Sometimes Germany feels much the same as the US, but holidays are definitely not one of those times. Deciding to forego the expensive trip home for Christmas, I knew things would be different. In special thanks to technology and my fierce independence, I have never been truly homesick. In fact, my first summer as a 9 year old at my month-long overnight summer camp, my mom called the directors to check on me because I never wrote letters home. Christmas is my favorite time of year; I knew if homesickness would ever strike, it’d come with being away over the holidays.
As my Karlsruhe friends headed to Wherever, World for their holiday time, I was left in Karlsruhe with work at the pub and my one other friend sticking around, Lauren. Luckily, for the 23-25th, one of my first friends in Germany, Simon, invited us to join his family for their festivities. Germans actually celebrate on the 24th instead of the 25th. The Christkind (not Santa) comes around 6 o’clock in the evening and gifts are opened immediately following. Since we were actually the youngest present at this holiday celebration, we did not actually do Christkind thing. We simply had a grand dinner and opened gifts following the meal. For dinner, we enjoyed Raclette. Raclette is a traditional holiday meal in Germany, France, and Switzerland. It provides a fun, community dining experience by placing a warm grill in the middle of the table with trays to melt raclette cheese beneath (at least, this is how the home version is done, there are alternative methods). We threw shrimp, pork, chicken, and a variety of vegetables atop the grill. My favorite part was loading up my cheese tray with onions and thai red chilies. No German dinner is complete without wine, beer, and schnapps, so of course we indulged there, too.
The real sadness it on the 25th. Lauren and I arrived back in Karlsruhe and I began talking with everyone at home. I missed the big Christmas morning breakfast and watching everyone tear through the mass of gifts under the tree. I missed heading to my other family’s for an evening of drinking and eating too much and excessively quoting National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I missed sitting around a fire pit in the backyard. I threw myself a bit of a pity party, but come the 26th, things were back to normal. Well, almost, I still have to wait at least another week for my crew to return back. For now, I am enjoying the time with myself, the blogosphere, and Netflix streaming “Parks and Recreation”.
Pictures from the 24th in Eisenbach, Obernburg, Germany
Daniel and Simon played clarinet and trumpet as children, so each Christmas they dust off their instruments for a bit of a Christmas production.
Lauren and I even got to open gifts. Simon gave us Nike sweat suits to match his for all the lounging around we did over the holidays.
I couldn’t leave without trying out the trumpet, too.
Wherever you are, I hope you had the happiest of holidays!
Have you ever spent Christmas away from home?