Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hamburg December, 2008

Getting in the Christmas spirit can be hard sometimes. I recall a saying about Christmas being for kids and parents. I have never been one to try to get in the Christmas spirit; it either happens or it does not. And sometimes it just happens by accident.

It was dark and cold when I arrived in Hamburg early in the morning. By the time I got to my hotel it was 8:00 AM and still dark. Not having slept all night, I went to bed and slept until 4:00 PM. By the time I got up, showered and left my room, it was dark again. In need of Euros and still waiting on my friends to get up and moving, I left the hotel to find an ATM. The combination of jet lag, sleep deprivation and the cold air that greeted me as I went outside, did not put me in anything close to a festive mood. None-the-less I joined the throngs of coated and scarfed Germans on the sidewalks of Hamburg.

It did not occur to me at the time that Christmas was less than 2 weeks away, but it never does. It always sneaks up on you, unless you are a parent or a child. As I navigated through the crowds, I heard the sound of live music and the smells of food being cooked in the open air.

The next thing I knew I was in the middle of a Weinachtsmarkt or Christmas market. These are ubiquitous throughout Germany during the holiday season. They are a long-standing German tradition and feature booths, shacks and tents with everything from hand-made ornaments to traditional German food for sale. There is music and there are lights and Christmas trees everywhere.

At the Weinachtsmarkt everyone was smiling and, suddenly I was no longer cold and no longer tired and lost interest in my mission to find an ATM. It was then that I just wanted to walk slowly, watch the people and enjoy the Christmas spirit.