Friday, December 18, 2020

Christmas Quote: A German Christmas

Years ago when I livedin the I went to a European Christmas market. I remember being amazed by some of the gingerbread houses. I also totally agree that chocolate is always a good idea.

I also found this quote poignant because, with the benefit of hindsight, we know what was coming for all of Europe.

Schloss Siege, Christmas 1934

The household was awake early on Christmas Eve at Schloss Siegel. Isabelle hated to think waht timethe servants must have begun their day.. When she walked into the dining room for breakfast, she was greeted with one of theloveliest sights of her life. On the giant mahogany table was an entire village of gingerbread houses studded with brightly coloured sweets. Thick strands of holly and ivy wound around gorgeous silver platters of food. 

Isabelle had lain awake a great deal of the previous night, her mind a swirl of thoughts about German politics. Max. Nazism. Did he really believe in Hiter's policies? Or was he just trying to do what was best for his country? What would she do if he were to become irrevocably involved - in all aspects of it?

Now she moved forward to the stack of plates on the sideboard. The family's Christmas porcelain was decorated with exotic red and green patterns, swirling flowers, and dancing red ribbons. He shoulder brushed against the armof Max's valet, Hans. He apologized in German and stood aside for her to pass..  But Isabelle insisted that he go first. He nodded, his blue eyes failling to the floor as he moved on.

This was one of the days of the year on which the servants were given special privileges. The household staff were chatting informally with the family and other guuests and had all been given a personal gift, along with a box of gingerbread and a bag of sweets and chocolates. The atmosphere was convivial, even relaxed; it was as if the normal formalities of the house had flown awy, if only for a few hours.

"You have to try one of these." Max appeared behind Isabelle and handed her a plate of chocolate, exquisitely decorated and formed into tiny handmade wreaths, perfec tlittle Christmas stockings, even miniature Christmas gifts, complete with a bow. Isabelle took this and held it for a moment.

"It seems a little indulgent for breakfast." She smiled.

"How so?" Virginia said, sweeping into the conversationn in a green silk dress that hugged her perfect figure close. "Chocolate is always a good idea."
Isabelle chuckled and popped the delicacy into her mouth. She took Max's hand and led him across the room, toward the double doors that opened into the small dining room.

"You know, I  think this is my favourite thing in the entire house," she said, leaning in toward a tiny triptych on the small sideboard. The decorated panels illustrated the Christmas story, and the triptych was lit by a single candle in front of it.

"Wait until you see the church later today," Max said. He leaned down and kiss her on the cheek, the backs of his fingers lingering on her face for a moment.

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