The difference

by Anna

As a German national, having been living in the UK for the past decade, returning to Germany for my annual Christmas fix leaves me feeling slightly at odds with the expected festivities and some of the seemingly rude or cold behaviours I encounter from my fellow kinsmen. Or is it just that I have been spoilt by the overly polite British?

From an intimidating glare of a towering middle-aged man in the supermarket, the irritated sigh of an elderly lady breathing down my neck in the cue, a passionate discussion easily misunderstood as a heated argument to those who don’t speak German to entering an office with a simple question and being totally ignored by three staff members behind their desks who rather get their mobile phones out and turn away to talk to each other until another customer enters, pulls a ticket and waits for the digital number to appear on the unlit sign with a beep, granting her time to speak to one of the ladies who had so purposefully turned away earlier. Really?! I could have stood there for eternity since nothing or nobody pointed out that I need to have a ticket to ask whether I’m even in the right place!

Next hurdle is the train ticket machine which is simply incomprahendable even to me as German and the only option to get help is to cue for 20 minutes while two people book their trip to the other end of the country.

I’m missing the human touch in so many ways. Why do we make life so complicated? Why can’t we just enjoy living but having to fight our way through this miserable maze of electronic devices? Why don’t we just talk to each other from one human soul to the next? When did we stop caring?

Granted, there have been incredibly kind souls too, like the cheerful staff at the fairtrade cafe or those humbling individuals at the medieval christmas market who actually appear to enjoy living the simple life.

But what really mad a difference to me today was a small group of foreign individuals who were singing from their heart and soul in town, especially the little boy who was drumming on a box, occasionally chirping in with his bright voice. At first I was apprehensive, as if still trying to protect myself from possible uncanny electronic attacks, but my heart soon did the only thing it does best: respond to the beat of the drum, the first sound we all hear while still in our mother’s womb, our mother’s heartbeat. It’s the one thing that connects us all, the one thing we all have in common, the one thing we all recognize, regardless of the language we speak.

I watched the pure joy on the singer’s faces ignight the smile on many a passer by and remind them, even if just for that very moment, not just what the real meaning of Christmas is, but even more so what it means to be a part of this world!

A merry Christmas to you all!