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Christmas 1995


Well, folks, its time for our annual Christmas letter. Another year has scooted by again. It seems like only last week I was huddled in the basement of our row house in Stuttgart, typing our 1994 Christmas newsletter, telling you all about our adventures for the year past and about our plans for moving back to the good old US of A.

If you haven’t heard (or guessed) by now, we’re back! We landed in Boston on July 29. That means we had almost four full years of living in Europe. We’ve had mixed emotions about being back; the girls would rather have stayed in Germany where all their friends from the last four years are, Gene is settling back into work at MITRE, with an office just four doors down from where he left so long ago. Lynn is glad to be close to her mom who has been ill this fall (but is doing much better now), and we’re all reveling in the conveniences that we took for granted before we left, and missed so dearly while we were gone. There will always be people and places and things and experiences we miss now that we’re not living in Germany, and our list of things we wanted to do before we left Europe had nowhere near all the things we wanted crossed off, but overall we had a whale of a time, and we’re glad to be back among family and friends and things familiar and convenient!

While we were still in Germany, we continued to try to make the most of our possibilities. Lynn was costume mistress at the local military theater again for a number of shows (Cinderella in January, The Leader of the Pack in February, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in May) and did a smashing job, as usual. Megan ran spotlights for all three shows, and Audrey helped out where she could and was a regular usher. Megan and Lynn took two trips together; one to the east coast of Spain (Lloret de Mar and Barcelona) for spring break, and the other to England with Megan’s school Show Choir, and Lynn volunteered as a chaperone! They performed in Covent Garden and 3-4 other places, got to see Broadway shows (only they don’t call them Broadway shows in London), and generally had a rousing good time.

In March, Megan and Gene traveled to Basel, Switzerland to participate in a wild and weird Fasching (European Mardi Gras) experience called the Morgenstraich. The whole experience was bizarre and amazing, and of course I got a lot of it on video-tape! Also in March, Audrey’s 7th grade from the International School traveled to Paris as part of their Napoleonic studies. They spent a week there, and saw many sights.

In May, we began to gear up for our move in July. We had been contacted by a moving company that my company had hired, and we started the process of estimating and preparing for the move. May also saw our very last European visitor arrive. My niece, Anne Marie, graduated from college and rewarded herself after four hard years by taking a month and coming to Europe! She arrived on the 24th of May, and her cruel uncle and aunt swept her away the very next day on a whirlwind tour of the Nürnberg, Karlovy Vary and Prague in the Czech Republic, and Berlin! Also while Anne was here she squeezed in bus trips to Italy and Paris, and she and Lynn even got to spend a few days in the Alps down near Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

As the time for our move drew closer, we tried not to panic too much. Audrey had her annual school play in June (she co-starred as Morgan LeFay in A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court).

Megan finished up school on the 23rd, then Audrey finished on the 30th, and during this time Lynn and I were running around trying to close down our lives in Germany; all the utilities had to be scheduled to be shut off or turned over (phone, gas, electricity, water), bank accounts had to be closed, borrowed European appliances had to be returned, and a million other things (almost all done in German, of course).

July was the month. The packers arrived on the 3rd with a forty-foot container and a twenty-foot truck, and proceeded to pack up and take away almost everything we owned (including the van). It was tense but there was not much we could do about it. By now the process was so far along that it had a life of its own and I don’t think we could’ve stopped it if we wanted to. They worked for three days, and then they were done, and all our stuff left without us. Then we cleaned the apartment to within an inch of its life and turned over the keys to the owners (our new landlords that we had the court battle with - story enough for a novel) on the 6th. That was a milestone; getting out from under the burden of the apartment.

The work was done, it was time to play! A long time in the planning, we took the next 2 weeks and toured some Greek islands in the Argosarronic Gulf. We visited Poros, Hydra, and Aegina for 3 or 4 days each, then we spent 3 days in Athens. We lounged on rocky Mediterranean beaches, ate lots of Greek food, saw the Acropolis, and Delphi, and the National Museum. Except for the scorching heat it was a grand time. The islands were not as idyllic as we had hoped and expected, but we had fun and we saw things and visited places we had only read about in books.

Back in Stuttgart, we tied up a few loose ends and said goodbye to all our wonderful friends (American, German, British and others), and we flew out for the last time on Saturday morning.

Once we landed in Boston, we hit the ground running again. Lynn’s sister had scheduled her wedding for the very next day in Portland ME (so we could attend, I think), so we stopped at my sister’s house for a few hours after landing, then hit the road in a rental car heading north. The wedding was spectacular, in a picture perfect location (on an island in Portland harbor) with picture perfect weather. We even had a lobster feed for the reception! What a way to return to the States!

Giving our furniture a two-week head-start while we were in Greece was a good idea, because it arrived and was delivered 7-8 August. The movers unpacked EVERYTHING, ostensibly to get rid of the packing materials and check for breakage, but in the end the house looked like Building 19½ (a fire-sale junkshop warehouse store in the area, for those who are wondering)! What a mess! To make matters worse, all the stuff we had in storage while we were gone was put in the garage, and I’m ashamed to say that most of it is still there today! We can still only fit one car in the garage!

From then until now we’ve filled our time trying to get to see everyone we’ve missed for so long, trying to put the house back together, entertaining visitors (two from Germany so far, and my sister and her husband from Colorado). We even hosted a VOGT Family Reunion in September, and over 60 descendants of the family patriarch, Julius Oscar VOGT, came. More than half of these relatives of mine I had never even met before! That was an exciting day!

All in all, we’re mostly back to normal. We went overboard with white Christmas lights outside the house this year because we’ve gone so long without. We miss the German beer but have been pleasantly surprised by the number and quality of the local micro breweries that have sprung up while we were gone. We’re reveling in 60 channels of TV instead of one, and we’re getting re-acquainted with American style appliances like giant washing machines and ice makers and full-size refrigerators.

Come see us. We have lots of pictures to show and stories to tell if you’re interested, but mostly we just want to reacquaint ourselves with our dear friends. We’ve missed you!

 

Merry Christmas!
Gene. Lynn, Megan and Audrey

 

 

 

 

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