We LOVE Christmas. The music, the food, the decorations, the feeling of hope and happiness that the season brings- it’s one of the best times of the year. And no where does Christmas quite like Germany. The Christmas Markets that pop up all over the city come the end of November are one of our favorite things about living in this country. We made it to quite a few of the markets this year including Alexanderplatz, Potsdammerplatz, the Kulturbrauerei and the one down in Potsdam with it’s special Polish theme. Beautiful booths with some unique goods as well as some yummy Polish cuisine! When we were down there we also took a stroll around the grounds of Schloss Sanssouci to work off all the tasty treats.
It’s a little sad to bid the markets “tschüss” now that the season has come to an end, but we frequented them plenty these past few weeks as well as enjoyed a variety of other Christmas parties, fests and traditions.
The conclusion of Thanksgiving means it’s Christmas music season. Dave and I both have a fondness for Amy Grant’s rendition of the Christmas classics- though we have different CDs we grew up listening to- so we heard a lot of her the past few weeks. We also spun through all the other hits via our ipods and 8Tracks playlists. These tunes are always best enjoyed with some fresh baked Christmas cookies and a glass of hot cocoa or glühwein.
The start of the advent season also calls for an Advent Calendar- again something Germany excels at! There are so many varieties of calendars and people get pretty creative with homemade ones as well. We went with a childhood favorite of mine- Playmobile and had a lot of fun alternating days in which we could open a new window and add some figures to our Christmas scene.
Christmas season also brought about good times with friends and we were able to celebrate on numerous occasions including a dinner party hosted by Max and Sachiko, the staff Christmas party at Phorms and a festive evening at my colleague and friend Sandra’s place. Always so nice to share in the festive spirit with good friends!
One of the major perks of working in education is the break between Christmas and New Years- always a much needed period of rest, relaxation and recharging of batteries. I finished up work on Friday the 21st and have a break until January 2nd! We decided to celebrate the holiday in Berlin this year and have been having a grand old time doing absolutely nothing!
The one big plan we came up with was to celebrate by coordinating and cooking “9 Feasts of Christmas”. Why 9? Who knows? Unfortunately I contracted a gross bacterial infection on my tonsils which put a little damper on excessive eating, but one visit to the doctor and a Penicillin prescription later we were back on track. We didn’t quite make it to 9, but did get in 7 delicious feasts. We rated and debated and decided that the top three were:
1. Christmas Day Feast- turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, gravy etc…
2. Americana- buffalo wings, cheese burger and fries (The burgers were so good we forgot to stop and take a picture!)
3. Deutschland- schnitzel, spätzle and German beer (Dave’s pick)
3. Small Bites Feast- jalepeno popper dip, stuffed mushroom caps, salami, cheese, crackers and olives (Adrian’s pick)
As you can tell food plays a big role in our holiday celebrations and all of the feasts were fun to plan (and eat!).
As the big day approached we finished up last minute preparations and gift wrapping and then spent Christmas Eve enjoying a variety of Christmas movies and drinking hot tea and coffee on the couch. In the evening we headed down to the American Church in Berlin to celebrate the real reason for the season and had a great time at their beautiful candlelight service. In additional to all the wonderful songs the pastor’s sermon was particularly compelling and focused on the theme of hope. After the service concluded we headed home for fondue, champagne and our favorite film- It’s a Wonderful Life.
The next morning we woke up, made breakfast and got down to opening stockings and gifts. Santa was particularly good to us this year:) Our favorite gift would probably have to be the awesome projector from Al and Melissa. We’d been thinking about getting one for awhile and we have to say watching movies projected up on our living room wall definitely beats a computer screen! Thanks again for such a great gift! We also got a great box of baking goods you just can’t find in Germany and some sweet gifts from my parents. I love my new Packers sweatshirt!
We also got some new books, movies, picture frames, a few beautiful sweaters and scarfs and much more! My big gift from Dave was a trip up north to a lakeside village called Waren. We left the on the 26th for a two night stay in a classy hotel called Hotel Harmonie. The hotel features saunas, steam rooms and spa services and a massage was included in my gift! We had a great couple of days relaxing in the saunas, playing games, walking around the old city center of Waren and hiking the surrounding lakes- completing a 10K hike Friday morning! It was wonderful to get outside the city, see another part of Germany and spend a few days in a pretty, peaceful spot.
We got back to Berlin late on Friday and have been enjoying our new projector, munching on leftovers and enjoying the last few days of 2012. We’re headed to a dinner party at Saskia and Mathieu’s apartment to ring in the New Year and then will try to catch some of the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl on the 1st before I have to return to work on the 2nd.
2012 has been a wonderful year. It was our first full year in Berlin and we saw and did so much. The major highlight has to be our engagement in March, but we have a lot of close seconds: our 8 week trek across the States visiting both coasts, the mid-west and attending 3 awesome weddings, the trip to Ireland for Dave’s birthday, the trip to Spain for Adrian’s birthday, family and friends visiting this Fall, exploring all the beer gardens of Berlin this past summer, Dave’s ski trip to the Alps, trips around Germany and Poland, Adrian finding a job at Phorms and many more!! We’re pretty damn lucky and quite thankful for all that 2012 brought, but are pretty sure 2013 is going to blow 2012 out of the water! Bring on the New Year!