In Germany presents are traditionally exchanged between family members on Christmas Eve, and in Bruch we always began the evening with Christmas hymns – and here my father-in-law plays the recorder or English flute while my wife accompanies him on the piano.
The rest of us sang along with the German Christmas hyms – well me sort of; and David could hardly hold his excitement until we finished singing the songs – here holding hands with his aunt and grandmother.
From my experience, traditional German Christmas trees are a lot less decorated and commercialized than the American versions – but of course every household is different and has its own decorating style.
This Christmas was special to me because I knew that in only days I could deploy to the Gulf – and once notified we would quickly be on our way.
So this was really a Christmas to enjoy all of those little details about family and events that might have been easily overlooked during different times.
Of course David was the center of everyone’s attention – as all young children are at Christmas time – and here he opens a present on the living room floor.
David’s biggest surprise was a huge box that was suddenly there with his name on it, and he eagerly tore into the wrapping paper with high expectations.
With both hands David struggles to lift a trailer for his new tractor out of the tall box – but he was determined to get it out – one way or another.
Examining every square inch of his new tractor with keen eyes for all the details, David reacts as all children do at Christmas time – displaying pure joy at each and every new discovery he finds.
With his Opa steadying him to prevent an accident, David sits in his new trailer in the living room – trying it out for size.
David’s uncle helps him put all of the final pieces together on the new tractor, with both of them focused on ensuring that everything goes together correctly.
Trying his new tractor on for size, David gets ready to ride as his uncle makes sure the steering wheel and front wheels are properly connected.
One of David’s great-grandmothers looks over a present that she received, fully appreciating the nice basket and festive wrapping.
I captured David in this picture in an unexpected moment as his attention was caught by the camera in a moment of confidence – as a young man ready to take on the world.
I deployed to the Gulf on December 30, 1990, leaving Hahn AB on a C-141 to join up with the squadron, and here David is a young boy again later that same evening after I deployed, and seems to be a little dazed as his great-great-aunt consoles him in this picture (my Gulf War photos are in Hahn AB, Set One).
When Christmas arrived I was ready to deploy to the Gulf, still not knowing if we were actually going or not – and when asked if I was a volunteer I said yes – and was included in the list of those to deploy with the 10th TFS as the Wing Electronic Combat Officer or “ECO.”
We changed the Christmas tree’s position this year from the other end of the living room in front of the sliding glass doors to the back yard, to the dining room in front of the sliding glass doors to the side patio – pulling the dining room table out into the living room to make room for the tree.
I’ve always liked these close-ups of Christmas tree decorations, giving the appearance of stars in the heavens shining brightly against the night sky’s inky blackness – only in this case the background is “Christmas tree green.”
Here you can see the two crochet lace curtains that my wife made for our home in Sacramento, CA; and centered them here on the dining room’s sliding glass doors in Monzelfeld.
Another close-up of the Christmas tree’s decorations, purchased for the most part for the tree that Jeff and I had in our apartment in Bruch prior to my wife and I getting married.
Another view of the two crochet lace curtains that my wife made, clearly showing the design’s pattern against the darkness outside – the curtain to the far right was store bought.
David and his grandfather or “Opa” explore the gifts that have been placed under the tree – and for a child Christmas is always pure joy and delight.
A close-up of David and his Opa, who as a teacher and school principal took a real interest in David, especially helping him master German as a second language.
David and Opa gaze across the room at the lights of the Christmas tree from the living room couch, discussing the lights and decorations while enjoying some quality time together.
As David sits on the couch with Opa just two months shy of his fourth birthday, it will be only a matter of days before I deploy to the Gulf for Operation Desert Shield.
It was now December 1990, during the season of Advent – the period that includes the four Sundays that precede Christmas Day – and we visited Trier to see and explore the city’s Christmas Market.
Trier is a wonderful city full of beautifully restored buildings and pedestrian zones throughout the Old City – and has a large market square that was perfect for setting up the Christmas Market in.
The Trier Christmas Market – like all Christmas Markets – was very popular and filled with people shopping for Christmas related merchandise and enjoying Advent’s festive music, seasonal foods and drink.
