That time there was no Christmas tree [Holiday recap]

Now what was that?? I don’t know about you but I can never believe how quickly Christmas passes again year after year. Within the blink of an eye it’s back to the daily grind of non-festiveness. Before that all rolls in, though, how about a marvelous little look back at Christmas 2014? Celebrated the untraditional way as you’ll see in a minute.

MiMM_new

Even for my family’s already unusual standards this year turned out to be a brea. Aside from maybe a few years during my [earlier] childhood* I don’t think my family ever had what would be considered a ‘classic’ Christmas celebration. Starting with a first glance at our tree

Tree top_Christmas 2014

* I still consider myself a child because as long as we have parents that’s what we are, no?!

One thing that remained the same, though, was our traditional dinner on Christmas Eve.  Thank goodness. Missing out on grandma’s Rotkohl would have legitimately broken my heart.  I mean it.  The obsession is so strong I couldn’t wait but have a bowlfull the minute we arrived at my parents’. There was more than Rotkohl on the menu, though. Semmelknödel [that my mum actually prepared the vegan way using soy flour in place of eggs as per my suggestion – she was a fan], potatoes, a vegan seitan roast my sister made from scratch, brussels sprouts and obviously dessert. But that one comes with a slightly deeper background story that I’ll share on Thursday for my next time thinking out loud.

Christmas 2014_dinner

I feel we need a little close-up of the Rotkohl goodness because it truly is the best. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my grandma to write down the recipe to share on the blog because she’s a little secretive about it and never prepares it the same way. Her cooking style is the classic grandma way: some of this, some of that and, oh hey, let’s add that jar of homemade jelly, too.

Holidays_2014 004

Untraditional was our tree. Now here’s the big change and major shock to me: we didn’t have a Christmas tree. Or not an actual one. Do you remember what I said about my family’s stance on fake trees? I’m not sure into which category this one would fall. Without my knowledge my parents and sister had decided to go a different route this year  [and possibly those to follow?!]. Say hello to our environmental-friendlier tree!

Christmas tree_2014

My grandpa, sister and mum built it using old ply woods and tree branches they cut or found in the woods. It was hard to get used to the idea for me but once lit in the dark room it worked a charm at lending at least some of the traditional Christmas cheer. First blogger fail here, though, because I got no proper picture of the lit tree.

Christmas 2014_elks

Traditional, however, was our family walk. Workouts fell wayside for me most days in favour of spending quality time with my relatives.  It used to be a major stressor for me in past years. But – maybe due to seeing everybody even less in between – I focused on enjoying the days getting in exercise when I could but not fretting about missing a day or two. And definitely not cutting back on food. It’s a short time of the year only after all and I knew my answer to any ‘healthy’ holiday advice telling me to up my exercise if I wanted to indulge. Thanks but no, thanks. That’s not what the holidays are about.

Family walk_christmas

It wasn’t until starting to write this post that I noticed I failed at taking pictures of my gifts. In my defense: I hardly took a lot of pictures in general this year. Don’t you agree we capture most memories of family time in our heads and hearts rather than on our cameras and memory disks in anway?

One more thing: this Christmas – for reasons unrelated to its untraditional ways – wasn’t the merriest I’ve had so far. But I’m all for looking on the bright – or: marvelous – side of things and choosing what I want to keep in mind the most. And there we have it: a short recap of my untraditional Christmas in the countryside. Now let me know about yours!

Happiness inducing today: My sister for listening and offering a different and encouraging perspective on some problems I’ve been facing. It always helps to share what’s on your mind with somebody else – we don’t need to know all solutions ourselves.

Stay in touch!

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Do you approve of our untraditional tree 😉 ?

Tell me about your Christmas days!

 

What was your favourite

a) food

b) part of the holidays overall?

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Christmas, actually

Talk about a late Christmas recap. What can I say? Does spending an all-around family weekend with nerve-wracking yahtzee thrillers [we’re addicted] and the equally fraught task of preparing a Strudel for dinner count as an excuse 😉 ? If not you’ll have to trust me I intentionally waited until today [truth!] because what could be a more amazing topic to talk about on this wonderful Marvelous in my Monday than Christmas? See, you can’t argue with that. Thanks to Katie for hosting us all throughout the year!

