Christmas eve was always the most important time of the Christmas season. Gifts.
Mom and grandmother would decorate the tree and my brother and I were only allowed to see it at 6 o’clock on Christmas eve. An enchanting sight when the door opened and we were allowed to walk into the room, to stand in front of the tree who's lit candles twinkled at us as if to say 'say your prayer quickly, sing your song and then you can turn around and begin the long awaited ceremony of lifting the tablecloth'. For everybody’s gift was laid out on a table and covered with a tablecloth. We were each led to our spot at the table although it was easy to spot which were boys gifts and which were girls gifts. On the side of our gifts we each also found cardboard Christmas plates filled with Marzipan,candy,fruit and cookies.
The very first Christmas I remember is one in Greece. I must have been 6 because it was a 1st Grade Christmas. All I can remember is that at the end of whatever event in some hall, Santa got up onto the stage and emptied out a huge bag of oranges. They were all rolling around on the stage floor and we children sitting in the audience were asked to go up and get some. Chairs were flying, kids where running and falling all over each other with loud joyful screams and all wanted to be first up there to get an orange. Already then, I was whomever I still am. I still remember the feeling of shyness and the not wanting to go and fight for something that someone else wanted. I just sat there and watched them grab the oranges. I don’t remember whom I was there with nor anything else that happened.
The next Christmas is the first one in Berlin at grandparent’s house after we came back from Greece when I was seven years old. Again only a fleeting vision of my brother and I being led from one room into another where a beautifully decorated tree was standing with real candles all lit up. We were asked to stand in front of it and say a prayer. No idea what present we got nor anything else but it is a warm memory.
Another Christmas is two or three years later in this little hamlet Hallwangen that we had moved to. Mom and grandma were sewing me a coat. That I knew, but each time I had to try it on I was blindfolded not to see it. Don’t remember the actual Christmas eve day when I got it. It was a very dark blue with an imitation fur collar. I loved it. I wore it the next day and was sent to fetch a can of milk (can with handle and lid ). I was not pleased about that. Had other things I wanted to do such as visiting my friend Rosa. I went to get the milk. As I was coming back with it, I saw grandmother standing at the window. In front of that window was a big pile of logs. Why should I loose time and walk all the way around the house to where the door was? I asked grandmother to open the window and I would climb up the wood and hand her the can of milk. She said I should not because I might slip and fall. No I won’t. Yes I did. The milk gone and the dark blue coat soaked in white. Don’t remember what happened next but could not have been to gentle but also not to harsh otherwise I would remember. Only the chock of the event remains engraved in my memory.