Vendor stands sell all types of Christmas merchandise and handmade craft items – along with food stalls and hot spiced wine that are all simply irresistible on a cold and wet December day in Germany.
The openness of the central market square in Trier is remarkable for its size, and all through the year there are farmer’s markets and cut fresh flowers and the like being sold there.
The wonderful thing about authentic German Christmas Markets is the fact that a great amount of care is used to create a Christmas village feeling that looks and feels authentic and in character with the season of Advent.
A small band gathers under the pavilion preparing to perform traditional Christmas music in the middle of the Christmas Market – providing the festive music and atmosphere of Advent for everyone to enjoy at the market – shoppers, vendors and onlookers alike.
This view of Trier’s Christmas Market includes some of the most beautifully restored half-timbered buildings that you’ll see anywhere in Europe.
Because Trier dates back over 2000 years by all accounts, there is a wealth of historic architecture and ruins to see in and around the city – going back to the time of the Roman Empire.
The size of Trier’s central market area even dwarfs the Christmas Market – as my wife and her parents stroll across the square in the middle of this picture – it would be improbable to fill up the entire square with vendor booths.
A nice view of shingled vendor booths, leading the eye from window display to window display – enticing shoppers to look over all of the Christmas merchandise that they have to offer.
A large Nativity Scene on display in the Christmas Market reminds us all of the true meaning of Christmas – our Savior Jesus Christ was born in a manger in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago – to save us from our sins that we might have eternal life.
David rides a “flying” elephant on a carousel or merry-go-round at the Trier Christmas Market – entertaining visitors of all ages alike.
We visited the Christmas Market on more than one occasion, and here David is all bundled up against the cold December chill as my wife adjusts his hood for the picture.
Saint Nicholas Eve or “Sankt Nikolaustag Abend” is celebrated on the eve of December 6th, with St. Nicholas visiting all of the children in Bruch – reviewing with them how good (or not) they’ve been during the year and giving them gifts if they were good…and in the shadows tags along Knecht Ruprecht carrying a bundle of switches – a reminder of punishment for children who misbehave.
This year St. Nicholas had more of a pure Santa Claus image than the true Bishop image of the previous year, and here St. Nicholas reads to David out of the “Book” that has recorded how good or bad he was during the previous year…and the verdict was – mostly good – while Knecht Ruprecht with his bundle of switches in the background is a visible reminder to remain good.
St. Nicholas reviews the year with David’s little cousin, who was much too young to really understand what was going on – while David’s grandmother helps to explain everything going on to David…as Knecht Ruprecht lingers in the background in the foyer, and is often not even allowed to enter the home as his presence can be too menacing for small children, and as such I omitted posting most of the pictures of him from that evening.
The tradition in Germany is for children to polish their boots and leave them on the doorstep, and in the morning they find gifts from St. Nicholas in them – but since this was “Americanized” – St. Nicholas brought gift bags for David and his little cousin.
Finally with the drama coming to a close, St. Nicholas hands gift bags to David, which can only be pure excitement for a child – the whole visit can last from 10 to 15 minutes – and St. Nicholas has a lot of children to visit in the village and give gifts to.
The entire evening reminds us of the original Saint Nicholas, who was best known for his kind heart towards children and gift giving – and this evening is much anticipated by children as the season of Advent approaches.
Here David tries on his new hat and scarf from St. Nicholas, and investigates the modern version of switches – wrapped in plastic with little gifts included with the branches.
We used to all enjoy a fire in the fireplace in Bruch once the fall chill arrived – and while this picture was taken in December 1990, the following two photographs are undated, but were taken around the same time frame during Advent and the Christmas season.
One day while watching the fire die down with my father-in-law, I saw what I immediately viewed as the figure of Jesus Christ in white – holding his hands out in a gesture of peace and looking to His left (right from our perspective) – against the black soot background of the fireplace – embers still glowing red hot – and I grabbed my camera and took two photos to document the image I saw revealed in the fireplace, this being the first one.
