Christmas In Bavaria: Wrap it up, I'll take it.
I've spent too many sweaty dismal holidays in Texas, dreading the day the cedar "pops" and dealing with the trendy Austin crowds in Central Market. We dealt with some fairly serious crowds in Regensburg at the Christmas Market, but Germans are normally pathologically polite (except when they are extraordinarily rude) and, for many generations, used to crowding. US'ns, as an estranged in-law used to call them, are used to open spaces and getting their way, and get psychotic about it.
In any case, no one is as rude as a German who has put their mind to it. Old women or men are the worst.
Anyway, most of the time, I find myself having to keep up with the niceness.
I got gummi bears at the bank, chocolate and then butter cookies at the grocery, and beer, beer mugs and calendars from the German neighbors. I'll gift them all with my homemade jam and American candy canes (woo!) tomorrow.
It's cosy here, it's absurdly safe, it's beautiful and clean. They pay unbelieveable taxes, but at least they have public health care, clean streets, recycling and guaranteed pensions. There are few bums or beggars, and old folks get taken out for walks every Sunday.
Balconies are lit with little wooden carvings, strings of dangling lights, even reindeer and Santas (a new thing here) but there are no inflatable Santas or snowmen about.
The big thing is Santa on a rope or ladder hanging down the front of a building and putting lights in an outdoor tree.
They are getting more Americanized, we see Santas instead of Father Christmas with his little black elf. Adults we know tell stories of being kidnapped by whomever in the family was playing the black elf, if they'd been bad -- stuffed in a sack and carried away!
The Bushites have decided that ex-pats who decide to stay are more of a problem than corporate tax dodgers (why ask their friends to pay?) and last year passed a law requiring all changing citizenship (due possibly to lack of faith in said administration) shall continue to pay "double jeopardy" tax rates for foreign earned income over 82.5K for ten years after they turn in their American passport. Wait, did no one tell you about this? didn't you get to vote on it? Gosh darn golly, I guess you didn't . Me neither. See www.aca.ch , it will be easy to find.
It's an incentive for me not to try too hard on the foreign side, and to divert my tax dollars to purposes worthier than (a) getting myself screwed further, or again or (b) giving any support whatsoever to an administration greedy for current profit over future development, sane growth and gain.
Do your research, follow the money, be happy, do what you love, and have a beautiful holiday.