As I was wandering to my car to hang out at work for a while, Helga was throwing open her window (literally) and started asking, "Wie geht's?" and what was I doing for Christmas? Her son was coming aus die Schweitz today. It was a good way to start Christmas eve, which she said is their main celebration day here.
After work, I went to the gym, ran and came home. Decided at 1400 that I should have Christmas, so I created a massive mess in the far end of my kitchen and opened all my boxes. Some years, there's nothing. This year, quite a lot.
I was still hanging out on the floor hours later when I heard the door buzz. It was Helga with a bag of cookies, asking if I wanted to come down for Christmas tea. I said "Yes, after I put on some slippers." Donning my new pink socks, I headed downstairs.
Their Christmas tree was breathtaking- large yet sparse branches with wheat stars, balls and electric candles, one wrapped present underneath. The coffee table, set with tea and cookies and a special Christmas wine, held one of those wooden Christmas decorations with the blades on top and candles below that cause the whole thing to spin. A nativity scene was on a side table. The effect was magical.
The four of us sat around chatting for about an hour, mostly Deutsch, though their son speaks English. They cannot understand! I do think that it's rude to speak another language when others can't understand if you have a common language. Even if my Deutsch is child-speak.
After a while, they mentioned that they were going in die Kirche (church) am halb zehn (9:30) and said I was welcome to join. I said, "yes!" We were wearing rather ratty clothes, so I asked if we should change. Yes, again.
So in ten mintues I took a shower and returned with a skirt and down coat. We hopped in their car and scooted off to church.
The church was in Edelsfeld, just up the road. We entered and it was quite empty. Ernst led us to a pew near the front and we sat down. I took in the colors. Light blue pews with matching velvety seat covers, hand painted walls. Not until I was walking out (and the church had filled up) did I notice that it went up three stories and there was a gorgeous aqua organ in the back. What a sight, after singing Christmas songs in German with my landlords, listening to the choir sing "Oh Holy Night" and the 15-person brass band before and during the service.
A peaceful magical (noncommercial) evening, exactly how I think Christmas should be.