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Merry Everything, Happy Thank You

You guys this year was a roller coaster. The kind with the loop-di-loops. There were moments of intense, “OH MY LANTA this is amazing!” and also terrible sadness. But that's life. If you would have told me 10 years, or even 5 years ago, that I'd be living in Germany with two dogs and a little apartment on the river, I would have cackled. Yes, cackled like a witch. Because honestly that's how I laugh.

Everything is not perfect. I just can't possibly discuss my entire life on the blog. I am very open, but some things are just personal or scary and they are meant to be left where they are. But some things that aren't perfect are kind of funny. Like the fact that Hugo is now well known in Heidelberg. It's a small town and in the dog community, word spreads fast. He is known as “the scary one.” The thing is, Hugo (a doberman), is quite possibly the nicest dog in the whole world. Honestly, he's a big teddy bear. He looks fierce but is just a big sweetie.

Some things are so different here, I can't believe that we live like this. Like when we carried 10 cement blocks on the tram and then on a half-a-mile walk home. My arms were sore for 3 days. This is life with no car. But it also means I can walk to restaurants and bars and the river and to catch a view of the castle. Which is really pretty awesome. I've never lived anywhere like that before and it is so much fun.

In case you're new here, the first 6 weeks we lived out of a hotel trying to find a place to live. In one place, there was a mannequin at the front desk. She wore a black pantsuit and black wig and we named her Helga. Let that sink in for a second.

I feel like in these short 3 months we've been living here I've already collected so many memories. I have a closet that holds only a few things, and though I've never been a big spender on clothes, I tend to collect a lot of stuff. I'm learning that memories and friends last so much longer than anything else. And really, mean so much more.

This year is my very first to not spend Christmas with my family. Tonight is my parents' annual Christmas party, and I can't help but feel like I might cry at any moment. I know I'm doing something fun and adventurous, but my heart breaks a little. Right now, my Mom is running around in pajamas while she cooks EVERYTHING. She is tight lipped yet somehow kind, asking for help. My Dad is doing something like sweeping outside, while my Mom says that he really could be doing something inside that would be much more helpful. My twin little sisters are busy ducking out of tasks and deciding what to wear for the party. They are also sneaking wine bottles into their room. I'd be texting my friends to ask what time they were coming and slicing rolls into a big wicker basket lined with a Christmas towel.

While it's just a party, as my friend Elizabeth says, “It isn't Christmas until the annual Flournoy Family Christmas party.” And it's hard. I miss everyone so much, it hurts.

The party dates back to my both my parents childhood, and mine as well. I remember in high school, all the teenagers were piled into my room. We decided to shift away from the Christmas music to something more pop-y. I put a candle behind my laptop to get it out of the way. Later on, I looked at my laptop and wondered why there was a big black mark on the screen. When I inspected the back of the laptop, I learned I burned a hole through it. I was known at my all girls Catholic school as “laptop girl” since when I brought in my laptop, the man who worked on the computers announced what I did on the loud speaker – to the entire school body.

Christmas is always a tough time. It's a time to reflect and remember the past year. I'm already sentimental, but being away heightens that. I ALWAYS get teary eyed around Christmas. I can't help but feel a little sad about the past, the memories, and getting older.

I am so grateful, despite being sad. It's because of my family and friends that I feel bold enough to make this move. And it's also because of you.

I just want to say thank you. Thank you for reading this blog. Thank you for taking some time out of your life to spend it with me. It really means the world, more than I can ever truly put into words. But obviously, I tried.

Since it's hard to thank you all, I thought the best way is to do a little giveaway. I've decided to give away a few of my favorite things:

  • $100 Starbucks gift card
  • $50 to Forever 21
  • $25 to Sephora
  • $25 to Etsy

= $200 to hopefully get something you really love!

It's VERY easy to enter. Follow me on Instagram (@heleneinbetween). Leave a comment below on what you're thankful for this year. Bonus entry ifΒ  you tag a friend or two on any picture on ANY recent pic of mine on Instagram.

