Just a quick Pre-Christmas update.
This week was, obviously, all about prepping for Christmas. The kids technically had school on Friday, but since neither one had anything academic going on, DD was done with finals, and most of their friends had already bailed for their vacation travels, we went ahead and got our own vacation started early.
David still had to work, so I sent care packages of goodies to Black Forest so he and his co-workers could sugar it up on their final day before the whole company shuts down for two weeks. I am told that went well, and since we only got back empty packaging, I am guessing it did! Always nice to make things a little festive. Yay!
Just like in the States, lots of last minute shoppers clogged the stores and Weinachtsmarkts. Luckily, we largely had our acts together. Last week I got to experience sticker shock when I mailed 3 small boxes to the US for family there. Gulp. I had thus far mostly avoided the necessity by sending things with travelers or just ordering mail-order. But, it seemed like it might be nice to share a bit of the whole Europe thing. I went to the little outlet office of Deutsche Post that operates in a drycleaning/key/shoe repair store next to one of the main supermarkets. The lady there was extremely helpful, even scrounging up some paper to help me fill out one final box. But, without DS’s help I would have been lost! It was a much more thorough process than I would have expected. I had to fill out two longish forms for each package, and some of the questions were beyond my meager German skills. I could get through addresses and the like, but when it started quizzing me on whether there was alcohol or explosives in my boxes and just what the heck was I sending anyways, well, I needed assistance from the boychild. Luckily, his German is pretty good these days and he was pretty comfortable with most of what we were facing. Even so, we weren’t sure if the smaller, green form was for insurance or customs. In the end, we were there a good 25 minutes and the poor people in line behind us trying to pick up their cleaning must have had the patience of angels!
Since the locksmith was in the same shop, I had DS inquire about getting another couple apartment keys made so that he and DD would have their own, and maybe a third one just so we could have a spare. I was a little concerned that only the landlord would be able to make them. To my relief, the shopkeeper told us that he could, in fact, have the keys made. but- and it was a rather large but- we would have to let them have the key for 3 days to send to another shop, and each key cost 50 EU. Doubletake. Eyebrow raise. Um, really? Um.. Hmmm. May need to postpone that plan a bit. Yowza!
Saturday, we tried to stop by the markt in Gengenbach, which locals say is among the best, but it was too crowded to find parking. So, I just took a picture of the Largest Advent Calendar in Europe– their City Hall transforms into its own calendar each year. I was sorry we couldn’t stop for a glass of glühwein, though. On our way out, we noticed that there was a uniformed fireman directing traffic in the main town parking lot. He was moving cones back and forth to let people in and our. I thought that was a bit out of his general job description. But, maybe “public safety”?
Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I have no idea if any of the grocery stores will be open, so we made our Big Food Run yesterday. It wasn’t completely overrun, so I am holding out hope that maybe some of the stores will be open. If not, I have all the makings for our meal. But, still, there are always those few last minute items that you don’t think of until, well, the last minute! Right now I have chocolate truffles and pumpkin pie made. Honestly, if we don’t get any further, I think I will be happy But, I do always rely on the comfort of knowing that the gas station quick-mart will be open if I am desperate for toilet paper or milk!
Ok, a new featurette: Caption This. I put up a photo, you tell me what it should say. This one is of the kids, who just dusted off our old Rock Band set.
Coming up: Driving Lessons, Christmas, and Visiting Friends!