MiMM_new

The post title? That’s because, well, this post is all about our Christmas celebration and it’s hard to believe it is actually over again already. Way too early once more. Additionally, this year’s Christmas was unusual in a way. If I’d filled in the survey after  this year’s celebration my answers might have been slightly different. More on that in a second. And the title may or may not also show my fondness of a certain Christmas movie once more.

Advent wreath_grandma

We’re going backwards in this post saving the gifts for last [not judging you if you’re too curious scrolling right down to the end – or at least not much]. Because while our main celebration always is on Christmas Eve most family activites happen on the 25th when all relatives on my mum’s side come over to my grandparents’ house.

Golden_angel

By far one of my favourite parts of Christmas and every of our family gatherings at my grandparents’, actually, is our family walk along the beach. Yes, we’re those folks who bundle up and brave the weather for a walk under any circumstances. It’s been a tradition for as long as I can think and no visit at my relatives’ would be complete without the whole family bonding and chatting on those walks. The calmth of the sea. Unplugged and also elsewise distraction-free catch-up time with cousins, aunts, uncles.

Christm._walk

While we get to see and talk to each other all day long it’s during those walks that conversations really spark and get deeper. I hadn’t seen one of my cousins who moved to Austria for her studies in months so we were in dire need of catching up on each other’s lives. No better way to do so than while trudging through the sand, wind dishevelling our hair and watching the steady lively motion of the waves [can you tell I’m pretty fond of nature?]. Does anybody else feel conversations to be much more inspired when moving outside while talking? Maybe it’s the fresh breeze enlivening ourselves in the whole and sparking

Christmas beach walk

Next up on our regular schedule: cookies. And, oh well, let’s not forget about Torte [yes, I know it’s just called cake, too, but the German word implies so much more for me 🙂 ], Stollen and more cake. My grandma is going all out to make sure everyone’s experiencing a sugar coma ;).

Cookies_at_grandmas

Also one of the marvelous parts of Christmas? Many hugs by my grandpa. They’ve become even more precious to me after a health scare on his side several years ago. One moment can change the meaning of something as simple as a hug altogether. Maybe it’s sappy to say but family truly is the biggest blessing we get in life and while my Christmas had its annoyances and little flaws, too, I’m thankful for every moment I got to spend with my grandpa – and all other relatives. He’s the world’s best hugger – or at least the best known to me and that’s kind of the same thing, right ;)?!

Two of the changes I mentioned above was that my sister and I didn’t get to decorate the Christmas tree this year and – major break with the family traditions! – we didn’t throw the dice to determine who was allowed to unwrap a gift next. Here’s to hoping we’ll get back to it next year.

Christmas Tree 2013

Weihnachtsgeschenke

Does anybody else marvel at the fact that the older we get the less important the gifts under the tree become? Just thinking of how excited I was writing my wish lists weeks in advance and hardly being able to sleep the night before Christmas Eve makes me smile. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy receiving and especially giving gifts – but the additional sleep is much appreciated :). This year I hadn’t asked for any specific gifts which happened to be marvelous because I was even more surprised by every present I received. Not playing favourites but one of the most amazing presents this year would be …

PJ pants

PJ pants! And not just any: My mum knew I’d been unsuccessfully looking for new ones for a while and decided to sew me a pair shortly before Christmas Eve. Can you tell she knows me so well [colour and dots]? Just like her and my sister are quite the talented seamstresses meaning both of them bestowed not only me but every family member with their own handiwork. When transferring the pictures from my camera to my laptop I noticed I actually hadn’t taken any pictures of my presents on Christmas Eve 😯 – and hardly any pictures at all. We were clearly too busy fooling around and wearing hilarious santa hats ;). That’s why I hope you won’t mind a few quickly snapped pictures from today once more featuring the PJ pants in all their glory [thanks, mum]. All I can say is I felt spoiled – and happy my presents were well received, too. Especially since my dad truly approved of his gift, too – a huge relief.

