Really simple butter-flour-sugar cookies ready for the oven, later to be dipped in chocolate.
I’ve been home for a while now, and it’s been (mostly) perfect. No matter how little I miss home when I’m not here and how few traditions or memories I connect with this place, Christmas always feels more like Christmas when I’m with my family at my parents’ house.
This & that
We had a single day of snow over the past couple of weeks so Christmas here most certainly was not white. It was rainy and warm. We spent Christmas Eve as we always do, though: setting up the tree and decorating it in classic red and white, doing a long walk at the widlife sanctuary in the (relative) cold at dusk, and then coming back to a warm and cozy home to exchange gifts and eat good food. Instead of lamb, which we usually eat on Christmas Eve, my dad made duck and deer this year (photos to come) which was delicious!
Over the holidays we also read in our old children’s Christmas books that our parents used to read to us throughout December when we were little. We had Glühwein and fresh mint tea. We met the extended family at restaurants to eat more and promise to see each other more regularly next year (which we never do). I tried the Toffee Nut Latte at Starbucks and decided it must be their best pretentious Christmas novelty drink yet. I spent many evenings playing cards with my mom.
I got some lovely Christmas presents, some of which I had mentioned to “Santa”, some of which were a wonderful surprise. I got Stephen Fry’s book “Moab is My Washpot”. It’s his autobiography and I’ve been meaning to read it ever since I got obsessed with his television show “QI”. I also got a gift card to a bookstore, and a couple other gift cards. My mom gave me my favorite perfume (“Glow” by J.Lo) (don’t judge, it smells really fresh and light and soapy). And my brother, sweet guy that he is, somehow remembered that I mentioned this particular H&M sweater a couple months ago and got it for me. Oh, and San sent me a lovely handmade Christmas card that made me so happy! I love getting regular mail – thank you, San!
Meeting old friends
On Thursday I went to a breakfast meet-up at a small local café with a bunch of old girlfriends from high school. We don’t usually see each other during the year because we’re never in the same country, much less the same town. But we always meet on the day after the holidays (December 25 and 26 are Christmas holidays in Germany), when everyone is here to visit their families back in this little town that we came from. By now, our group has grown to include two husbands and a little baby girl who tag along, and it’s just- lovely. We don’t talk about the negative stuff; we skip right over all the everyday complexities of growing up and creating a life because we don’t see each other often enough to fill everyone in on the details. And so it’s nothing but old memories and jokes and banalities. Just the right thing after a Christmas spent with extended families who excel at asking exactly the wrong questions about How Your Year Has Been and Your Plans For The Future.
We did a short trip to Holland yesterday (is it odd that I mainly miss the Dutch supermarkets? I loved them most when I lived there, their selection and quality of food somehow is so much better) and hit the Christmas market again. I just made a last batch of Christmas cookies and will pack for my trip to Sweden later. Am trying really hard to enjoy all of this as much as possible!
If you celebrated, I hope your Christmas was wonderful!
I’ve been at my parents’ in Northern Germany for a few days which appears to be the only place in the entire country where it hasn’t snowed. (Cologne, meanwhile, was covered in a blanket of white as soon as I left it. Figures.) So that bit’s been rather disappointing but I’ve been to two of our local Christmas markets on most of my nights here and that has almost made up for the lack of snow. It has been crazy cold and that, too, put me in a good mood.
I met up with my aunt and my grandma for some Glühwein. I bought a new book; I’m almost finished with “Gone Girl”. I hung out with my brother and helped him buy Christmas presents. I got obsessed with “QI” because of Stephen Fry and have been watching too many episodes a day on YouTube. I baked cookies that are already gone.
I like December so far. I have to get back to Cologne tomorrow for a meeting about the potential freelance opportunity I mentioned a couple weeks back but right now it looks like I might get to spend the rest of the month with my family – which is nice after having spent the past four Decembers out of the country or working.
The Gundulakranz I mentioned yesterday turned out wonderfully. And it was a big dessert success at the seafood dinner my mom hosted tonight, which we hadn’t anticipated but were all the more stoked about. I’m going back to Cologne tomorrow morning, sadly, and will be sure to take a few pieces with me.
It’s 11pm now, my train leaves early and I still have to pack, so- more tomorrow!
We’re officially past mid-November so it’s officially ok to listen to Christmas music, bake Christmas things and buy Christmas stuff. Everyone knows these are the official rules from the official guidebook.
So say hello to these guys:
Aren’t they ADORABLE? They’re Christmas tree ornaments and will go up on my parents’ tree this Christmas (since I will spend Christmas with them and won’t have my own tree).
My parents left early for some shopping in a neighboring city this morning while I slept in late. My brother and I ended up spontaneously deciding to join them and drove out there as well, and- it turned out to be so lovely. So gloriously unplanned and relaxed. It was cold today, a real winter day, and by the time we got there the sun was already hanging low, making for some beautiful light in the small shopping streets. It reminded me so much of Gothenburg – not sure why that specific city, and not any other Swedish town – and I loved it. My mom tried on coats and I bought the ornaments and we looked at snow globes. (Why am I not collecting snow globes yet? I should. It would help me get through the 10 dreadful months of the year that we don’t see any snow here. It would also cement my Weird Nerd Lady status.)
My mom and I also baked a Gundulakranz when we got home – recipe to come tomorrow, if I can stick to my blogging plans for once – which bookended our family centered Saturday perfectly.