My first Christmas abroad. And also, my first Christmas away from my family. My first Christmas without my Mom and Dad, ever. My first Christmas without my sisters since 1994 (the year they were born). My first Christmas not attending/ kind of helping to host the best Christmas party in the whole entire world- my parent's annual Christmas party that's been going on for more than THIRTY years.
Writing that out makes me tear up.
I'm not complaining. I love being here. The Christmas markets in Germany are incredible. But I'm a nostalgic person. Christmas time always makes me feel like a kid. And it will be downright weird to not be home this year.
This year, we are starting new traditions, ones that involve drinking copious amounts of Glüwein and marveling at the fact that they can take this fairy tale town and actually make it more beautiful.
We bought a wreath and have yet to even put up a Christmas tree (I usually do directly after Thanksgiving.)
But other things are different too. Instead of driving around to see the lights on houses – fairly impossible when you don't have a car, we bike to see the Hauptstrasse (main street) all decked out. They don't do Christmas decorations here like I'm used to. In Dallas, there is a neighborhood called Highland Park where each house is extravagantly decorated. Some houses even have life-size figurines carved out of wood. There's even one with a carousel playing Christmas music.
In Germany, the Christmas decor is more focused at the actual market or inside the home. Most houses do not display lights, maybe a wreath or two. But it doesn't just stop there. Christmas is celebrated on an entirely different day! This was news to me. December 6th (St. Nicholas day as I know it) is when Nikolaus comes to put gifts in your shoe. This is not to be confused with Santa Claus, or Weihnachsmann. No, instead, this is remembering Nicholas of Myra who dies on this day in 346 and who secretly gave gifts to children. They celebrate December 24th as Christmas AND they celebrate at night – unlike us, who open presents directly in the morning.
This will be an especially tough day this year, especially for Michael. He grew up celebrating this day because of his German roots and also his Mom's birthday. This will be his first Christmas with his mom gone and I am hoping to take his mind off it by planning a little holiday getaway. He doesn't read this blog (it's fine, believe me!) so he won't find out.
Living here has given me such a different outlook on so many different things. Not having luxuries like a car or a Target nearby has helped me to really think about what I need or want. Maybe that sounds silly. But it's made me appreciate the little things.
Thank you all so so much for your support of this blog and my journey. Reading this means you are part of my story. I still wake up some days and forget where I am or how crazy this is. I am so grateful or your comments and questions and your support.
I never thought my life would look like this. But I it's been the absolute best adventure. Even if it means skipping Christmas at home.