Have you ever seen the movie “Love Actually”? In the beginning, as well as in the end, they show all kinds of people welcoming loved ones – friends and family alike – at Heathrow airport. The bond between individuals that is so clearly visible there is the “tradition” I love best. Traditions like food, trees, activities and get-togethers change, even the people you spend Christmas with will eventually not be the same anymore, but that bond, that is what stays. Even if it is just in my memory.
Here are a few:
- In my childhood we spent a lot of Christmases at my aunt and uncle’s house in Northern Germany. To this day I remember us sitting around the Christmas tree that was lit with real bee’s wax candles! They had an everyday living room and then one to entertain guests and celebrate birthdays and other festivities. So of course the latter one wasn’t used as often, which made it have a special scent to it that to this day reminds me of our time spent together and the special meals taken in there with my mother’s part of the family.
- My father’s aunt was super-ticklish, which made it irresistible for me to make her shriek each time I hugged her hello or good-bye, always answered by her hitting me on the shoulder and laughing. She was the most delightful person I ever met.
- Part of my family lived in Eastern Germany back when our country was still divided. I dearly remember my mother’s uncle puffing circles with the smoke of his cigars upon my request every single time. And I remember their astonishment about us bringing bananas, pineapple and grapes in the middle of winter, something they couldn’t get back then that time of year. It always made me aware of how blessed I was.
- Years ago I spent my first Christmas in the States where my brother lives. It was an experience that stayed with me as celebrating Christmas was the same and yet quite different than at home, especially going on a ride through the neighbourhood in our pyjamas to check out the decorations on Christmas day!
- When we spent Christmas at home my grandparents would come to our house for Christmas Eve. They literally lived just down the street. I loved them both. My grandfather was a simple man who took things in with great wonder and gratitude, which is a wonderful thing. Unless whenever you give him his present each and every single time he puts it in front of him, admires the packaging and says: “Oh no, dear, this is far to beautifully wrapped for me to unpack it now!” And really if you didn’t force him to open it or even do it for him you could find the present still wrapped sitting on his dresser months later!
At the end of last year my father unexpectedly had to spent a few days at the hospital. Fortunately he was home before Christmas, but it really affected our being together that year. It reminded us that health could be lost quickly and worse. We enjoyed our togetherness with such awareness it made everything feel extra special. Luckily this year we’ve been spared any such incidents (knock on wood!) but since then I am consciously appreciating each moment I spend with my loved ones!
There is one dream though I still have: spending Christmas with friends in a hut in the mountains, just like in the music video of George Michael’s “Last Christmas”. Cheesy, I know. Since that might never happen, I decided to start a new tradition and have a get-together with friends the night before Christmas this year! Also there is you! I can have you guys with me at Christmas simply by having my phone in my pocket, so in case you didn’t know it: you’ll get to celebrate a German Christmas this year! 😉