Most Americans think Germany is great. It looks like Disneyland. Actually, it’s the other way around, danke schoen. There are rivers of beer. There are mountains of chopped and formed carcass. There are fields of bread and sweets. Things are on time and proceed with efficiency and order. It’s safe.
But enough about all that, because it’s my ninth or tenth trip and I no longer feel the same in Germany, all wide-eyed and the camera clicking away. I don’t visit tons of castles and palaces or go to many museums anymore. I am here to visit with my husband’s family. We are only staying through the week, it’s all the time we have. The goal is to partake in family stuff that we only get to experience once a year because we live in the States. I will play games with my nephews, watch the news with my mother-in-law, walk the fields with my father-in-law, that kind of thing.
Against our original plan, which was to spring for full fare, guaranteed seat tickets, we went with the wild airline employee decision to get here by non-revving. Portland to Seattle on Horizon Air, Seattle to Amsterdam on Delta and then Amsterdam to Stuttgart on KLM. Much to our surprise and utter delight, we made all three planned flights!
The flight from Seattle to Amsterdam was just over nine hours, a piece of cake. I don’t find long haul flights as harrowing as most people. I get caught up on the movies I’ve missed. In this case, I watched all eight episodes of the first season of Broadchurch and before I knew it, there went seven hours!
The flight landed in Amsterdam more than an hour late, so we ran through the airport, including passport control and security, to get to our connecting flight. When I say ran, I mean RAN. Good thing we both hit the gym religiously!
We are busy preparing for the Christmas festivities, but we’re almost caught up. Here, the emphasis is mostly on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning we do a white sausage and beer breakfast in honor of my brother-in-law who is Bavarian. Chris’ family are Swabian, and don’t tell them there’s no difference unless you want an eye roll at best and an angry stare at worst. Chris and I went to the health food store and bought fake white sausages. Despite the stereotype of meat-based German cuisine, the vegan movement is quickly gaining in popularity here and even small discount grocery stores always carry a few non-dairy milks and vegan meat substitutes.
Tonight we’ll all share some delicious German red wine, perhaps a Trollinger-Lemberger or -Muskat and maybe play some board games. We took my father-in-law to the clinic today and we got some good news. The experimental and very aggressive chemo treatments he’s been undergoing the past three months have slowed the growth of the tumor. Our hopes remain guarded and realistic. Eventually, the tumor will stop responding to chemo. His pancreatic cancer is inoperable and is terminal. But at least we now know that until March or April and his next CT scan, the situation will remain stable. He will continue to live a mostly normal life. He is often tired and has no appetite. In just a few months, his hair has gone completely white and is very thin now. His body is covered in dark acne, the poisonous face of chemo. But unlike before when we were thinking he might not make it much past Christmas, at least we feel somewhat secure that he will experience one more beautiful spring in Swabia.