Monday, 18 December 2017

A Little Goes a Long Way

It's so true in many situations, isn't it, that a little can go a long way.
Take the weekend before last. I was home alone - unplanned; O.K. was supposed to be with me all weekend. But he had been struggling with a nasty cold all week already (of course still going to work everyday, plus having extra band practice in preparation for the annual concert), and by Friday evening, it was clear that the reasonable thing to do would be for him to stay home and get some rest on the weekend, not face a 150 km drive on potentially snowy roads just to see me and then back on Sunday night with probably more snow.

Of course I missed seeing him, but a visit to the Christmas Market with my sister cheered me up, as did the sight of a light dusting of snow on Saturday morning:


On the Sunday, it snowed a lot more, and I only left the house to go to the gym, which is really just down the road from where I live.


In the afternoon, I dediced to do something about the somewhat less than happy mood in my house (long story - nothing to do with me, but it does affect me nonetheless). It being the 2nd Advent Sunday, I prepared three plates of chocolate-covered Lebkuchen (a typical German Christmas thing), put a tea light in the middle of each and took them round to the three other flats in my house; the attic one, the ground floor and the (very new) cellar mini-flat that has recently been created and is rented by a young Syrian refugee who is a trainee at one of the biggest factories in my town. I'd not met him yet, so I thought this was a good occasion to introduce myself to my new neighbour.


I took the plates round and they were much appreciated. Everybody wanted me to come in and stay for a cup of tea or coffee, but I declined; all I wanted was to spread a little cheer, and I think I managed that.

The following week (last week) was once again very busy work-wise. Ever since I moved into this flat in 2003, I have never done so little in terms of Christmas decoration. A big box full still sits in my cellar, but even though I very much feel "christmassy" in my heart and mind, I somehow don't feel like bringing the box upstairs and decorate.

Instead, this year I rely on the many beautiful Christmas cards I keep receiving - the minority from Germany, the majority from friends and family in Yorkshire and from my blogging friends. Thank you all so much - you know who you are!


They do give the living room a festive mood, don't they? Also, today I received my presents from England, which I will open on the morning of the 25th, before getting on a train to O.K.'s. I have put them on the TV table next to my Midsomer Murders Christmas special DVD, which my sister-in-law sent me some years ago.


On the coffee table sits the advent wreath my Mum and Dad gave me. You can see only two candles are lit; I was home last night (on the 3rd Advent Sunday) at 10:30 pm and went to bed almost immediately without lighting any candles. 
The yellow pillow case is a gift from my sister. You probably can't see it very well in the picture, but it is covered in tiny shiny stars - very festive!



Above the settee is the only Christmas ornament I have brought up from the cellar, with its brother in the bedroom.




It has been snowing this morning, making me glad I was working from home for a few hours before going to my customer where I have a desk on the 9th floor. Seeing the snow, receiving cards and parcels, knowing I have all my presents ready (they only need wrapping), the concert of O.K.'s village band last Saturday night and having coffee and more Lebkuchen with his family on Sunday afternoon - it all adds to the Christmas mood I'm in.


And then there was the funny little conversation I had with the postie just an hour ago. Lucky I was home when he rang, as he brought the aforementioned presents from England and some more cards! When I saw how much he had for me, I said "So much!" to which he replied with a smile: "Well, if you order so many things..."  
I said that I had ordered nothing, and that these were all presents for me, since I'd been good all year and we all know that Santa brings nice things to the good ones. I added that I was sure he'd been good, too, and would have lovely presents for Christmas. He looked at me for a moment through his slightly steamed-up specs (it was cold outside, and much warmer in my stair case, where we were standing), then broke into a wide grin and said "You're right!" before he wished me a good day and went back down the stairs. After he shut the door from outside, I still heard him chuckle.

As I said, a little can go a long way.

