A few things I forgot to mention in the last post:
1. St. Nicholas Day is a big holiday here for the kids. You could even drop off your boot at our local Starbucks and get a special present from Santa when you brought the matching boot. They also only accepted clean boots, which they were very specific about on the sign promoting it.
2. German Christmas is a day earlier. Der Weihnachtsman (literally, the Christmas man, not Santa Klaus) comes on the evening of the 23rd, and everyone opens up their presents on the 24th. On the 25th, everything stays closed because...
3. The 26th is St. Steven's day, a national holiday when most people spend the day visiting with family, cleaning up Christmas stuff, or just lounging around home. We most definitely enjoyed that this year.
4. All the stores here seemed to be having a sale BEFORE Christmas. I didn't expect that at all. Many stores had special promotional sales, and it wasn't uncommon to see clearance sales in many of them.
5. Though we are in Germany and totally loving living like we're Germans (most of the time), my kids did not get a visit from Santa until the evening of the 24th and then opened their presents on the 25th. To address the criticism I did receive about this via Facebook, I want to tell you WHY we decided to do things that way. Being away from home at the holidays is extremely difficult when you really just want to spend time with family, but it was most assuredly magnified because we have little kids. Is there anything better than watching the excited faces of little kids opening a present that you got for them? We decided to wait until the 25th to open the presents so that our family could still get that experience via Skype. If we couldn't be there, we could at least do that one thing for them! We also wanted to be able to see our family open the presents we mailed to them. Thank you thank you Skype for helping us feel that much less homesick during the holidays.
Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas. We still don't have a babysitter for Saturday, so it may be a quiet New Year's Eve for us here in Berlin. We're used to it by now anyway! :-)