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December 27th 2011
Published: December 27th 2011
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Halli Galli!Halli Galli!Halli Galli!

Or Tutti Frutti as we call it!
Merry Christmas All!

These past few days in Germany have been really, really nice. Elisabeth’s house is so fun with Gesa, Christian, Karen, Matti and Linnea around. (Linnea is Karen’s host sister from when she spent a year in Sweden.) Similar to Italy, I spend much of the time not really sure what they are saying, but thanks to Annalu and Steph’s lessons I can understand words here and there. Karen and Linnea have the upper hand because they can understand all three of the languages floating around this household: English, German and Swedish. I suppose I could start speaking Spanish, but I would just be talking to myself, so, I think I will just try to understand their German; I’m afraid Swedish may be a little far off for me.

Everyone speaks impeccable English though. Linnea actually lived in Kentucky for a year when she was about my age, so even she speaks great English. I wish I could say the same about German and me but I’m still at about toddler level, haha!

Before Christian and Karen got here, it was just Elisabeth, Matti, Linnea and I around the table one evening

Linnea is a master baker!
and Matti suggested that we play a game. When he returned he had a box that looked very familiar but of course the words were different: Halli Galli. Tutti Fruitti! It’s a game we played when I was very young at my Grandma Heiden’s house. I hadn’t played it in so long all I could remember was that you hit the bell for some reason, haha! Unfortunately I was a bit rusty, so Linnea and Matti were our winners, but don’t worry, I’ll get them next time.

It was fun to have Karen and Christian come home. They both go to school in towns in Southern Germany so it takes quite a while to get back. All of us were pretty tired and slept in quite late in the morning. However, once everyone was up and going Elisabeth and Matti took me to the grocery store. Elisabeth said that 30 years ago grocery stores were very different in Germany than in the United States, but today it’s really similar. Similar they are, minus everything being written in German. However, they have a little store next to the grocery store to buy drinks in bulk and they have
The Lussekatter WreathThe Lussekatter WreathThe Lussekatter Wreath

Linnea and Karen carefully moving her masterpiece!
a really great recycle system. For example, you buy a crate of bottles of water or beer and then you take the whole crate home with you and once you have finished a bottle you just put it back in the crate, when all of the bottles are empty you take the whole crate back to the store and they just take if off your hands for you. Maybe we have something like that and I just don’t know about it, but I thought it was a really easy way of taking care of recycling bottles instead of having garbage bags full that area really heavy!

Anyhoo, when we got home Karen and Linnea wanted to make a sort of bread that is common in Sweden around Christmas time called Lussekatter. Linnea said, “Now you not only get a German Christmas, but a Swedish one too!”

The recipe was actually in Norwegian, but it is similar to Swedish. Linnea taught me how to make the traditional kind that make an ‘S’ shape and then Karen worked hard on her masterpiece wreath. We had it after dinner and it was really quite good! It was
Das Pestruper GräberfeldDas Pestruper GräberfeldDas Pestruper Gräberfeld

The ancient burial ground near Wildeshausen.
also exciting because we got to use Elisabeth’s new oven. I must say, even I am impressed with this oven. Martin has even taken up a new hobby of bread making! I don’t think my Dad would want me to talk too much about it though because my Mom loves using the oven and ours is, well, quite old to say the least and I think my Mom would really like this oven.

The food here has been wonderful, per usual at all of the homes I have stayed at. I’ve even gotten to help cook which is awesome. I really miss being able to cook and help out in the kitchen. I enjoy that, so I am very thankful that Elisabeth has let me help. Honestly getting to hang out with the family in the kitchen has been one of my favorite things to do. Pepa does most of the work in the kitchen and Alba cooks because she often doesn’t like what Pepa is making. It feels really…normal. It feels like being with my family to have everyone hovering around the kitchen and talking and washing dishes. I really like it here. Like I said, even though I don’t understand much of what they say in German, I still appreciate just hanging around the kitchen table and talking. They even have lots and lots of movies! Oh, so many! It was hard to find one last night because they were looking for ones with English or at least English subtitles. I feel bad that they all have to watch a movie in English because of me, but unfortunately English is the only language all eight of us can speak.

Christmas Eve we all woke up significantly earlier since we are caught up on some missed sleep. After breakfast we started right off with cooking. We prepared lots of finger foods to eat today and tomorrow and when we were mostly done, since it turned out to be a rather sunny day Elisabeth and I went for a bike ride. Since it is so far north, Bremen doesn’t get a whole lot of hours of sunlight, right now it’s only from about 8:30 to 4:30 is what Elisabeth said, and since its winter it’s often cloudy, so a sunny day is one to take advantage of!

She took me out into the countryside a bit to an ancient graveyard that they have dated back to about 200 B.C. What remains are these mounds that have survived for over 2000 years somehow and with the mist and scattered sunlight it was just really pretty. Germany in general is really pretty. The have lots of forests and greenery, something we lack a bit in southern Spain. Even northern Spain, while green, doesn’t have a lot of trees. Amazingly I actually know why it is that Spain is so dry, we learned about it in Geology my freshman year of college. I explained it to Natalie once, and she thought it was interesting that I thought it was interesting; what loving roommate.

Upon our return Gesa, got home and we all sat down for lunch and while Elisabeth and Martin went to rest, us kids were left in charge of decorating the tree. So, now I have done Christmas tree decorating in two different countries here in Europe!

Here they don’t usually don’t even put the tree up until the day before Christmas Eve and then they decorate it on Christmas Eve. And they have a real
The finished product!The finished product!The finished product!

Complete with real candles!
tree. Not a plastic one, a real one. I don’t even know if I can remember us having a real tree. I’m pretty sure we did when I was very young, but I can’t exactly remember. They also put real candles on the tree! “The tree looks good Matti.”

