One of my first jaunts out into the town upon my return to Belgium found me face-to-face with a wonderful Victorian Christmas window. I was not ready for Christmas but the town of Brugge was readying. There is a heralded Christmas market in the squares with wonderful booths for small and large handmade objects and decorations. It is popular with the Europeans, especially the English. I keep an eye on the progress of the little booths being readied on my errands into town. We will see how it goes this year with Brexit changing the economic complexion of Europe a bit. English is normally heard everywhere during Christmas market — at least it was last year. Christmas here is a bit more subdued than in the States: not quite the frantic Santa Claus routine and so many shopping days until Christmas, although Zwarte Piet, the black sailor from Spain who reportedly brings gifts, is in evidence, as are the occasional opinion editorials in the newspaper about the racism of it all. There is time to choose a gift, have a hot chocolate or eat a patisserie at one of the myriad of tearooms in Brugge.
I have trained myself now from that first encounter with the Christmas window at the end of my street to look at other windows. I saw Christmas items in all the windows…it was great fun; the anticipation of the celebration of our Lord’s birth coming once again. I wandered into the German specialty Christmas store with hand designed Christmas ornaments and scenes. They are truly lovely as well as expensive but I could not be deterred and bought a small (very small) creche to put on my desk in my room with some gift money. The wrapping and bag was worth the price! I will save both. The creche is now unwrapped as Advent has begun, signalling preparation for the coming of Jesus anew into our hearts.