Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ellie Tenenbaum

Santa, German-style

Of the many things we've learned since we've arrived, one that is often repeated is that we are indebted to Germany for many of our Christmas traditions. The Christmas tree? That came from Germany. Advent calendars? Those as well. As did "Silent Night" (technically, it was written in Austria), the modern image of Santa Claus (drawn in Harper's Bazaar by German-American Thomas Nast), and the name Kris Kringle (actually a misidentification and corruption of the German "Christkindl" which means the Christ child, who here in Germany is the actual bearer of gifts on Christmas morning).

Thomas Nast's now-famous image of Santa

Well, we know our blog has actually leant itself to be over-historical lately, but we couldn't help but point out a few more choice things about Christmas in Germany. Actually, let's just narrow it down to this--German Santa is flat-out weird and a little creepy.

First of all, over here, there is no "Santa"; it is St. Nikolaus, who delivers treats to the shoes left outside the doorways to youngsters' rooms on December 6. But in appearance, he is Santa, without doubt. And his past is a little sketchy, for he used to visit children accompanied by his trusty aide, Knecht Ruprecht, who carried a burlap sack, a switch, and for all intents and purposes, looked like a bum. Of course, St. Nikolaus would reward good children; Knecht Ruprecht, on the other hand, would discipline naughty children by beating them, stuffing them in his sack, and then later eating them.

No, not this Ruprecht.

But of all the crazy things about the German Santa, the thing that stands out the most is how they decorate with the guy! After Thanksgiving, we started to notice Santa showing up at different homes in various strange poses. Well, we thought, maybe it is an isolated thing, but no! It is pretty wide-spread, with Santa adorning houses all over here in strange, suspicious ways.

First of all, you have the Santa who apparently took his home-entry cues from the Wet Bandits, as he is scaling a ladder to suspiciously enter through a window.

This house had the added bonus of the creepy Santa in the window as well

Then, you have the peeping-tom Santa, who is often suspended from the rain gutters or off of a ledge or balcony or whatever. Maybe he had a little too much eggnog or something.

Here, in probably the strangest incarnation of Santa, is the suicidal Santa. No, he is not atop the roof with his reindeer and sleigh--instead he is precariously looking over the edge and pondering whether another off-season of toy building and good/naughty accounting is worth it.

"I salute you all and bid adieu..."

So that's that. German Santa! Breaking and entering, spying on unsuspecting showerers, and ending it all like only the great elf can! It brings a whole new meaning to "you better watch out, you better not cry...", doesn't it?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Whole Bunch of Stuff

It's been a while since I blogged..... Ellie was way cute for Halloween. (Thanks for the costume Carc!)
We had a new baby 3 weeks ago.

Nothing like a fake wild pig. 

The weekend Christmasmarts in Schweinfurt opened, it was busy and sooooo COLD.

Visiting the marts with friends is the best. This is the Nichols family, Holly's husband left for Iraq a couple weeks ago:( 

The Schweinfurt Rathaus (city hall) 

Ellie's Bling: sunglasses, necklaces, sparkly pants, fake tattoo on arm (not visible), and a cell.

A play area for the kids outside our place

The view off our balcony.

The living room with army furniture. 

Ellie's new favorite toy, though at first she was scared of it. 

We have really let the blog go for a while sorry!! Where do we start??? 

We found a nice 3 bedroom apartment in Schweinfurt that is surrounded by forest. There are tons of walking and bike paths all around and if you go about a 1/2 mile around the corner you are in the middle of the freaking  woods, no lights just trees and a cute restaurant.  Our apartment is a little bigger that the one we had in LA, but thats not saying much. The view however, is amazing. We have huge windows that surround our apt. overlooking the woods (our place is on a steep hill) which we love. All things considered it's not bad.

 The move has been pretty hard on Ellie we lived in a hotel for about a month before we finally found the right place and just as she was getting used to that we up and moved her here. So, it's been a slow transition and Ellie is still getting used to things out here as we all are. The Army gave us furniture, pots and pans etc. for all of November and we finally got our stuff on December 2! Boxes and boxes of stuff with sooooo much paper. We crammed all of it in the guest bathroom and hallway and the movers came back last week to pick it up, which was a huge blessing because getting rid of trash in Germany is a bee sting. We have 5 different trashes that go into 5 different garbage cans. They sort EVERYTHING out here: Anything paper, Anything plastic including laminated paper and tin foil, Cans, glass, and trash. The paper garbage can has a little slot for throwing out paper and there was no way all our trash could have fit, so yeah, that head ache is OVER. 

Andrew really likes the clinic over here, the dentists are all really nice and for the most part chill. He is really busy, but still comes home in a good mood and says that "he might be able to really do this as his profession" now. Which is also a huge blessing:) 

We are still working out the power kinks as all of our appliances and stuff don't work over here. Some of our computer stuff and cameras are dual voltage, but everything else is not. So we are trying to weigh out the costs and benefits of getting transformers or brand new stuff. We did finally get a new microwave this weekend- it is surprisingly really hard without one!! And I think we will get a new TV soon. The new TVs are nice because they are dual voltage so we can take it back home when our time is up here.

We get most of our groceries at the Army's commissary and some in town. They have really cheep produce in the German market and it's sooo fresh. I still need to take a picture of their produce here- it looks about 3x bigger than produce in the states (everything seems bigger over here including the spiders.) I really enjoy taking the bus to the central market- lots of shopping and bakeries on every corner.  And we did finally get a new car out here, (we were driving rentals for two months) a black BMW X3, it's our new baby, really fun and roomy. 

As for church, we both have callings, Andrew is the YM Pres. and I'm the activities chair and primary teacher. We just had the ward Christmas party on the 12th and I think it went ok, it's my first time throwing a church party but we had excellent food and a ton of people so that's good I guess. The ward is split 50/ 50 German and English so party planing and pretty much everything is just a little more challenging, still getting used to it. 

We have been so busy lately and a little sick with all the new German bugs that we haven't had to much time for traveling yet, but we still have a lot of time. It's good to relax for a bit though and get used to our new city.