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‘Tis the season to be jolly…or so the local merchants seem to think. I can’t really get into it now since the decorations have been up for months. Christmas is already old and we still have two weeks to go. I realize that I’ve become jaded over the years. When the kids were young, I was right there in the long line, battling to get one of the new shipment of Cabbage Patch dolls and Care Bears. Christmas morning in our house looked like a toy factory had exploded under our tree. It was great fun and I loved all the decorating, baking, wrapping of presents. Fast forward thirty years and, although I love having the family all together, my joy at all the work necessary has faded somewhat.

I can see my kids’ soon-to-be-middle-aged angst at Christmas rearing its head. Since there are no children in the family now, this is to be expected. Christmas morning has become a time to sleep in, eat sugary delights for breakfast, down strong coffee, and spend ages opening gifts…not that there are many gifts since none of us really need anything, but we enjoy the reaction we get from the recipients. Was the gift absurd enough or embarrassing enough to promote gales of laughter or prompt memories of fun times past? We each try to outdo the other in terms of craziness of gifts.

For instance, this year I bought Crazy D a cookbook on how to cook Australian roadkill! It will get some laughs and it was for a worthy cause. Much of the money from sales goes to help Aussie wildlife injured by cars.(And in case you’re wondering, I’m not ruining his Christmas surprise since he long ago stopped reading our blog. Although he gave us permission to use his adventures as subject matter, I’m sure he’d just rather not know what we’re saying about him! ) And since I know he’s not reading this, I will also mention that his Christmas stocking will be filled with his collection (beautifully wrapped) of small plastic dinosaurs–the ones that took up residence in the family room shortly after he moved in and executed what I refer to as a ‘bloodless coup’ on said room. He executed the coup so he could keep his computer, desk, laundry drying rack and huge drafting table with biking maps where he could use them.

When Gill and I talked recently, we were comparing notes on who had bought the most outlandish gift for Crazy D. His gifts, it has to be said, have to be outlandish since he is the definition of outlandish. I think, judging by what Gill showed me on camera, she WINS Christmas this year. I might get an honorable mention, but she scored big time!

Gill told me that, trying to get into the Christmas spirit, she recently went to see a German Christkindl market in Bristol. That I don’t get. Here, in theCanadian city   once known as ‘Berlin’, we are surrounded by German people, markets, Oktoberfest and sausages everywhere. It is part of our heritage. But Bristol?

I watched a television piece about our own German market. One has to use a bit of imagination to see it as a Christmas experience. Although, in keeping with the ‘no room at the inn’ theme, this market is located on the main street of the city. It is closed off to vehicular traffic for the duration. The problem is, most of our city is also being torn up for light rail transit construction. You can’t go anywhere without detours that are changed on a daily basis. Store owners are fuming since business is way down and everyone is grumbling about the inconvenience, the roads that are now parking lots during rush hour, and the lack of parking facilities (returning to the ‘no room at the inn’ theme). The point of all this is that you REALLY have to want to venture out to the German Market. If you go by car, you may have to abandon it on someone’s front lawn or in the nearest McD’s parking lot.

To be fair, this city is pretty much a German Market all year round. Apart from our famous Oktoberfest festivities, we have German bakeries, butcher shops, more beer than is healthy for one city to have, and the ubiquitous accordion music. It is difficult to escape the dulcet tones of The Chicken Dance or the rousing polkas that grate (at least on my ears) almost as much as really twangy country music. So, while such a thing as the Christkindl Market is a novelty in other cities, here it’s pretty much just Tuesday.

The little wooden huts that house the vendors are, I imagine, supposed to make one think of a small, snow covered German mountain village — quaint and picturesque. Something is lost in translation when these huts (that could have been outhouses in a former life) are plunked down in the middle of a paved street, absolutely no snow to be seen anywhere–thanks to El Nino– and shelves of tchotchkes that have nothing to do with Christmas, Germany, or even good taste. Ah, Christmas….