With me being raised into the tourism/hospitality industry and my parents owning their own restaurants, family time was always rare and something special for us as kids, especially Christmas time.
In my teenage years I decided to follow my parents path and get an education in hospitality. With it my love for travel grew and that meant I did not spend Christmas time at home anymore. What do I do to keep the Christmas spirit alive and not miss my family too much? Even when I’m away I try to still do things we always did at home or I connect to Christmas. My love for it helped me a lot to find it easier as well as knowing my family does the same at home.
Not everybody is like me and many people have a hard time being away from their families around that time of the year I want to share my experience and what helps me. Including old and new traditions. First of all when you feel lonely remember what you did back in your childhood that made you happy and do it now. Be open to it and you will see that it makes you feel the same again.
For me Christmas time includes a lot of music. The favorite playlist is 12 hours long and playing up and down all year. My all time Top 5 hits are: “War is over” – by John Lennon, “Little drummer boy” – by the Simpson Sisters, “Baby please come home for Christmas” – by Michael Bublé, “Silver bells” – by Bing Crosby and last but not least “It’s a marshmallow world” – by Ellen Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby.
As well as songs and music movies and TV shows are a big part of my memories too. In my family it is a tradition to watch “Weihnachtsmann & Co.Kg.” a children show we watched since it was playing on television in 1996. Another great movie is “Drei Haselnüsse für Aschenbrödel (kinda like Cinderella)”, an old one from 1973, filmed by a German Czech cast. This is not the only old one we love, we also enjoy “Der kleine Lord“, filmed in 1980 by a British cast. The newest addition for Christmas is Hallmark Channel, we just love the movies with the happy endings.
But I would say the best and most memorable memories come with food in my family, cooked and baked. I believe the first time I was allowed to help my grandma make cookies was the winter after my 6th birthday and I can’t remember anything before that too. That time was always one of my favorites, yes even more cherished than my birthday. We were spending time together with siblings, cousins, grandparents and aunts, we were allowed to eat cookies when they “broke” and we could listen to Christmas songs all day as well as watch movies. Besides baking cookies I connect Gluhwein, roasted chestnuts and eating something poached in red wine with that special time of the year. New traditions that came with traveling the world are magic candy bars or ordering Chinese food on the 25th of December.
Going for walks, coming home, playing card games, drinking tea and eating cookies is just as special to me than as Christmas markets. In my life those little things are so much more one-of-a-kind situations than big gestures or spending a lot of money. Ever since I lived in the US and had the chance to experience thanksgiving I’m just waiting to have my own little friendsgiving in my own apartment, to share the joy and the friendliness I experienced.
Decorating the Christmas tree was the highlight of the 4 weeks of advent. I did spend 2 years without a tree and it was not the same, something was missing. Normally we trimmed my grandmas tree on the 22nd and ours back home on the 24th in the morning . We loved to be able to decorate 2 of them especially because both were as different as day and night. During the trim we were blasting music or watching a movie on the TV. The only thing we would talk about was, what would the Christkind bring us. I was a long believer I think until I was 10/11 years old. Still to this day I believe in the Christmas magic even tho I know the story behind Santa Claus (thanks Coca Cola) and the story behind the Christkind as well. If you would make me choose to stay home or go see Santa at the mall, I would go see Santa any day.