Nothing brings home the significance of Christmas traditions like spending a Christmas away from home.
My first Christmas away from home was spent with a family in southern Germany. There were many parts of their family traditions that I enjoyed enough to adopt later. I loved their beautiful advent wreaths and calendars. However, I missed the big Christmas tree going up early in the season. Even the wonderful chocolate and cookies didn’t quite make up for that.
To be honest, I found their Christmas tree erecting tradition somewhat scandalous. One parent took the children out for a very long walk on Christmas Eve day. They came back to find a fully decorated tree brought to their home by no other than the Christ child.
Years later, when I was again living in Germany, I fell in love with the Christmas markets. Though they were commercial in a way—handmade ornaments and crèches were for sale—they were much more. I cherished walking through the stalls, smelling the roasted almonds and anise cookies. I loved getting chilled enough to warm up with the warm spicy Glühwein. Choosing gifts for family was a joy—all sorts of hand carved German crafts were available. It was a full sensory immersion experience in all things warm, fuzzy and well, Christmassy.
Now when we celebrate Christmas, I love adding the elements from the years that we lived in Europe. Somehow, they’ll always be a part of me.
Interested in sharing your memories? My website, Treasure Chest of Memories, has tips, resources, and a blog about memory sharing.