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Letter: Christmas in Crailsheim was memorable

Worthington, I've had another exciting month. First off, in December, I started enjoying my Advent calendars. Each day is a door to open and inside is a piece of candy. I was lucky enough to receive two calendars as gifts, so everyday I woke up and had chocolate first thing in the morning!

On the sixth of December we celebrated St. Nickolas Day. We left our shoes outside the night before and St. Nickolas placed chocolate in them during the night. I also attended the Christmas game of the Crailsheim Merlins basketball team. It was really exciting, and we won! There was a dance afterwards that was really fun, too.

The Christmas markets were another highlight. Many towns and villages have them, with special foods and drinks that you can only get at Christmas time. I visited many markets during the season. Each Sunday in December, my host family and I went to Grandpa and Grandma's house to light advent candles and sing traditional German Christmas songs with them. That was a fun tradition to experience.

On the second weekend of December, my family and I went to Dresden. There was much to see there. The city is about 285 miles away from Crailsheim, near the borders of Poland and the Czech Republic. Dresden was held under the USSR after World War II. From 1985-1990 Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, was stationed there. We visited a few Christmas markets and also the Frauenkirche, a large chapel first built in the 18th century but destroyed in the Second World War. It was left in ruins by the Soviets. However, in 2005, reconstruction was completed with much of the refinishing done using the original stones. The difference between the new and original stones is quite apparent. I encourage you to Google it to see some photos.

That weekend we also visited "The Little Grand Canyon," as my host family called it. Die Bastei in der Sächsischen Schweiz was beautiful; everything was covered in snow and it was simply amazing scenery.

Christmas was quite an exciting time. We purchased our tree, a real tree, on the 23rd and decorated it. It was decorated similar to how we decorate trees in America. One exception would be the real lit candles on the tree. Each candle was secured with a drip tray to catch the wax. On Christmas Eve, we had a turkey for dinner and opened our presents. In order to open them, we had to throw dice and roll a one or a six. It was so aggravating at times! It was a fun night.

On the 25th, we relaxed for the day. The weather was great -- around 55 degrees Fahrenheit -- so we went for a walk in the woods. On the 26th, we went to a fantastic art gallery in the city of Schwäbisch Hall. There were many paintings and sculptures of all different kinds. My favorites were the wall-sized paintings. After that we went to the grandparents' home and had fondue, which was great! We had four different kinds of meat and many varieties of bread, which we dipped in seven different sauces. Dessert was tiramisu.

Later that week, as a gift from the uncle of my brothers, we took a train to a mall near Stuttgart and shopped for the day. Afterward, the most exciting part of my day came -- we found a KFC. That's right, Kentucky Fried Chicken in Germany! It was pretty fun to eat there. After that, we climbed back on the train and headed to our connection in the city. Our train was delayed, so we were able to see a little bit of the city of Stuttgart. Everything was still lit up from Christmas, and it looked really classy. There were tons of bright white lights everywhere and trees wrapped up in lights, too.

December was a really exciting month, and I look forward to the month ahead.