It’s been twenty years now and I had occasionally viewed these photos over the years, but I never grasped that the blood stained Crown of Thorns and head of Christ was clearly visible to me – shown clearly on this cropped image of Christ’s blood stained head from the first photo – except when I scanned the photos on Monday, April 26, 2010, while preparing this posting.
This is the second photo, taken from a slightly different angle and closer up – showing what I believe to be the image of Jesus Christ in the back of the fireplace as the fire dies down.
The figure of Jesus Christ has His arms outstretched in a sign of peace, so I thought I’d crop the picture and slowly bring the viewer into an intimate closeness with this image – as Christ looks to His left and appears to be holding something in His outstretched left hand.
We’re a little closer now as we zoom in on this image of Jesus Christ in the back of the fireplace, while the embers glow and the object in His left hand appears to be a partial cross and the blood stained head of Christ becomes visible – so that we might have a sign to increase our faith and believe.
As we draw closer in, I reflect on the fact that although these pictures were given to me twenty years ago during Advent of 1990, they reveal to me only now the blood stained head of Christ wearing a Crown of Thorns…revealed to me in a deeper way at this time of my life, so that it might increase my faith for the work that I’m to do for Him.
The bloodstained Crown of Thorns and bloodstained head of Christ are clearly visible, and the object in Christ’s left hand clearly begins to take on the form of a cross with one half of the cross member missing.
With the partial cross in His left hand clearly visible, I contemplate the significance of this image of Christ suffering – given to me twenty years ago, yet only fully revealed to me this week…increasing my faith in the work I believe that Christ calls me to do for Him.
If someone has the ability to examine these two original photos of the image of Jesus Christ wearing the blood soaked Crown of Thorns, using color enhancement and analysis to bring out the depth of what is a “negative” image in the fireplace…I’d love to see the result of their work.
This final close-up of the Crown of Thorns on Christ’s head is layered with various shades and depths of images of blood; perhaps the two original images superimposed on each other would create a “stereo” image and build a three dimensional model of the image of the suffering Christ as a sign to us of Christ’s suffering for us.
It is now December 1990, and Christmas is just a few days away as David sits on his tractor outside our front door; and meanwhile at Hahn AB we still don’t know if we are going to participate in Operation Desert Shield in the Gulf.
David and I prepare to have a snowball fight in our front yard during a very snowy December in Monzelfeld – here I rest a snowball on top of David’s head for fun – and in later years we would both make “rabbit ears” behind each other’s head for fun when pictures were taken.
It’s time to get serious as David and I prepare to build what we hope to be an excellent snowman out of the heavy, fresh fallen “sticky” snow – the kind that makes for excellent snowballs – and snowmen.
A neighbor’s cat checks out David’s progress while building the base of the snowman, which we elevated by placing it in a raised stone planter – because we didn’t have enough snow to make a giant snowman otherwise.
David stands beside the finished snowman – or is it a “snowwoman” in a case of pure artistic license and intrepretation – either way it’s the best “snowperson” that we’ve ever created; standing in front of our kitchen window with the classic Advent light pyramid that adds cheer and warmth to a cold December night.
With the extra snow that David packed around the base of our masterpiece for added support, I suppose this could better be called a “snowwoman” instead – with what I remember to be a slice of carrot for the mouth, carrot ends for eyes and a broom for something to hold onto.
David and I stand beside our masterpiece, having finished late into the evening as big snowflakes gently float by – with the fresh snowfall adding a smoothing touch to the “snowwoman” standing beside us.
Our “snowperson” stands watch in the front yard – always maintaining a smiling and happy disposition while watching the snow float down in large flakes – on a perfectly still and calm winter evening with David standing at the gate into the front yard.
The camera’s flash leaves the reflection of a Christmas star shining in the window like the one the Wise Men followed to Bethlehem; with the lights from our Advent light pyramid, the poinsettia and the holiday stencils in the window that my wife made – all creating a nice festive mood for anyone passing by the house.
You can see one of two handmade crochet lace panels that my wife created for our dining room windows in Sacramento; they both have been rehung here on our dining room’s sliding glass doors in Monzelfeld – and the Christmas tree and two flood lights above it are visible in the dining room as well.
