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For my mama

This Christmas my mother came to Germany and the bells everywhere celebrated her arrival.  Upon hearing the church bells toll as she walked into my neighborhood for the first time, she began to do the parade wave and say, “Oh thank you, thank you”. “They are honoring my presence you know”, she continued, and in a way they were.

The trip she had saved all year for was a momentous one for us both. Despite leaving home almost ten years ago, my mother, for various reasons, has never stayed with me at my home. She also held a lot of fear and anger toward Germany as a residual from being the daughter of a WWII vet.

Yet, there she was, walking the tree-lined streets of my neighborhood with the bells ringing in her arrival. The bells didn’t stop there either, bells rang as my mother awed over the pastoral nature of the Bavarian country side. The bells rang in the mountains on the Austrian border; they rang as we explored magical castles, glowing Christmas markets, and ancient churches.

With each bell ring, it seemed my mother’s preconceptions of what Germany held were dispelled. She began to see the beauty I see when I walk the streets by my house, or when I study in 300-year-old school buildings.

For my part, I saw in my mother’s excitement, the root of much of my own curiosity. I found that the woman for whom all the bells toll, was not the woman of my childhood, but an ever-changing, energetically evolving woman, whose spirit I could still learn from, even in adulthood. Even now, when my mother is safely back in her own home, in another country, every time the bells ring, I think of her, and everything she has yet to teach me.

Not many people get to bust through so many preconceptions with one holiday visit. Yet each time we look at the world trough someone else’s eyes, we all learn a bit more about what we thought we already knew. Nothing is static, there is always a new perspective to be found and the bells are always ringing for someone.

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