December, my favorite month of the year. December 6th- Saint Nickolaus day, December 25th -Christmas day, January 1st - New Years, January 6th - Three Kings day and this year we have one more important day: December 21st - end of the 4th World.
Since I was born in Germany and we were always a generation behind America, I grew up like your grandparents did in this country. On December 6th, St. Nickolaus would make his rounds to all the children on the street. He would be accompanied by a helper dressed in old fashioned garb. He would carry a large book and when he entered your house he would open the book, look under your name to see if you were naughty or nice and then ask you to reach in the burlap sack and get your gift. If you were on the naughty list he would grab you by the seat of your pants and stuff you in the bag and off you went to the next house. There he would release you, have your moment of embarrassment and run home. You would usually only make the list once in your early years. Because of the not so long ago World War, gifts were hard to come by so much regifting was done. I can remember getting a hand-made wooden truck, painted red for my first gift. By March or April I would have stopped playing with it and it would disappear. The following Christmas it would become a gift again, mine that is, with a new paintjob. On December 24th we would get our real Christmas Tree and put it up on Christmas Eve. The tree was decorated with hand-blown glass ornament that were beautifully painted. Since the Christmas tree is a spin-off of the Festival of Lights our pagan ancestors celebrated, we placed real candles on the tree. Today we can’t even place electric lights on trees without sometimes causing fires. Yet in my 13 years of living in my home town I never once heard of someone starting a fire on Christmas Day by lighting the candles. My Oma (grandmother) would cook a very festive meal for Christmas day. Usually a nice ham, potatoes and a vegetable that she would have grown in the summer and canned herself for a later use. Her claim to fame was her baking. As I began school she thought I was old enough to help her make cookies for Christmas. And cookies we made, by the hundreds. Then came the cakes. We had cakes that looked like pies but the dough was like a sweet pizza dough. She would use apples, cherries, pears or berries for filling these pies. Then came her specialty: The Torte.. a three or four layer cake with home-made jams and whip cream between the layers. After dinner on Christmas day we would retreat to the “Wohnzimmer”, our living room, start a fire in the potbelly stove, ate some sweets, drank some schnapps and sang Christmas Carols. What was there not to like about December? The day after Christmas was just as much fun for me because now I went into town to visit my God Parents. I had four of them, two males and two females and the gifts would flow again. I especially liked one of my female God Parents. She owned a jewelry business and she was always to busy to get me anything for the holydays, so she would give me cash and told me to get what I wanted most. You never had to tell me twice.
I miss those olden days, when things were simpler, not hectic. When I was a generation of latch-key kids that did not have to worry about going home after school to an empty house. I learned early on to respect my elders no matter how screwed up they were. At least they were harmless. As a boy, I always wore a cap when I went into town and if a lady came the opposite way I was taught to step off the sidewalk, let her pass, and remove my cap to greet her. I could go on and on about those days but we have to live in the present, not the past, not the future. So to all my friends, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and here is to all of us coming through the 4th ending of the World.