Saturday, December 14, 2013

Advent 2013 days six through twelve

Another update on our Advent calendar...

Day six, December 6th
This was a pretty obvious one, it being Nikolaus Day in Germany. We've never "done" Nikolaus in the way that Germans (and others) do, in that the children never put out shoes nor have we ever given them presents, and we hadn't done anything at all the last four years in Cyprus. However, most of the years we lived in Germany, we did prepare plates of goodies and tiptoe around in our apartment building, leaving one plate in front of each of the other doors, and we always found one or two plates or bags of goodies outside of ours. Someone would put up a sign on the window by the front door of the building saying, "Thank you, Nikolaus!" and everyone would sign it, all pretending that we had no idea who had brought the things. When Jacob was about four, he was asked by someone if Nikolaus had brought him anything, and he excitedly said, "Yes! And we don't even know who it was!" That rather confused people, who couldn't comprehend a four-year-old not "believing" in Nikolaus, but Jacob was totally oblivious to other children getting things like bicycles and shoes full of candy. For him, and for all of us, the fun was in secretly giving things to other people, and if we also got something, well, that was cool, too.

My favorite Nikolaus story was when Marie was five. An old lady at a bus stop asked Marie if she'd been a good girl, and if Nikolaus was going to bring her anything. Marie looked straight at her and said clearly and firmly, "Nikolaus is dead." The lady gasped and clutched at her heart--I truly wondered for a moment if she was going to have a heart attack--and said, "Don't say that! If Nikolaus hears you, he won't bring you anything!" Marie replied very patiently, "Nikolaus WAS alive, and he loved God, and he did lots of good things. But now, he's dead." That's pretty much the summary of what we'd taught her, but after that I did have a talk with her about how it can be fun to play other people's games of pretend with them, and that nobody likes to be told that they're only pretending. That got me out of trouble with a lot of other parents, so Marie could play along with their talks of Nikolaus/Santa Claus/Father Christmas, and she had no idea that the other children really believed in them, and they had no idea that Marie didn't.

Anyway, to the photos-- I didn't manage to get a photo of the chocolate Santas still in their wrappers, but there was one for each person:

Katie was only three and a half for our last Nikolaus Day in Germany, and Helen only three months old, so they didn't remember any of what we'd done then, and Elisabeth was born here, so we first had to explain it all to the three of them, but they were happy enough with chocolate, whatever the reason.

Incidentally, Jacob included an article about the origins of Santa Claus in his November/December issue of The Onymous, but that issue doesn't appear to be on-line yet. He then shortened it considerably to send it to!read-daxi-online a local advertising magazine, which also published it. I can't seem to get the link to go straight to the article, but it's on page 16.

Day seven, December 7th
Hang up stockings:

 Usually, we hang them up in order of age, but that seemed kind of boring, so I hung them up in the order they were handed to me. My mother made mine, and I made all the others. The one for Konstantin I made in 1999 when my host brother from Costa Rica spent Christmas with us and it is now officially our "guest stocking", although it hasn't been used very many times. Most recently was just last year, when my brother and his wife spent Christmas with us.

Day eight, December 8th
Lighting the second Advent candle:

Day nine, December 9th
Eat Spekulatius:

 These are traditional Christmas cookies in Germany, so when I saw them advertised at Lidl several weeks ago, I asked Jörn to get some. The children were thrilled once they knew what they were--nobody except Jacob had any idea what we were talking about until I got them out of the cupboard!

Day ten, December 10th
"Listen to Christmas music" was what it said on the slip of paper, and the girls turned it into dancing to Christmas music, which they've been doing much of the time since. (There's music on right now, which I find distracting, but it also means that I'm getting away with being on the computer while the children are awake...)

Day eleven, December 11th
As I was the one who put the Advent calendar together, of course, and kept the list of what is in which day, because some things require preparation, when I checked what was scheduled for the 11th, and looked at the pouring rain, I decided that what was planned wasn't going to work, and after talking to Jörn, realized some other things were going to have to be switched, too, which I was able to do easily enough with a heavy marker over the ball-point pen Katie had used:

Which meant that on the 11th, we opened chocolate, a small bar of FairTrade Green&Black's. Candy and sweet stuff of any kind is a rather rare treat here, so Katie was quite excited: that was already the THIRD time this month (in fact, in only six days) to have sugar!
 The bar had twelve squares, and Konstantin wasn't home, so there were five left over...whether there are STILL five left over is an entirely different and completely irrelevant question.

Day twelve, December 12th
Thursday mornings I'm out with Helen and Elisabeth at Tots and Co., a local church's playgroup, so Lukas and Katie have the morning "off" and I normally do schoolwork with them after lunch for an hour or two. They enjoy playing games anyway, but that that was what was in the Advent calendar and meant that they didn't have schoolwork made it extra fun. Jörn played Carcassonne with the three girls, and I played Hase und Igel (Hare and Hedgehog) with the three boys. The Carcassonne game didn't actually get finished, but amid the rather loud boasting of Jacob and Konstantin (very Hare-like), Lukas and I plodded steadily forward (Hedgehog-like) and I came in first with Lukas just one turn behind me. I'm not sure if Konstantin and Jacob even finished, but we calculated that it was going to take them something like 23 more turns, at minimum.

And yes, I know today's the 14th, but yesterday's and todays will get another post.

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