Gaby Book 15 ~ Friends ~ Chapter *31* A Different Christmas

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*Chapter 31*
A Different Christmas

We quickly got the food inside to the kitchen where Helmut explained to Nena what we would be serving up.

“I’m afraid it’s nothing fancy, Grießklößchen suppe to start, Wiener schnitzel, Rotkohl und croquettes for main with strudel for dessert, I’m guessing you have access to Getränke?”

We’d moved into the dining room which as you might expect had semi rustic décor, hunting paraphernalia mixed with some farming equipment – well what would you expect in the Hotel Grüner Jäger?

“It all sounds good to me,” Nena smiled, “we can do coffee and I bought beer and wine so I think we’re covered.”

“You have shop wine?” Herr Sebenschuh, the vintner queried.
“Er yes, what’s wrong?” Nena looked panic stricken whilst the three of us tried to hide our amusement.
“We can’t have that, let’s get the girls organised and we’ll sort it out.”

“Erm, okay.”

“Get the fryers on, Pia,” the boss man instructed, “Gab, Connie if you can make a start on the tables, how many have we?”

“With Dennis and myself, forty?”

“So I think four tables, you will eat with the passengers?”

“Sure,” the still bewildered woman agreed.

“Let’s shuffle some furniture then.”

“I’ll get Den.”

“She’s got a funny accent,” Pia mentioned after Nena and her father left the kitchen a few minutes later, once they’d found the cutlery and table linen.

“And an apple,” Con told us.

“Eh?” I queried.

“You know, Adamsapfel,” she pointed to her throat.

“I didn’t notice, so she’s a he?”

“Well I don’t know any madchen with the apple,” Con pointed out.

“Cute haircut,” Pia offered as she checked the oil level in the fryers.

“You girls okay?” Helmut asked a few minutes later.

“Sure, what’s up?” Pia asked.

“I need to pop back home, I’ll be thirty minutes so put the soup on, bread in baskets on the tables, Pia you know the routine.”

“Yes, Papa.”

“Okay, I’ll be as quick as possible.”

It took him a bit longer than the half hour but we weren’t much behind the planned six o’clock start time.

“Ready, girls?”

“As we will be,” I opined.

“Pia, drinks’ orders, you pair start on the soup then help Pia with the drinks, let’s go!”

It made sense for Connie to carry the tray of ready filled soup bowls out to the diners, she’s bigger and stronger than me after all I then delivered them to table. Pia meanwhile started on the drinks’ orders, a limited choice of cola, lemonade, beer or red wine, her father moving to act as barman after the soup was all decanted. Pia isn’t great at English, Herr Viessner despairs at some of her pronunciations, but she managed to make herself understood.

It didn’t occur to any of us until much later that I should’ve been tasked with the job – after all I am English and do have a reasonable grip on the language! We were actually enjoying ourselves and the diners were soon laughing and cracking jokes as the atmosphere relaxed.

The Wiener sauce was happily bubbling away, Rotkohl simmering beside it, only the croquettes and schnitzel needed flashing to be ready to serve.

“How we doing, girls?” Helmut asked as we returned to the kitchen with more dirty dishes.

“Just a couple left, Papa, a few empty glasses,” Pia reported.

“Fine, food first then refills,” Helmut told us.

The first fryer dinged announcing the first batch of schnitzel was ready.

“Okay, Connie if you clear the last suppe please.”

“Sure,” she agreed heading out to the dining room.

“Right, Pia, you do the kohl and sauce, Gab if you can serve to table.”

I got myself a serving cloth; the plates will be hot having been warming for nearly an hour. Helmut started the line with the croquettes and schnitzel, Pia adding cabbage and sauce in a fashion that didn’t say dumped on the plate. There was nearly a disaster when Con nearly collided with my first plates as she returned with the last soup bowls, I barely managed to pull them out of the way in time.

“Oops!” Con mentioned.

“Next time,” I mentioned.

“More speed, less haste,” Helmut suggested.

“Uh huh,” Con agreed.

“Last plates!” Helmut announced ten minutes later.

“Thought we weren’t ever getting there,” his daughter stated.

It seemed never ending, twenty laps, the next plates were waiting by the time I got back to the kitchen each time.

“Glad that’s over,” she sighed as Con took the last delivery out.

“Not yet,” Pia noted, “refills.”


“I’ll get the vanilla sauce started,” Helmut added.