Merry Christmas, y'all!

Comments

I’m thankful for family – and time to enjoy them at the holidays!

Oh my gosh girl I completely understand. Living a once in a lifetime adventure is SO exciting! You’re creating so many amazing memories that you’ll cherish when you’re in your 90’s but it’s hard being away from family, especially over the holidays. Lots of hugs!

lol @ hugo being the scary one. i can’t believe it’s been 3 months! what an adventure. i can’t imagine how hard this first christmas was, but you have a great attitude about it πŸ™‚

Love these memories, and picturing your family preparing for Christmas… perfect! Can’t wait to see the next year of adventures in Germany πŸ™‚

What a lovely post! Last year was the first time I spent Christmas away from my family and it was pretty scary and hard! I’m so grateful I worked up the courage to do so though because I got to experience the makings of new traditions and I found out I had been missing some pretty cool stuff that other families do. I hope your Christmas was wonderful and that you had the chance to Skype with everyone back home. πŸ™‚

Darcy from A Memory of Us

Following you on IG (_darcyylynn_) and this year I am thankful for the opportunity to travel! Finally got to check off the number 1 place on my bucket list this year and it was amazing. Crossing my fingers!

HOW COULD ANYONEEEEEE think Hugo is scary?????? It’s been a joy to follow along with your journey this year!! Ready to follow an equally exciting 2017!!

Happy holidays! I’m thankful for living in a beautiful place and being able to easily travel the world! Surviving your first Christmas abroad is no easy feat, but they will get easier! Or you just go home next time πŸ˜‰

I hope you still had such a great Christmas. I know exactly what you mean about being happy but still having that lingering sadness about what you’re missing out on. This year I am thankful for SO much, but I’m so thankful for you and just how much time and energy you’ve put out into the blog world to help the rest of us. You are the best xoxo

I am thankful for my family. We’ve had a rocky year financially, but my husband is able to keep me sane πŸ™‚

Great post! I am forever grateful for my amazing husband and sweet family and friends! I have always dreamed of living abroad in Europe like you are doing!

I’m very thankful for my 2 boys and our family being healthy and together . Also for being able to have a job to tomorrow and provide for them too πŸ™‚

I’m thankful for the people in my life.

I’m thankful that my husband is home for the holidays!

I’m thankful for making a commitment to myself to be happy regardless of my circumstances. Merry Christmas

I’m thankful for my amazing mama!

I’m thankful that I have a job that I enjoy, as the year did not start out that way. Happy 2017!! @skyejaden

I’m thankful for having good, kind people in my life. I’m thankful for so much else – for having the means to travel and eat well, for living in the city that I love, for a long list of little things. But I think it all comes down to the good, kind people I can share it all with (including those in the blogging community)! It’s been a pleasure following you along as you navigate your new life in Germany, Helene. Looking forward to reading all that you get up to in 2017!

I’m thankful for good health. I’ve seen far to many not be as fortunate this past year. But, man am I looking’ forward to a new year and a new chapter in life.

I follow on instagram. I am thankful for Salvation, first and foremost, then my family. They are amazing in so many ways. Thank you for hosting a wonderful giveaway. May your Christmas be sweet!

I’m so thankful for my family and our health. What a great giveaway, you are so amazing.

I’m most thankful for my one more Christmas with my sweet mother-in-law. She was recently diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and won’t make it to next Christmas so I’m just so thankful for her and the time we have left to share together. Thanks for hosting such a lovely and generous giveaway, and Merry Christmas! Oh my username on Instagram is (bohofoxbabe) xoxo

I’m so very thankful for my husband, dogs and still being able to laugh when things don’t go as planned.

I am so thankful for my husband and for the family we are celebrating with this Christmas!

I’m thankful that most things keep getting better and better! From @thepharrsideofarkansas

Love following your blog! I’m thankful that I got to quit my full time job this year to focus more on my invitation business!