Another more distant view of the Christmas tree behind the sliding glass doors of the dining room, with snow drifts begining to build up on the bushes below the tree nearby.
If this photo is expanded you can see the lights of the Christmas tree in the distant dining room windows, as I experimented with a few nightime photographs on a perfectly still winter’s night.
The flash seems to create snowballs in the air out of giant snowflakes, creating an unusual nighttime view of the front of our house – our master bedroom windows are upstairs above the kitchen.
In another view, the flash seems to have created hanging globes of light in the air out of the snowflakes, an unusual visual perspective of snowflakes – as if they were Christmas lights hanging from the branches of the tree.
The next day in this view across the street from us, the snow has begun to melt away – but the winter would turn out to be cold and snowy – and my wife would have to shovel about 200′ of sidewalk by herself while I was deployed to the Gulf.
The snow slowly melts off of the top of our car as it stands in the driveway, while the pavers below it display an interesting pattern of snow melt – like the light and dark squares of a chessboard.
The back corner of our property as viewed from the empty lot beside it, showing a winter wonderland of snow covered trees that creates a wilderness feeling inside the village of Monzelfeld iteslf.
My wife’s handmade kitchen lampshades provide light while I clean up after a holiday meal for relatives that were over visiting; while the healed knuckle of my left index finger remains swollen months after my injury – and would take a long time to even approach normal size again…but at least the finger works!
David listens to recordings of my original songs for the very first time while seated on the kitchen countertop; at this point I decided to make simple recordings of my songs for copyright application purposes.
I had a small four track recorder and did my best to record my songs so they could be submitted for copyright; nothing that would meet the standards for anyone else to listen to, but David is captivated by the fact that it is my voice on the tape.
The novelty of hearing my songs in his earphones was interesting to David that night, and all children need to be exposed to as many new and positive experiences as they can be in order to expand their world of knowledge and information.
In April 1990, my wife’s grandmother had a birthday party at her house in Schweich, Germany; and in this photo left to right are: my wife’s father, her grandmother, David and I, my wife’s great-aunt and one of my wife’s cousins.
It was now the middle of summer in July 1990, and one Saturday after mowing the yard I took pictures of our entire property – this view is of the empty lot beside the property looking down the long sidewalk in front of our home.
I had spent the previous fall and winter pruning out all of the deadwood from the overgrown property – and burning it as kindling in our wood stove and fireplace – and now the new growth was maturing in the summer; this view is of the front of our house.
Everything was now looking quaint and manicured, where before the entire property was overgrown and needed lots of attention; this view of the front yard and sidewalk leading to the front door looked very nice and peaceful – which the whole property was for us.
My wife hung new lace curtains in the kitchen windows and the flowers were in full bloom in the small stone planter in the our front yard; and the house began to feel like home to us – even if we were only renting it – but in reality my wife and I have been “nomads” our entire adult lives…so home is anywhere we happen to be living it seems.
A view from across the street looking back at our car in the driveway; we always took the view in life that we were only caretakers and stewards of the “things” in life that were entrusted to us – houses, cars or furniture – which made it easier to move houses as often as we did.
From this view of the front of our property you would never know that there was a house in the middle of this forest; our stewardship approach to life has meant that besides houses or cars, we never sell anything when we no longer need it – but just give it away to someone else to care for.
The property in Monzelfeld was shaped like a triangle with streets on the two long sides of the triangle – and from this perspective it looks like the bow of a great ocean going ship coming straight towards you.
Our car in the driveway is visible from this view of the side yard looking back at the wood shed and garage; we were always proud of the fact that the majority of items we gave away through the years were still in essentially brand new condition.
The rustic swingset stands in the side yard that is now completely private – surrounded by the forest that encircled most of the property; everytime we had to move to a new country we always started by downsizing and giving away what we didn’t need to pack and take with us.
At this point in our marriage of four years, Monzelfeld was our third home together (Heckenmünster, Germany; Sacramento, CA, U.S.A.; Monzelfeld, Germany), with two international moves across the Atlantic and back and David was now three years old.
