With strawberry blond hair, an everlasting smile, and “soulful” eyes Philline hobbles around the garden, pushing a wooden baby carriage. Today is her birthday, and streamers are scattered around the garden, Pios giggles in the pool, and her mother watches with her with contagious pride. Philline is now one year old, and when I arrive in the morning astride my Oma’s E-Bike I am greeted with a shy smile and a flattering of long eyelashes. It is noon, and the “party” or small gathering of brownies, coffee and family will begin at three. I talk to my aunt about some very ‘heavy’ things and watch Emilia as she attempts to eat some chalk (which is not the best idea in the world), and stare in awe at her house.
My aunt is without a doubt the most ‘crafty’ person I know. She is the German version of Martha Stewart, and is always busy doing something – whether it be making the CUTEST clothes for her kids, decorating her house, or putting together a scrapbook, there is never a still moment in the Luft household. As everyone comes pouring through the door – first Oma and Opa, then my uncle’s brother, wife and kids, and then the Scory gang, I reflect how different the function of the “family” is between Germany and Canada. I can only speak from personal experience (obviously), but I don’t see my family in Canada very often, though we don’t live all that far away, I feel like I’ve never gotten to know them as I have my family in Germany, even though I’ve only seen them a handful of times. As I sit in my Aunt and Uncles kitchen, with sleeping children above me, I can only say how grateful I am to have this experience.
I got a book called Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close by an author named Jonathan Foer for Christmas (maybe you’ve seen the movie on Netflix?) and it is the story of an nine years old boy navigating through life after the death of his father in 9/11. He constantly states that “his boots are full” to emphasize how he is feeling – when he is happy his boots aren’t so full, but when he is sad and upset, his boots are very heavy and very full. Since I’ve been here, I feel like my boots aren’t that heavy, that I can walk a little bit easier. I really don’t want that feeling to go away. I don’t mean to be trivial and compare experience, but that i
s how I sometimes feel, and as my Mother told me to do more often this afternoon, I can say I don’t have to care what you think, and that is that.
After a mattress party with all the kids in the living room, with three bags of chips ripped open and poured all ove
r the mattress by Jacob, and a very interesting viewing of Despicable Me 2 in German, the kids were finally off to bed and we people over four feet tall could start our own party. After ordering and then consuming immediately after two pizzas and some salad, we sat in the garden and had some very philosophical life chats. We talked a lot about morals, how it is so relative, and how each situation is different to the other. It was a good way to end the day.
After another viewing of Despicable Me 2 this morning, off we went to the toy store, with the five children under the age of nine, a genius (me, of course) and the always amazing Tine and Sebastian. With rows upon rows of Lego, Playmobil, stuffed animals, colouring books, Wii games and Schleich figures the kids were more than overwhelmed. This was their
my…their Disney World. With wallets in hand (oder pot money am Deutsch) the kids paraded through the store, their intended purchases changing every ten seconds (they eventually ended up with Minecraft lego, a purse and stuffed dog, a skateboard and a play barbecue). I could only see the store through my siblings eyes – I could see Levi getting lost for words at the Lego station, Gabe LOSING it seeing all the Wii and Minecraft games, Lily screeching with joy at the site of all the Schleich figures, and Josh going “yeah, that’s cool” in that astounded voice of his upon stumbling upon the model cars and airplanes.
Needless to say I did purchase a few things from that store today, and before you ask – no, they aren’t for me. (Sister of the year award goes to…?)
On the way back home we took the road to an old and magnificent Chateau with the intent of just passing through and looking at it through the car. Of course we ended up stopping and walking through the streets of the old part of the town, gazing upon men in blue and red with German flags singing and playing the trumpet, going into an absolutely breathtaking cathedral, and stumbling upon statues of Frederick the Great and Wilhelm I. I could only gape in awe, my jaw falling further with every step. It was truly like I had just stepped inside of Snow White’s village, I felt like I going to bump into her at every turn. With our own parade of four children, two adults, a skateboard and a stuffed puppy in purse we walked along the narrow cobblestone paths, gazing above at the ancient balconies overflowing with roses.
The first thing we saw when we drove into the parking lot was an absolutely unique and absolutely wonderful library. It was like I had just stepped into a dream come true – not only had I amazing people and kids around me, but I also had some history, some books, and a fair amount of chocolate in my purse. The ‘library’ if you must call it that, was a cliché English telephone booth filled to the brim with books, with a sign explaining how this is supposed to work. The one and only rule of the library is if you take a book, you must leave a book. The books making up this mobile library constituted of more than a few Archie comics, a history of the West, and what I think was a book on the ‘great’ Emperors of Germany. Please stop reading here and appreciate the photo I have inserted of this library for a few moments, it deserves awe and respect.
We then went into the most magnificent, heart-stopping, astonishing cathedral I’ve ever seen. It was so beautiful, so meaningful and so incredibly silent. It was a sight words cannot describe – no words nor pictures could do it justice. I can only see it was incredibly eye-opening and I could understand the awe people often feel when they step inside a cathedral of this kind. As we walked back along the pews to the door leading to the cobblestone path I glimpsed a few candles burning in the back of the church, and a little sign explaining what their significance was. I could understand most of what that said, but in that moment it didn’t really matter what the significance of these candles meant to others, but rather what it meant to me.
As many of you know, a great tragedy occurred recently in our community. I think everyone felt it in some way, and in that moment surrounded by the candles I could reflect a little bit on what had happened and how it affected me personally. I decided to light a candle for all those impacted, directly, indirectly…everyone. It had a special significance for me personally, and again, it was there in that church that I could fully appreciate what religion must mean for some people, the impact and awe one might feel of it.
We then walked back to our unmissable “party van” and drove back home, putting an end to our near perfect day. It was as we walked all together through the forest, seeing the indescribable beauty all around us and trading notorious family stories (mine included Gabe’s unparalleled fear of thunderstorms and Levi’s obsession with all things knights ) that I just felt so full of happiness. Cliché, I know.
I must now end this post, I have rambled far too much already, and after two days of starting and then stopping writing this I must call it a day, and finish watching The Parent Trap on Netflix.
Thanks for bearing with me through this post.