Wednesday, October 28, 2015

On holidays

Here in Germany, we don't really celebrate the same holidays as the United States (of course there is overlap, oh hello Christmas!) - but those holidays that we grew up acknowledging are still ingrained in our beings and minds.  Our bodies still feel the calendar rhythms that we grew up with, and I find us wanting to celebrate those holidays for which we hadn't particularly liked or found meaning in previously - perhaps that is why a festive Halloween is happening this year.

But we don't just want to celebrate the holidays we had in the United States, we want to start new ones as well.  Special days and celebrations are the easier way to connect to our new home.  Their discreetness is what makes these so much easier to connect to - a celebration or holiday is easier to research, easier to ask others about.  How do you celebrate this day?  What is this day all about? 

The other stuff is what permeates the air.  And getting at what makes up that air is the harder part.  What does it mean to be German, and how does this change your mindset, your habits, your routines, your norms?   These are the questions that are harder for us to answer, despite their urgency.  How can we best make Molly and Max NOT feel like such outsiders?

But we keep plugging away, soaking up the culture and language.  Each time we learn something new about the culture it becomes a gemstone, and as we glean new information our gemstone gets shinier and more refined until finally we can string it up on our necklace.  And we proudly wear this necklace (our necklace that says WE ARE GERMAN-ING), but then when we look around at what others are wearing, our necklace looks off - a bit too big, seven years out of date in style, and looks like cheap costume jewelry. So we go back to each gemstone, trying to make each one better and better until finally our necklace will look like everyone else's. 

On November 5, Max's kita is doing Lanternelaufen.  Apparently, the kids go out in the evening, with homemade lanterns, and sing songs.  This is perhaps one of the most utterly charming scenarios can possibly imagine.  So here we are trying out this new tradition - our self-made lanternelaufen lantern.

To make it, we used a jar, aluminum foil, a sharp utensil, an led light, and some jute. Max poked holes in the aluminum foil, stuffed it inside the jar, and put the light in the middle. Then we tied the jute on the sides so that he can hold his lantern easily.

We are excited to try it out.  Though I'm sure it will end up looking awkward.  Alas, we keep trudging on. 

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