The side yard continued around behind the house, garage and woodshed (left in this picture); and it was only days from now that Kuwait would be invaded by Iraq in a move that surprised – and changed – both the world and our family forever.
From the backyard this view our our house shows the corner where our dining room is located on the left side deep into the shadow; officially there was no mention of Hahn AB being involved in Operation Desert Shield – but a couple of us on the Wing Staff were convinced the odds were very high indeed.
These are the floor to ceiling windows of our dining room, which allowed for plenty of light to enter the house and made it feel like the forest surrounding the house was invited inside as well.
This shows just how dense the growth on the property was – even after cutting it back – and this sidewalk led behind the house to a BBQ pit and to the covered back porch; at work we would begin pushing every bit of information about world events out to our three F-16 squadrons: the 10th TFS, 313th TFS and 496th TFS.
The forest was my pride and joy and a never ending sense of enjoyment – after I had finished cutting the deadwood out of it; and now you could easily walk between the three narrow rows of young trees that surrounded most of the property.
I always thought that Bilbo and Frodo Baggins from, “The Lord of the Rings,” would have felt very much at home in the almost “Shire like” property that we cared for in Monzelfeld – as dappled shade beckons the visitor ever onward.
The back yard behind the living room’s sliding glass doors – where David had stood in front of the colorful tulips only a few months ago; and off to the right is the “hunter’s lodge” style covered porch at the end of the house near David’s bedroom.
Looking out across the back yard from the house reveals an eight foot high hedge – even before you reach the three rows of trees prior to the fence and sidewalk behind our house – complete privacy that felt like we were miles away from any other civilization.
The far corner of the back yard behind the “hunter’s lodge” style covered porch; this would be the last series of pictures until October 1990 – there was no time for sightseeing and photography with the onset of ever changing world events.
Looking out from the patio in front of the covered porch, the view of our backyard shows how dense the new growth of the forest had become – closing us off completely from the street directly behind us.
The “hunter’s lodge” style covered porch emerges from the trees at the back of our house, as if a secret meeting house for “Robin Hood and his Merry Men” deep in Sherwood Forest – which we would one day have the opportunity to visit while in England.
This is what I call the “hunter’s lodge” style covered porch – huge and open to the forest on two sides with flower boxes on the outside of the knee walls; the unfortunate thing was that we never got the time to really grow into this part of the house and it often went unused.
Looking at the “hunter’s lodge” style covered porch, you can see the size and height of it; the window on the right with the blue and white checked curtain was David’s bedroom window, and the one on the left was our guest room and my music room.
Looking from the outside end of the covered porch through to the backyard, it was like we were in a forest camp miles from anywhere, yet we were a stone’s throw from the houses across the street behind us.
The far back corner of the property where the unfinished lot meets it, reveals the windows of the master bedroom suite – which was the only area upstairs – in this naturalistic and rustic styled, contemporary, custom built tri-level home in Monzelfeld.
Now we fast forward to October 1990, as David drives a car on a festival ride that fall – most villages, towns and cities have “fests” that come into town for a few days and then move on to the next; and it was during this time we were preparing at Hahn AB to be ready if called to deploy to Operation Desert Shield.
David rides his “Mercedes-Benz” tractor alongside our car parked in the driveway of our home in Monzelfeld, as winter gives way to spring – which slowly unfolds around us.
David stands beside his tractor as the new leaves of spring arrive in our forest behind him, and with it the promise of summer in Germany.
The houses along the street behind us reflect in the living room’s sliding glass doors behind David, as he stands in front of the long narrow flower bed with its colorful tulips growing all in a row behind him.
A more distant view of the back of our house in Monzelfeld from across the back yard, as the flower garden awakens with tulips all lined up to welcome the return of spring to Germany.
Tulips are reflected in the windows of the sliding glass doors into the living room, while the fresh green leaves of spring open in the forest in the distance.
David stands outside of the wood shed beside the garage, showing off a beautiful lavender climbing vine with two white tulips below it.
