A winter's tale

    Weihnachten Shopping

    Are you usually organized with your Christmas shopping? Or do you always to leave sth. to the last minutehier: etwas auf den letzten Drücker besorgenleave it to the last minute? For some people, shopping for Christmas gifts is a brand new experience altogether — like for Elizabeth, the character in our marvellouswunderbarmarvellous Christmas short story by Vanessa Clark. Here, Spotlight’s editor-in-chiefChefredakteur(in)editor-in-Chief Inez Sharp reads “A winter’s tale” from the December 2015 issue of Spotlight magazine.

    Watch Inez Sharp read the story in our studio, then try the exercises below. You will find a transcript of “A winter’s tale” at the bottom of the page.

    A winter's tale, by Vanessa Clark

    A winter's tale by Vanessa Clark from Spotlight Verlag GmbH on Vimeo.

    Now try the exercises below. Not all of the words you need are in the short story.

    Transcript and glossary

    A winter’s tale

    By Vanessa Clark

    Chapter 1

    Elizabeth has escaped. She had to be stuckfestsitzenbeen stuck indoors far too long. She wasn’t “allowed” out on her own, “in case something happened”. She understood why everyone wanted to take extra care of her, and she was grateful for their concernSorge, Besorgnisconcern, but even at the age of 91, she was still a healthy woman with a strong spirit. She thought that she should be able to manage a little shopping trip in the city without to cause a stirfür Wirbel sorgen,
 Aufsehen erregencausing a stir, and as no one knew that she was out, no one would worry, would they?

    It was chillykühlchilly outside, but the cold was frostyfrostig, eisigfrosty and crispfrisch, knackigcrisp. She started walking towards the bus stop. It felt good to be out in the fresh air.

    Chapter 2

    Elizabeth walked into the department storeKaufhausdepartment store. It was busy and noisy inside, full of Christmas shoppers. She covered her face with her scarfSchalscarf and hurried to the floor plan. Where did one start? Yes, the menswear and ladies’ wear departments on the first floor. There she would find gifts for the adult members of the family: practical things, not too expensive — a good woolly scarf, perhaps, or some thick socks to wear on their trips to Scotland. Some of the family lived in large, draughtyzugigdraughty homes that can be expensive to heat. She, personally, found thermal underwear a godsendGeschenk des Himmelsgodsend for chilly days.

    Luckily, the store had lots of suitable clothes and accessories for all ages, and she was soon able to take a large pileHaufenpile of itemArtikelitems to the cash desk. The busy assistant didn’t even look at her as she paid for her purchaseEinkaufpurchases. Who found Christmas shopping more stressful, Elizabeth wondered, — the shoppers or the staffPersonal, Mitarbeiterstaff in the stores? At least she was having a successful trip.

    Chapter 3

    Next, Elizabeth took the escalatorRolltreppeescalator up to the toy department on the second floor. It was a wonderland of flashing lights, bright colours and loud displays. She wanted something more traditional for her great-great-grandchildUrenkel(in)grandchildren. Then she saw it: a beautiful, handmade, wooden sledge (UK)Schlittensledge. Her great-grandson was only small, but he would surely love to race down a snowy hillside on it with his father. Standing to gazeanstarren, bestaunengazing at the sledge, she remembered her own childhood winter holidays in Scotland: making a giant snowman with her sister and having snowball fights with her father. Her mother never joined in, but once she did lie down and make a snow angel. One winter, they had tried to ice-skate on a lake, and afterwards, they made a fire and roasted chestnutKastaniechestnuts.

    Chapter 4

    Elizabeth’s last destination was the store’s Christmas department on the top floor, with its showerFülleshowers of tinselLametta-tinsel Christmas-tree decorations, wooden crib (UK)Krippen-crib scenes, glass angels and pine-scentednach Kiefern duftendpine-scented candles. But Elizabeth wasn’t looking for anything like that. She had plenty of exquisite decorations at home. She wanted to find some of the “noveltyNeuheits-novelty” gifts — the musical Christmas stockingStrumpfstockings, the Christmas toilet paper, the sexy Santa Claus costumes. The younger members of the family loved jokeywitzig, spaßigjokey gifts, and every year they competed to find the funniest one for her. Last year, her grandson had given her a shower cap with the words “ain't (ifml.)hier: ist nichtAin’t life a bitch (ifml.)Hündin; hier: verdammt schwierigbitch?” on it, for her to wear in the bath. Elizabeth picked up a “visorganizer” — a small organizer bag that could be attached to the visorMützenschirmvisor of a baseball cap to to storeaufbewahren, verstauenstore money, tickets and a passport. Practical, yet completely impractical. geniusgenialGenius, yet totally stupid. She wondered what her grandson would give her this year. It was hard to know what to buy for a woman who has everything.

    Chapter 5

    As she left the warm store, struggling with several large bags and pulling the wooden sledge behind her, Elizabeth decided that she shouldn’t be lifting such heavy things at her age. Perhaps she had overdone it. The path was also slipperyrutschig, glattslippery: there was a lackMangellack of gritSplitt, Streusandgrit, and she didn’t want to fall and hurt herself. But she was glad she had come out into the real world again, even if only for a couple of hours. It would be wonderful to have the same freedom as everyone else. But when she looked more closelynähermore closely at the people on the pavement (UK)Bürgersteigpavement, their shoulders heavy with stress and worry, she knew that they had their own problems, too, especially in this winter weather.

    Chapter 6

    Elizabeth raised her arm and flag downherbeiwinkenflagged down a black London cabTaxicab. The driver jumped out and put her piles of shopping into the back. This was more like the kind of service she was used to. She got into the taxi, glad to be sitting down again. She was exhaustederschöpftexhausted. But her shopping trip had been a success. Yes, it was much nicer to go to the shops and choose presents personally, rather thananstattrather than ordering them and having them delivered.

    “Where to, love?” asked the driver from the front seat. Elizabeth to loosenlockern, lösenloosened the scarf from around her face and said: “To Buckingham Palace, please.” startlederschrocken, überraschtStartled, the driver looked in his mirror and recognized one of the most famous faces in the world. 

    Here are the translations for some of the tricky words in the exercises. Click on the word to see the translation and to add it to your vocabulary list.


    nippyfrisch, kühlnippy 

    bitingbeißend kaltbiting



    furryPelz-, Plüsch-furry


    sledging (UK)Rodelnsledging







    bauble (UK)Christbaumkugelbauble

    hot cocoaheiße Schokoladehot cocoa

    eggnogeine Art Eierpunscheggnog



    to slipausrutschenslip

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