Monday, December 28, 2015

Weihnachten in Wolfenbüttel

I managed to have myself a Merry Little Christmas here in Wolfenbüttel this year! A couple weeks ago I was introduced to Ute and Gottfried Etzold, a couple of retired academics that have lived in Wolfenbüttel for 30 years. The Etzold's often invite over the fellows who will be staying in Wolfenbüttel over the Christmas break, so they asked if I would like to join them for Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas. Though they speak little English, and I am still dubious about my German, I could not turn down an offer for company during Christmas! Plus, when Ute introduced herself, she told me that she is like my grandmother because she's 80 years old now-- Those of you who know me at all know that the fastest way to my heart is to be my Grandma.

Drs. Ute and Gottfried Etzold
The week before Christmas, Ute and Gottfried came to our daily coffee at the library to give me an "itinerary" for the Christmas festivities. It was even in a plastic presentation sleeve, so I was sold! My favorite part of the letter, which of course was in German was to wear "Zwiebelkleidung" - meaning onion clothes-- meaning layers. So now that's my new favorite German word.

So Christmas Eve finally came, and I met Frau Etzold in front of the library. We drove to their house here in Wolfenbüttel where Gottfried was already busy in the kitchen! We enjoyed a typical German tea with some cheese and bread underneath the large Advent wreath in the sun room of their home. We talked about where I am from, where I have been since coming to Germany, and what I am working on for my dissertation, and we did our best to all understand each other.

Another couple came over a little later to go to a Krippenspiel (Nativity play) in a nearby town called Gross Vahlberg. The Krippenspiel was in a quaint little church with a great altarpiece, and the kiddos did a great job! Afterward, we talked with some of Ute and Gottfried's friends and then went back to the house.

Krippenspiel in Gross Vahlberg

Gross Vahlberg
Gottfried had prepared dinner, being mindful of the fact that I am a vegetarian. Dinner was very nice, and so was the company!! We gathered in the sitting room with the Christmas tree for dessert and little gifts. Ute and Gottfried were super thoughtful and gave me a gift!! They found a book about the history of the library here, its collectors and collections, in English! Ute was very proud of the fact that they found a book in English for me. Gottfried surprised Ute with fancy garnet earrings, and the way they looked at each other while she petted his cheek and called him "Liebling" (darling) was beautiful.


Their Christmas tree was outstanding! It was not terribly large, but it was decorated with shiny ornaments, tinsel, and real candles! The little candle-holders were from Gottfried's tree when he was a child. Ute made and painted the Nativity that sat under the tree when she was young in Dresden.

Gottfried's Candle-Holders
Ute's Nativity
After such a lovely evening, I went to the late-night Christmas Eve service at the Hauptkirche. We sang carols, listened to the choir sing carols, and the Lutheran priest gave a brief sermon.

And when I got home I Skyped with my Schmoopie and my family in Texas! At first, Jeremy and I were Skyping while Pam wrapped presents, and then Bruce came home with Grandma in tow, and then Blaze even arrived! It was almost as good as being there!

Skyping with Grandma and looking at her festive Christmas sweater!
On Christmas Day, Jonathan and I cooked in the Anna-Vorwerk-Haus kitchen. Jonathan is a new friend here from Chicago who also could not go home for Christmas, so we decided to do something special! The Wednesday before Christmas, I went to the market and stocked up on the essential veggies (mostly potatoes) that one needs for a proper Christmas feast (without meat). I even found Pillsbury cinnamon rolls at the grocery store, which is a Christmas morning staple in my house! So Jonathan and I ate cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and snacked on cheese ball while cooking cheesy taters, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, and waldorf salad! Of course we listened to all the Christmas classics while doing so-- Elvis, Charlie Brown, Rudolph ...

Green bean casserole, cheesy taters, waldorf salad, and sweet potatoes!
Master of the Christmas Kitchen!
The most important dish of Thanksgiving & Christmas: Sweet potatoes
After our nice lunch, we both went home to skype with America. I got to call Jeremy and my family while they were opening presents, and so we all opened together! I loved getting to see them all open the treasures I sent from Germany, and getting to tell them thank-you for all my great prizes too!! Fun was had by all. For not being able to be home on Christmas, the wonders of Skype really are the next best thing! Jeremy Skyped me again when they got to the big family Christmas party in Canyon with Grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins, and kiddos. I got to see everyone and say Merry Christmas!

Would everyone just look at how beautiful and perfect my family is?  Imagine Uncle Baby, Aunt Cindy, Shane, Sarah, Kaelyn, Taylor, and Tyler are there too!
On the day after Christmas, Ute came to pick me up for lunch from the Feierabendhaus. She asked if Jonathan would join us, and I told her that he was working and needed to finish a chapter today. She demanded to know where he was so that she could tell him that he needed to come eat lunch! Needless to say, he gave in. How could you refuse such a beautiful soul ?! So Jonathan and I ate lunch with the Etzold's, and again it was great company and food. The Etzold's had us write in the guestbook that they always use when they have guests and fellows over to their home. I wrote my entry in English because my German is not good enough to really communicate how grateful I am that incredible people like the Etzold's exist.

That evening, I met the Etzold's at the Hauptkirche to see the choir and symphony perform excerpts from Johann Sebastian Bach's Weihnachtsoratorium (Christmas Oratorio). Once again, the music in the church was outstanding, and once again the Etzold's were tremendous people and friends. It was a beautiful way to cap off the Christmas season!

The Hauptkirche all dressed up for Christmas!

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful Christmas you had with such dear and generous people! I enjoy your blog, videos and photos so much. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us! Did you ever get the pkg I mailed you over 2 weeks ago? Love you!