David, now three years old, and I stand in front of our house in Monzelfeld, and my left index finger shows the healing tendon repair of my foolish antics in Zaragoza only weeks before.
David looks uncertain in this picture, standing in the same position in our home as we would together only eight months later – as I headed off to the Gulf for Operation Desert Shield/Storm.
My wife’s great-aunt sits in our rocking chair during a visit to our home, inspiring us all with her youthful vigor and poise that defied her years – setting an example for us all to hopefully follow someday.
David’s great-great-aunt spends some quality “bonding time” with him, and giggles from her tickling and attention.
David’s great-aunt, who emigrated years ago from Germany to Bellevue, WA; sits with David on the couch in what turned out to be a very sweet picture of the two of them.
David’s grandmother poses with him outside our home in Monzelfeld, in front of beautiful flowering bushes that look to be Azaleas, growing directly outside the sliding glass doors of the dining room.
David and his grandfather or “Opa” in Bruch work on an airplane puzzle made out of wooden pieces of various sizes; it’s important that young children receive quality attention from as many adult role models as possible, in order to give them a proper sense of balance and perspective in life.
David, with “sheep” tucked securely under his left arm, and his cousin exchange glances while preparing to enjoy an Easter Sunday meal – children learn quickly to model the behavior of the adults around them…for better or for worse.
David and his cousin play on the floor with David’s toy truck; the promise of Easter directly relates to the love and security that children should feel as they grow up, because in Christ we have that love and security from Jesus in a more perfect way for eternity.
The job of raising children to become successful adults isn’t the responsibility of schools, technology or society; but first and foremost it’s the responsibility of parents to create an environment at home where children can begin life as rational, thinking individuals that can later accept personal responsibility for their own futures.
I think that much of who we are has essentially been formed very early on in life, and by the time we attend school the self-image that we have inside us has already been formed to the point where changing our internal perception of ourselves is difficult – but not impossible – to overcome if we need to change ourselves for the better.
One of the most important roles that any generation has is the responsibility to pass society over to the next generation – and prepare them to receive it – hopefully better prepared than ours was when it was given to us for our nurturing and safekeeping.
It was now Easter in Monzelfeld, and my wife always decorated the dining room table by hanging Easter eggs from fresh cut branches arranged in a vase.
A neighbor in the village had goose eggs available for decorating, and my wife and David decorated these three goose eggs and displayed them hanging from her handmade lampshade over our kitchen table.
The camera’s flash has washed out the coffee and cake settings on the table in this picture, which are clearly visible in the next one – as David sits on the low bench beside the wood stove ready to have a piece of Easter lamb cake and chocolates.
David seems to say “hurry up” as the Easter lamb cake my wife baked and an Easter basket filled with chocolates are displayed on the table under the handmade lampshade decorated with colored goose eggs.
The day started earlier with an Easter egg hunt around the house, and here David has discovered four chocolate Easter eggs – conveniently in an egg warming basket – pretty smart that Easter bunny!
David shows off his treasured prize of chocolate Easter eggs before continuing the hunt around the house – the Easter bunny is a nice tradition for children, because it makes them feel special and offers just another opportunity to make Easter morning special as well.
The Easter bunny had a habit of hiding a few small gifts for David around the house along with the Easter eggs; and some may say that encouraging the Easter bunny tradition distracts from the meaning of Easter – but I think for a small child, showing them that they are loved is very central to the meaning and promise of Easter.
One of the Easter bunny’s presents for David was a puzzle of a gas station scene – and David had become quite an expert on identifying cars by make and model by then, easily calling them out by name while walking through a parking lot.
David seems uncertain of waiting to open this present, as I took the photo of another puzzle – and this one was of an old fashioned lumber mill in a Bavarian Alpine setting.
David had only recently turned three years old, the minimum age at the time to attend Kindergarten which he was now attending just up the street in Monzelfeld – speaking German of course; and here he discovers an Easter basket in the family room filled with some of his favorite chocolates in it.
