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December 2019

- Santa Claus -

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When the conversation comes to Christmas, I always enthuse: "Christmas in Berlin has a special ambience." I am not just thinking of the shopping street Ku´damm, short for Kurfürstendamm, where at Christmas time the trees lavishly decorated with Christmas lights on the left and right of the street form a festive trellis for car drivers for miles and miles and which is why I drive up and down at least once a year. Also, I don't necessarily think of the Christmas markets and Christmas trees everywhere in the city, but of all the decorated windows and festively decorated shop fronts in our neighbourhood. With my children I used to like to stand in front of the Christmas cribs, big advent calendars or sleighs pulled by reindeer and loaded with presents and even today I like to take a look at the personal preferences that are expressed everywhere during the Christmas season: windows framed in snowflakes, covered with golden stars, illuminated with colourful lights. I like that very much.

Many years ago, in our neighbourhood, in a newly opened antique shop, I discovered a Santa Claus who was different from all the others. He was made of papier mâché and didn't look at all dolly and rigid, but so friendly and lively that I immediately entered the shop. "How much is this Santa Claus?" I asked the salesman and was disappointed with his answer that he was unfortunately not for sale.  Santa Claus had been with him his whole life and reminded him, wherever he was, of Christmas at his home in the USA. When I told him that I didn't necessarily want to own Santa Claus, that I just wanted to paint him, he lent him to me for one day. So the traveller landed on my table and smiled just as friendly when I was painting as he did later in the shop front to the little children who pressed their noses against the glass window. Yes, he just spread a very special magic.

Next year the young man gave up his little shop and left with his Santa Claus. Too bad. Because it is people like him who conjure up the Christmas spirit with symbols and rituals. The feast of love is the most beautiful in my eyes when the individual becomes visible for everyone. Since my school days, a small wooden figure of Mary with Baby Jesus has accompanied me through the Christmas season. She was a gift from my friend Sibylla and decorates year after year our windowsill in the kitchen. I don't know if she ever caught anybody's eye. But I like to have her around me in December just as much as the antiques dealer likes his Santa Claus.

 

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