True to his word, on the first Advent eve, Opa started putting up tiny decorations in special places around his home. Or was it really the work of the Weihnachtsmann?
One by one, a miniature choir of chubby, wooden angels appeared in the kitchen cabinet. Every day, a new one, each with a musical instrument! Some played a harp; others organs and trumpets.
And on the table, there now sat four deep red candles in a thick WeihnachtsKranz (Christmas wreath). Opa explained to us that they were to be lit one by one. One for every Sunday of the special Adventzeit.
The traditional, handmade figurines of the Erzgebirge, little Raüchermanner (Smoking Men) also made a magical appearance. And of course, the wooden nutcrackers.
This region in East Germany borders the Czech Republic. Besides delicious food, Saxony is also famous for its nature: grandiose mountains, rivers, and endless forests.
The wooden nutcrackers are traditional Erzgebirge handicrafts. The ones that sit on our kitchen table now aren’t newly bought decorations; they’ve been in the family for years. I suppose they’re vintage artifacts that resurface every December.
As I write this, my kids are two and five. They are still young enough to enjoy the Christmas magic.
Yes, we can have real evergreens and traditional Saxon figurines. But we can cut out simple paper snowflakes and string them on the windows, too.
We can tell stories about surprises and wonder. But we do know that love is the biggest magic of all.
And when Saint Niklaus leaves two gigantic chocolate men on the doorstep to eat, as he did last December 6, it really is magical.
When you can enjoy simple pleasures with childlike wonder, Christmas can be pretty fun. And as long as their little eyes are still wide with wonder and delight, I’ll be enjoying the season’s magic, too.
Yesterday, the son and I skipped through a slushy path on the way home from school. He stopped to ask a very serious question:
“Mom, do you know who actually gives us the uberraschungs (surprise gifts) at Christmas?”
“Well, someone else, too! Do you know, mom? There’s the Weihnachtsmann, and…do you know who else?”
“The postman, of course!”