Presents

Unsual also due to the fact it was just seven of us celebrating on Christmas Eve it was a special Christmas nonetheless. Borrowing a term by Kierston I can honestly say my heart was full. Filled with gratitude and love for all the memories made and family bonding time.

Happy last Monday of 2013!

Happiness inducing today: Watching my family’s delight and excitement when playing Yatzhzee – I love that crazy bunch of people.

What was one of your favourite gifts to give and receive this year?

Did you gift any homemade presents? I had the best intentions but ended up going the store-bought route once more. Just wait for it once the next birthday comes up, though :). I’m still taking recommendations for any occasion!

Who’s the best hugger in your family?

Thinking out loud #3

Merry Christmas once more! I think it’s still apt to say on second Christmas day, right?

We just returned from my grandparents’ place hence why I had part of this post pre-written before we left in case you’re wondering about the mix of pre- and post-Christmas ponderings. Expect more detailed Christmas posts during the next days. Now here’s for some Thinking out loud thanks to Amanda!

Thinking-Out-Loud

1. Does anybody else fall into the ‘post-Christmas blues’ or – to say it less dramatical – feel like there should be at least a third or fourth day of celebration added? The anticipation of a whole month of festive atmosphere – and then all of it is over in the blink of an eye. It’s obviously the same every year but I just can’t get used to it. “Finish on a high note.” – I never liked that idea. Especially not when it meant leaving people I love too early again 😦 .

2. Just to rebel a little I won’t be taking down my decorations all that soon. It’s nice to show Santa some respect for all the hard work he’s done the past days for a bit longer, don’t you think 😉

 Christmas_decorat.

3. When unpacking some gifts that I’d ordered shortly before leaving for our relatives’ place I spotted this little guy. If there’s any better sign of way too warm weather on Christmas Eve I don’t know it.

Ladybug

4. Almost as worse as a gift that doesn’t arrive in time is noticing just shortly before the celebration that a well-meant one doesn’t fit. Case in point: After Amanda reminding me of the Smartphone gloves in one of her previous Thinking out loud posts I’d ordered a pair each for my dad and sister as gifts. Only to try one on after opening said box above and … well … above scenario happening. Fits perfectly for my dad – whew! – but obviously not for my sister or me with our smaller hands. One size fits all? Definitely not, dear manufacturer!

5. Talking about the weather I’ll risk getting the stank eye but I was actually glad it was neither cold nor snowy. That’d have turned my favourite part of our family get-togethers a little rough. Want to know my favourite part? Our traditional beach walk. A necessity for every family get-together at my grandparents and an awesome time for long conversations and just an overall fun time with the whole family. Pictures to come for some Monday marvelousness.

Christm. Elks

6. Searching for last-minute Christmas dessert ideas I somehow came across this gem. Can we just take a short moment to talk about how unreal #11 [Biscoff, Nutella, whipped cream] and #29 are? I think I need a snack …

7. It’s no secret that Love, actually is my favourite Christmas movie [or maybe even generally favourite romantic movie]. Hence why I was really surprised – dare I say: shocked – when my mum who’d picked it up at the rental store told me she had to request the employee at the latter to dig it out of the back room. Yes, they’d in fact semi-‘retired’ the movie saying it was a bit older already after all. Seriously? The same store that has age old worn out video [not DVD!] cases sitting on their shelves?!

8. I didn’t mention starting yet another sticker book as part of a supermarket’s campaign. Too late, though, as the offer ends at the end of the year but still. Not to play favourites but I may or may not like this one [a lot] better than the last. Just one word: Disney.

Stickers

9. My sister and her husband are staying at my parents until New Years’ Day so I’m hoping fore family game nights to come. And at least one movie night with me finally watching The Holiday – yes, I still haven’t gotten around to it.

10. Proof #129375940 that my grandma is the best …

Grandma's cookies

Happiness inducing today: Christmas, obviously. But also my grandma sending me home with both a generous serving of her Rotkohl (!!!) and a jar of her homemade cherry jam [so so good].

Tell me about your Christmas celebrations!

How long are you usually keeping up the decorations after the holidays?

Last stop before Christmas [Tomorrow, children, just wait!]

