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!
Have been living the good life, and am working on a big holidays recap post that should be up tomorrow before I leave for Sweden on Sunday.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas (if you celebrate) & are otherwise doing lovely as well.
Photos show caramelized cinnamon pears and a vanilla cinnamon ice cream star, both of which I indulged in over the holidays. Christmas = All The Cinnamon!
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.
It snowed on Tuesday. A tiny bit. Almost not worth mentioning. Tiny flakes; none of them actually stayed on the ground. For two blissful hours, the lovely white drifted down from the gray-blue sky, tossed about by the strong winds, and died before it hit the pavement, yes, but lifted my spirits nevertheless.
I watched “Lawless”, which was much better than I had anticipated. To give you an idea: a bond between three brothers, Virginia during prohibition, bootlegging, guns, violence. Also, Tom Brady. It sounds too easy, too predictable, and yet it’s fast-paced with a few unexpected turns and I would absolutely watch it a second time.
I’m going home tomorrow. I plan on spending as much time with my family as I can this Christmas season, making the most of my being unemployed. This means a lot of traveling back and forth by train and I just hope that the entire network of German railway won’t just break down as it tends to do as soon as it gets colder outside.
The end of November and NaBloPoMo has killed any inspiration for blogging I may have had (which is the opposite of what I had hoped would happen) so I don’t know when I’ll come back and write here. Expect photo posts, rather than words. And send me snow, if you’re lucky enough to have any.
So much love on Facebook today. Reconnecting with old friends from high school. Which- isn’t that what they built Facebook for in the first place? We do this every time around Christmas. We ask around: Will you be back home for Christmas? I’ll get there the 22nd. Alright. Let’s figure out where to meet, what to do, who else will be there. It’s nice. I like friends who are good with only actually physically meeting up once or twice a year and still don’t feel like strangers.
Have also been planning when to send Christmas cards and who to send them to. I’m not a very social, out-going person. I like being by myself, I’m more comfortable that way, but sometimes it can feel lonely. Making my list of people I’ll be sending cards to, I realized I could never really be lonely at all and that there would always be someone there with a kind word or a helping hand if I needed it.
Got an email from an old friend from high school who lives in Brussels now so I don’t get to see her enough. It’s the invitation to her wedding (in court, the big blow-out will be next year) and at the bottom – seriously, tucked away at the very bottom, in small letters – it says: Pssst, we are expecting a tiny German-Moroccan! I read that about five times to understand that, yes, they’re having a baby. Emailed back. OVERJOYED. They are the best people, you guys, and they will make the best parents. I don’t say this lightly or often – I have very strict, broken, unreasonable views on who should get married or start a family that I mostly keep to myself – but these two are made to raise a family. The little one is due in May, right on time for the big church wedding.
And more roommate love today as well. Went for a long walk to the nearest city park and talked and laughed. Mostly planned her moving out early next year; what we need to think of, what stuff she will take with her, when I need to start looking for a new roommate. It was lovely. Just- Nike sweatpants, infinity scarfs, ponytails, windbreakers. Cold air, dry leaves, setting sun. So much beauty in these little details, little moments, it’s almost too much.
Christmas markets open in Cologne tomorrow and with that winter is officially here. All the major squares around the city will be crowded with little huts covered in fake snow, Santas and Rudolphs climbing up their roofs, and the smells of all the delicious foods will be everywhere. I cannot wait for the first Glühwein of the season; my freezing hands wrapped around the hot cup, cheeks red from the cold and the wine and the joy all around me.
But I’m also a little sad to say goodbye to fall. It came and went in the blink of an eye. I love the colors of fall, days getting shorter and colder, the late September sun, my birthday, cozy nights at home – all of it – and somehow this year it all passed me by without my really noticing or appreciating the season.
All the more reason to dive head first into winter, then, and make the most of it before my favorite half of the year is already over again!
I love winter. And Christmas. This entire season brings so much joy to me that I basically find myself waiting for it all year round. December is easily my favorite month of the year. If I’m lucky, we get some snow here before Christmas as well – and that is always the icing on the cake.
I love baking Christmas cookies. I love Christmas lights in the streets and decorations in stores and lit up trees on central squares and of course the Christmas markets. I love the cold; scarfs, coats, boots, mittens. It not only refreshes me physically but mentally, for some reason. I feel excited and alert and so, so happy this time of year. And I love coming home to a warm home; candles, tea, books, movies…
My absolute favorite Christmas movie is “The Polar Express” (trailer here). It’s a kids’ movie, obviously. But it’s a beautiful story and very well made and it has Tom Hanks. Need I say more? Alright: the soundtrack is fantastic. FANTASTIC, you guys. I love it more than the movie itself, I think. So if you can’t bring yourself to watch an animated film about the magic of Santa, listen to the music at least.
Do you have a favorite Christmas movie?