Monday, November 06, 2006

Full circle ...

November 6, 2006

The Weihnachtsmarkt stalls are now being constructed in the Rudolfplatz and Neumarkt. It was these markets that served as our introduction to Germany in late November of 2005. In just a few days it will have been one year since we landed here in Cologne, a year seems like such a long time when you say the word and such a short stretch when you live it.

His Holiness was totally enraptured by it all, the bright colored lights on the otherwise modest carousel, the miniature jeeps and motorcycles and police cars of a merry-go-round that became our regular haunt for that first and most German of all months. The merry-go-round was situated conveniently near a Gluhwein stall and beneath one of Cologne’s medieval gates, the Hahnentor, a respite I learned to enjoy and look forward to again this year, although frankly I couldn’t possibly drink Gluhwein for more than a week or so each year – it’s just too sweet and sticky and intoxicating. But it’s great fun during the Christmas season and it is just one more reason why I like it here so much. The Germans may be considered stiff in some departments but they know how to celebrate a holiday as well or better than anyone.

First impressions are everything and my first impressions of this city were formed in the immediate environs of the rides His Holiness enjoyed over and over and over, and as I watched him glow I also watched my new neighbors warm themselves in the dark, late afternoons and evenings of early December, drinking Gluhwein and laughing out loud, listening to the tinny music from the tired speakers that line the market square and relishing another season of rich food and high spirits.

Last year I was unaware of another, and for Cologne, an even grander holiday festivity that was winding itself up in the background of all this Christmas cheer. Once or twice during late November and December I noticed the odd person or small group appearing seemingly out of nowhere wearing strange costumes or huge blue hair and I wondered where the party was. Now of course I realize that as of 11:11AM on November 11th the party otherwise known as Karneval, officially begins and from that point until Ash Wednesday, you never know who or what might pop up out of a subway station or bus stop or from around the corner.

This weekend HH and I went shopping for garden tools because I’ve recently joined a local group that cares for the public gardens surrounding a local church here in the Belgisches Viertel. We happened to arrive an hour early so we wandered around the old section of Cologne eating waffles and window shopping until we stumbled upon a grand store that specializes in costumes for Karneval. HH was completely fascinated and for nearly twenty minutes he walked back and forth from one corner to the next then back again looking at the assortment of gowns and masks and wigs that filled the windows and he had a little something to say about most of them. Last year he attended the celebrations as a frog and while scrutinizing the show windows he asked me if I knew where his frog costume was and I said yes, although I don’t think he can quite fit into it this year.

He’s such a big boy now; growing so fast it scares us both. He reminds me just about every morning that he is just a little boy and I agree. He has no idea how much I wish we could stay just like he is for a little bit longer, his face is still round with baby fat, his stride nearly balanced but not quite. I can still pick him up and carry him for a block or two but just barely. He likes being carried and every morning on the way to kindergarten he stops me in the street, blocks my path with his stubby frame and raising his hands up in the air says, “Papa carry me.” I always do but I also insist that I get a kiss or two or three in return and he usually obliges.

I don’t know how may more rides he has on the Weihnachtsmarkt merry-go-round before it begins to feel cramped for him, before he notices the other children on the ride and realizes they are all a bit younger than he is and he decides it’s no longer for him. I expect we will have this year and maybe another. I’m paying attention, listening and watching and trying to write down as much of it as I can, so that I don’t forget the important parts. The problem is; I’m not wise enough to distinguish the important parts from the general too and fro. So forgive me reader if I tend to go on a bit too long now and then; this merry-go-round only goes around once.


Blogger J said...

I thought of you and HH when I was in Cologne on Saturday. I think you should try to get him a different costume every year and post a few pics. What a great photo diary this blog would be to him.

11:34 PM  
Blogger Berlinbound said...

But he really likes that frog costume ... I may have to go searching for a larger size - it could become his signature look!

11:06 AM  
Anonymous reslifedan said...

I have spent a good part of my day enjoying your blog (playing hookey!). Having read your first posts about the Weihnachtsmarkt stalls last year, I hope HH can enjoy the carousel for a bit longer!

It is election day here in USA, and I've a feeling my desire to move abroad will be reinforced. I found you via a few ex-pat links I frequent. Reading your experiences are an inspriation to me. Your move to Koln, transition to Germany (and Germans) and your relationship with your son, coupled with your insight and writing-style, will keep me coming back.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Berlinbound said...

reslifedan ...

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I'm happy to hear you enjoy reading the blog.

6:05 AM  
Blogger Rositta said...

Your blog brings back some childhood memories. I hail from Wiesbaden and have lived most of my life in Canada. I have not had Christmas in Germany since childhood but we try to recreate it every year to way I remember starting with the Advent calender. Enjoy your child they truly grow too fast. My only one is now approaching 41 and lucky for me is going to present me with grandchild number 4 in April. I can hardly wait. I also hope to visit Germany once more, hopefully during the Christmas season. Sorry I'm rambling, but I really do enjoy reading about your new home.

4:01 AM  
Blogger Berlinbound said...

Thanks Rossita ... I am happy you enjoy it - please ramble at will.

9:46 AM  

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