Do any of you non-Germans actually know the song I’m alluding to with today’s post title? The translation seems a bit skeevy to me so I’d be happy if you could shed some light. Nonetheless, at least for us Germans it’s true: one more wake-up until the big day. What would be more suitable then giving you another insight into the way I celebrate(d) Christmas?  It’s a ‘Better late than never’ post: When I saw this survey on Amanda’s blog I knew I had to steal it and what would make for a more fitting last Marvelous in my Monday before Christmas?

Before Christmas…

Christmas card

Do you send out Christmas cards?
Don’t hate me but: no. It’s not that I didn’t like the idea. But my family never did and at least with the ones we received in past years most had a standard greeting that was repeated every year. If I care about somebody I’ll either call them on Christmas or write a longer letter.

How soon do you start shopping?
Never soon enough. Despite my best intentions that “this year is going to be completely different and I’ll start shopping/crafting at the end of October already” … it obviously never happens.

Do you have a lot of gifts to buy?
Luckily not this time around. One benefit of being single [there has to be one!] ]and my brother currently working abroad is that aside from my dad and grandpa there are no other guys to get presents for. Why are men so hard to buy for?

Do you bake cookies?
Does anybody not? Shame on them! Cookie baking is essential for me to truly get into the Christmas spirit.


Cookies

Decorations…

Do you put up a Christmas tree?
Sadly, no. We don’t celebrate at home so my parents didn’t see any sense in buying one. However, there will obviously be one at my grandparents’ house.

If so, is it fake or real?

Always always always real.

Do you like tinsel?
Oh yes! It’s sparkly, it’s Christmas-y – what’s not to like? But with no tree this year and a lack of decorations in general there hasn’t been any of that [so far], either. Why not pull it our for New Years Eve ;)?!

Do you use homemade or storebought ornaments?

It’s a mix of both. From straw stars and golden walnuts [hand-painted by yours truly 😉 ] to ball ornaments and little figurines – our trees are never following a certain decoration pattern.

Do you put Christmas lights outside your house?
Luckily, my dad has gotten us covered in that area of decorating and seeing those makes me smile whenever I get home from work.

Do you put lights on the tree?
Wait … does anybody not do it??? So: yes, definitely!

Christmas 2012_house



Christmas Eve…

Do you celebrate it?
Yes! Christmas Eve is the day of the main celebration in Germany. We get together with our relatives, decorate the tree together, have dinner and then play the dice when it comes to unwrapping gifts. Only those who get six eyes on the dice are allowed to pick up a gift.

Do you hang up your stocking?
Since we celebrate on Christmas Eve there’s no reason to hang stockings and we don’t open any gifts on the morning of 25th. I’d be curious to celebrate Christmas that way one day, though.

Have you ever left cookies out for Santa?
Another tradition our celebration on Christmas Eve has kept from us. If we had it over here, though, I’d make sure Santa wouldn’t leave hungry.

Christmas_candles



Favourite…

Christmas Movie?

Love, actually. I have to watch it every year no matter how often I’ve seen it before. This year, my mum was in for the fun. We watched it just tonight [Sunday] and agreed it was truly awesome.

Christmas Song?
As of Saturday evening I’d have to say ‘Santa Baby’ – a song I’d previously undervalued. But we can’t forget about ‘Walking in a Winter Wonderland’, ‘Santa Claus is coming to town’ and, oh well, a slew of others, either. If we’re talking about songs my family actually sings then ‘Leise rieselt der Schnee’ and Silent Night.

Christmas Memory?
Another tough one. How about one of the most special memories instead? That’d be Christmas two (three?) years ago when we had plans of driving to my grandparents’ just like this time. However, it started snowing like crazy on 23rd so my parents decided we’d be safer staying home and we might actually not have been able to take those snowy roads. We [the ‘children’] were disappointed at first but then my parents who had hardly even decorated up until then managed to set up an awesome celebration in a matter of hours. Did I mention I love them? And I got to pick out a tree with my dad which somehow has become a task the two of us take of every year we’re celebrating at my parents’ place. It’s a dad-and-daughter thing.

