Together, Around The Table

Anna Captures a Meal Together

I TOOK THE LEAF OUT OF OUR DINING ROOM TABLE TODAY.

Before we moved here, Melissa and I decided to scrap our old kitchen table and upgrade.  We went to Homemaker’s furniture in Des Moines and bought a nice (for us) 8-10 person dining room table for our family and had it shipped to our house just in time to have it packaged, put on a container, and shipped to our new place.  Since then we also bought a breakfast-nook table for our main dining room.  That is the one that gets most of the use….unless we have company.

WAY BACK on December 3rd, I put the leaf into the new dining room table to make room for our coming guests.  My parents came on the 4th and stayed for 2 weeks.  We had a great time with them here.  We had some much-enjoyed quality time and encouragement, and they were, of course, always jumping in to lend a hand with the kids, meals, and tasks around the house.  They left on the 17th, and just a week later Melissa’s parents were able to come, and we had more of the same.

Cam's birthday around the table

WE ATE AROUND THAT TABLE A LOT.  Breakfasts and lunches and dinners.  Christmas meal with my family.  Christmas meal with Melissa’s family.  Meals at the table were punctuated with birthday celebrations, opening of presents, playing UNO or Prince Caspian, and others.  When we weren’t around the table we were just hanging out or watching TV or out and about exploring the Rhineland-Pfalz.  In short, we had fun – not because we did so much, but because we did it together.  It was nice to have company.  It was nice to see family.

This morning, Melissa left early to drive her parents to the airport for their trip home. While she was gone, I took the wing out of the dining room table.  It had been extended for company almost a full month, and now it is back to it’s normal size of six chairs pressed into the corner, mostly to be used as a base for homework.  And it will be a while before it comes out again.

We like Germany.  No – we love Germany.  We can already see there are so many things that we’ll wish we could take back to the states when that time comes, and we are content to stay here as long as my firm allows.  We have all adjusted really well and are not complaining.  But it’s bittersweet.  We loved the company.  We loved seeing family, parents and grandparents and in-laws, and spending time sharing our new place, town, and country.  The hard thing about expat life is that this is one item you just can’t package up in a box, put in a container, and have shipped to you.  Time with family and old friends is fleeting and far between, and the coming of New Year’s Eve means that for us it’s over for a while.

And that makes these otherwise Happy Holidays a little more somber for us.

Deideshiemer Weihnachtmarkt

THE SIGN OF THE COMING OF THE CHRISTMAS SEASON in Germany is the opening of the Christmas markets.

Thousands of cities and towns across Germany host outdoor Weihnachtmarkts,  where you can stop in and shop in open air-gift boutiques, and shake off the cold with a glass of traditional Gluhwein.

WITH COMPANY this week (my parents), this was a great time for visiting the Weihnachtsmarkts nearby. Last weekend we stopped into Neustadt’s for some Gluhwein and conversation with some friends, then later that weekend went to the Christkindlmarkt in our Hambach neighborhood.

LAST NIGHT we walked to the train station and took a Regional Bahn (our first experiment in using the train system here) to Deidesheim, where the train dropped us off right outside one of the area’s better Weihnachtmarkts in the area.  We completely underestimated the crowd –  the train was packed and the streets even more filled – But a bratwurst and glass of Gluhwein later we were no worse for the wear.

Weihnachtsmarkts are a a great way to get into the Christmas spirit.  I’m a noob at night photos, but even so a few pictures captured the great atmosphere in Deidesheim.