Christmas in Germany

There are very few bucket list items we carry with us from an early age. Maybe it’s just me, but the things that seem marvelous at two, four, and six don’t quite carry the same weight now. I no longer feel the need to own all the American Girl dolls, live at the beach (hurricanes and the lack of autumn . . .), or stock my closet entirely with jelly sandals.

However, there’s one wish that’s been with since — well, as long as I can remember. Because I was watching A Christmas Calendar as a toddler, and that’s what sparked my lifelong desire to spend Christmas in Germany (I wrote about this glorious documentary 4 years ago).

This year, that wish came true in the best of ways.

***

So what was Christmas in Germany like?

It was Christmas markets everywhere. Big ones, small ones, everything in between. It was Glühwein, and tiny Vanillekipfelrn, and Stollen with coffee for breakfast.

It was the night of the Christmas market at the castle of Thurn and Taxis, the trumpet solo of “Lo, how a rose e’er blooming” soaring into the cold night over a courtyard full of lights and food and bustling people, white balloons filling the dark sky, stalls full of intricate and beautiful handwork.

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It was the annual neighbor dinner, with six nationalities and seven languages gathered around this tree.

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It was the hushed, holy singing of “Stille Nacht” on Christmas Eve around a tree lit with candles, and the joyous embrace of every single person there. It was drinking champagne and basking in the warmth of family.

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I sit here now on the couch, and more fat snowflakes are whirling and nestling down on the piles of snow that last night’s storm already brought. I’m curled up beside Jules, and Olivier is playing Beethoven on the piano. I’m thinking of wonderful conversations with Eva, guitar jam sessions Jan and Ayman, walks and laughter with dear Ahmad, card games with good friends.

What is Christmas in Germany?

Most of all, it is love. And I’m already looking forward to next year.

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