This picture of David in the rocking chair shows how far he had come in just the past few months – it seemed like I’d wake up one day and he would be asking me for the car keys – and that day came and went some seven long years ago!
At Zaragoza AB, Spain, I had been writing songs in my spare time on the base chapel’s piano, and after cutting my tendon I continued composing with one hand – always remembering that I had lost the use of my left hand for a while due to my own selfish pride.
Now I was back in Monzelfeld with my wife and son, and trying my best to do everything one handed for the next month or so – including writing songs and pondering my injury in the Zaragoza AB, O’Club; here David stands on the sidewalk in the spring sunshine in front of our house.
The 10th TFS had an official function and party at the Zaragoza AB O’Club, which included spontaneous skits to be performed according to rank by the squadron’s pilots – a humorous way to blow off some steam while TDY; in this picture David squints into the sunshine in front of our house.
I was in the captain’s group for our skit, and as we were an unimaginative bunch – it was determined that we would build a human pyramid with all the pilots in our group stacked up on all fours; in this picture David stands in the living room window with the spring tulips lining the flower bed behind our house in Monzelfeld.
So with a couple of beers in me, and 3 or 4 layers of pilots wobbling back and forth on hands and knees trying not to collapse the pyramid to the floor – I climbed up to the top row to complete it; this photo shows the new spring growth as it emerges in the forest around our house.
Once on top of this wobbling and soon to collapse human pyramid of pilots in their flight suits, my pride dictated that I should balance on my knees alone on top of the pyramid and throw my hands up above me in victory – having completed the pyramid like the star on the top of a Christmas tree.
As I began to throw my hands high over my head in a precarious kneeling position atop the pyramid, I lost complete situational awareness (SA) of what was around me – and didn’t recall that there was a large, heavy wrought iron chandelier hanging from the ceiling directly above my head.
The tendon of my left index finger struck the sharp edge of the wrought iron chandelier with full force directly above my knuckle – cutting the tendon through to the bone – and sending me to the emergency room downtown Zaragoza…where they had to call in the Chief Surgeon to complete the tendon repair, after the first doctor couldn’t find the upper half of the tendon that had retracted back into my hand.
Meanwhile back in Monzelfeld, the forest was putting out new fresh spring growth, after I had pruned all of the deadwood out of it during the previous fall and winter; the forest was my pride and joy, as gardening always reminded me of how God tends to and sustains His creation – including us – by pruning our own deadwood away as well.
You could now stand in the narrow forest surrounding the property, and look down the three rows of young trees that now had plenty of open space to let the sunlight and fresh air in – something we all need in life – a breath of fresh air and sunshine on our face…and trees are no different.
David stands in front of the living room’s sliding glass doors, where just outside the glass the tulips are all heralding the beginning of spring – which always reminds us of the opportunity for new and fresh starts in our own lives – because a little spring cleaning is very good for the soul.
From an early age we’ve always said that David belongs in the theater, and here is a look into that side of his life which was very animated and theatrical…a trait that is to be admired in children for its honesty, spontaneity and lack of conformity.
My wife’s father and David’s “Opa” enjoys the comforting heat of the tiled wood stove and a cup of coffee at the kitchen table in Monzelfeld; he was a calming presence in the often hectic events of our family.
My wife’s grandmother, and David’s great-grandmother, sits on the couch and crochets a tablecloth – a hobby shared by all of the women in my wife’s family – and a common practice in Germany at that time.
David excitedly shows off the castle he had just built out of plastic Duplo blocks – the creativity of young children remains outside the box of cultural expectations and conformity, until the expectations of society frown upon anything outside the narrow boundaries of approved and expected behavior – especially for boys.
David plays with another unique castle creation of his made out of Duplo blocks, along with a couple of Matchbox cars from his collection on the living room’s tile floor in our home in Monzelfeld.
David demonstrates just how tall his Duplo skyscraper is – which was designed to be the tallest free standing tower possible with the limited number of plastic building blocks available to him.
All parents realize that their children will grow up and be on their own one day, so the precious few moments that you still have with them while they are little are very precious indeed – and need to be cherished while they can – which also applies to all of our other relationships as well.