Posted by on Mar 30, 2012 in Adventures in Germany, Europe, Family, Favorite things, Memoir, Personal, Photos, Travel | 8 comments

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From the beginning, I considered the opportunity to live abroad for a short while a God-gift…

…life circumstance preceding my husband's job offer only underscored that truth. The delights and challenges about which I speculated have all come to pass, but the most surprising aspect to me is both are much more extreme than I imagined.  

No doubt when we leave this place I'll have memories in volumes, but I already know one of the things I'm most thankful for:

Ellie…

my first cousin who lives but a few hours away, the first cousin I visited each summer during our childhood, the first cousin I've seen only a hand's count over the most recent 30 years. 

How could it be anything but a God-gift to not only provide a challenging new job for my husband, require him to train abroad for a limited time, but ALSO place us less than three hours from FAMILY?!

Sometimes all I can do is shake my head in gracious disbelief at that part of our story.  

Through phone calls and email prior to and after our arrival, Ellie explained much about The German Way.  And while the information she shared helped set the stage for a smooth transition, it was her unbridled enthusiasm that shrouded me in "welcome" and made all the difference.  In…the…world!

So when she and Walter arrived at our doorstep bearing gifts, it was gravy on the biscuits.  And icing on the cake.  And a bucket of whipped cream on the hot chocolate.  Their gifts weren't just some obligatory offering, they were frought with meaning.  Here…I'll help you get the picture with pictures–

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Salt and bread are a traditional German housewarming gift.  Salt, to add flavor to life, and bread, to represent never going hungry.  Isn't that a lovely wish?  

 

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Walter made sure to represent the boys and brought Tad a beautiful, Bavarian beer stein (Bayern is German for Bavaria, the state we're living in) (the best one ;) ).  Everything you hear about beer in Germany is true.  It's very good, it flows freely and it's cheap.  

 

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Presentation can mean as much the present–the giftwrapping was so beautiful, I had a hard time "messing it up" by actually having to unwrap the gift (reminding me, once again, of that scene from Splash)!  Outside, a beautiful box of matches that matched the gorgeous Maria Buytaert long-burning candle.  Ellie had no way of knowing a) I'm a pyromaniac, and b) I DELIGHT in little surcies, and pretty matches are a perfect example (if you aren't familiar with surcies/cercies/sussies, you must learn and use this word regularly). 

  • Polenta and schinkenspeck (or simply speck), the closest German items to Southern grits and bacon…(Ellie wanted to give me a familiar taste of home)
  • Gourmet wild garlic salt flakes…
  • a German children's book to challenge my learning…
  • a cheerful, flower-filled magnet for my refrigerator…
  • a happy little bookmark trumpeting Spring's arrival…

…all of these things were purchased after careful consideration.  Each thing meant something!

And the best gift of them all?  Came wrapped in delicious lime green….

 

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5 minute fridayWith thanks to The Gypsy Mama's Five-minute Friday writing prompt ~ Gift this week ~ for inspiring me to write this post!  And, given the personal specialness of this day, perfect timing (~ wink & smile ~).  Though I've written much longer than five minutes, I have Lisa-Jo to thank for finally prompting me to write it!