Familienfest 2012: The Family Song, Beef-ball Soup and The Birthday Child

Familienfest 2012 was officially opened by my mother, who clinked on a glass, rose to her feet and recited some charming verses of welcome, which she had penned herself. As one of the five “Gerburtstagkinder” (birthday children) celebrating a combined age of 320, she dazzled the crowd not only with with her rhymes, but also with a stunning pink floral dress, and her first ever pair of shockingly high heels.

image source: pinkandgreay.ca

This year’s seating arrangement was even more strategic than last and reflected the openness of the Schultzs to including non-family members in the celebrations. LSB and my sister’s boyfriend sat beside each other and compared their recollection of Schultz names in loud whispers. LSB was making an excellent impression and things were going rather smoothly until the first course arrived. The menu had advertised “tomato consumé” soup as a starter but certain family members were dismayed to find several balls of beef swimming in their bowls. It was a moment of glory for LSB and me, who, far from being bound by the set menu, could enjoy the full range of choice from the vegetarian menu. We ordered tomato and basil soup. It was delicious.

Conversation meandered from the mundane (the current economic climate) to the sublime (what is the best German beer?) and took place in both German and English.

The family song had been rehearsed the night before at Onkel Fritz’s house. My father, LSB and my sister’s boyfriend had taken the opportunity to check out Regensburg’s beer gardens. Details of their evening remain scarce: the three arrived home late and LSB has made himself unavailable for comment.

The family choir outnumbered the audience members. LSB, who knows all the words, was tasked with videoing the performance. Those interested in viewing it should feel free to approach me with a small fee, which may cover the medical cost of recovering from my sisters’ silent threat of beating me up for publicising any material related to the Familienfest.

LSB and I in the run-up to Familienfest2012

Schultz birthdays come with the associated and thinly-disguised responsibility of nuclear family members to pay tribute, in a performative art of their choice, to the Birthday Child. My aunt’s children composed and recited poetry and sang a song. My uncle’s daughter presented a series of themed photographs to a soundtrack of topical songs. Previous years have featured tap dancing, the Ferguson sisters’ violin trio and a song about toiletpaper.

Regular readers and personal friends will know that I have two older sisters. One is a scientist in America and makes nice cloth bags and the other lives in Dublin, is a super hand at DIY and definitely not one to libel.

Months ago, the three of us convened on Skype to discuss the tribute we would pay to our mother.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I juggled my TV internship, job applications, flat searches and LSB, while they battled with commitments to fat samples, single nucleotide polymorphisms and legal wranglings. Tradition and common sense dictate that the Birthday Child should be ignorant of the nature of the performance until the day of celebrations. After weeks of competing visions and frantic conferences on Skype, we came up with what we considered a fitting tribute to our mother.

After the waitresses had brought in a large selection of cakes, it was time. Onkel Fritz tapped a glass, set up the computer, and, as opener of the presentation, I advanced to the front of the room to face the scores of expectant Schultz faces before me.

To be continued…


Regular readers: I’ve been nominated for an Irish Blog Award 🙂 and need your help! Do you have a favourite blog post at katekatharina.com? If you do, please email me so I can enter it into the “best post” category. It’s a public vote, so if you do enjoy the blog, it would be lovely if you could vote for it. I’ll put more info on my Facebook page later.