I’ve fought the Christmas post. I have. There’s no way to spin a Christmas post in a way that hasn’t been spun before: I’ve mentally written and rewritten, but by the end of it, I’m always either a Scrooge or a Buddy the Elf, heartlessly cynical or mindlessly feel-good. Really, I feel myself to be more the father-in-A-Christmas-Story type – I like a good Christmas, but also, I’m in it for the turkey. A nice medium.
But since I obviously have so far failed to channel this voice of reason (and besides, that particular voice has already used up the good lines. “Fra-gee-lay. Must be Italian”), I’m just going to take the path of least resistance, slap a title on this blog that could just as well be the title to a dysfunctional family Christmas comedy, and we’ll take the feel-good route. So grab a cup of cider, hunker down in your one-horse open sleigh, and off we go!
Christmas has always retained an element of the Santa Claus. Even after my parents sat me down and broke the news to me (a sad sort of milestone in any child’s life, but mine was sort of cutened up by my response: I cried and, through my tears, asked if Kyle knew), Christmas has always just sort of happened. I buy a few gifts, I bake a few cookies, sure, but other than that, the chaotic family gatherings, the Christmas tree, the lights on the house, the parade of stop-motion Christmas specials on TV are all going to happen, irregardless of how much effort I exert to make sure that it all amounts to the Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Santa Claus might as well drop presents down the chimney, for all I knew.
But then Christmas season started to roll around this year, and I realized with a sort of sinking feeling that the halls don’t deck themselves. And with the arrival of a boyfriend impending, I felt, for the first time ever, the weight of making sure that Christmas feels like Christmas, an especially tough task when you can’t buy a tree, you have no capacity to bake a single gingerbread man, you’re not surrounded by family, and radio stations aren’t blaring “Last Christmas” at you like it hasn’t been out since 1984.
At first I thought it would be okay. BFF Monica and her BF were going to fly in for a few days, and we imagined ourselves having some sort of sophisticated ex-pat X-mas, and I wouldn’t have to worry much about food because gastronomically speaking, the two of them make up for everything Joe and I lack. And more importantly, I’d have someone here to share the blame with if Christmas just sort of didn’t show up to our dinner party, the floozy.
But then Monica’s visa application fell through, courtesy of the British Bureaucracy that Stole Christmas, and we were both left to tackle the Holidays on our own.
My Christmas spread out on my dining room table.
And I’ve tried my darndest to tackle them: I made a Christmas tree out of construction paper and glitter and set presents to my teachers underneath; I made the fried pecans my Grandpa makes every year (considering the still-charred kitchen ceiling in my parents’ kitchen, no small feat); I’ve prepared lessons on Christmas in America; I’ve searched for recipes that will amount to a memorable Christmas feast for two while still adhering to my strict two-burner policy; I’ve googled and googled for videos of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer to, as of yet, no avail; and if the radio won’t blast “Last Christmas” for me, I’ll do it myself, gosh darn it.
But then I found that, despite my determined, if forced, “Christmas! Will! Happen!” efforts… Christmas happened anyway. Like cuckoo clockwork, it snowed the day after Thanksgiving, and Germany transformed into a giant gingerbread village, and the local Fulbrighters and I have, accordingly, been on a Christmas Market rampage
Lebkuchen at the market in Frankfurst
(current tally: 10, with at least 3 more in the foreseeable future). As if this town couldn’t get any cuter, I was handed a piece of chocolate at the post office when I sent off a post card. Advent wreaths and calendars and concerts have been springing up, and lebkuchen has been making a regular appearance in the teachers’ lounge. My parents sent over some presents to make sure I’d have something to open on Christmas Day, a gesture that made me tear up, and one student, when asked what he’s wishing for this Christmas, said “A laptop and more of those pecans.” Joe insists that this Christmas will be a memorable one even without family/traditions/gift exchange, because we’ll be together, and, you know, in Germany. And come to find out, Germans love “Last Christmas.”
And if I can’t be around family this Christmas, that’s the best I could ask for (neverminding the Monica’s visa bit): a beautiful and bauble-bedecked area, a family to miss this Christmas, a boyfriend coming to spend the holidays with me.
And now feel free to cue to the final scene of any Christmas movie ever made.