Last Wednesday, we received the following message from our Human Resources Manager:
"The public sector will be on strike tomorrow, Thursday, 22 December...there will be no public transport (including train, metro, bus, tram, flights). Belgian schools will be affected. In addition, the main entry roads to Brussels might be blocked by garbage trucks..."Ok, wonderful. That the trade unions in my adopted home country like to strike (or do these "action days" - or "Journées d'Action" as they call it in French) is nothing new, but if they do it two days before Christmas, it's exceptionnally damaging (that's why they planned it that way of course). My first thought was: "Thank God I'm booked on Deutsche Bahn (German railways); they will get me out of Belgium." However, it's not that easy. They have to use the infrastructure of the Brussels raiway station after all. So they promised a bus service between Brussels and the city of Aachen. However, I anticipated chaos with this kind of arrangement, so I decided to cancel my train ticket and rent a car instead - the best decision I could have taken. I stayed in Brussels on Thursday, relaxed, and did my preparations for the journey. Friday morning, I left with a Fiat 500 (one of those tiny little cars they would laugh at you if you would drive them in the US), and safely arrived in the early evening. No problems whatsoever on the road; it only took me longer than expected, since I decided to take more breaks.
Christmas with family was a blast. In fact, I think it was one of the most harmonious Christmas evenings I've spent with my folks. We were a rather small group, since my older brother and his wife were visiting with her family. So it was my parents, younger brother, aunt, uncle, cousin and grandmother. We played and sung as ususal, and I was asked to share a couple of hymns. One of them my mother even knew from the Lutheran hymnal, and so she joined me with her tenor voice. It was lovely.
Yesterday, we continued at my grandmother's house with our traditional Christmas lunch. Today, there will be yet another family event, as we are going to visit my younger brother in his new apartment and then go for lunch to my parent's house again (since he doesn't have enough seating at his place).
From Tuesday, I'm going to attend a prophecy seminar at one of the retreat centres of our church near Stuttgart. It's a one-week seminar, however I will only be able to stay there through Friday, as I have already registerd at this New Year's retreat in Bad Kissingen. But I would like to go to both events, and so I have to make concessions. I'm really glad that I have the car now, as it would be really difficult without. So I'm looking forward to these last few days of 2011.