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It's Wine and Tree-Trimming Night!


The best laid plans of mice and men.  Well, I meant to don a suit and journey into campus this morning after the Young Master climbed aboard the school bus, but it's dark, cold, and another mug of coffee seemed like a more attractive idea.  So, I've busied myself thus far with promotion and hiring committee duties here at home to tie up loose ends before the university closes on December 22nd.

This evening, we will decorate the Christmas trees, which have been in their stands taking water for a couple of days now in the living room (larger toy tree) and library (tabletop family tree).  The former typically features shinier silver balls, glass, and toy ornaments from our early Christmases together (pre-child) while the latter is more ornaments from the grand Duchess' childhood and now the Young Master's plus glass beads and crystal icicles.  Small white fairy lights on both.

I hope to add a few of my own childhood and youthful Christas tree ornaments to the mix one day, but these are in storage in North Carolina or West Virginia where my late mother and step-father maintain/-ed houses.

However, what I am looking most forward to this evening is sitting by the fireside with the Grand Duchess late tonight, post-tree trimming, with soft Christmas music in the background -- German and English language carols plus more popular tunes --  and a glass or two of wine chatting about nothing important.  Besides skiing with her, it's what I have always enjoyed most about my wife. . .  our meandering, circuitous, never boring conversations.  

Thoroughly enjoyable conversation is one of the things that first drew me to Sonja way back in graduate school when we shared a large teaching assistant office and sat two desks away from each other.  There were quite a few interesting, intelligent, and thus highly attractive young women in that department, who were looking I was once told by a reliable source, but it was always The Grand Duchess.  

While it is a nice idea, and it must happen for some couples, I am not sure if I believe completely in love at first sight.  But it didn't take too long after we met before there was something there for yours truly.  Round about November 2000, I realized that I couldn't wait to get to the office early each morning in the hopes of having a few hours to talk to that crazy freckled, blue-eyed, Swedish-German-American gal with the funny grin as we prepared for the day's teaching and worked on other things at our respective desks.  Especially on Fridays because those were less packed with stuff and more relaxed, so there was more time to chat about this or that in passing.  

At home with my parents that Thanksgiving, she was definitely on my mind.  She had not joined her own family for the holiday, and I was worried about her being alone back in Saint Paul.  Thought about calling her that weekend, but didn't.  Foolishly.

By Christmas Break a few weeks later, I missed her actively.  Oddly, we were at opposite ends of the Pennsylvania Turnpike for that holiday.  I was in Pittsburgh, while she was outside of Philadelphia with her parents.  Wanted desperately to call her at the time but lacked her parents' home number, so didn't.  Again.   


After we had our skiing date -- Sonja is an amazing downhill and cross-country skier, which sealed the deal. -- outside of Minneapolis one frigid Saturday in February 2001, however, I was smitten.  We've been together more or less ever since, finally marrying June 2006.  Memories, eh?

-- Heinz-Ulrich


  1. A very sweet story, Heinz-Ulrich. My wife and I met when she was 16 and I a year older, and we are about to celebrate our 43rd anniversary in a few days. Merry Christmas to you both (and to the Young Master, of course).

  2. Thank you, Charlottesville, and likewise. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    Kind Regards,


  3. What a wonderful story. It gave me a big smile.

  4. Thank you, Fritz! I suppose every couple has stories like these, but I'd like to think ours are somehow special. We also joke that it was my much missed cat Rannveig, with whom my now wife made immediate friends, that picked Sonja for me, having rejected previous suitors..

    Kind Regards,



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All opinions are welcome here. Even those that differ from mine. But let's keep it clean and civil, please.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

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