17 comments:

  1. I love this post, the treats for your neighbors, the snow, the parcels and cards (a special card arrived for me this year all the way from Deutschland!) your conversation with the postie, the snow....it all sounds so nice! Did you take any pictures of the Christmas market this year? I think Christmas must be very special in Germany. ❤

    Ps....I hope O.K. is feeling better soon!

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    1. I reread this and saw I mentioned snow twice....that's how much snow at Christmas impresses a Southern girl like me! Ha ha! ;)

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    2. We don't know yet whether we will actually have snow at Christmas; we'll just have to wait and see :-)
      But I agree; our Christmas markets are great (most of them, anyway), and lots of other traditions make this a truly special time of year.

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  2. Such an enjoyable post to read - and to see more of your lovely flat which is so nice with or without decorations! Real cards always add to the holiday feeling - I'm just sad that many people no longer send them, and e-cards are nowhere near as much fun as opening a real card. Looking at often very pretty Christmas stamps, receiving some heartfelt handwritten words, and having something to come back to and enjoy when sitting around over the holidays, is for me a happy thing.
    Lovely snow pix - sorry your O.K. is unwell and hopefully a few days will have him back to good health for your visit at Christmas.

    Have a lovely Christmas and blessings for the coming year.
    Mary X

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    1. Indeed, e-cards are nice but you can not really put them on display in the house, can you. Real cards can be kept and used again for decorating year after year, and we can re-read the kind words, sometimes written to us by loved ones no longer around.

      Merry Christmas and all the best for next year to you, too!
      X

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  3. I am so sorry that I don't have your address! Could you send it to me at kjalics at rocketmail and then dotcom? I send and receive lots of Christmas cards, from family and friends but also from two book discussion groups I've been in for more than 20 years now. I'm glad O.K. is doing better and that you are getting into the Christmas spirit with your decorating even though work has been so extra busy this year. And what a kind gesture to take the plates with light and delicious cookies around. I'm sure that will help improve the mood in your building!

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    1. When I rang the doorbell of the couple that are causing the unhappy mood here, the woman looked as grumpy as always. But when I extended the plate towards her and said that I was just bringing a little something for this Advent Sunday afternoon, her face lit up much more than the little candle; it was clearly a pleasant surprise for her.
      So at least temporarily, I hope I managed to spread some goodwill!

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  4. And a smile or a kind word goes so much further than a cmplaint or a grouse - you sound to me in full Christmas spirit. Happy Christmas to you.

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    1. Thank you, dear Pat, and the same to you, even though I know it will be a tough one for you this year.

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  5. What a thoughtful neighbor you are! That is so much more meaningful than any number of household decorations! My cards and a small collection of Santas, gathered over the years, are the entirety of my decorations this year. I like the simplicity of that!

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    1. All year round, I am a fan of simplicity and clear surfaces, but in the weeks leading up to Christmas, I develop a longing for glitter and gold, red and green!
      Your small collection of Santas sounds nice, I am sure each of them has a story.

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  6. Lovely, wonderful post. I love these bits of your life that you share.

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    1. Thank you, Nan, that is very kind of you!

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  7. That's such a lovely post - it made me smile - well done, you. I love Lebkuchen - lightly iced. Have a wonderful Christmas, best regards, Mike

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    1. Thank you, Mike! Glad it made you smile. Merry Christmas to you and Mrs B, too!

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  8. This is a nice post. It was a great idea to take the cookies around to neighbours and I am sure that the Syrian found it particularly heart warming. It must be so strange I often feel to find oneself in a foreign country one never really planned to live in, far from home. And sharing food is such a universal way of making someone feel at home. I hope you enjoy the rest of your Christmas season!

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    1. Thank you, Jenny, I hope you enjoy this special time of year, too!
      The young man in the cellar already had a visitor when I was knocking, his carer/tutor or whatever else you'd call the person officially assigned to help him as a legally staying refugee. They were revising for a test and the older man seemed very kind. The young man speaks German quite well; it is his 2nd year in this country and he said he found everyone very friendly and was glad to be here.

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