In December there are so many customs and traditions.
Surely every country has a myriad of festivities.
And however diversified, I enjoyed partaking of whatever I could whenever I had a chance.
Once in Stockholm (1979) I sat with an elderly Swedish woman
in front of her open fireplace and we shared

a very typical Swedish Christmas meal of whole baked salmon with green peas.
Years before that (1974) I was in snowy icy Florence,
and at midnight candles were lit along
the balastrades of the Piazza della Signoria, as if the entire city
were a Christmas tree.
Shortly after the fall of the Iron Curtain (1990), my choir,
the Bad Hersfeld Festspiel Choir, along with the
Symphony Orchester of Prague performed JS Bach's
Christmas Oratorio in the Cathedral in Prague.
The Church was packed and we froze and sang our hearts out.
A song of Peace and Freedom.

In our small family of two, our tradition is to bring in a pine tree
and fill it with straw stars, red glass bulbs and beeswax candles.
Sometimes we do something Lothar created.
Not every year, but this one.
On the first day of Christtmas Lothar cooks a surprise meal,
something special and unusual.
Then he calls me when it's time to sit down.
I do the same on the second day of Christmas.
The anticipation is exciting and fun as divers smells waft
into the living room.
I must admit I did get a little worried
when he came to get me saying
we can always order pizza.
Well none of that
Grilled duck breast with Christmas spices and pomegranate seeds,
with very creamy mashed potato and aubergine.

I made Chicken Masala and chicoree salad.

The cauliflower cashew Biryani rice which was intended to go with it

came on the third day of Christmas.

And on the fourth day of Christmas we were ready for something
fast simple and light

Carole's super fast chicken soup with a couple of shrimps
and Chinese rice noodles.

And now I greet you all with affection at this point,
during the last hours of 2019,
wishing you warm hearts for the coming year of 2020.