Love your neighbors.
Michael and I live in a 7 apartment complex. It definitely is not typical here in Germany to know or even be friends with your neighbors. Somehow it seems almost unnatural to allow the people you live with in the same building to be part of your life.
Michael and I moved into our current apartment right after we got married. I was 23 at the time and moved from my parents home into our first home. I come from a busy family home where there is always a lot going on. At home, we always had people over. Having community with each other was a high value of my upbringing. So whenever we moved, it felt so strange to me to live in such an impersonal setting. But as you know getting to know your neighbor is one of the hardest things. Somehow there is this unspoken expectation that your neighbor is going to make your life harder. Why is that, why are we so suspicious of each other? It seemed to me like a snowball effect. If my neighbor thinks I’m going to make his life harder he is going to keep his distance and will build up walls for his own “protection”. If we are confronted with suspicion and distance we interpret this as unfriendliness and maybe even meanness.
To feel at home
Since I really wanted our first home to feel like a home, I knew I had to at least have a friendly relationship with our “very German” neighbors 🙂 That sort of relationship where you do not peak out the door to see if anyone is in the hallway. The type of relationship where you gladly take your neighbor’s mail in, if you see it sitting outside.
Taking the first step.
If I have learned one thing in life, it is, that if I want to see a change, I have to take the first step! Usually these steps may seem hard but actually are more like easy baby steps. Christmas 5 Years ago I decided to bake some cookies for my neighbors. Baking cookies definitely is not very hard and putting a bag of cookies in front of a closed door is even easier. This little action started a much bigger change. In return, I got 6 Christmas gifts that year! Which is a pretty good triad of I think:) All of the sudden the ice was broken. We started conversations in the hallway and showed interest in the stories we’ve heard. Long story short in 2015 we had our first house Thanksgiving where we celebrated the very American Thanksgiving with 15 Germans and one American:) Ever since that first step, our community grew into friendships. We hang out at each other’s places, celebrate holidays and respect and enjoy each others company. Don’t get me wrong we are all very different people but somehow we over time learn to love each other for who we are and appreciating living together!
Believe me, it’s worth baking some cookies if that means, coming home after a long day of work and one of your neighbors took your trash to the curve, just because!
It has become a tradition for me to make a bag of cookies every year. This year’s recipe is a marble black and white cookie
They look pretty and are super easy to make.
Here is what you will need!
- 250 g flour
- ½ TS baking powder
- 150 g sugar
- 1 Egg
- 130 g Butter
- 20 g Kakao
- 10 g Rum
- 1 Eggwhite
- 30 g Milch
1.You take the flour, baking powder, sugar, egg, butter, and rum and mix them all up.
2.After you have a dough consistency you split the dough in half and put the kakao to one of the halves. Thank you wrap the 2 doughts into clear foil and put them in the fridge for 30min.
3.Take the dough out of the fridge and flatten them into sheets of the same thickness. Take the egg white and glaze the lighter dough with it. After this step, you put the darker dough on top of the lighter dough. Roll both doughts lengthwise. Put the dough back into the fridge for 30 min.
4. Take the dough and cut it into 1cm slices. Take the slice and roll it into a ball, then flatten the ball. by now you should see a lively marble texture. I used a cookie cutter to create a more nice looking shape.
5. put into the oven for 10min. at 180 degrees (Celsius).
Who wants Christmas cookies?
For the packaging I used old marmalade glasses I collected over the year. With a glass marker, I wrote my Christmas wishes onto the glass. I stacked my cookies and tied a bow around it. For the name tag, I created my own marbled paper using suminagashi, which is a water-based Japanese paper marbling technique. (i will do a blog post on this technique soon).
I guess all I am trying to say is: don’t be afraid to open that door a little bit! You might be surprised how much love and aprication can come back to you if you take the first step.