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December 2000 - Nr. 12
Merry Christmas and the best of Seasons from Echo Germanica
Sybille Forster-Rentmeister2000

Dear Reader

Our festive season is in full swing. Most people I know are attending so many Christmas parties, they are already quite sick of the whole affair. Those of course are also mostly the people that say that Christmas is too commercialized. Allow me to point out to them, that Christmas is exactly what you yourself make it. Nothing else! And any feelings we might have about this celebration are created largely by ourselves.

I recall years when I attended so many parties that I did not have adequate time to prepare my own house for what should be the most wonderful celebration of the year. I remembered my mother looking rather harassed, sticking her head out of the kitchen door and saying to my father: "Why don’t you take Sybille to church to place the flowers in the nativity scene."

She needed me out of the way to prepare all the trimmings in secrecy. And even though I enjoyed tremendously these customs and traditions surrounding Christmas, I had no idea then how much work is really involved. Only all those years later, when my responsibilities grew, did I realise and appreciate fully what my parents had done for me.

When I realized this I made a few decisions. I would not allow myself to run ragged from party to party, but instead choose carefully and explain that I cannot be everywhere. Most people understand. They really do! This decision also lengthened the tremendous pleasure of the season by getting together earlier and later than the actual season subscribes. And who says that the spirit of Christmas is or should be confined to just a few weeks of the year? The calendar emphasises and commemorates certain historical or other events with special significance, like a religious relevance, to us. Each culture has such a calendar, delineating the development of its history, assigning certain events importance, so we are reminded of our agreements as a society.

In today’s world we live side by side with other cultures, other religions. We are no longer isolated in our own little world of believes. We had to learn to grant others the right to their practises, just like we expect the same right for ourselves. Nowadays we opt not to go to war every time someone does not want to join our church or adopt our philosophy. We try to explain our realities and what moves us in an attempt to bring about understanding or at the very least tolerance. In this endeavour we find occasionally that there are still people about who cannot adjust to this new global trend. In some countries attempts are made to exclude the existence of some groups. I can only imagine what causes them to so. Religious differences should not be cause for disputes but give opportunity for dialogue with the purpose of creating understanding.

Christmas is not only about one religion celebrating the birth of its saviour. It is not about gifts but about being giving. It is not about being right or being wrong, it is about allowing the right to choose. If commerce enters into it then it is of our choosing. We can either participate or not. But we do not have to turn our back to everything surrounding Christmas. All we have to do is choose what is right for us, what we want to do for our family and friends, and also for ourselves.

I surely am a very busy person, but no one will take away the time I need to create "our" Christmas. I start early and add on as I go along. Over the weeks the house slowly transforms itself into a winter wonder world. Bit by bit Christmas ornaments find their way onto the windowsills and onto the mantle. Every week a few specialties are added on while shopping. Specialties are being horded and prepared for. I just never manage to bake the cookies I remember from my childhood and rely on well meaning friends to provide them for me. Otherwise the packaged varieties will do just fine. By the time Christmas arrives only the tree has to be trimmed and the special and traditional meals have to be prepared.

So you say: It’s all in the planning! Perhaps, but for me it is a way of life before, during and after the Christmas season. Everyone who comes to my house will get a bit of my Christmas spirit along the way, as I am creating it, or as I am slowly dismantling it long after New Years.

Commercial? Not in my house, never was, never will be! It is in the way I create it, not in the way the world is. May the world be what it is wants to be, I create my own environment, which, by the way, was already recommended in Holy Scriptures. Nowhere does it say to drift aimlessly to the tune of countless whims of others. I highly recommend it.

But no matter how you celebrate Christmas or the equivalent thereof, I wish all of you on behalf of all of us at Echo Germanica a magical time, full of pleasant surprises, warmth and a peaceful heart.

Merry Christmas!

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister

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As the editor of Echo Germanica Sybille reflects on cultural, artistic, political and daily events within the German-Canadian landscape.
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Sybille Forster-Rentmeister, editor, editor-in-chief of Echo Germanica, comments, cultural, artistic, political, daily events, German-Canadian, Toronto, Ontario, Canada,

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