When we came to Germany, we needed a new refrigerator, having left our American electrical system one behind. One of Bill’s coworkers gave us a refrigerator that she wasn’t using and charged us nearly nothing.

Its small, which I like. Most of the time its just the right size. We keep bottles of cooking and table sauces and flavorings in the door. We keep cheese and sandwich meat. We keep one or two days worth of vegetables, salad greens, and dinner meats which is about as much as our refrigerator can hold.

The smallness of our refrigerator keeps the accumulation of biological science experiments gone bad down to a minimum. We are forced to stay on top of left overs because there isn’t enough room for deep storage.

And then comes Christmas. Which in Bavaria means multiple days in a row when all the stores are closed and people who can plan ahead get to cook and eat and everyone else is either standing in line out at the airport grocery store* or ordering take away** at the local restaurant.*** If your lifestyle is built around daily or nearly daily shopping – having 2.5 days of closed grocery stores is disruptive.

And yes, I know, this is not nearly as disruptive as not enough paycheck and too much month and certainly not as disruptive as say, a war in the region. I write about refrigerators and holidays today because in this blog I am writing about what its like to be an American in Europe.  I am very aware that to have a refrigerator at all puts me in the a group that comprises only 20% of the world. I also know that people everywhere go to bed hungry at night. I know that Bread for the World is a great organization for both learning more about world and local hunger as well as how to help create a world and a local neighborhood where everyone gets to eat.

Still, today is the 23rd of December. Tomorrow, all the stores will close by 2 pm. They will remain closed till Saturday, the 27th of December. Bavarians will get one day to restock and then the stores close again on Sunday the 28th. This is the moment when our modest refrigerator starts to appear perhaps a bit too modest.

Which I love.

The smallness of the box makes me seriously consider just how much of any one thing I actually need. It also suggests that going vegetarian for a few meals perhaps is not only healthy, not only helps the earth, but also doesn’t take up as much room in the pantry. The limitations of my refrigerator invites me, actually it compels me to be conscientious about how we consume food.

Good feasting and may everyone eat!

*grocery stores attached to traveling can stay open on holidays and Sundays. At one point recently, someone in Bavaria wanted the authorities to enforce that gas stations could only sell stuff to people who arrived in a car and not to walkers. (ha!) Bavarians do appear to take their Sundays and holidays seriously as family days to go hiking together, but every so often a discussion opens up in the news about maybe easing the restrictions a bit.

**take away is English English for take out or to-go. The more I live here the more I realize that while we might have Downton Abbey, Jane Eyer, Sting, and Hugh Grant in common, there remains a surprisingly wide and perhaps still growing gap between us and our cousins in the United Kingdom. That’s another day’s post.

***if you are a young family and you’ve run out of diapers, you’re doomed to take the long ride out to the airport. Restaurants don’t sell diapers as take away.


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