Christmas at the Xmas-bar Tree Flat

Last Saturday was our first annual Christmas potluck party. I was the main organizer of the thing and sent out an email to all CL students: Come join us for egg nog, cookie decorating, and a White Elephant Gift Exchange. It was a general invitation to all.

Perhaps I should have kept in mind the potential cultural disasters in bringing together Germans and the rest for North American traditions. I remembered the time my family had such a gift exchange. Everyone was told to bring a wrapped gift with a value of around twenty dollars to participate. For my family, it was a truly wonderful experience, not least because I happen to have a huge family and Christmas tended to be financially burdensome in previous years. And also for my family, Christmas games are a good way to neutralize family rivalries.

So, you can imagine how happy and excited I was with the idea. That is, of course, until I hit the ‘send’ button. I suppose I could have thought a little more carefully about the twenty euro limit, seeing as all the guests were students. And then there were all the questions like, “well, why would I get a gift when I don’t know who will get it?” Oh la, la, le stress. What if everyone hated it, or was offended by it for some reason?

And then there was the time issue. In my email, I wrote that the party started at 6pm. This was because it was a potluck and I felt that 9 or 10 was too late in the evening to eat dinner. However, when Germans write that there will be a party at a certain time, it means that one can come ‘anytime after that’, which means some might show up at 10, 11, or even later. Sure enough, all the foreign students showed up at or around 6, and the Germans showed up sometime after 9. Which meant that the early birds ended up milling about for an hour, gazing hungrily at the food, till finally I had to give in and let them at it. And anyway, not all of the German students seemed to understand the concept of potlucks. One girl actually wrote that she wasn’t bringing food since she will have already eaten… which, well, whatever.

I also tried to invite as many people as I could in order to see how many people would fit. In preparation, we bought bulk plastic-ware, removed all the carpets in the place, pushed all the furniture back and opened all the rooms.

And in the end… I think it was something of a success. Since I ended up pulling names out of a sock for the gift exchange, everyone was able to put faces with names, which made the rest of the evening very cozy. Since the kitchen was taken up with food and egg nog and glühwein, the cookie decorating happened in my room, which meant that eventually, small groups of people ended up in different rooms doing what they liked: playing cards, talking, and even dancing in the kitchen. Which, by the way, we now know that we can have dancing in our kitchen. Matthias again took some awesome photos, and I think we’re all looking forward to next year.

Author: Lucello

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