Sep 30, 2011

Oktoberfest 2011

Two songs play over and over again at festhalles at Oktoberfest: "Ein Prosit" and "So ein shoener Tag". Ein Prosit is a simple song "Ein Prosit, ein Prosit Der Gemütlichkeit" is repeated a few times and then everyone raises their glasses and clinks them together. The translation is "a toast, a toast to the coziness of it all". "So ein shoener Tag" is a silly song when you understand the lyrics. It is one of those songs that everyone knows the motions to and somehow forgets that singing and dancing to it is a little like a bunch of adults singing the hokey pokey. The motions are flexing your muscles, jumping, spinning, swimming, and waving your arms in the sky and to top it all off the chorus is "la la lala la" which makes it very singable for all people involved - to include those that don't know any other lyrics. "So ein shoener Tag" translates to "It is a beautiful day".
All that to say, September 25th Matt and I, Mika and Tom, Ken and Cyndi (Tom's parents) and Tim (Tom's brother) all drove down to Munich to go to Oktoberfest. We knew we would have a good time - with this crew how could we not?
We walked around to a few tents and saw seating prospects for all 7 of us were null, so when a lovely waitress asked us if we wanted a seat for two, we snatched it and sent Ken and Cyndi in to experience Oktoberfest. Within a few moments the waitress, Elvira, returned to snatch us all up. She somehow convinced a table of people full of couples to go elsewhere so that our group could have the entire table. Then there we were all 7 of us seated, together, at noon, for lunch in the Augustiner festhalle in Munich. SCORE!
I expected the dancing, singing, drinking, occasional breaking of glasses when the "tap" of glasses was a little overzealous, and drunk people. I expected to laugh and have a great time. What I didn't expect was tears.
After a few hours of sitting in the festhalle eating lunch, chatting, singing, and dancing on tables it hit me: I am in Munich, Germany with my best friends and their family, at Oktoberfest. This is a once in a lifetime experience. And I started to cry.
Turns out we have a weeping bunch. Mika started to cry a smidgen, and Ken got misty eyed too. Matt stayed strong for a while- but eventually got glassy. There were a lot of hugs and a lot of love passed around.
It was a beautiful day. A day where we had a blast, where we laughed and cried, where we made new memories and recounted old, a day where we appreciated each other for being who we are to each other.
You might say it was the beer. And you might be right....but only partially. The words were from the heart and I know this to be true. The beer - just helped the words come out at a festhalle instead of birthday card or funeral!
The Mlacks are my chosen family. You have the family that you are blessed with, the family that you marry, and then some lucky chaps get another family - one that you just choose to become family because you love them all so darn much.
I'll look fondly back on this day for all the fun shenanigans of Oktoberfest but what I will treasure forever is the people and love that was shared there.
Ein Prosit, ein Prosit Der Gemütlichkeit

Sep 29, 2011

September.

Every family has that one month out of the year that is always, and I do mean always, jam packed full of fun and all things great. For us, this month is September.
Both of the boys have birthdays in September, school starts, and we vacation.
This year for Eli's birthday he requested Chef Boyardee ravioli, which we nixed and turned into Sloppy Joe, and to open his presents by a bonfire. It was a hectic day with school and a AWANA meeting, but we managed to make it special for him. Gabriel invited a few of his friends to a local indoor playground for slides, rock walls, trampolines and bounce house. We had cake at home and his requested dinner was spaghetti with spicy sausage. The boys were blessed with lots of great gifts from friends and family and both seemed genuinely happy with their special days.
School is interesting this year. Mannheim is closing and 75% of the population of the community have left. There are no more than two classes of each grade in school and the class sizes are still very small. The small classes are great for the teacher - student ratio but not so great for the friend pool. The boys have limited acceptable friend options and for that I am a little sad. There used to be 30 -40 kids running wild through our neighborhood at any given time. Now there are about 10 and they seem to always find their way to my house!
Rick Steves calls September and October and April and May "shoulder" months. They are the months that are still great times to travel but are slightly less hot than summer, considerably less full of tourists, and often just slightly cheaper than peak summer travel rates. Rick is right. And we love to travel in September.
Last September we spent Labor Day weekend in the French Alps with friends and then spent 10 days in Milan and Florence, Italy, followed by Oktoberfest in Munich. This year, we spent Labor Day weekend camping with friends in the German/Austrian area of Garmisch, then we spent 10 days going to Venice, a cruise through Greece and Croatia, and brief stop in Innsbruck, followed by a fabulous stop in Munich for Oktoberfest.
It is a full month, so busy that it is truly hard to believe that it is over tomorrow!