Friday, January 1, 2010

Heilige Abend pt. 2

[ Christmas Eve pt. 2 ]

Naturally I was feeling a great appreciation for family and friends being so distant from the comforts of cooking with family members back home, the smile on my Babcia, Grandma and Grandpa's faces with the family together and lump in my throat with my brother exclaiming to me in a facebook chat a few days prior - "what am I going to do without you on Christmas morning?"

[ Notice the different spelling of America? - This was a gift from Inge and Andreas for me that I thought was such a cool idea - A new opportunity to cook some American regional favorites and learn about my own country from Jaime Oliver's narratives - however, based on the message written for me in the inside cover - I just need to learn some more German to be able to use it! I am very excited to make some good dishes from these recipes! ]

But my experience with the Sebode family made me appreciate the very special bond I had with my family here in Germany, and the exceptional and intimate experience of sharing Christmas with them and their traditions. Coming to Germany this year, I really came underestimating the challenges of living abroad - Japan, Finland, I've done this before - but my ignorance aside, some of the most eye opening experiences for me this year have been the ones that have challenged me to be a little more outgoing speaking German and meeting people but also - and I think the greatest challenge for a young adult, almost 20 and in college - is being a little more vulnerable and part of the family, but the rewards have been huge.

[ Andreas and Inge opening up some gifts from me including some surprises brought over from the states! ]

[ The Weihnachtsman even brought something for me ! ]

[ Moritz got some 'Moritz' beer ]

I have never been away from home this long and - as my dad made apparent in a recent call back home - this could be the only time that I experience Christmas with another family and in a new way, so take it all in. The reality of this doesn't hit you until after you are in the middle of singing around the tree, getting on a ladder to light the highest candles near the ceiling, trading presents and hugs and laughs over some inside jokes - at this point in the year, I am far from perfect in German, but definitely conversational, I feel much less as "the American" and more "Chris", and the entire holiday is forgotten to be viewed through lenses as a "cultural experience" - before you realize and look back, you were in the mix of real life and the entire new situation felt incredibly comfortable and nostalgic.

Singing "O' Tannenbaum" around the glowing and beautifully scented fir tree, and watching the cries of glee when the Weihnachtsman arrived, the entire evening was incredible. From the food to the gifts, to the hugs, laughs and beaming smiles that I only hope conveyed to Inge, Andreas, Moritz, Janna and the rest of the family how appreciative I was - my Christmas Eve in Germany became something that I truly will never forget.

1 comment:

  1. I love all your pictures. You better show me that Amerika book when you come back! -- ellis