Merry Christmas Helen! This year I’m very thankful for my family and friends (as I am every year) but also a job promotion I recently received!

http://www.insearchofsheila.com

I’m thankful for my husband. He is the absolute best and has been such a rock star daddy the past few days while we’ve been taking care of our toddler who is sick for the first time in her life.

I admire your sense of adventure and am enjoying the beautiful pictures of Germany. Merry Christmas!

you are so damn amazing, helene. truly. thank YOU for everything you do & for letting us in on your little corner of the world. this is the cheesiest of the cheesy, but i am truly thankful for blogging & our little community! it’s always a bright spot.
Merry Christmas!

I follow you on Instagram and Twitter and FB. I am sorry to hear you miss your family, but I am so proud of you living your dream and sharing the journey with us!
I am thankful for giving myself permission to, and laying the groundwork for, rocking 2017, thanks mostly to your courses! <3

I follow you on instagram & FB. Left a comment on one of your last instagram photos. So sorry you are missing your family so much. Sure they miss you also. Have a blessed and merry Christmas! I am thankful for a measure of health, for loving friends, and the gift of HOPE. Thankful for the gift of each day… for sure!

I’m thankful for landing a job that makes me excited to learn and grow. It’s nice to take a break from that stage where you’re always looking for the next big thing

Merry Christmas Helene! I know being away from family has to hurt this time of year. I pray you have the merriest of Christmases in your new home! I am thankful for my job this year! πŸ™‚ Merry Christmas; and thank you for the chance to win.

Wishing you the Merriest of Christmases this year! I know it’s hard to be away from your family. Just remember the family you have with you and maybe next year you can show your parents and sisters around Germany for Christmas! I would LOVE to come to see the Christmas markets. I am so thankful for all of the opportunities I’ve had this year and I cannot wait to see what 2017 has to offer!

I can’t believe it’s been 3 months already! I remember Helga, haha! I bet it is hard missing the annual Christmas party, but perhaps you and Michael can start a new tradition this Christmas….just the 4 of y’all.
I’m so thankful for so much, but especially my health and family. And I’m also thankful to have come across your blog and you, you have opened my eyes to so much and helped me in more ways than one. Thank you and Merry Christmas!
xo, Lily

Thankful to be healthy and safe this year. Hoping you two can create some new traditions that won’t make you feel so far from home. Merry Christmas!

I’m thankful for all the change that has happened this year. I got to quit a job I hated. My husband finally finished his degree and for the first time, has a job that he loves.

Loved reading your thoughts. Just arrived in my childhood bed. Merry Christmas!
xx finja | http://www.effcaa.com

I am thankful for my new job I love, the apartment I just bought and my family!!

I am thankful for my family!

I’m thankful that my father completed three months of chemotherapy without extreme side effects and is kicking cancer’s butt so far! I’m thankful for finding my calling (teaching secondary school) and my new job as a substitute teacher. I’m thankful for blogs like this that bring a smile to my face! Hope you enjoy your Christmas πŸ™‚

im thankful for my family for not only allowing me to move home after graduating and supporting me while I start my career, but also for allowing me to get my/our family’s first dog instead of making me wait until I move out! I hope you have a magical christmas this year!

I’m always sentimental this time of year too! I’m just thankful for time with family this year and that Chris has it off! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas abroad!

I’m thankful that I graduated, have a good job, and that I can travel with my husband. Merry Christmas from NΓΌrnberg!

This is the loveliest post, I hope you have a great christmas and a fab 2017! this year I’m thankful for travel, since I did a big trip this summer and now I’m two weeks from going to Europe! πŸ™‚
x Kenzie // Kenzieblogslife.blogspot.com

I’m thankful for my dogs this year- they always cheer me up after a long stressful day of work!

