Sunday, December 24, 2023

Notes from a Brat: Christmas Eve in West Germany

Having a father in the Canadian Armed Forces plopped me down into a slightly different culture: West Germany ― the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany). While listening to the radio a few years ago I heard a piece about whether or not it's cool to let the little ones open their gifts the night before Christmas. This brought back memories: some bright, some dark.

As is the tradition in that great nation, opening the boxes and wrappings is done the night before. A then little one, me, not only did not complain but decided then that Germany is one great nation. I remember well one Christmas where our landlord and his wife came up to say hi and to present us with presents. I remember mine: a Matchbox toy of an early 20th century automobile.

Roll back a few years to my first Christmas in Germany. Santa Claus back in 1960s Deutschland was not a big thing ― if you'll pardon the expression. Saint Nick, however, was. Well, let me tell you what that man did to this then five year old. One evening my parents summoned me to our apartment's entrance. Standing inside the door was a tall figure, a woman (probably a teenager), dressed up in full Saint Nick attire. My mother said "look dear" as she pointed at my shoes which were parked neatly on the mat. I saw it, an inanimate thing in one of my shoes... a lump of coal. ("Noooo!")

I, dressed fashionably in what some crude folk might refer to as a "wife-beater shirt", held both hands up to my face and started crying. My parents laughed. It was not funny.


Jon said...

And this is why therapists in Germany drive BMWs...

Simon St. Laurent said...


Anonymous said...

One wonders what you did to earn that piece of fossil fuel? You wicked boy!
P.S. As I write this, I am enjoying a lull between birthday luncheon & the Feast of the Seven Fishes at a gathering of the clans.
Grandson #3 shares a birthday with a cousin on December 24th. Later, our Italian/Spanish/Portuguese/Mangiacake menagerie opens presents. And then we do Xmas with the spousal unit's family on the 27th.