A few weeks ago I went to a jewellery store because one of my rings needed to be looked at. Just before me a young couple came in. She seemed excited, he seemed nervous. One of the assistants came over right away and asked, “How can I help you?” She probably already new what was coming next. At least I did. “We are looking for an engagement ring,” the young woman said enthusiastically.
Since all the other assistants were busy, I knew I had to wait for a bit and decided to watch what was going on in the engagement ring section. As soon as the woman put the first ring on her finger, her soon to be fiancé shouted out loud, “This is really happening!” He was walking up on down in the jewellery store and almost chewing on his hat, until the assistant asked him if he wanted to sit down next to his girlfriend. He didn’t.
Originally I wanted to post a Christmas story on December 24. I also intended to name the post differently – “My first Canadian Christmas”. But last Thursday I met a woman and was so touched by what she said, that I changed my mind. I felt like I had to talk about Christmas now and not in a week.
I wanted to get Christmas cards for our family and friends, and went to the Eaton Centre last Thursday, one of Toronto’s iconic malls. I was Immediately overwhelmed by the sparkly Christmas decorations, the giant sale signs in every store and the enormous amount of people running around equipped with three, four, sometimes even seven shopping bags. My plan was to escape this situation as soon as possible, so I walked into the first store that looked like it would carry a variety of cards I could choose from.
When I was a kid, I put my boots outside the door before I went to bed on December 5. Sometimes I also put an empty plate on my desk. When I woke up the next morning, the plate and boots were filled with tangerines, peanuts and chocolate. I knew Saint Nicholas (in German: Nikolaus) had visited.
Does this sound familiar to Americans and Canadians? But the date is wrong, isn’t it? Why would there be a Saint Nicholas bringing gifts the night before December 6 when Santa Claus shows up the night before December 25 doing the same thing? Are they the same person?
Austrians don’t really do Halloween. Every year, there are more and more parties where people wear scary looking costumes. But houses with Halloween decoration and kids running around in the neighbourhood for trick-or-treating was something I had to come to North America to see.
My first Halloween experience was in the United States, in Baltimore. I didn’t see any kids, but rather many adults painted in blue and dressed up as Avatars heading to an outdoor party. I guess it was the same year the movie came out. My second Halloween experience was really no experience at all. I had just come to Canada for my work assignment and spent the evening in my apartment in a relatively small city about one hour away from Toronto. It wasn’t a surprise that no one knocked on my door to say “trick or treat” – the apartment was on the 14th floor.