Christmas Away from Home

Nothing brings home the significance of Christmas traditions like spending a Christmas away from home.

Glühwein at christmas

Glühwein or hot spiced (mulled) red wine is a wonderful German tradition.

My first Christmas away from home was spent with a family in southern Germany. There were many parts of their family traditions that I enjoyed enough to adopt later. I loved their beautiful advent wreaths and calendars. However, I missed the big Christmas tree going up early in the season. Even the wonderful chocolate and cookies didn’t quite make up for that.

To be honest, I found their Christmas tree erecting tradition somewhat scandalous. One parent took the children out for a very long walk on Christmas Eve day. They came back to find a fully decorated tree brought to their home by no other than the Christ child. Continue reading

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Really Really Bad Salesman

Bad salesman in Garmisch

Image Credit Wikipedia Commons

When husband and I decided to buy a piece of furniture painted in the traditional Bavarian folk-art style, or biggest obstacle was a bad salesperson.

Living in southern Germany, my husband and I came to love the Bauernmalerei folk-art furniture style. We traveled to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, situated at the foot of the Zugspitze Alp, where we hoped to select and order a hand-made Bavarian keepsake.

This was in the late 1980’s when a strong US-Dollar motivated hordes of American tourists to visit picturesque Germany. Beautiful Garmisch, with its painted buildings and cobblestones streets, was a popular destination.

We found a small store that had beautiful hand-painted armoires that we immediately fell in love with. Since the shop owner was studiously ignoring us, we sought him out and asked him, in our fluent German, what the price ranges.

“Teuer [Expensive],” he responded.

Matt and I looked at each other. Ok, so he didn’t particularly like Americans. He probably had tons come into his shop and leave again without purchasing anything. We got it. As ex-pats, we sometimes cringed at the behavior of busloads of US-tourists. Un-offended (or not very offended), we persevered.

“How expensive?” I asked.

“Sehr [Very].”

At this point, I was torn between wanting to giggle and wanting to stomp out. Luckily, Matt remained calm.

Bad salesman very Expensive Armoire “Could you be more exact?” he asked, pointing at an exemplar that we had particularly admired. “How much would one like this cost?”

“It depends.”

Yep. He hated American tourists, or possibly any tourist, or possibly anyone.

“Depends on what?” I asked testily, fully expecting him to tell me it depended on how much he hated the individual wanting a quote.

He grumpily pointed out features of carving and painting that influenced pricing. Finally, after pointing out the features we liked, we got a price out of the man.

Despite his misogynist temperament, we loved his work and decided to order an armoire from him. We still love it, twenty-plus years later. When visitors admire it, we enjoy telling them how it was “very expensive.”

© Laura Hedgecock 2013
Interested in sharing your memories? My website, Treasure Chest of Memories, has tips, resources, and a blog about memory sharing.

Tied in Knots

There’s a display of a Yakama time ball at the Simthsonian Native American Museum in Washington, D.C.   It ‘s a tradtion of the Yakama people that the rest of us could well learn from.

The twine in the ball represents life and the ball  itself represents a lifestory. Like life, it’s not perfectly spooled.  Like life, it’s got a few knots in it.   It’s not a story mean for others to interpret.  It’s a life story for a woman to savor or share.

The Yakama, rather than trying to mask the knots of life,  preserve or celebrate  the memory of those knots (i.e., events) with a bead.   Some of the knots represent happy events, such as a marriage or birth of a child.  Others represent a times of hurt, grieving, or personal growth.

If you think about it, we too should celebrate life’s knots.  Rather than sweeping the less than pretty, less than perfect times under the rug, we should preserve those memories, even share them with the other women in our lives.

That way, a life story, like a  time ball,  wouldn’t  have to look pretty to be beautiful.

Mother Bear versus a Whatsit

Shortly before the molestation

During the mid 80’s my Mom and I found ourselves touring the Barcelona Zoo on a warm sunny day. We stopped to look at some hoofed mammals, trying to figure out if they were antelope or deer. There was only a low bar separating us and I stepped forward for a closer look. The decision was still pending when one of said mammals grabbed the hem of my skirt and started pulling, tugging and walking backward. My skirt had an elastic waist and was pretty short. My thoughts were still trying to switch gears from “Hmmm….Maybe it’s a goat since it’s trying to eat my clothes” to “Uh Oh, I hope I didn’t wear the undies with holes…” as my mom took decisive action. Acting either on her farm-girl instincts or mother-bear instincts, she smacked the poor beast squarely on the nose.

Taken aback and apparently unaccustomed to being womped-on by zoo visitors, the antelope-deer-goat-animal released my skirt. It was wet and slightly torn, but, as it had not been pulled much below my knees, my dignity was intact. Not sure whether Spanish law looked kindly on captive animal assault even in defense of a child (albeit grown), I hurried Mom on to the next exhibit where we were both careful to keep a safe distance from any and all would-be mammalian tug-a-war partners.

© Laura Hedgecock 2011

Behemothic Memory

Is there something that you’ve always wanted to say to your husband? Here’s my story.

When the kids were younger, my husband often traveled to the Toronto area. Once, during the summer, he had a multi-day business trip there. The boys and I decided that we’d ride along, hang out at the Holiday Inn and see the sights. I diligently rolled all the Canadian quarters that he had carelessly dumped on our dresser for the past months and came up with roughly eighty Canandian dollars – our mad money.

The plan was that the boys and I would drop him off at the plant in the mornings and would come fetch him when he was done. One day after we dropped him off, the boys and I went to explore a Safari park. When he called me on my cell to tell me he was ready to be picked up, I got to say something I’ve never had occasion to say since – “Sorry honey, I’ll have to call you back, the kids and I are riding an elephant.”

© Laura Hedgecock 2009