A long, long time ago, in a land not too far away . . . .
. . . I was a tiny girl.
It just so happens that my grandmother, a voracious consumer of information, was a teacher, and retired the year I was born. My parents also moved back to within half an hour of my grandparents the year I was born. This means that whenever I stayed with Grandmother while Mom ran errands or took some sanity time, I came out knowing something new. For example, when I was around 18 months, my mom was coaching me in animal sounds, but skipped the complicated “cockle doodle doo” of the rooster. Around this time, I had my weekly date with Grandmother. When Mom picked me up, Grandmother prompted me, “Anna, what does the rooster say?”
“Cockle cockle!” I chirped.
Grandmother also taught me to how to frog kick in the pool, to brush my tongue as well as my teeth, and various other extremely useful things. I say this to make the point that the woman was and is a born educator, and she was constantly on the prowl for things that might instruct her grandchildren.
In fact, it’s because of her that I came to own the VHS tape that held the greatest Christmas specials ever. Namely, a televised performance of The Nutcracker starring Baryshnikov, and a gem called A Christmas Calendar.
It is of the latter that I wish to speak. Ahem.
This was a PBS Christmas special hosted by Loretta Swit (what?!) in which she takes us on a tour of Germany’s Christmas traditions, each segment introduced by opening a little window on an elaborate advent calendar. I was obsessed. I watched it multiple times during the Christmas season each year. There was gingerbread, and marzipan, and choirs in huge, cold cathedrals, and Saint Nicholas, and men dressed up in straw as the mountain demons of Bavaria. It was MAGICAL.
Then, tragedy. Somewhere in my later elementary school years, the show was taped over in one of those agonizing mid-90s VHS mix-ups. A Christmas Calendar was sacrificed for Lynette Jennings and her mauve-soaked design show. There were tears.
But not anymore.
After over fifteen years, I have FINALLY been reunited with Christmas in Germany through the wonders of YouTube.
Spending a Christmas in Germany is one of the top items on my bucket list; until then, I’ll be watching this on repeat.