Honestly, this year has been such a challenge for me that I am scared to even look back on it. However, I can say I am so thankful for my boyfriend and family. They’ve truly helped me through the most difficult year I’ve ever had to encounter. I am also thankful for having blogging as an outlet. Without it, I might have gone nuts. ?

xo, Kimberly
http://www.lifeofkimberly.com

Great post – I have to say that my husband totally burned a hole into our (shared! for three years because traveling!) laptop the *exact* same way, so it made me chuckle to hear that we weren’t the only ones πŸ˜‰
I am thankful for the life I get to lead abroad and how fortunate I am to have people supporting me (both here and back home) to be able to do this. It is a crazy, scary, weird, and wonderful thing.

This year I’m thankful that I took chances and found a job I love. I’m thankful for my kids, my boyfriend, and my cat always and forever. Merry Christmas Helene!

I am thankful for the journey I am on. Yes, things could have been easier. I could have been on the fast track right now to some fancy schmancy career. I could have been almost done with college by now. But I wasn’t happy, and I had to do what made me happy. And now I am here, working on getting a blog together! It’s really exciting. I am so excited for what 2017 has in store for me.
Gem @ Food Drinks Life

Merry Christmas! I am thankful my friend Theresa led me to this!

Merry Christmas, Helene. One thing that I’m grateful for is everything I learn about social media from you.

I’m thankful to be graduating from college this year!

Oh my goodness! I’m tearing up at this… I am also missing Christmas with my family for the first time. But I’m so thankful that I have my husband to celebrate with!

It would be so hard to miss Christmas with family. I feel for you. This year I am thankful for my workplace that allows me to be off for winter break to spend time with family and friends ?Merry Christmas, Helene.

Oh how I love your blog! I think this year was a roller coaster for many of us. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and new year And you get to face time with your family. Love ya girl!

I hate this for you but I know you are enjoying your experience so much. Being away definitely gives us that time to reflect and see all of the amazing things that we have going on in our lives and be extra thankful for them. This year, I’m more thankful than ever for life. 2016 has been amazing but also full of lessons. I’m thankful to be living the life I live and getting ready to welcome a sweet baby girl to the family in February.

What an exciting year, it’s been so cool to watch your move on the blog, social media, and snapchat. I am so thankful for my husband, my family, and our dog. They mean the world to me. Even when times are tough, they uplift me. I hope you can Skype or FaceTime with your family during the party so you can be apart of it. ❀️

That first paragraph of this post is totally me!! I have had so many amazing things happen with my photography business and so much growth but this year was full of heartache and so much loss πŸ™ It’s been a freaken rollercoaster!! Haha, I am thankful though that I am healthy. I am super thankful that I have help from doctors, family, friends, bloggers… to help lift my spirits when the day gets hard. You are a wonderful influence Helene, thank you and Merry Christmas!!

I am thankful for my sweet husband and living near family. 2016 has not been anything like I thought it would– marriage is so much harder than I imagined, I still don’t have a job, money is tight, etc. But I’m grateful for a husband that loves me despite everything, living close to my family (for now), and my new friends here in my new town.

I am thankful for having a job that allows me to do all the fun things I’m able to do. I’m thankful for my family. For my amazing husband, who puts up with so much – my moodiness and craziness and wacky ideas. I’m thankful for my son, who even though he’s a teenage boy is just the best thing in my life. I”m thankful for my dad and my brothers and their amazing wives and for my husband’s family. I have a pretty blessed life and i’m thankful for all of it.

Aw Helene, your post makes me so sad for you! I know how hard it is especially at this time of the year. I am thankful for your honesty on your blog. It’s so nice to read something from the heart. β™₯ Know that you aren’t the only one struggling, plus we are all here for you! Also Hugo is the cutest!

Stephanie Kitsemble

I am thankful for all my family, friends, and all the dreams I have for the upcoming year! πŸ™‚ Merry Christmas!

Ahh, very sweet post! I can imagine that even though you are living what sounds like a DREAM in Germany, these times are hard when you miss your family so far away. Sending you love and I hope you have a lovely and cozy holiday.

PS your dog sounds awesome! πŸ™‚ I looovveee dogs and I’m sure yours is a sweetheart.

