Sunday, January 31, 2010

2010... January

Hello there stranger….. life has been very busy and I admit to have been spending my internet time on reading other people’s interesting blogs. So many interesting people out there with so many interesting projects, stories and causes. The beginning of the year is already over. January is a month of taking stock, of thinking about the future and re-evaluating goals for me. I have ambitious plans for this year and I’ll let you know if I achieve them. I read somewhere that telling people about your goals does motivate you, but also gives you a milder form of the kind of kick you get from achieving them. I’ve decided to tell only few what I aim for to make sure I am not wasting any of that motivation.

January was a wonderful month. It started with friends and family in the Eifel over New Year. We took a three day break with friends, invited family over to celebrate and had a great time.  Here we all are on New Year's Day at Hellental.

It has been really cold here this year and the snow continues to fall. I now know why I could feel the winter looming in September. It is a biggy this year. But contrary to other years, I am enjoying it. We have had snow lying (almost continuously) since the 18th December. That is not usual for around here. Towns are running out of salt to keep the streets clear. Having said that I think we live in the only part of town that isn’t clearer anyway. I think that adds to the charm of the area. It makes it seem a little more natural and extends the park over the road to our place. The snow has kept the city quieter than it would normally be. How does snow do that? It is such silent weather (at least around here). The nights have been long and quiet.

Y and I borrowed The Tomten from the International Library here in Düsseldorf (a great selection of English media for all ages and such friendly staff). I got it out after reading this post about how it inspired a little girl. Well to be honest, after reading it several times with Y, I was bored. Nothing happens, this Tomten (a kind of gnome) just runs around at night talking to sleeping animals about the summer. The copy we have has badly printed illustrations to add. Well after Christmas I tried to take it back to the library but all of a sudden it seemed to fit the season so well. The nights even in the city are thick, dark, long and cold. I suddenly could appreciate this slow story where the cold and dark permeate and the animals dreaming of summer. So it is now still inhabiting Y’s bookcase. 
Apart from being dark and cold, we’ve been celebrating. The family got together to celebrate a very special person, our Frau P. who has looked after this family for over 25 years. She has loved, cooked and cleaned three generations of the family. She is always there to help make things possible, a hug for the kids that need consolation, cake that needs baking, a sock that needs mending, a household that needs keeping in order, … she is our good wife (as my mother would say) and we are grateful and thankful for that.  

January also continued to bring us lovely gifts. We especially appreciated two parcels from the States. One full of wonderful presents from New York….thank you! And one from Bar Harbor, ME. We were touched to receive a delicious cake from the lovely people we stayed The Birches in Sothwest Harbor (Mt. Desert Island, ME). It is such a shame that they are so far away as otherwise we’d go there every year! If you are looking for the perfect break, I suggest you check out The Birches. Rocky, Dick and Susi will spoil you rotten, the house is spacious and luxurious, you can watch the humming birds feeding in the garden or stroll down to the beach and wonder what life’d be like if you were on the yatch berthed in the bay. Pretty close to paradise in my opinion.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Christmas 2009

2010 has started and I am on my way to work. A little while in which I can either sleep along with my fellow passengers, take the time to reflect on the past few days or think about the future. This morning I am taking the time to reflect on the past fortnight. The Christmas and New Year celebrations were fun. We spent a lot of time with family and friends, ate excellent food lovingly prepared, opened packages which showed the givers had given much thought to the receivers, and enjoyed the weather.

On Christmas Eve we went as a family to the family Christmas service. I thought it was done really well. The local primary school acted the Nativity and the meaning of Christmas was spelt out very clearly. The blatant message wasn’t enjoyed by all, but I felt it was good to be reminded without any misunderstanding what Christmas is about and about how good our lives are. The following days were very family intensive and with 5 little ones (and quite a lot of big ones) a noisy affair. We had them all around for dinner on Boxing Day. It always makes me appreciate what having 18 people for dinner entails! Thanks to my inlaws for having us the other two days.

Despite the thoughtfulness and generosity of the presents we were given, this time of year never fails to make me question the amount of presents we receive. Funny, I love buying, making (doesn’t happen half as much as I would like!!) giving and receiving presents. I less like having things. Of course I like the things I have been given or we have been given, the whole ritual is wonderful but we seem to have so much. All of the things we have and then all the new things. Somehow when they are all together they take up so much space. I am still mulling over these thoughts.