“Yes. Is it similar to an American Tree?”

“Yeah, pretty much, but we don’t have a real tree and we don’t use real candles.”

“Ah. The real candles are better because they have more risk.” And he smiles a devilish 18 year old guy smile.

Matti is really very funny, as are all of the kids. We are having a lot of fun, I think! On Friday Matti, Karen and Christian took us into the “downtown” of Wildeshausen and Matti even printed off information so that he could give us a good guided tour of the town. We learned all about the town pump and that Martin is even the Pump Master this year! It’s a just a very old water pump near the center of town that the people of Wildeshausen preserve. Then we got to see the Wildeshausen Christmas Market, which was much smaller than the one in Bremen, but it goes on a lot longer. We stopped and had some Glühwein, which is red wine mixed with some spices and it is served warm. It is very typical in Germany during Christmas time.

We walked around a bit longer, looked at the chocolate shop and then went to a store called Schnittkers (pardon my spelling if it’s wrong 😊). It was sort of like a Hallmark I would say, but there were all kinds of notebooks, pens, markers, papers, envelopes, all kinds of things that I love. Turns out Linnea and Karen liked them too. The three of us spent nearly the whole time just looking that the shelf of notebooks and paper! Linnea also got an early birthday gift from Karen: a Kartoffel (Potato) cookbook. Linnea loves potatoes.

After our nice rest, we went to the church in Harpstedt that Elisabeth works at and she even gave the sermon tonight! Again, I only caught words here and there (mostly numbers telling which page to turn to in our hymn book) however it was nice to go to church with the family on Christmas Eve.

My Clemson Tiger Paw!My Clemson Tiger Paw!My Clemson Tiger Paw!

Photography courtesy of Karen :)

When we got home we all stood around the tree and sang a verse of Silent Night, because you can sing it in just about every language. So, the Saathoffs sang Silent Night in German, Linnea in Swedish and me in English. Then we all sat around the tree and opened gifts.

Among the sweets, including my own tub of Haribo, Martin and Elisabeth got me this really neat memory game of Europe! “Now you can play it and remember all of the places you have been and all the places you still need to go!” I thought it was a really, really great idea and Karen, Gesa, Linnea and I played it yesterday, but it was really quite hard!! There are a lot of tiles and even towards the end of the game we were turning over pieces with images we hadn’t seen yet!

My parents also sent me a special gift from home. It’s a Christmas/Birthday gift of a gold tiger paw necklace. When my brother turned 21 he got a Prairie Wolf necklace for Wesleyan, so this year my parents had a Clemson Tiger Paw necklace made for me, complete with
Karen's Mixer!Karen's Mixer!Karen's Mixer!

Karen was so excited about her mixer! This is a family of cooks! I like it!
it tilted to 1 o’clock and the little notch at the bottom of the paw. It’s really, really special…I just have to guard it with my life!

Christmas Day was especially relaxed, but here in the Saathoff house, they open up all of their packages on Christmas, that is “parcels” as Gesa says it in her English accent, so pretty much they open up everything that gets sent from the US or other gifts from the mail. Of course, they always enjoy the Christmas cookies from my Grandma Heiden; they love how she individually wraps every cookie in wax paper. However, after that it was an afternoon of relaxing around the house and going for a walk with Linnea, Elisabeth, Karen and Gesa, then eating a supper wonderful dinner.

For me a very special part of the day, though, was getting to see nearly my entire family over Skype on Christmas Day, even Heather and Pat who came running down the stairs after getting in from visiting Pat’s family. Oh, the blessing of Skype. How did students handle being so far away from home for so long before there was Skype? It was so
Christmas Eve Shmorgishborg!Christmas Eve Shmorgishborg!Christmas Eve Shmorgishborg!

Well, not really a shmorgishborg but a mix of lots of yummy foods!
nice getting to see the whole family together. I miss them a lot, but I really feel that Elisabeth’s has been the perfect place to spend Christmas here in Europe. I love spending time with them so much, they are all so fun and remind me a lot of my own family back home. They even love movies just like we do! They have so many! It takes a while to find one in English sometimes. Christian and Matti even have a Monopoly game planned out. I am quite terrible at Monopoly, just ask Conor. I think he may be the emperor of Monopoly. I have no hope. I have a feeling that I will have the same fate against Christian and Matti.

In German they actually have Second Christmas Day on Monday so we celebrated that by all going out to a play in Bremen. We saw William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing,” and I understood nothing. Unfortunately they did not use one of the few words in German that I understand, but Elisabeth and Martin whispered what was going on in my ear throughout the play. At intermission Christian turns to me and says, “Well, I understood about half of what was going on. I don’t even know what this story is about.” Haha! At least I’m not alone. They did quite well considering there were only six actors though.

So the Christmas Days have officially come to a close and I think it is a good place to bring this blog to a close. There is so much to write, but I think I hit the strong points. Sorry it’s quite long, but Heather assured me that people have time to read over break, so I am taking her word for it. 😊

Love you and miss you all!

Love always,

Devin 😊

Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


Karen reading her Grandmother's lettersKaren reading her Grandmother's letters
Karen reading her Grandmother's letters

This is the book Elisabeth and her sister have been making of their mother's letters. What an interesting read, if I spoke German!

6th January 2012

Great Quote
"Well, I understood about half of what was going on. I don’t even know what this story is about.” Hilarious!! Christian and Matti are geniuses with one liners. When Christian visited us this year, he was talking about his wallet, "I think it is funny how large my purse is. Oh wait, I'm not supposed to call it a purse, correct? Damn!" I'm finally catching up on your blog posts. Took a little while. I would have done it in while I was in Estes, but unfortunately I forgot to steal my mom's laptop - Borrow! Borrow, her laptop...Yes, borrow...

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