A week has passed since my last post, and only one more until Christmas Eve! I am very much looking forward to it, and also to the two weeks off altogether. My last working day this year will be the 21st of December, and my first working day in 2019 will be January 7.
As before, there will be quite a bit of toing and froing, me mostly spending just one or two nights at the same place before being on the (rail-)road again. But that is what it's like when your love lives 150 km away and you wish to spend time with both families, and I am very much used to it by now.
After I had this really nasty cold the previous weekend and could not see O.K., I really really wanted to be with him last weekend, even though it was not planned originally.
On Friday night, I hosted our annual Schrottwichteln for the 9th or 10th time, I think - we've been having this particular kind of party for longer, but we started to hold it at my place only after Steve's death. If you have started reading my blog recently or can not remember my earlier posts about it, you can read more about it here.
This year, everyone who had said they were coming did eventually make it - some later than others, because (as is so often the case) there was yet another situation with local trains (I found out today that a train caught fire because the driver - get this! - drove it with the brakes on...!).
Here I am, all excited about the present that happened to end up with me:
...and after unwrapping:
Three batches of Toast Hawaii, several bottles of champagne and seven plates of star-shaped ice cream later, the party was over and a bunch of happy friends said good-bye until our next meeting. One spent the night at my place, as she'd been travelling nearly 700 km for the party.
The next morning after breakfast, she left to meet up with other friends in town (she used to live here until some years back), and I packed my overnight bag and left for the train station.
This is the huge Christmas tree with nativity scene at Karlsruhe main station, where I had about 15 minutes before catching my connecting train:
It had been a grey morning in Ludwigsburg, but soon after the train left Karlsruhe, the sun began to get through, and at O.K.'s, it was a beautiful sunny (but cold) afternoon. This picture I took from the high speed train - hence the fuzziness. In reality, the way the sunrays seemed to be "pouring" over the rim of clouds almost looked like a waterfall of sunlight:
I arrived at Offenburg station with only 9 minutes delay, met by O.K. We dropped off my bag at his cottage and then went to see one of his oldest friends and his wife. They both have their birthday in December and so usually celebrate together. More champagne, then coffees and delicious cakes, before we had to leave because O.K. had another rehearsal for the village band's annual concert.
While he was out, I first had a little nap and then did what I often do - ironing :-) (I've mentioned before that ironing is, along with washing up, one of the household jobs I really like doing and do not mind at all.)
The next day was the 3rd Advent Sunday. We woke up to the first proper snow of this season in our area; I took this picture of O.K.'s balcony:
My Mum sent me this from her balcony, so I knew what to expect upon getting home:
O.K. took me to the station around lunch time. Both my trains were bang on time, and to ride through the snow-covered countryside in the soft early afternoon light was a pleasure. I had my kindle with me but only read a few lines here and there while we were stopping at the rather unattractive stations along the way; it was much nicer watching the world outside than reading.
At home, I had about 35 minutes; enough time to start the washing machine (remember, I'd had a house guest on Friday night and left early on Saturday), light three candles on my Advent wreath and have a quick cup of coffee and some chocolate while opening the two latest Christmas cards I found in my mail box.
Then it was time to leave again and meet my Mum in town. We went to a special Advent concert - a "sing along" concert! It's been 10 years now that an association of Ludwigsburg choirs host this event where the audience are explicitly invited to sing along. For my Mum and myself, it was the first time - but definitely not the last! We enjoyed the experience greatly.
It simply feels wonderful to sing the familiar Advent and Christmas songs with so many people - around 200 on stage (seven choirs, from an elementary school choir to a rather professional sounding group of five ladies with the most beautiful voices and perfect timing) and 1,000 in the audience.
The program was cleverly spaced with usually one or two songs sung by one of the choirs on stage, and then one for everyone to join in. I used to sing in my local church's choir in my teens, but of course my voice is not the same as it was, and my technique is rusty, to say the least. Never mind - this was NOT about how good (or not) you sing, but about singing as such; singing for fun, singing with a full heart.
Most of the time, both my Mum and I were able to sing along happily, but don't be surprised to read that at one time, we both cried and had to stop singing for a little, busily faffing with our tissues. Whether someone believes the message in those songs or not, I wonder if anyone present at such an event can not be touched by it.
We had about half an hour left afterwards before it was time for my Mum to see to my Dad's medication, and so we had a quick mulled white wine with ginger on the Christmas market. It was a perfect ending to this beautiful 3rd of Advent.
Back home, guess what I did - I watched "Back to the Future" (part III) which happened to be on telly, with the candles lit again, and a plate of Christmas cookies.