So, I'm leaving for Italy tomorrow, so I guess I should write about christmas before I go since I may not use the internet for the next week.
We arrived in Hayingen about 7pm or so on the 23rd and had bread and cheese and lunchmeat for dinner, which is what most German families have for dinner just about every day. On the 24th we went to a breakfast brunch at Steffi's friend's house because it was her birthday. Her friend lives in Riedlingen, which is about 20 minutes away. We passed through a really cool town called Zwiefalten on the way, which has a really big church with 2 bell/clocktowers, something that I hadn't seen before. The town also has a monastary where they make beer and other juices and beverages. The breakfast was more bread and cheese and whatnot and I also had spiegeleier with bacon, which is just eggs, sunny-side up. They also served what looked like hard boiled eggs, but they aren't cooked as long so that they yolk is still liqued. The were served in egg dishes and were opened with this thing that goes over the egg and a weight is dropped down to cleanly crack the top, which is then removed and the inside is eaten with a spoon. There were about 15-20 people there total and the birthday girl's parents sat with us for awhile too. Everyone there is from the area and they all went to school together and they usually only see each other during christmas.
After brunch we went back to Steffi's house and later that night we went to the Catholic church, which is the largest church in town. Steffi's parents are Protestant, but Steffi likes to go to the Catholic church because it is more interesting and they sing better songs. Her favorite is when they sing silent night, but between a lot of the lines there is a choir that sings the word Gloria, so it goes "Silent night....GLORIA!... holy night... GLORIA!" It was pretty interesting. We arrived late though so we had to stand in the back and didn't see anything. An altar boy walked around at one point and I put some money in the basket and then a little while later an older guy walked around giving everyone Wafers as the body of christ. He passed right by us though so I didn't get one.
After church we went back to Steffi's house and had her Dad's World Famous Potato Salad. Potato Salad here is really good. It just has sliced potatos, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, and maybe another spice. I'll have to get the recipe. After dinner we had to go out of the room while her Dad lit the tree. Once lit we went back in and opened presents. Her parents gave me Carcasonne, which is a popular board game, and a book about Micronations. Steffi got me a Giant map of Europe and some Pins to put on the map. I got her Dad a bottle of wine from Heidelberg and her mom some american pancake mix. Steffi suggested I get both of those things. German pancakes are a lot different.
After presents we drank some more wine and sat in Steffi's sister's room talking and drinking until about 2 or 3am. Her parents were up until 1 or 2.
The next day, the 25th, we went to Lunch, which is basically like our dinner, at about noon. Lunch was at a Bed and Breakfast that Steffi's parents were married at and they eat there every Christmas. The traditional thing to get is the christmas goose, but I don't like to pick something so expensive when someone else is paying so I got some Schnitzel with Mushrooms and Spaetzle. Also on the menu were wild Deer and Wild Boar.
Later that day we took a drive to the Nature theater in Hayingen, where Steffi used to perform in the plays every year up until just a couple years ago and her Dad has been invovled with it since 1949, when he we only 9 years old.
Later on the 25th we went to the Mayor of Hayingen's house because Steffi is friends with his son. We hung out there for a bit and then got a ride to Riedlingen where there is a big concert every Christmas. Most of the bands that played have been playing there on christmas every year for 20 years or more. Most of the music was pretty awful though, it was just a lot of cover songs of Michael Jacks, Bon Jovi and so on. The last song was the new song for the Soccer team, which I included in a previous email.
The next day, the 26th, is also a Holiday here. Actually the holidays basically go until after "Silvester", which is what they call New Years Day. For lunch on the 26th we went to a restaurant in Hayingen where Steffi's Dad knows everyone. They give him extra large portions. He insisted that I get the Christmas Menu there, even though it is the most expensive thing on the menu. The first course was a gigantic Salad with all sortos of vegetables and about a 1/4 lb of meat on it. I was pretty much stuffed after the salad, but next was a huge plate of food with 2 large pieces of cow meat, 3 pork things wrapped in bacon, a bunch of brussel sprouts(which I ate for the first time the day before and actually aren't too bad) and a bunch of a green beans. I was able to finish most of it except all the bacon and brussel sprouts. I also ate a lot of Steffi's Kaesspaetzle, which was the best I had ever had. And for dessert they brought out another huge plate with 5 kinds of Mousse and 2 ice creams topped off with a lot of cherries. I wasn't able to eat much of it and a couple of them weren't that good, especially the Lemon and Rum Raisen mousses. After the meal Steff's mom and dad both had a shot of schnapps, while the rest of us had coffee.
After Lunch, which took 2 hours, we went back to the house where I had to pack to catch a train at 4. I arrived in Heidelberg shortly before 7pm and managed to get some groceries at the store in the train station, which was lucky since everything else was closed. The buses were also running on the holiday schedule so I had to wait about 15 minutes for the next bus(normally they come every 5 minutes).
Okay, I'm tired of writing and now I have to pack my bags to leave for Italy tomorrow. I managed to get my clothes washed today, even though I couldn't find anywhere to buy the wash coins for the laundry machine in my building because all the school buildings are closed until the 5th. I had to pay double to get them washed at the laundromat, but they do everything for you there including folding them. I think there are only 4 or 5(out of 40) in the building right now. It's really quiet.