I know I haven’t always been your biggest fan and for that I am sorry. It’s really not your fault that you’ve become so commercialized. And even I can admit that it was unnecessary for my three-year-old self to deny your existence so loudly and so publicly. But, in spite of my skepticism, you really came through for me this year and so this is a thank you note (bet you don’t get many of those, huh?).
|Christmas Eve in Stade|
Truthfully, I sort of expected Christmas to suck this year. Of course I know that Christmas is really about celebrating the birth of Jesus and while I appreciate that on a number of levels and know that Jesus will be with me wherever I go, it was still hard to picture the holiday thousands of miles from the ones I love most. Plus, you’ve tasted my mom’s cookies so you know they’re worth being home for…
But, miraculously, Christmas didn’t suck. In fact, I got to spend it with a dear friend who flew all the way from Spain to spread a little holiday cheer. Since Hannah and I lived together for two years in college we already know most of each other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies, plus we have a lot of shared history so it was almost like being with family. Besides, Hannah has all the qualities a person could want in a Christmas Away from Home Companion: she’s a good conversationalist, willing to improvise and basically fearless.
|The church decorated for Christmas|
Not only did we make Christmas dinner, exchange gifts, go ice skating (I fell a lot but it was still fun!) and chat endlessly about our newfound European lives, but we even attended a Christmas Eve church service here in Stade. The church was packed! People were even sitting in the aisles and on the floor. Hannah and I ended up in the balcony with a bird’s eye view of the entire thing. And while neither of us understood much, I was genuinely touched when we started to sing Silent Night in German. It reminded me that the Christmas spirit doesn’t live in one language.
In the midst of my safe and happy Christmas traditions I sometimes forget that Mary and Joseph were out of their element on that first Christmas, too. But I remembered this time… and since you are always traveling for the holiday, I think you might have had something to do with sending a little extra joy and understanding to a tiny apartment in Germany this year.
|Hannah and I enjoying Christmas dinner|
From the bottom of my overflowing heart: thank you.
Here’s to Believing Again,