Christmas. Mmh. Christmas seems incredibly far away now. It’s been well a over a month. I feel silly writing a recap about Christmas being so far into 2013 already, but it must be done. To satisfy your curiosity (come on, I know you want to read about my Christmas vacation!) and simply for the sake of having a written testament of the last Christmas with our Ina.
Maybe one of these days, I’ll stop being sappy and nostalgic, but today is not the day.
J and I arrived in Germany on December, 17th, a Monday. Nobody was home from work to pick us up, so my sister’s MIL picked us up with my nephew. Tom is not even three yet, hadn’t seen me for a year, but – according to my sister’s MIL – ran into the airport and loudly shouted my name. You gotta love this kid!
Next order of business: go pick up Greta at the Kindergarten. She had been talking about that ‘[her] aunt was going to pick [her] up’ the whole previous weekend.
Oh, how wonderful to finally wrap my arms around the two munchkins again.
Finally later at home, I got to hug and squeeze the rest of my family – all of them came to my parents’ house to say hello. My great-aunt, too. We’re not complete, if she isn’t there. It was truly good to finally be home again.
Everybody was still working that week before Christmas, so J and I got some time to sleep in, adjust to the time zone and just hang out at my parents’ house.
On Friday (12/21) we all – my parents, my sister and BIL (minus the kids), my aunt and cousin, J and I – went to the Christmas market in Cologne (Köln) – or should I say, the Christmas markets? Because there are many (and we definitely visited more than one).
It wasn’t quite cold enough for Christmas (odd for Germany) and there was no sign of snow, but the eggnog and Glühwein were still delicious and the atmosphere with the little huts and lights and music very christmas-y.
Of course, we also had to have Reibekuchen (potato pancakes). It’s a MUST at the Christmas market.
We were also able to meet up with one of my oldest (childhood) friends (who happens to live in Köln) that evening and it was a really special treat. Although I hadn’t seen her for a couple of years, we were able to pick up just where we had left off last time. It’s wonderful to have people you have such a long history and connection with.
Christmas Eve was magical. It really was. I am not the slightest bit exaggerating. I wish it was Christmas Eve more often than once a year.
You know that we Germans celebrate Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day, right? (But we do get two full holidays out of the occasion (the 25th and 26th).
J and I decorated the Christmas tree in the morning. The tree had been up (with lights) for a couple of days already, but we traditionally decorate the tree on Christmas Eve’s morning. Decorating earlier than that is not allowed. We decided to go with a red-gold theme this year.
We all gathered at my parents’ house in the afternoon. My Dad had been preparing and cooking the whole day. He’s in charge of the kitchen on Christmas Eve. I love that.
Seeing the kids experience Christmas adds such a special touch to our Christmas celebration. It’s like you’re able to see it in a whole different light again.
In our family, the Christkind (Christ child) traditionally brings the presents and they’re delivered while the kids are waiting in their rooms. A little bell is rung when the Christkind was there and Greta and Tom stormed down the stairs to see if it had brought some presents. It’s so much fun to see the excitement in their eyes.
We had a wonderful, delicious, spectacular dinner. We don’t have a dish that we traditionally eat, but rather my Dad comes up with a new 4-course-dinner every year. It’s never remotely disappointing.
Here’s the run-down:
Turbot fillet with green asparagus
Bison fillet with carrots and mashed celery-potatoes
Apple fritters with vanilla ice-cream
Ina was with us that night, of course. She’s the pillar of our family, the person that makes our family complete by representing the older generation. I honestly cannot and don’t want to imagine a Christmas without her.
My BIL being goofy with Greta.
My Mom and I
My Dad and Tom
No photos, please!
J entertaining the kids with the Playmobil airplane that the ‘Christkind’ brought.
We talked and laughed and reminisced until 2 a.m. in the morning. Yes, Ina too. Who would have thought that she can party like a mad-woman and then just quietly exit this life 4 weeks later? Not me.
Our last family picture (self-timer pictures are hard to take, yo!)
It’s surprisingly comforting though to know that we had one last wonderful and beyond special Christmas together. Everyone was there, everyone had a good time, everyone loved and laughed that night. I didn’t call it magical for nothing.