Week 30: Recovering From Holiday Travel…

…and a little hometown trivia.

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Happy New Year! The good news is that one more weekend looms, maybe a useful window for recovery if your batteries are running low after hustling around during the holidays as I did. Packed roads, busy airports, standing in line, being impatient, getting angry… I admit wondering, as my seasonal spirit waned, why we all do this to ourselves? My destination was Germany, so I could spend Christmas with my family. And while traveling alone made it easy for me, I had plenty of opportunity to watch families with kids getting into shouting matches. I seriously wonder if we weren’t better off when it wasn’t so easy to just fly off to another continent.

That said, I love being in Germany during Advent and Christmastime, mostly because the stores are closed on Sundays. It’s so much easier to get into the holiday spirit when there is no rushing around to buy presents or groceries on Sundays. Instead, the Sunday I arrived, we lit all four candles on the advent wreath and met with friends and family for coffee, tea and cookies.

My sister lives with her family in Jülich, a smaller city between Cologne and Aachen. This year city officials asked local schools and kindergartens (pre-schools) to supply the city with 24 window decorations for the old town hall. Leading up to Dec. 24, every night at 5 p.m. another decorated window would be lighted. It looked really cool. I tried to capture it with my smart phone but didn’t do too well, so I also took a snapshot of a single window. The project was met with so much enthusiasm that they decided to do it again next year.

Decorated windows (for Dec. 14 and 20) in the Jülich town hall.

Decorated windows (for Dec. 14 and 20) in the Jülich town hall.

Jülich has an incredible history for such a small city. Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia: “Jülich is first mentioned in Roman times as Juliacum along an important road through the Rur valley. Fortified during the late Roman period, it was taken over by the Franks and grew to be the centre of a county that became the nucleus of a regional power. The counts and dukes of Jülich extended their influence during the Middle Ages and granted Jülich city status in 1234 (Count Wilhelm IV). During battles with the Archbishop of Cologne, Jülich was destroyed in 1239 and again in 1278.” Even Napoleon was interested in Jülich, and the city was one of the most destroyed cities in Germany after World War II. The citadel of Jülich is now home to one of city’s high schools (Zitadelle), where I went to school.

Jülich town hall with each window decorated for a day of Advent.

Jülich town hall with each window decorated for a day of Advent.

Coming back from my Christmas break I’m super excited to report that we secured most of our keynotes – I will write more about those once we have the titles and abstracts. The SKY talks are shaping up nicely, as well. I know that our TPC members are busy reviewing papers and as always I want to express my sincere gratitude for the work they put into our conference. Thank you so much!

Citadel of Jülich, site of my high school alma mater. (Wikipedia.)

Citadel of Jülich, site of my high school alma mater. (Wikipedia.)