Sunday, November 21, 2010
In which the Gingerbread Lady makes Christmas cards ...
but it means a lot to us. This is our mediaeval Advent Market - or what will be the mediaeval Advent Market. At the moment it's just a crowd of chain-smoking chappies in blue overalls, hammering the little wooden houses together, but in a matter of days, it'll be a little village full of hairy locals in hemp robes, selling hot chestnuts and wooden swords.
The pre-Christmas period is always jolly nice, but nowhere nicer than in Bavaria. This part of Germany is known for its Christmas gingerbread - yes, really, that's why I chose this name (I've ginger hair, too. A happy coincidence) and its Christmas markets. Nuremberg's Christkindlsmarkt (Christchild's Market) is world famous and almost eye-poppingly picturesque. You could happily guzzle your way from one end of the market to the other: slurping candy-floss, sucking candied ginger, munching toffee apples and swilling mulled wine. And rest assured, dear readers, we do this once a year as a matter of tradition.
Anyway, before I get carried away with a rhapsody of Christmas treats, let me tell you about this week's trauma:
I turned (whisper it) thirty-six. Thirty-SIX. I've spent the last five years recovering from the shock of turning thirty, so it came as quite a surprise when I realised that I was rapidly sliding towards the big four-oh (whisper it) - yes, forty. My pain was eased slightly by the arrival of pretty cards (look at the cards my little sisters made me. Aren't they purdy?)
and the appearance of presents. Obviously, I'd like to think that I'm the kind of person who eschews presents in favour of good deeds (e.g. a donkey donated in my name to a Third World village), but I cannot tell a lie: donkey, yes, and a skein of yarn for me.
No, actually, my attitude towards presents has changed. I've become a rabid re-gifter: despite being surrounded by stuff, I hate it. I don't like all these things. I have very little sentimentality, I don't attach great meaning to very much. Use it or lose it has become my motto. I don't keep fancy glasses for A Special Occasion, I don't save handmade soap for Sometime in the Future, I don't put expensive wine aside to gather dust. Essentially, my possessions are either Mine (I use them and love them) or On Their Way To Someone Else - and that's good, too. In my peculiar view of the universe, everything has a home and everything has an owner, and the things that are currently resting in my possession might really be destined for someone else who will love them more.
In this spirit, I've tried to re-examine what I gift. For example, I spent yesterday afternoon making my Christmas cards.
This year, I've even made little parcels with a half-dozen handmade Christmas cards for my favourite friends and colleagues - an Advent present, not a Christmas present. Fingers crossed that they'll like them.