Para-annoy-a

I have lived in the UK for nigh on three years now, and the thing that keeps boggling my mind is just how paranoid the island monkeys are.

Boys can’t wear tights or play with dolls because that’s for girls, and girls only. Imagine the damage if your boy did these things! He’d surely grow a vagina or turn gay!

No-one in this country dares to give their bank details to anyone for fast and easy bank transfers. That’s why cheques incomprehensibly are still ubiquitous here.

Oh, and for the love of Darwin, don’t ever let your toddler run around freely because he could get snatched by a pervert.

As a matter of fact, paedophiles are lurking everywhere these days, so you better beware.

no photography

Taking photographs of your little monster when he’s attempting his first tentative steps into the shallow end of the local swimming pool? Forget it! Who knows, you could deviously snap other kiddies and publish their pics on the interwebs, you bad, bad person you! Even at the ice rink, where everyone is wrapped up really nicely, you are not allowed to shoot silly photos of your friends because, well, it says so on the sign. The rules of paranoia also demand the nursery first obtain all parents’ consent before taking and displaying pics in the confined environment of a particular room. Ridiculous!

 

In my not so humble opinion, Brits are waaayyy too concerned with their privacy.

The most important piece of furniture in our study is … drumroll … a shredder! That’s right. Ok, I give him the benefit of the doubt because he grew up in South Africa, but my dear husband is just short of forcing me to destroy every tiny bit of completely innocuous paper. Granted, I wouldn’t put my intact bank statements into the paper recycling collection bag either. But blank envelopes just because they have my name on it? There surely must be smarter ways to steal my identity if someone was so inclined.

doorbellWait! Maybe not. Because in this country, it’s not only fairly hard to find out the address of a particular abode, seeing that street name signs are few and far between and house numbers are often inconspicuous, overgrown or missing altogether. More importantly, no-one displays their names on their doors. Ever!

 

Where I come from, the doorbells generally freely exhibit the family name of the inhabitant/s, as do the mailboxes. What a fancy way to make sure mail is delivered to the correct receiver!

We have lived in our current house for more than 2 1/2 years now, and we still on a regular basis get mail for four (4!) different previous tenants. Go figure!

As always, I wonder why we Krauts are not as fussed. Is identity theft less of a threat there? Or kidnapping? Are we simply less susceptible to panicmongering by the media? Or are German prisons just that much more effective as a scare tactic?

Maybe it’s all of the above.

10 Things that I miss when not spending Christmas in Germany

Christmas is just around the corner, the season of peace and benevolence. Which is why today I decided to be nice for a change. In other words, I won’t rant about the hardships of living among island monkeys and instead focus on the hardships of not not living in Germany.

So without further ado I present the 10 things I miss most when I don’t get to spend Christmas in Germany:

 

1. Celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve

I mean, why would anyone in their right minds wait until the 25th when they could have the goodies the evening before already?! I’m way out of my comfort zone here, so correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the Magi bring their gifts on the night of Jesus’s birth too?

advent calendar

Granted, it would be nice to get one treat more out of your advent calendar, but if that's worth the wait?

 

2. Having a real Weihnachtsmann

A friend or remote family member dresses up as Santa and gives gifts to the kids. Not before they recited a poem or sang a song for him of course. Keeps them on their toes and nice instead of naughty much more effectively than just the imaginary cookie-eater who rushes in during the night, unseen by all but the cat, and leaves gifts that may or may not match the wish list written to him earlier.

Weihnachtsmann

"No, I wasn't nice!"

 

3. Getting together…

… at my best friend’s house for a Pre-Christmas cookie baking session. I did some baking at home with the little monster this year but at my friend’s it is always more fun. Mainly because they have a much spacier kitchen. And because I don’t have to clean up afterwards. OK, I admit it, I also miss the usual suspects who normally attend this fixture. And the ruckus all the kids make that we have popped out by now.

cookies

Yeah, I made these. With a lot of love and a bit of help from the little monster.

 

4. The food

Rotkohl (red cabbage), Grünkohl (green cabbage) and Sauerkraut (you can figure that one out yourself). Yes, there is a reason why Germans are called Krauts, and I for one don’t mind the tiniest bit. I love my Kraut and Kohl. Just as much as the goose or duck that comes with it instead of the anglo-saxon inevitability called turkey. And of course the dumplings. Please, can I be excused for a moment while I dry off my mouth.

goose

Sometimes it's great to be German!

 

5. Christmas markets

I mean, the Brits really are trying but they just don’t get it quite right. The ‘Authentic German Bratwurst’ is just short of tasting like the real deal and the atmosphere is somewhat off, too. As I say, they are trying.

ChristmasMarketJena

That's how it's supposed to look like: Christmas market in Jena

 

6. Seeing the look…

… in my parents’ and grandparents’ eyes when they unwrap their photo calendars that I spent 2 weeks creating painstakingly from photos of the little monster. Sure, on an intellectual level I know that they will absolutely appreciate this gift (if nothing else because they will voice their gratefulness time and again until well into March of next year). Still, being there would be just priceless.

skype

Oh well, I suppose skype will have to do this year.

 

7. Traditional German Christmas decorations

My Mom comes from a region called ‘Erzgebirge’ (Ore Mountains) which is where most of the prettiest items originate. Christmas pyramids, Schwibbögen (candle arches), Räuchermännchen (incense burner figurines), nutcrackers… the list goes on. I used to find this stuff really tacky and I wouldn’t want to put too many of these dustcatchers up in my house but now that I don’t see them at my grandparents’ every year anymore I kinda miss them. Not to mention the nostalgia that comes with seeing the tranquil and understated light arch of a Schwibbogen in a window instead of the psychedelic, incessantly flickering lights that are, for some reason completely beyond my grasp, so popular today.

christmas decorations

Clockwise from left: Pyramid, Schwibbogen, nutcrackers, Räuchermännchen

 

8. Christmas music

I know I said I hate Christmas songs and I won’t backpedal on that one because it is still very much true for the Christmassy pop songs that are played to death before and during Christmas on the radio and in stores. What I’m talking about here are the traditional songs that we used to play and sing. I guess I need to get myself a copy of a few of my Mom’s CDs for next year. If only so that the little monster gets to grow up with them too.

music

Nooooo, not these guys!

 

9. Having a fight with my sister

Seriously. We two are very different and for as long as I can remember we have fought over little nothingnesses as soon as we have spent more than 3 hours in the same room. But she is my sister and also a diligent follower of this blog (probably even the first follower ever), and I’m sure she will appreciate being featured in this post.

streit

You can't live with them and you can't... wait, YES WE CAN!

 

10. Snow

Though I will deny I said that should anyone ever claim I did. Well, I guess I should also phrase this a bit differently. Something along the lines of: The higher likelihood of having a White Christmas. There is nothing like taking a walk after a lovely (=heavy, greasy, unhealthy but divinely tasty) Christmas dinner through snowy streets where every sound is muffled and everything is just soooooo peaceful…

snow

That's right, this is outside my Mom and Dad's house

 

Of course, after Christmas is over, there are still some things German that I will miss. Like watching Dinner for One on New Years Eve. I know, it’s not even in German but it has been a tradition forever.

 

So here are two things to be grateful for this Christmas season: Skype and Youtube. Yeah, I know, they are no replacement for being there in person but they are better than nothing at all.

 

Merry Christmas to everyone!

 

 

PS: I might have pilfered one or two pictures from Google images. Dear artist, please don’t consider this as a vile act of copyright infringement but rather an hommage to further your fame and the awareness of your awesome artistic skill. Rest assured, I am not making any money with this, so you’re not missing out.