I’m back from the beautiful state of Washington and I’m so excited to share this month with you. Because December was what I was looking forward to the most before I came here and I have to say that it was even better than I had imagined. So far the most exciting month! Nevertheless, there were some things that I learned during this time and things that I saw through completely different eyes. Things like my first American baptism, my first self-chopped Christmas tree, Christmas caroling and a professional cookie decorating workshop definitely contributed to that.
But as we all know, the Christmas season also has arrived!! Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays.. not only because of the piles of presents, but mostly because it’s always a time when the whole family gets together and you can feel the love all around.
However, to be completely honest with you, December was also a month where I thought a lot about my family and friends back home and wished I could be with them. But no matter how far apart you are, as long as you love each other, in your heart you are always together. And you can’t forget someone you hold in your heart!
But back to celebration! I have to say, the Christmas season and the holiday itself looks quite different over here and is adorned with very different, interesting traditions. For example, did you know that you put the presents under the tree as soon as you get them and not on Christmas Eve or Day? Or that Sant Nikolaus doesn’t even exist here? The advent calendar and wreath don’t really play a role here either, which is why you can’t even find any in most houses. It’s all pretty crazy when I think about the fact that I was only able to survive every day until Christmas through a little door in my calendar and I actually only cleaned my shoes once a year for Sant Nikolaus. 😉
But there is still hope… because one thing the Americans really like are many lights. Many and everywhere! As soon as November seems to end, the shops and houses are decorated inside as well as outside and sometimes
assembled into entire light art attractions. One of the best things about Christmas time here is definitely walking through the neighborhoods and looking at the houses decorated with lights! They also make another school attraction out of Christmas, so that we we had a Christmas themed week, where we dressed up in a different costume every day of the week before break. And a Christmas parade here in my town also takes place every Christmas!
Then the only thing missing piece to a perfect Christmas is snow and we had a real miracle here this year! After not even one snowflake until Christmas, everyone had already given up hope… but exactly on Christmas morning, the 25th, it started to snow and like little children we ran out and played in the snow, which sticked longer than a week!
That already cheered up the Christmas morning, which was actually a bit strange for me. I mean, the difference from having dinner dressed up and then unwrapping the presents to unwrapping the presents early in the morning in matching Christmas pajamas is pretty big. Also, it was my first time being a part of the secret circle of adults wrapping presents and stuffing stockings for the kids, since I was one of the oldest ones this year!
However, Christmas was not the only time I used the snow. Here in Washington, mountains are pretty common and close, which is why I went skiing alone with friends for the first time. Since we always have to go on vacation for a week in Germany, because we mostly ski in Austria or Switzerland, it was exciting to go for just one day. This day was definitely a real highlight and will definitely be repeated again in January!
Another real highlight of December for me, was in Seattle… I was at a Jim Gaffigan comedy show! I have to say that I had never been to a comedy show before and was surprised at how much I actually laughed. At least that night we were all out of breath and kept repeating the jokes for days afterwards! And being in a big city again did me a lot of good!
But what you’re probably still waiting for in my December story is New Year’s Eve! I can tell you right away that this holiday is also celebrated and spent quite differently here in America than in Germany. First of all, After 16 years of living I found out that day that lead-pouring is a German tradition and the Americans don’t even know what it is. And secondly, most of the fireworks here are saved for the 4th of July and not wasted on New Year’s Eve. That’s why you don’t just see the typical „rocket and firecracker sets“ in the shops, like you see at Lidl and Aldi in Germany. Here, the evening tends to be spent with music, games and movies, ending with a countdown and midnight toast. So actually almost like in Germany, just without the trash all over the streets and overloading hospitals ;).
So, especially this month, I really enjoyed the exchange between two cultures and was not only able to learn a lot, but also to tell and show my host family and friends a lot about our culture!
For me, the strangest thing about the whole thing was that I not only wished my family and friends at home Merry Christmas earlier, but above all that they were already 9 hours earlier in the new year than I was. So at 3 p.m. I wished them a Happy New Year, while New Year’s Eve hadn’t even started for us yet. Pretty crazy with the time difference!
With the last toast at midnight, my year 2021 was over and I can only say that it was a year full of exciting moments and ups and downs. A year of many decisions and the best I could have made.. 10 months of adventure! I hope that the last months of my year abroad and 2022 will go on just as good and even better than the last 4 months and as my resolution I want to make the best out of everything!
I’ll be in touch in the new year with countless more experiences from my adventure and for now wish you a happy new year!