I’m thankful for a warm house during this COLD season and family and friends to share it with. Last week it was -25 degrees F and my heart was breaking for those who are without a home right now. We have great shelters that are working overtime to make sure these individuals are safe and I’m thankful for those people and programs too.

Happy Holidays, Helene!!

I’m thankful for my family and my amazing husband!

I almost cried reading you write about crying ?❀ I feel the same way about reflections and sadness at Christmas time, mixed with joy. My parents’ annual party is tomorrow night, and I’m so thankful to live near them and I appreciate it more and more every year, knowing we want to travel and adventure in the years to come, and we may not always be a short-jaunt-through-town away. This year I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful for new blogging friends I’ve made. I’m thankful for Christ becoming my Savior. I’m thankful for a husband that strives to be more like Him everyday. I’m thankful for in-laws who love me as their own. For a brother and cousin (basically my sister) who are growing into beautiful young adults. I’m thankful for my exchange student brother and his family that are now in our lives. I’m thankful for the progress that’s been made in my health. I’m thankful for all the “first world” pleasures that I tend to take for granted. This is one of the best seasons, and I hope you are all enjoying it ❀ Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

I am thankful for so much! My career, my health, my friends and family! β™₯ So much to be thankful for. Merry Christmas, Helene!

Oh my gosh Helene! What a beautiful post. You have me crying at work! Christmas makes me feel the same way, teary eyed and emotional. I am grateful that despite my wedding going off without a hitch, it was a really really rough year dealing with some family drama that was beyond what I could’ve ever imagined. I’m grateful for my husband, my mum, her entire family, my day job, my blog, and friends β™₯ Merry Christmas Helene thank you for being such a huge inspiration to all bloggers.

I am so very thankful for my family and friends! It’s been a really rough year and they’ve been there for me, they are my whole world!! Thank you very much for this amazing giveaway!! I think you are a very brave and strong person!! I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!! πŸ™‚

I can only imagine how tough it is to be without your family for the holidays. This year has had so many ups and downs but I am definitely thankful for my family and mine and my husband’s jobs….there are so many families that go without and I’m lucky to be able to do the things I want.

Oh Helene, this made me tear up. I quit my job and left my entire life behind this past September to move to the U.S. to marry my person. And OF COURSE it’s worth it but the bouts of homesickness are intense and way more frequent than I expected. Due to the immigration process, I can’t leave and be “home” (I guess my old home) for the holidays. And for some reason I really thought I would be able to. I’m sad but also so thankful that my husband and his family are being thoughtful and kind and asking about my family’s traditions to see how they can incorporate them into theirs. Welp, now I’m crying, ha. Anyway! Have a very Merry Christmas and remember that there is no shame in drowning your sorrows in glΓΌwein. xx

My big yellow couch

I’m thankful for my husband and the life we have built together! Merry Christmas Helene!

Being away from most of the people who know you best is especially hard this time of year. When I lived in Ireland, Christmas was especially hard too – but looking back on it, it is was my most memorable Christmas! This year, I am incredibly thankful to be living with my boyfriend after 3 years of long distance and to have my amazing family by my side! Merry Christmas, Helene!

Have an amazing Christmas!! I am thankful for the ups & downs this year that taught me exactly who I am.

Merry Christmas Helene! Sending you lots of *hugs* across the pond! This year I’m most thankful for the arrival of baby girl, and celebrating her first Christmas <3

Green Fashionista

such a great post, I love your courage to move so far way and keep such a positive outlook on missing out on important things back home <3 I am thankful for family (both mine & my boyfriends which I have come to love as my own), our pup Lola who we brought home in the spring (its her first Christmas with us!) and I am thankful that I was born with the wanderlust trait and I now have the ability to make traveling a reality.
Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I have loved watching your new adventures on IG, and this year, I am so thankful for my health, my wonderful husband, and two crazy dogs, who all make my world complete!

I am thankful for a healthy and thriving baby boy, a family to share the holidays with and a roof over our heads to celebrate in!

This year I am thankful for my dogs health. Last year around this time she was recovering from a knee surgery.

