Today my house is guest-less for the second time in three weeks, but this time the calm is here to stay, no guests on the foreseeable horizon and we even wave Simon off for almost two weeks later today. So within 24 hours we'll have gone from six (+1*) to four (+1) to three (+1). The house will positively echo.
This Christmas break has been our most sociable since we moved here almost five years ago (June 7, 1997) we started on Christmas Eve meeting up at Lulus (where else?) with expat friends and their children for hot chocolate (laced with rum) and donuts. Christmas day and Boxing day were very English in that they were quiet family affairs, which confuses the Germans, who do their family Christmas bit on Christmas Eve evening and then seem to be out and about on the 25th, I had a friend last year (or rather the year before last, Christmas 2010) who turned up around 2pm to ask if she could take Logan for a walk, I think she was quite surprised not to be asked in but 2pm on the 25th? Peak panic chef time.
On the 27th we had an invitation to a friend's for afternoon cake which was lovely and could easily have become an alcoholic session but we had an evening appointment in Dortmund with the circus "FlicFlac". I don't think these guys tour outside of Germany (unlike Cirque de Soleil) but if you ever get the opportunity to see them then go and get the best seats you can, they are jaw droppingly amazing and have a great attitude, the whole thing is accompanied by a rock band and you're told at the beginning that you can take photos (but please no flash) and video as long as you then upload to YouTube/facebook etc.- got to admire that bit of shameless self promotion! The last but one act had seven motorbikes roaring around inside a metal sphere***, I had thought that this was the finale but as these guys exited the sphere and the ring we could hear and feel motorbikes beneath our seats and then suddenly a bike shot out of the exit/entrance stairwell just meters from our our seats, it soared into the air, over the top of the sphere and landed on a ramp at the far side of the ring almost behind the curtains, the roaring of bike continued as another one appeared and another but they didn't just ride their bikes through the air, oh no, that would have been too easy, the majority flew only holding onto the handlebars but the very last one? He and his bike somersaulted as they crossed the arena.
The next two days were quiet as we changed guests, swapping one lot of grandparents for another, then on Friday evening we were invited to a hot glühwein party at an American friend's. They (she's married to a German) called it "Feuerzangenbowle" and it starts off as glühwein in a bowl over a burner, to which a specially designed metal spoon is added across the bowl with a pyramid of sugar on it, this is doused thoroughly in rocket fuel/schnapps/xx% proof alcohol which is then lit, the molten sugar drips down through the holes in the spoon and whenever the flames seem to be dying down more alcohol is poured over until all of the sugar is gone.
Saturday evening was of course New Year's Eve, and we and 20 or so other adults (plus children) had dinner and drinks and the obligatory fireworks at Rebecca's. I think my mother in law was almost disappointed on New Year's day when I didn't have a hangover, shall have to try harder next year!
And that was our social festive season, my calendar is disturbingly barren with the exception of quiz night this coming week and then girlie breakfast the week after, January stretches emptily ahead, why do the 31 days of the first month always seem more like five weeks? Maybe it's the lateness of the sunrise and the earliness of the sunset or the dankness of the weather, either way January hasnot and never will be my favourite, I love February partly because it's so short but also because it's not January.
* the +1 being Logan, who although not strictly human** creates enough mess and demands that he has to be counted, and you certainly notice when he isn't in the house!
** the way he plays with the various children that come here I am never sure whether the children regress to animal or he advances to human.
*** it's usually eight, but the previous week one of them had got his timing slightly wrong and ended up in hospital, nothing broken, but clearly unfit to take part.