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Great Times > Reliving
When at the door it goes clink, clank and then clunk, you know it's Santa with all the junk. 
Wenn es draussen scheppert und pumpert, steht's Christkind da mit lauter Klumpert."
(Uncle’s favorite Christmas rhyme)
 
 
So this was... Christmas
 
Witch's Cottage. In the advent season, grandma did bake a gingerbread house, just like in the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel. As the lost children discovered a house made of candy and cake, little did they know about it being a witch's cottage. We all seem to remember the classic line: "Nibble, nibble, gnaw. Who's nibbling at my little house – Knusper, knusper, knäuschen. Wer knuspert an meinem Häuschen?" The Brothers Grimm at their best!
 
Every year a bit earlier: It appears that the Christmas season extends by starting a bit earlier every year. And so we'd find each other attending a Christmas market at the "Vienna Magic of Advent (Wiener Adventzauber)" in front of the Vienna city hall in mid-November already.
 
Great Family Moment: Annual assembly under the Christmas tree.
 
A comment we received in response to above picture, says it all: "Jetzt weiss ich endlich, wie österreichische Nikoläuse aussehen  Now I finally know, how Austrian Santas look like!" Although we are fans of the Christkind, really.
 
Christmas Cards. A recurring challenge is the creation of a family Christmas card. Sometimes there is inspiration, in other years nothing new comes to mind. How do you spend the quiet season that is nowadays filled with the noise of overcrowded shopping malls and loud Christmas music jingling through the air, but also full of the smell of freshly made Christmas cookies and the anticipation of weight gain? Do you ever reflect on the true meaning of the birth of a savior for the world in the very religious context? A long time ago an uncle of mine had been asked at school about the meaning of Christmas. Following his answer that it was about getting presents, the religion teacher slapped him. Today, the same would not be possible any more. But how many of us would need a re-orientation to the essence, stripped of all the superficial glitter, hard-nosed career hunting and self-imposed hectic?
 
X-Mas or X-Files? In times of mega-size XXXL portions, X-Box, X-Files, and X-Men, there is one more word starting with the same letter: X-Mas is a most common abbreviation of Christmas. The second part of X-Mas is simply derived from the word "mass," describing the church service. As for the first part, it appears that the letter "X" or "Chi" in the Greek alphabet is the first letter of "Christ" or "Khristos," meaning the anointed one. In the old days, pharaohs, monarchs, and kings were covered with perfumed oil to symbolize divine influence. As part of progressing secularization, Santa Clause takes over and also we like to wear those red hats and get bigger and bigger. 
 
Christmas Carol Composition. "Silent Night, Holy Night" is probably the most popular Christmas song world wide. It was composed by a priest in Salzburg, Austria, and then translated into all languages. My grandfather used to tell a story from an extraordinary experience during the Second World War. On Christmas Eve the shooting would suddenly stop and voices from both sides of the front line joined each other to sing "Silent Night, Holy Night." Just as we gather under the Christmas tree to sing the same song. These days we may not find ourselves in lethal combat but in daily struggle with handling expectations, obligations, and pressure imposed on us. At one point, we may all become victims of the ultimate paradox: One only learns to value what he has got, when he doesn't have it any more. This is true for many situations in life, where disappointment may temporarily overshadow our view on advantages of the status quo and high-raging emotions may lead to ill-advised decisions. Then we better recap what we have achieved already – without painting too black a picture of our current situation - and what we should still strive for, really and realistically. At the same time we should not forget those, who are no so well off and may not have the same choices and chances available.
 
We'd like to wish you all very Merry Christmas and an exceptional New Year... especially to those of you, who are going through hard times!
 
Going with the times, one year we'd create a social media style Christmas card. It recalled typical social network functions: Comment, Share, Like. And then there are Chat & Admin, of course. Not to mention Subsrcibe and Retweet.
 
Wishing a Happy New Year and collecting for a good cause... kids disguised as the biblical Three Wise Men. After walking from door-to-door, the kids found that more and more people not knowing the custom any more. Once they had someone yelling: "Nobody's home!"
 
"Meine Tante sagte immer: Das Leben ist wie meine Vanillekipferln... hart.
My aunt always said: Life is like my home-made Christmas cookies... tough."
(Radio announcement about parallels among life and vanilla flavored sand tarts)
  
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