There is a German saying: Nichts ist schwerer zu ertragen als eine Reihe von guten Tagen, meaning that “there is nothing harder to handle than a series of good days.”
I can’t quite find a problem with that on this trip, but as the saying implies, excessive eating over the holidays can turn against you.
In any case, more good days involving great food lay ahead as we joined my old school friend G. and his wife and two daughters in Osnabrück for three fun-filled, yet relaxing days.
We get to depart Cologne in style on a 1st class ICE ticket. I have never travelled first class on the trains before, but a good winter deal for our 5-trip couple ticket made first class cheaper than the regular 2nd class tickets.
G.’s daughters E. and M. meet us on the train platform, running towards us like in a romantic movie, two beautiful young women in red coats. We get swept up in a large family lunch that consists of all 3 of G.’s siblings with their children (12 cousins total in the family), G.’s mother and a god uncle with his partner = 23 people.
I had a nice chat with G.’s mother S. — the last time I saw her was in 1992. 20 years ago!
It’s Boxing Day, or “2nd Christmas Day” as it’s called in Germany, and the table is set for our friends’ large extended family and us = 23 people.
G.’s wife C. is Italian and an amazing cook (those two qualities go together, it’s not just a stereotype). She makes this Boxing Day lunch for the whole extended family, 21+ people, every year.
So there were 12 young people ranging in age from about 10 to 23, outnumbering us middle-aged ones. I don’t come from a large family, so I don’t know what that’s like, and I don’t feel I am missing out on anything, but it was great to see G.’s siblings again after 30 years, and especially his brother A., who was also my friend, but we haven’t stayed in touch as faithfully as G. and I have.
My friend’s wife is from Italy and has a special appliance consisting of two electrically heated stones to bake her special “tigelle” bread, which is a bit like focaccia. It was divine! I wonder how many of these machines are even made and sold — this dish is from a very small region.
And in 2011, Jeff and I hosted each of G.’s daughters in Vancouver for 4 months, while they attended school and improved their English and got to see a different, far away part of the world from Germany. Their visit to Canada and our relationship with them could not have gone better; they benefited from us including them in all kinds of activities and making it a great experience for them, and Jeff and I were enchanted and enriched by their youthful energy, intelligence, passion, beauty, and zest for life. Win-win-win-win.
And now we are truly friends with the whole family, even the teenagers. 18 and 17 now, the girls won’t be teenagers for much longer.