Christmas was great, albeit a bit hectic. As it turns out, Christmas Eve Day wasn't a relaxing day after all. Although I did get to bake my gingerbread cookies, a big portion of the day was spent setting up surround sound speakers and our (new) satellite receiver/hard drive device (which still isn't working). At some point, we did get around to decorating our tree, with Christmas music playing in the background, and then it was time for some lightening-speed gift wrapping, before heading over to Tobi's parents for dinner. I don't like wrapping presents under pressure... it's not my strong suit as it is, and when I pack something in a hurry, it looks like something a 5-year old wrapped for his Mommy. Oh well.
Dinner at Tobi's parents' place was great. There were seven of us in all, my in-laws, Tobi, his brother, his brother's fíance, myself, and Lukas. Everyone (except for me) had Carpaccio, or raw beef, as an appetizer, and for the picky American daughter-in-law, Tobi's mom prepared a fresh salad with shrimp. The main dish was Duck breast, which, if you've never eaten it, is coated by a nice thick layer of fat (between the meat and the skin), but it's definitely a tasty dish when prepared properly. Side dishes were "Blaukraut" (the red-cabbage version of sauerkraut), and Klös (or German potato dumplings), and for desert we had a chocolate mousse.
After dinner we opened presents and took some photos under the tree, and by the time we left it was nearly 10PM, a very trying time for any toddler who's not yet asleep. Lukas did great, though, and he got tons of wonderful gifts (including a red "Bobby Car", the ultimate push car for any German toddler). :-)
We celebrated Christmas morning "Ami" style, getting up early to see what "Santa" brought (but I forgot to leave cookies and milk out for him... I hope he comes back next year!). I made hot chocolate with fresh whipped cream, and we had Charlie Brown's Christmas playing in the background. Lukas got a real kick out of opening all the presents, and we even had some gifts from America, anxiously waiting to be unpacked.
The following night was dinner at our place, and Tobi insisted on cooking. He served shrimp on a bed of fried potatoes and ruccola, tossed in a self-made onion vinaigrette, followed by roasted goose, and (also) accompanied by Blaukraut and Klös. The desert was my invention: "American" brownies (brownie mix with 2 eggs instead of 3, a little extra oil, pudding powder, and white chocolate candy bars sandwiched in the middle), served warm with vanilla ice cream.
I think I did a great job of decorating beforehand (if I do say so myself :-), so it was a really Christmassy and romantic setting, with our German "Christmas Pyramid" surrounded by candles, our freshly-sawed Kleinsendelbach tree fully decorated (for the first time in a couple years!), the table all "decked out", and Elton John's Christmas playing in the background. Lovely.
But yesterday was probably my favorite Christmas day of all. It was the one where you sit around doing nothing. We had the fire going all day, we watched a lot of TV, I found some time to write, and in the evening, we got our winter jackets on and went for a walk, wandering to the other side of town (about a 30-minute walk) to see "die Kleinsendelbach Haus" a house well-known in the area for its massive amount of Christmas lights. Last night was the last night that their Glühwein stand was open (all proceeds go to local charities), so it was "now, or never", and apparently lots of families had the same idea. There was something neat about walking through our town on a very cold night (-5 degrees Celsius!), and seeing so many people out on the streets, all en route to the same destination. And of course, the dog was in 7th heaven, prancing around off of the leash (as usual) for a good portion of our walk.
Today we're expecting friends from Munich, and we have a huge turkey to roast, which I'm really excited about. Yay!
Hope you had a fantastic Christmas!
Check back for photos soon.