Give us our daily bread, but please let it be German

Read by the author Brenda Arnold

2 August 2021

A good friend of mine recently returned to the U.S. after several years’ absence.

“Watch out!” I warned him. “You’re going to have reverse culture shock!”

All those huge cars, jammed highways and overfriendly people. It’s a bit scary after you’ve been gone for a while.

“Take it easy!” I said. “Don’t let it scare you. You’ll get used to it again, I promise!”

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Vaccination Fascination

25 July 2021

Read by Brenda Arnold

A strange thing has set upon us. Suddenly, we’re all doctors. Better yet, we’re virologists. At least you’d think so listening to the conversations around you.

Small talk used to revolve around topics such as “How are the kids?” or “How’s work?” Ha! Those were the days. Little did we know how good we had it, having the luxury of discussing such mundane things as your offspring, work and the latest annoying construction site on the beltway and how your commute is stressing you out.

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Thanksgiving? No, thanks

This all-American holiday is not as traditional as you think

24 November 2019

Thanksgiving? No, thanks. Read by the author Brenda Arnold

Little kids in pilgrim hats or feather headdresses that would give politically correct people heart palpitations today – when I was in third grade, everything about Thanksgiving was warm and fuzzy. Such a great American tradition, steeped in friendship, harmony and the spirit of giving. Under closer scrutiny, however, this holiday is not everything it is cranked up to be.

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Halloween Goes Global

29 October 2019

But curious things happen when you transplant a holiday

When I moved to Germany over 30 years ago, nobody had heard of Halloween. I had a hard time explaining why people get dressed up as ghosts, goblins, Shrek or a Superman and go from house to house asking for candy. Not only was there no Halloween, the jack-o-lantern pumpkins were not sold anywhere, either. When nostalgia inspired me to throw a Halloween party, my American girlfriend Ruth laughed her head off when she caught sight of my muscat pumpkin jack-o-lantern. Never heard of a muscat pumpkin? Me neither.

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The Curious Case of the X in the Sock Drawer

24 June 2019

I am no stranger to the German sense of order and cleanliness – how could I be after living here for 30 years? After such a long time, I now take it almost for granted: the clean streets, the men who regularly sweep the sidewalk and others who walk around train stations poking a pointy stick into the garbage people have left behind (not sure what the poking will achieve, but it must have something to do with putting the trash into a superior state of orderliness). Still others can be seen washing street signs with long brushes on poles.

And yet, there are still surprises in wait.

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