Oma would start the Christmas preparations in early December, by baking spicy Lebkuchen and the traditional German Christmas bread, Stollen. Everything was then wrapped and put away until Christmas. A freshly cut tree would be brought in on Christmas Eve and set up on a table in one of the two bedrooms. My grandmother, who had lived through two wars, never wasted anything, so wrapping tissue was carefully folded and saved for another use. I usually received a new sweater and mittens, a woolen hat, and other warm clothing. The winters in Germany could get bitterly cold and we stayed warm with the wood stove in the kitchen. Besides clothes, I would also receive a doll or toy and a bar of Swiss chocolate. What I really adored, however, were oranges. They were a real treat. We didn't have them at any other time of the year.
I remember the excitement of waiting for Christmas and wondering if St. Nicholas would make an appearance. My uncle would often scare us with his loud footsteps and his gruff "Ho-Ho-Ho's". Oma always disappeared around that time, and it was only later that we discovered who played the role of St. Nicholas.