Christmas Eve we were invited to spend with a couple about our age from near the city of Hagen. It was more of a formal event than what we are used to, but it was nice. We started at 3:30 PM and did not return home until about 10:30 PM. The home was a very nice and typical German Home. Every room is closed with a door leading to a hall-way. Upon our arrival we were taken into the kitchen where we enjoyed some wonderful cake and cookies and some herbal tea. We were told that "der Weihnachtsman" (Santa-claus) was busy in the other room. When we came into the living room we saw a beautiful Christmas tree with around 24 real candles all lit and some packages under the tree. It was a breathtaking sight. Next came the wonderful meal. Of course we ate too much and we even found extra room for some delicious desserts. By the time we were through eating, the first set of candles were burned and we all put a second set of candles on the tree and lit those candles. We read together the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke and exchanged stories of our Christmas traditions. It was a real effort for us to leave and go home, for a long day lay ahead of us on the first Christmas day.
On the first Christmas morning at about 5:00 AM we managed to drag ourselves out of bed and make an all anticipated call home to our Family. It was about 9:00 PM Christmas-Eve in Salt Lake City. Our Children and Grandchildren along with Anina's aunt (Darlene) and Anina's sister (Alayna) were all celebrating Christmas Eve at our home. We did get to talk to most of then on the phone. Oh, how we wished we could have transported ourselves to that place, if only for a few moments! We are grateful for the technology that made that visit so memorable. We could not dwell and savor those moments too long, for we had to finish packing and drive to our "second home". It was a very anticipated visit to Vockerode-Meissner. As we arrived for the 3 day visit, the extended family of Carl-Heinz and Brigitte was already sitting at the table for their Christmas dinner. The dinner was more like our Thanksgiving dinner with all of the trimmings. Instead of Turkey we enjoyed a roasted goose, instead of mashed potatoes we had the potato balls, and instead of pumpkin pie we had some wonderful German pastries and cakes. After exchanging many gifts the large room looked very much like the room looked after you opened all of the gifts. It was a great day even with a "touch of family".
As many of you know, in Germany we have two Christmas Holidays, the 25th and 26th of December.
After breakfast, Karl-Heinz and Brigitte suggested that we go for a little ride. After an hour car ride we arrived in the city of Eisenach. We parked at the bottom of a hill and climbed up to the burg that we noticed on top of a hill for some distance. The Wartburg has a very rich and colorful history that date back to 1067. We took an hour long tour through those unique halls and rooms. There are so many things that transpired there, we can not even begin to mentions these in this writing. We will mention only two that were of special interest us.
The story of a Hungarian born princess is a very touching one. She was only 4 years old when she was taken to Thueringen to be the future wife of Ludwig the 4th. She was married at the age of 14. Had children and lived a live devoted to the poor. She started Hospitals, helped the poor and underprivileged and worked hard to make the lives of the poor more tolerable. She did all of this at the objections of the royal court. Her husband died in the crusades. She died at the early age of 24 in the year of 1231. She lived such a extraordinary life that it took only 4 years for her to be canonized by the Pope in 1235. Some day we have to spend some time to talk about some of the stories, miracles and legends of Elisabeth.
At the conclusion of the tour we were taken to an area and museum of the castle that depicts another fascinating event that took place here. Martin Luther, who is regarded by many as the father of the reformation spend some very valuable time here. It was after he (Martin Luther) pinned the 95 Thesis to the door of the Wittenburg church and after he was excommunicated from the Catholic Church as a heretic and outlawed by the emperor because he would not revoke his teachings, that he found refuge and safety behind the mighty walls of this fortress. While here in hiding from the rest of the world, he translated the New Testament from the Greek original into German. It felt like a sacred place as we walked into the so-called "Lutherstube" - the room where he did the work of translation. It was a great experience to visit this historical place.On Sunday we were too far away to go to church, so it turned out to be a day of visiting and meeting with family. We talked a lot of who was related to who. We met for the first time with Brigitte's sister, Sigrid. She is married to Karl Heinz Grebe. Her Birthday is 26 April 1955. She was actually raised by an Aunt in the nearby village of Wollrode. Brigitte has actually one more Sister, Erni. Her married name is Erni Nickel, born 9 July 1949 and they live in Frankenheim.. As a family we did not get to know those sisters because they were born after we last visited the family before our imigration to the USA.It is time to mail this, but do remind us to tell you about the Grimm Brothers story of "Frau Holle" some day.We love all of you and wish you a wonderful "Rutsch" into the New Year.