We had a further fifteen minutes before we got a chance to catch our breath with a glass of Sprite®. Not that we got long of course, we now had to clear the main course before doing the dessert.

Tomas’ strudel was a simpler job for plating up, Helmut had half of it done before we started the main course clear up began which meant the sauce was all that needed adding on the way to the tables.

“You want to do the coffee, Gaby?” Pia’s dad suggested.

“’Kay,” I agreed – I like doing coffee okay?

“Last round, let’s go!” Helmut enthused.

I hurried into the house, well aware I was late.

“Gran!” I exclaimed.

“Whoa! Calm down, Gab, you’ll knock your gran over,” Dave opined.

Gran held me at arms length.
“Gis a hug.”

I didn’t waste any time in wrapping myself around her.

“I’ve missed you, Gran.”

“And me you.”

“Can we eat now?” Jules interjected.

This is our second German Christmas and the rents decided we’d go native – well up to a point. No turkey, no pigs, no heavy pudding, nope we’ve gone native big style at least as far as the food goes, present opening is still going to be Christmas morning. I was now more normally attired in a skirt and jumper although Gran insisted I keep my dirndl on for dinner – no way am I spending the rest of the night in it though.

It was brilliant having Gran here, it’s like she’s a calming influence on everyone – oh me and Jules still argued but less seriously. After the food and washing up it was time for a board game – nothing too cerebral, just snakes and ladders! It’s simple fun and keeps everyone involved, the rules are simple and Gran trumped the rest of us!

The telly went on for a bit but as it’s all in German – and fairly crap, it wasn’t fair on Gran so we ended up trying to play Mum’s old Mousetrap® game. None of it works of course, there’s more entertainment watching Dad trying to put it together! We were just assembling to walk round to midnight mass when Dads mobile started trilling.

“Bond, oh hi, Helmut… just off to mass…oh that’s alright…tomorrow morning?…ten o’clock, should be fine…I’m sure she will, hang on.”

“Gab? You want to work tomorrow?”

I stopped trying to get my jacket sleeves untangled – I’d got it all twisted up when I got home earlier.


“After your presents, Helmut’s entertaining your coach people up at the Stube.” Dad told us.
“I suppose so.” Well a few extra euros won’t go amiss; maybe I can buy a coat with anti tangle sleeves.

“Yes or no,” Dad pressed.

“Yes, I’ll do it.”

“She says yes Helmut,” Dad told the caller. “The Grüner Jäger at ten…see you then…I’ll tell them…Fröhes Weihnachts.”

“Everything okay, Dave?” Mum asked.

“Sure, I’ll tell you later, come on guys let’s sing some carols.”

You don’t have to be exactly religious to go to midnight mass, most of the village turn out for it, one of those Heimat moments in life here.

“You working tomorrow?” Con asked as we shuffled into St Johannes Apostel.

“Yeah, I take it you are too?”

“Well it saves me from the telly.”

“I suppose we need to wear the dirndls again?”

“We set a standard tonight,” Con chortled.

“I’m gonna have to get one of those Büstenheber things.”

“Your girls look big enough already.”

“No harm in having extra ammunition,” I suggested.

“I thought you weren’t interested in boys?”

“Doesn’t mean I can’t play with their heads!”

“You are a wicked woman, Gabrielle Bond!”

A few heads swivelled in our direction.

“Gaby.” Mum noted.

“Sorry,” I nearly whispered.

There is of course a religious bit to the evening’s proceedings but most of the congregation were there for social reasons and a bit of a sing-song. The sermon was short and of course its subject matter pretty much pre ordained, I’m pretty sure everyone knows the story. The choir led the carolling, not skilful singing for the most part but enthusiastic at least.

I’ve told you before I’m a crappy singer but I just about carry a tune although I can get a bit carried away. Problem is I really get into it so when the church went silent and I could only hear one voice, mine, I knew I’d mucked up.

“Freut euch, Völker dieser Erde,
Daß er in sein Herz uns nehm'!
Hört der Himmelsbotenlied,
Heil dem neugebor'nen Herrn!
Selig jubelnd nah und fern.
Betet, daß uns Rettung werde,
Christ erstand in Bethlehem!”

My voice trailed off and the assembled mass clapped enthusiastically, look it’s not my fault I blush easily!

Copyright Madeline Bell 18.03.16

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