Let’s Begin Again

On a positive note, since it is the beginning of the year. Yes, this is for your benefit as much as it is for mine, because I need to do this. New Year’s Eve, or Silvester as it is called here in Germany, was far better for me than Christmas. The main difference being that Christmas was all about abandonment, while Silvester was about redemption or rescue. I couldn’t really bring myself to cook a major fancy meal for my two young guests, and was happy to accept the invitation of my neighbours to have a joint raclett dinner. Naturally, in my current depressive condition, a few hours before going over I found myself a millimetre away from cancelling on them several times. Don’t worry, I pulled myself together and put on my public face and somehow managed.

Lights of the Hood ©MTHerzog

Thanks to that dinner we found out that we didn’t have to venture out to the city centre and join the festivities and fireworks. It turns out, we have a very generous neighbour across the street who spends 3000 EUR every year to entertain the entire street with his own fireworks. This year he took it to another level and got permission from City Hall to block the road from traffic and was even given the road block signages for it. The only vehicles that barrelled their way through was an ambulance and a taxi, but otherwise everyone else respected the limitations.

Before we all went down to join in the festivities, I had to take a deep breath and soak in the wonderful atmosphere offered by the view from my balcony. All along the Havel River you could see several spots where major fireworks were going off as part of the countdown. It was like having my very own light show without too much of the noise. A bit of much needed magic amidst the darkness.

The noise in front of the house, however, more than made up for the idyllic scene on the other side. For the next 45 minutes, we all watched and listened in awe as the light spectacle hypnotised all our senses. Even the cat’s. Yes, you are reading it right, my dear cat Champagne was with me through it all and had a blast, pardon the pun. While the rest of the animal kingdom hid under a bed or inside a cabinet in fear, Champagne sat quietly in her travel backpack and watched the fireworks the whole time, not even flinching at the noise, cowering in fear, or getting restless, much to the amazement and amusement of all and sundry. She was cool as a cucumber and just looked around and up at the sky calmly. This is also the cat who sleeps behind the computer screen during war games, flies calmly in a plane, and doesn’t mind loud noises and voices. She did fine the past years in Thailand and the Philippines where Silvester is like being in a war zone and she complained then about not being able to go out and be in the thick of things, so the Berlin events tis year were a walk in the park for her.

What did I learn from all of this? That my corner of Spandau is the best place to be for Silvester. The crowds at the Brandenburger Gate amounted to 15 000 this year, and there was no need to battle my way through it or worry about getting home. As Champagne showed us all, no need to kick up a fuss when the rest of the world around you is already doing so.

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