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O Christmas Tree: Where Did You Come From?

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Our American tradition of Christmas trees probably had its roots in Germany in the 8th century. St Boniface, the German apostle,  brought a fir tree with him when he preached to the common people  because he said its triangular outline represented the holy trinity. This was at a time when very few people could read and visual aids like his little tree were a big part of spreading the gospel.  Devout Germans took this form as a real manifestation of the trinity and decorated their trees only with candles in the beginning.
By the 15th century glass ornaments crept into view and in Latvia trees were even decorated with roses, associated with the Virgin Mary. It has been documented that in Strasbourg in 1605, on the Rhine bordering with France, someone brought a tree indoors and decorated it with roses made of paper, nuts, candy and of course, candles. The Christmas tree was officially born.

Folks got very crafty after that and carved wood, painted eggshells, added shaped cookies and mo…

Why We Collect

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I call my own fascination with collections focused hoarding and I blame my parents who also collected “things” , including smoking pipes, antique beer steins and tea cups. Perhaps it’s a genetic predisposition in many of us? The antithesis of the need to collect seems to be the person bent on shedding every trace of everything he or she ever knew and living basically out of a suitcase which we collectors find very odd. Recently there has been a move afoot to discard everything and live a scaled down minimal life. It’s supposed to make us happy and light and somehow righteous and fulfilled. I disagree completely with that notion, to collect Things is part of the human condition. So why do we collect stuff? Is it a leftover from caveman days? Could it be he-or she--who figured out how to collect the most useful stuff, lived to fight more woolly mammoths and raise children with the same bent?  We know accumulation of wealth leads to living longer simply because one is able to have a better…

What Exactly is a German Regimental Beer Stein: is it Real or Repro?

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Who knew that there were so many dedicated, dare I say rabid, collectors of beer steins? I have lately landed like an alien from Mars marveling in their midst, intrigued and fascinated by the history of something that is both plebeian (you drink beer from it) and beautiful (have you seen these things?)

How did I get here? Re-roll the tape to 1957, when a little kid from California is uprooted and transplanted to Germany with her family. My dad was in the Air Force, a code breaker during the cold war. I had no idea what he did for a living until 20 years after he retired. I just knew it was top secret and all very hush hush. Seriously, what 8 year old in the known universe cares about what the parental units do when they are out of sight?

My mother was a culture vulture and we did not live in military housing on post if she could ever help it. Nope, we lived on the economy as the saying went, in this amazing old house at Number 3 Prieger Promenade in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. Our friend…