It's Christmas Time In The City...

Cookie baking aside, Christmas has been more or less absent in my life this year. I haven't put up my usual decorations, since they're the one thing that's already packed into boxes right now, and I did almost all of my Christmas shopping online to save time. With all my yearly traditions falling by the wayside in the name of focusing on my move, I was insistent about preserving at least one of them: my annual trip to the Christkindlmarket with Lisa. We were going to get our sixth annual photo in front of the municipal Christmas tree no matter what.

I did allow for some flexibility in my planning this year, however. Lisa's long-distance gentleman friend was in from out of town, and she wanted to turn the evening into our first ever double date. That's right -- in some fifteen odd years of friendship, Lisa and I have never been dating at the same time, such that we could go out together with our significant others. That’s a pretty ridiculous (and embarrassing on my end) statistic, so I agreed that it was time to remedy the situation post-haste.

Justin and I met Lisa and Ben in front of the Christmas tree itself, though we had some trouble locating them amidst the throngs of visitors wishing to take advantage of the relatively temperate evening. Given the sub-arctic temps and snow we’ve encountered in previous years’ visits, tonight was probably the best weather we’ve ever experienced at the Christkindlmarket. As a result, it was also the most crowded.

Six years and still going strong!
The first order of business was to get our photo taken, so we found a spot on a quieter side of the tree, and Justin was duly tasked with the role of photographer. We usually have to bring a tripod and make numerous attempts at getting the image just right, so it was a relief to have someone to do it for us, especially someone who is a talented photographer in his own right. It only took about six attempts to get a decent image for 2011.

With our duty dispatched, it was time for food. Justin and I both had bratwurst and potato soup, though Justin’s stronger central European ancestry came through and compelled him to have sauerkraut on his. (I’ve never been able to stand sauerkraut; perhaps my 25% Italian genes are responsible for that.) I also got my yearly dose of apple strudel, featuring perfectly spiced fruit wrapped in shatteringly crisp layers of flaky pastry. It’s the culinary highlight of my annual pilgrimage, and even if I didn’t have such a deeply-rooted tradition drawing me to the Christkindlmarket, the strudel alone would make a visit worthwhile.

The only downside to the evening was that it was cut short by the market’s relatively early 8:00 closing time. Justin missed out on getting a bootful of gl├╝hwein, the traditional mulled wine served in a commemorative boot-shaped mug, due to the early cut-off time for alcoholic drinks around 7:30. It was starting to rain anyway by the time the vendors were closing up shop for the night, but it still felt like our evening ended too soon.

Me, Justin, Ben, and Lisa.
Even if it was brief, we had a lovely time with Lisa and her man. I look forward to more evenings like this as Justin and I continue to build our relationship, and Lisa navigates the post-divorce dating scene. I love seeing her so vital and happy these days, and I am so proud to call her my friend after so many years.

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