the monks are at rest and so am I…mostly

monks playing their flutes and drinking their beer

In Munich, like most of the rest of Germany, the people have closedup shop and Christmas is in full swing. You might say that’s typical for countries that celebrate this holiday, but there’s something almost eerie about the way everything grinds to a halt here.

Germans take family and friends seriously, and this is a holiday for the former rather than the latter. The expectation is that if your mother and/or father are still living, you make your way home at all costs. Again: something that might be true elsewhere, but here it seems particularly suspect if you’re still on your own when this particular holiday rolls round.

The meta message when it comes to the birth of little baby Jesus is to go home and treat your parents right. Do it. Yes, I mean you.

Don’t lollygag. Go, now. Really – go!

You didn’t move, did you?

I doubted you would.

The reality is that sometimes it’s simply hard to make such a journey. For whatever reason. We all have our excuses. Maybe it’s because of children that you can’t travel home. You’ve now got your own family to look after, and the people you’re with during the holidays are your in-laws.

Or it’s also possible you’ve fallen out with your family. You’re not even welcome there. the last thing anyone said was, ‘You’re no longer welcome here.’

Hope that’s not the case for you, but if it is…I’d do my best not to judge you. Who the hell am I, right?

The monks in the photo above, who’re adorning the exterior walls of the Neues Rathaus in Munich’s city centre, probably wouldn’t have made any journey for Christmas. Not sure what exactly monks did to mark the Yuletide back then, but I doubt it had anything to do with what we seem to be doing. Things such as giving gifts beyond our financial means. Or watching either American Football or that other game, which the rest of the world calls football.

Me personally? What’ll I be doing?

Well, starting on Boxing Day, I’ll be watching Tottenham Hotspurs play Aston Villa away and then a few days later they’ll travel up northeast to Sunderland.

After that, the Londoners host Reading at home at White Hart Lane, which might turn out to be a decent match. The English Premier League is the only European league (that I know of) that keeps going over the holidays, and if you’re a fan of the beautiful game, it’s a tradition to catch a tonne of matches in a rather short period of time. To each his own, yeah?

Other than that, what do I do at this time of year?

Since I moved to Germany more than a decade ago, I’ve really taken advantage of this dark, quiet time of the year. People are somehow a bit more circumspect. A tad more philosophical. What have I done this year? Have I left any stone unturned?

Is there any unfinished task that I need to take care of before the old man that is 2012 makes his way offstage and the baby that is 2013 comes toddling into the footlights?

As Robert Hunter wrote in his and Jerry Garcia‘s song Franklin’s Tower:

If you plant ice, you’re gonna harvest wind.

I think I’d rather avoid harvesting that. Unless he was talking about gas. I’m sure I’ll be harvesting plenty of that before the holidays are out.

1 comment

  1. I’d just like to point out that I am part of the rest of the world, and I call that sport soccer.
    And Aston Villa might not even turn up, based on their performance yesterday.
    And finally, are you really trying to kid us that Christmas makes you introspective and philosophical? If so, you must have a longer Christmas than the department stores.

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