Silent night, lonely night?
Over the last couple of years, Christmas seems to have lost a little of its glamour for me. While retailers stock up on chocolate Santas straight after chucking out the last Easter bunnies, the weeks leading to the big, supposedly most important Western holiday, no longer appears much different to any other time in the year.
Maybe it’s the effects of climate change that seem to move winter further into the spring months. Maybe it’s the absence of the Advent calendar and Advent wreath that marked the last four weeks before the big event during my childhood, or maybe I’m simply growing up and real life has taken over.
In the last few years Christmas has turned into something rather stressful – last minute shopping, seemingly endless hours of talking about the same old stories, pretending to love the ugly jumper which will secretly be exchanged the following week and finding excuses to escape the somewhat superficial happiness to join your friends for Christmas drinks.
However, there is a point when the sentimental feelings about the festive time come back – when you finally move out from home. For the last two years I have lived in London and thanks to discount flights I've been able to see my loved ones in Munich over Christmas.
But not this year. Determined to get my first dissertation draft ready for January, I decided to ignore unbeatable flight offers and told my Dad he’d have to enjoy the holidays without his eldest daughter. The moment this decision was made, another one consequently followed – I have to come up with my very own, perfect Christmas celebration.
Christmas - your way
Last weekend my friend and I took the first steps and made gingerbread. Some presents have been bought and wrapped, I dug up the Santa socks my Mum made for me when I was little and even spotted some of the family’s classic wooden Christmas decorations in a small boutique in Dulwich. I can’t wait to go hunting for my very first Christmas tree. It won’t be massive, but the list of things I want to get and hang up is becoming longer and longer and longer - almost as long as the list of presents I’m hoping to find underneath it.
One of the best things about having a German Christmas in Britain is that, I effectively get to have two.
In Germany, Christmas is traditionally celebrated on the evening of December 24. The evening normally starts with an immense feast - normally goose or duck, and once it gets dark outside, a little bell is rung to signal that the kids can finally enter the living room where all the presents are piled up under the Christmas tree. Classic Christmas songs in the background and candles lit, the atmosphere is just amazing. In the later hours a lot of mulled wine will lead to great laughter and the occasional family row – which most likely is not only a German thing.
The second celebration on the following day, I join my boyfriend’s family for a traditional British celebration with Christmas crackers, brandy-flamed Christmas pudding and again – poultry, turkey in that case.
Obviously I will miss my folks and most likely a late night Skype conference will bring everyone together at last. But no matter if you’re living abroad, in a different city or only a couple of streets away from your family – everyone of us will at some point strive to create their very own perfect Christmas. And it will be just that - perfect, your way.