Holiday Season in the American Sector

We don't get a whole lot of bad weather here in Napa. That suits me for most of the year, but I've got to admit that at this time of year the weather we put up with in Berlin has a certain attraction to it. As I write this I'm looking out at my lemon trees, anticipating a Thanksgiving day in the high 60s. Christmas and New Year's will likely be about the same. For many years we drove 400 miles south to Pasadena to spend Christmas with my Aunt Cynthia and her family. On Christmas morning my wife and I would head out to the track at Cal Tech for a couple of laps, then we'd call my family back in Connecticut and brag about our California weather. I'm sure it got pretty tiresome after the second or third time.

In spite of the difficulties associated with severe winter weather, over the years I've grown to miss the snow and the cold we experienced while living in Berlin. Maybe it's because Kerry and I spent our first Christmas together in Berlin. That was in 1985. We exchanged the presents we'd placed beneath the tree we bought at a lot on Albrechtstrasse, cooked a Hungarian goose (I liked to use the term "liberated"), ate and drank too much, and generally celebrated the day with just each other. Kerry had the foresight to record about an hour of Christmas programming from AFN (the Armed Forces Network) in Berlin. We still have the tape complete with the weather report and the upcoming lunch menu at the local American schools announced by the "Menu Mistress." Maybe I miss the weather because a week later we spent our first New Year's Eve together in Berlin. After working a swing shift at T-Berg, we took the trick bus back down the hill, as we used to say. The city buses weren't running due to the holiday so we had to catch a cab from Truman Plaza to get home. Berliners celebrate New Year's Eve with fireworks so the ride home was crazy. The locals lined the streets shooting off nearly anything that would explode. Our cab was an easy target and a number of bottle rockets harmlessly hit it during the 15 minutes or so it took to get home. When we got to our apartment we grabbed a bottle of jahrgangssekt from the fridge (I still have the empty bottle), filled the champagne bucket I'd given Kerry for Christmas with snow from our apartment's  balcony, and toasted each other as we watched the ridiculous display of fireworks all around the city from our vantage point five stories up. The fact that it was damn near zero degrees out barely made an impression thanks to the sekt, a couple of lined field jackets, and a young love that nearly every day brought a new, lasting thrill.