Thanks as always for being so open and honest with your readers. Merry Christmas, Helene!

I’m thankful for my family & health. Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you and your family! I’m thankful that I can spend the holidays with my family even though we live in separate states. My brother is missing this year because of work but I’m still thankful I got to see him last weekend instead.

I’m so thankful for my husband, who is my rock, and our little dog who is so sweet!

So thankful that as a college student I can come home for my last Christmas at home before graduating ❀

What a great post. I am thankful for my little family, without them I would be lost.

I’m grateful for your FRIENDSHIP and for so many starts of new things together!

First year is the hardest but yall are doing great! I am thankful for a family that supports us and new friends! We would have never met these awesome people has we not moved!

I’m thankful for YOUR friendship, the memories we’ve made, and look forward to the new adventures to be had! (We’ve been scouting out plane tickets…we can discuss dates on Monday!!)

I’m thankful for my friends who have supported me through all of my crazy projects. They believed in me when no one else did, and for that, I will forever be grateful.

I really love your way of writing, what a beautiful post! I’ve not been reading your blog very long yet, but I’m very glad I stumbled on to it. Happy Christmas! x

Laura // Middle of Adventure

I’m thankful for my son who is healthy after 1 1/2 year of his heart surgery. Also my church family and the people I have met along the way. Lastly for my boyfriend who tries everything possible to be the dad he doesn’t have to be to my son for over 4 years now.

I’m thankful for my husband <3 Without him, I have absolutely no idea where I'd be right now! He's my rock, and even though we've been thru hell with my health and stuff, he still makes me laugh daily and reminds me why life is worth every second.

(I'm findingthesilversun on Instagram.)

I am thankful for having my family! I’m thankful that even though it gets rough this time of year with my mom being gone, that God continues to keep me and I’m in my right mind, I’m thankful I have a job post graduation and that God is putting new people in my life that are additives, I’m thankful I made it another year without my mom and without losing my mind!

I totally get what you’re saying, in it being a good, but hard year. Thanks for the reminder to be thankful. Today, I’m choosing to be grateful that I have four healthy boys, a home I love; friends who make me laugh and I’m even thankful for the hard times, for they keep me humble. Merry Christmas, Helene!!?

My husband and I are newly married and just bought our first home! We are very grateful to share it with friends and family this holiday. I love following your adventures on snapchat. I miss seeing Helga ?

Thankful for family and friends … and cheers to 2017!

I’m thankful for (of course, family), but also for the chance to take a fun trip with my friends! I can’t wait for a long weekend in the mountains with games, wine, and my best friends.

I have LOVED following you on all your journeys this year, especially the move to “my” beautiful city. πŸ˜‰ All your pictures and posts of the Christmas markets make me homesick, but we are planning on a trip to Germany next Christmas! I’m thankful for such a good, full and fun year. We’ve made so many good friends and I don’t take that for granted! Frohe Weihnachten! πŸ™‚

I actually wrote a whole post recently on what I’m grateful for and honestly, I’m grateful for more than I could ever imagine to list!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday, and stay safe!

It has been such a year for you! I am thankful for branching out on my own this year and getting my own place. i am thankful for my boyfriend of almost 4 years who keeps me laughing. I am thankful for my family who continue to support me. I am thankful for good health, good mental health (as a social worker it breaks my heart to see people struggling). Im thankful for those moments, moments like when you find the perfect song on the radio to capture your mood, or where youre reading a good book with hot chocolate by a fire, the simple moments, I suppose, but those i am so thankful for. <3

I am so thankful for my new kitten this year. Was never a cat lady but gave it a chance and she has brought me so much joy and also comfort! ? And she makes me laugh ?.

Thanks Helena for the giveaway! Just think you’ll be back at the Christmas Party someday and have all these amazing travel stories to share!

yay for a new kitten! It pains me to tell you.. my name is Helene (with an e) πŸ™‚ haha

Haha I even typed it that way originally and then changed it to an A. It’s too early here πŸ˜‰

hah!totally understnad πŸ™‚

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