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:
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–
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?
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.
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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With 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!
Such an abundance of gifts, especially the one wrapped in lime green! Just love friends-they are the best gift of all! 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing not only the gifts but also the meaning behind them. My daughter married a young man whose family has lived in Germany for about 25 years, so it is nice to have that window of understanding.
‘…made all the difference… in the WORLD!” I love how you write:)
Speaking of surcies…
Guess who gave me this one.
I love hearing of your adventures.
I’ve been wanting to share this “tribute” to my sweet cousin for a while; so glad Lisa Jo gave me that gentle nudge to do so :). Living in Germany for an extended season is definitely educational. I love that part. :).
Oooo, Alisa…I’m heading over to click to see your new surprise! (Thanks for traveling with us :). )
Oh that kind of house warming is the best. The. Very. Best. Makes me so so happy for you Robin!
such a delightful welcome, such lovely gifts, and what a treasured friend/family.
hope you are enjoying your expat experience – i’ve always wanted to visit germany!
I really wish I could be more thoughtful about the gifts I give. You’ve given me a lot to think about. Love this!
I enjoy reading your blog but with caution. It is the types of blog whereby you can get a moral lesson on it