earned that much just by the elevator fees.
And something else I forgot to mention on Saturday.

Happy Halloween!

I hope all of you have a scary nice Halloween! Unfortunately we don't really have Halloween here, but tomorrow is at least a work-free holiday.

No need to say that I love Halloween and I'm sad that we don't really do that here. There are some little parties in some clubs, but there's no "trick-or-treat", no pumpkins, no dress-up ...

Last year I was in New York for Halloween, and I was celebrating with my friends. We had dinner together in a fancy restaurant next to the parade in Manhattan. We watched the parade and had drinks from the restaurant. That was really cool. And I miss my friends so much. One wrote a card to everybody else with a personal wish, that was so sweet of him.

Anyway, I hope your Halloween is better than mine, have a great evening, and may your tricks always treat you nice!

Granny's Birthday

Thursday Granny got 80. Unfortunately my Grandpa had to go to the hospital again, he couldn't celebrate with his wife. My Mom postponed all of her clients, and we went to see Granny very early in the afternoon and stayed for the rest of the day. Her other children (my aunts and uncles) were working and dropped by for just a few minutes each. Today we're gonna have a big dinner with the entire family in a fancy restaurant. And of course I don't have real internet access here, only my cell phone. I'll be back on Sunday.

Hogwarts: Enrolled!

After I've posted about magic, Micha (the friend who also does magic) asked if I was up to practice magic together with him regularly. We both hadn't been practicing much lately, but we both wanted to. Now we're meeting every Monday evening. This is really cool. Doing card tricks together is much more fun, you can leverage from the experience of the other, you can try things in front of somebody who knows the secrets and who can tell if the effect is good and done properly.

Last Monday was our first meeting and it was really fun. We learned some new moves and I'm practicing much at home again. I'm really happy about that.

Oh, please, no puns or jokes about Siegfried and Roy. He's not a queer fairy like me :-)

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