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December 2007 - Nr. 12

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Letter from the Editor

GS Hospitality Connections


Sybille Forster-Rentmeister  

Dear Reader

It is Christmastime again! It is the time that divides people into those that love Christmas trees and those that hate them.

Let me be upfront with my opinion: I love the Christmas tree; I love Christmas and everything about it, including a touch of commercialism. The commerce connected to Christmas is what keeps the economy moving, allows people to make a living. It is up to each individual to handle that aspect of it responsibly and to their liking. What other people do with Christmas is really of no concern of mine and certainly will not be a deterrent for my own festivities. I celebrate it the way I am accustomed to from Germany.

Christmas, children, songs & poetryWhat does that mean?

It all starts a week before the first Advent Sunday. I start locating the various Christmas boxes and bins, of which there are about 10 big ones. I review and decide which colour scheme I will follow this time. I have several collected choices. No wonder, I have been doing this for over 4 decades!

This year it is classic red and silver, with a bit of gold thrown in here and there. But first I simply put up a lot of candles and a wintry display of skaters and sleighs and so on. When the First Advent arrives the Advent wreath or a display of 4 candles is gracing the table and from then on out each Sunday we will light first one then two and so on candles at every opportunity I get, like breakfast, lunch, dinner or afternoon coffee time. Each week I will add a bit more of my collected Christmas décor. Now, just after the Second Advent I have garlands on the mantle in the living room and along the hall banister. Outside along the porch are evergreens tucked into the window boxes and little lights are waiting to be put up along the banisters. A wreath is gracing the door in the front and in the back of the house.

A small tree has found its way into a corner near the fireplace and is waiting to be trimmed with more than the lights it holds just now. That will wait until the very last moment, so I can emulate the old ways and combine them with the new ones from here.

I have a Christmas room where presents and packing material are kept at the ready. We are all grown ups, so we do not hide them any more. We can wait until Christmas Eve, when we will do what we have always done: have a quiet simple dinner, read the Christmas story, sing the traditional songs, listen to some recordings of church bells from back home and leisurely unwrap the presents so lovingly wrapped up with bows and ribbons, while sipping hot red wine and Egg Liqueur, just us as a family.

I remember the last time we had special guests a few years ago. It was an older couple. The husband was rather ill and very likely celebrating his last Christmas. His wish was to have a real traditional German Christmas. He was at the right address in our house…and it was his last Christmas.

On Christmas day the traditions of old continue, including the food. In our family it is not Christmas unless there is a goose on the table. I learned how to prepare it properly with all the trimmings from my East-Prussian grandmamma.

This year, with winter arriving so early with a blast, it felt particularly wonderful preparing for this wonderful festivity, that gave mankind so much hope for so long, a hope that can be renewed each year. The Christmas Markets in the Danube Swabian Club and in Kitchener added their own magic in creating just the right feelings, as did the other Christmas gatherings in other clubs and venues. All these events contribute to a feeling of belonging and togetherness. They make us take the time to count our blessings and feel charitable towards our fellow man, they bring out the best in all of us.

I hope you have similar experiences!

We at Echo Germanica wish all of you, our readers and clients, a very Happy Christmas! May all your wishes for now and the future become true.

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister


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