For those who have followed this space, you know that’s not one of my favorite things to do, but it was all for a good cause — helping my significant with her stall at a traditional Christkindlmarkt.
For the uninitiated, a Christkindlmarkt is a street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent. Christkindlmarkt originated in Germany, but now are celebrated worldwide.
I’m predominantly Irish, but a bit of a mutt, and German plays a big part of my background. So a celebration of Christmas with delicious sausages, nuts, beer and Glühweinis right up my alley.
For some reason, throughout my life I seem to get caught up in these weekend long events. Had work, long hours and good times. The Christkindlmarkt was a wonderful way to get into the Christmas spirit — but it was cold! That kind of creeping cold that works its way into your bones that takes hours to warm up from. Even with a great bonfire to warm ourselves by, I think I’m still thawing out.
I spent most of my time hanging out by the Biergarten, ladling out hot steaming cups of Glühwein— spiced, mulled wine that might otherwise be known as a “cup of cheer” — and, of course, German beer. Hofbräu, to be precise —the first beer I ever had, now so many years ago, in Munich.
In a way, volunteering to sling beers was the fulfillment of a life-long ambition. I always thought I’d have made a pretty good bartender. For one thing, it is in my genetics. I think in particular of an old family photo I can across of some of my relatives behind a bar just after the end of prohibition. Plus, as a journalist, I’m can be a pretty good listener.
This setting was perfect — plenty of time to interact with the clientele without having to worry about the darker side of serving — enforcing the rules and handling the rowdies my girlfriend’s bartender son talks about so much.
The majority of my fellow volunteers were much younger than me, but that’s ok. I’m becoming more and more used to that, and I thought I was “hanging” pretty well with the kids.
Leave it to my generation to burst my bubble.
Chatting with a customer who was clearly closer to my age than theirs, she wanted to pass along a story that was a little risqué. Pointing to the younger gentlemen around me, she checked if “they were old enough” to hear it.
We all had a good chuckle.
Then she pointed at me and said, “I know you are old enough, Dad.”
Ouch. Now THAT’s what I call cold.
Not sure how it happened. One moment, you’re flying high, in the prime of life, and the next, you’re suddenly the old guy at the bar wearing the sansabelt slacks and trying to hang with the kids.
Of course, when I related the story back home, everyone had a good laugh at my expense. And I probably deserved it. We all need to be cut down to size now and then.
Besides, she always said she kept me around because I made her laugh, so I guess that means we can chalk one up for the good guys.