What a week.
I think I ran myself to a full stop, last night saw me in bed at the same time as my 9 year old and waking up almost 11 hours later...I really needed those zzzzzzz's!
We started the week (last Monday) with maybe 15-20 cm of snow, and I collected my baby brother from the airport (minus his wife who didn't make it through Libyan passport control as her exit visa was non existant). Ed and I spent that evening down at Lulu's with a load of expat friends celebrating a birthday and getting rowdier as the night and the drinks wore on.
Tuesday I had another trip to the airport (good job it's only 20 minutes away) to collect the parentals who were bringing with them an essential part of Christmas day - the pud.
Wednesday and another airport trip to collect missing wifey, the two of them (Ed ' Dear) then went into Düsseldorf for some retail therapy (apparently the opportunities for such exercise in Tripoli are almost none existant).
Thursday was the last day at school for Jas (Ben finished mid morning on Wed) and we went along for the carol singing which was followed by a half hour play put on by Jas's class. It was being performed in the music room, one of the only classrooms in the school to have carpet and so all the adults were told to remove their (theoretically) snow encrusted winter boots before entering - except for those parents (about half) who came after the thing had actually started and therefore missed the de-schoe-ing command.
After escaping from the school we went into Essen for the last day of the Weihnachtsmarkt, had planned to have some Glühwein, but the weather turned against us, becoming bitterly cold and starting to snow, not nice, even when you're dressed for it.
Friday was Christmas Eve, and I had a plan. Get up and get into Kettwig for 8am, in order to get the turkey from the butchers, yummy cheese from the market and whatever else I needed but didn't yet have (afterall, it is impossible to have too much food in the house over Christmas) from the (not so)supermarket.
Slight problem with the plan.
It had clearly been snowing for some time and the amount of snow outside had now doubled.
By the time I'd had breakfast Simon had seen the extent of the snow and declared that he would chauffeur me (I knew that Audi Quatro would be useful some day) and so he did, dropped me outside the butchers to wade through seemingly thigh deep drifts to get to their door and after I'd thrown the bird onto the back seat I was told to go to the cheese stall 'just across the road'*. Then to the supermarket - always a tricky venture when accompanied by a man who doesn't usually do the food shopping but who is partial to all the little nibbley things that I normally scoot straight past, at least he helped pack it all!
We then had a dilemma. The roads were horrific and friends up the hill on the other side of the river were due to be meeting us at 11 for coffee and to bring us the crackers for the 25th which they'd brought back from England the previous weekend**. A quick call revealed that we would have to go to them as they had even more snow than we did. I think Si was quite gleeful to be told this, up the steep and hairpin bendy hill in thick snow, a perfect challenge, almost too easy for Simon - although the snow plough coming down the hill didn't think so.
After the escapades of the morning we didn't venture out again, it snowed and it snowed all day, I was just glad of a houseful of guests who could be relied upon to entertain the children and shovel snow!
Christmas Day dawned bright (it's amazing the effect of a little daylight on a ton of brilliant white snow) and not too early (the older the children get the more amenable they are to the suggestion that 5am is not a happy time for parents to be woken) and we had the ritual present opening ceremony before I had to get stuck into the dinner preparations.
And then it was all over for another year, the freezer is fully loaded with turkey for pies, the garage is overflowing with empties that need to go to the bottle bank***, the bins are all full (some more than others, due to the Thursday and Friday bin men not making it along the road through the snow****) and the beer and wine levels are considerably lowered.
Boxing Day (or the 2nd day of Christmas according to the Germans) was its usual respite after the storm, no-one desperate to do anything but maybe get some fresh air. I refused to cook and booked a table at the local Italian, which was nice, but would have been better if, when I'd booked I'd asked for a non-smoking table - ho hum. And it started snowing again.
Which brings us to yesterday and the start of the exodus, Ed left first, the parents had time to try the Christmas cake, which leaves us with Dear who goes tomorrow just a few hours before the the guests arive for New Year's Eve!
I wonder how much sleep I can get tonight?
* through the deep drifts on either side of the road and then the knee high snow between the market stalls and back again.
** Christmas crackers are clearly not a German tradition as you can't easily get them here.
*** it was one of the jobs I wanted to do before Christmas (clear out before starting a new hoard) but the piles of snow everywhere put the kibosh on that.
**** apparently the various refuse collection companies have said that if they don't make it then we can take our refuse to the recycling site and they wont charge us - loving the irony.