Posted by: nekojita | December 10, 2007

Luminaria

Umbrella Girl

“Hey, do you want to see my tree?”

Normally, if I heard these words issue from the mouth of a teenage boy, I would walk briskly away, avoiding eye contact and possibly crossing the street.

However, this happened in German Village in Columbus, Ohio, and during the Village Lights celebration, no less. So, of course we said, “Okay,” and the boy ushered us into his family home.

I have to say that the Tree was impressive. We walked into a red and green wave of holiday spirit, with the Tree towering at 19 feet above it all. Fishbowl-sized glass balls reflected probably hundreds of feet of electric Christmas lights as a company of oversized teddy bears dined nearby at a long banquet table. The bears had been served what looked like clear borscht with sour cream, but what was in fact colored water with lumps of Crisco, as we were informed by the host and main engineer of the pageant. He grumbled amiably about the Tree and its propensity to drop needles, but was obviously proud and pleased to have the wanderers at the Village Lights come in to admire the spectacle that he had spent the last week setting up and probably the last few decades building as a tradition.

Our group–all of us new to the Columbus area–walked away both extremely pleased and seriously bemused by the experience. As the boy hailed another group with “Do you want to see my tree?” we also turned to them and insisted that they go in and marvel.

***

We were drinking mulled wine as we had this experience. Apparently, it is perfectly acceptable to carry around alcoholic beverages in the streets of German Village, as a concession to Old-World folksiness of the area. Here is a recipe to warm the belly and stoke the fires of holiday spirit.

Mulled Wine (Vin Brulé)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 apple, cored and thinly sliced

the peel of 1/2 a large orange

1 cinnamon stick

5 cloves

5 juniper berries, crushed

2 cardamom pods, crushed

1 750 ml bottle of red wine

1. Put all of the ingredients except the wine in a pot and heat over medium. Simmer until all of the sugar is dissolved. Add the wine and turn the heat down to low.

2.Keep the mixture warm but not boiling. Let the fruit and spices steep in the wine for at least an hour before serving. Strain into mugs or styrofoam cups.


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