Christmas Cookie?
Do I really have to choose?! Okay, if there’s no way out then my grandma’s very special cookies that don’t even have a name – hm, I guess we should change that … They consist of a shortbread round spread with homemade jelly, topped with thinly rolled out marzipan, confectioners’ icing and a glacé cherry on top. I’ll try to remember to take a picture this year.


Decor

This or That…

Give or Receive?
Giving. Watching others peoples’ faces as they unwrap my presents to them and seeing them smile is making for the happiest moments under the Christmas tree.

Ham or Turkey?
None. Are you surprised 😉 ?

Star or Angel?
A huge golden star. Actually, though, only if we celebrate at my grandparents’ because the trees at my parents’ house usually went ‘naked’.

White Lights or Coloured Lights?
We’ve always had white ones.

Blinking Lights or Still Lights?
Still all the way. Not sure how long I could look at those blinking ones without getting a headache …

Were you Naughty or Nice this year?
Welll … I hope Santa doesn’t see and hear everything ;).  Really, though, I’d like to think a balance in between the two. The Santa I interviewed for my newspaper article consulted his black book saying I was nice enough. Fingers crossed he was right …

Little Santa

Presents…

What do you want for Christmas this year?
Will you believe I actually forgot to write a wish list this year? I have no idea what I’ll be getting. Right now I just hope for a great time with my family. It’s been too long since I last saw some of them.

When do you open your gifts?
All of them on Christmas Eve – occasionally some from relatives we meet on 25th.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever gotten?
Another tough one. Like many girls I was pretty fond of Barbie back in the day so maybe one of them …

What’s the worst gift you’ve ever gotten?
Just to clarify: we’re talking worst in terms of most useless here. So … sorry to the person who gave them to me [and my mum and my sister – so basically worst gift for each of us that year :shock:]: hand-crocheted scarves. Being extra kind and generous that relative bestowed us with a huge box of them – “Split them evenly among you, okay?”. Um, sure … Still, it was the thought that counted and that had been very sweet.

Do you like wrapping gifts?
This would have to be a two-part answer. First: yes, I absolutely like it. Call me odd but with the saying ‘a gift coming from the heart’ I feel the way it’s packed says a lot on terms of that. If the wrapper is loveless already it takes away  some of the joy in receiving the gift.
 Getting to the second part: I hardly ever wrap [Christmas] gifts. My mum came up with the sustainable idea of hand-sewn fabric bags using Christmas-themed cloth when we were small children still and we’ve been using them ever since. However, I do wrap birthday gifts so that’s where the loving packaging gets in there again.


Tree

Random…

Can you name all the reindeer?
No. But to excuse myself: we don’t learn that song over here. So … Rudolph … that’s about the only one I know ;).

Have you ever gotten a kiss under the mistletoe?
Well, no. I consider it a pretty sweet idea in movies and as an all-out romantic would ideally find my Prince Charming that way :D. Once more I don’t think the concept has spread around here [yet?] though I did see mistletoes on offer in a supermarket around here last week.

Do you go carolling?
No. I’m not sure if I got the translation right but it’s done by Catholics only, right? In that case: yes, it generally exists in Germany and a friend of mine did many years. But seeing as I’m Protestant I never did.

Do you drive around and look at the Christmas lights?
Maybe not intentionally but I do slow down just a little when driving past all-out decorated houses on my commute to work and back.

Have you ever had a white Christmas?
We had many white Christmas days though in past years they’ve become more of a rarity.

Who do you celebrate Christmas with?
It varies every year. Depending on where we celebrate [i.e. at my parents’ house, my grandparents’ or one certain aunt’s] and who’s around. Last year it was me, my two siblings, my parents, grandparents on my mother’s side, aforementioned aunt with her husband and two of my cousins, another uncle with his wife and little daughter. The whole family with more aunts and uncles as well as cousins traditionally gathers at my grandparents’ on 25th. This year it’ll be my family minus my brother [who’s abroad], my grandparents and an aunt on Christmas Eve.

Have you ever had your picture taken with Santa?
No. Please tell me I didn’t I miss out on much!

What part of Christmas do you look most foward to?
Meeting family members I don’t regularly get to see.  The whole cozy and festive atmosphere. Hugging my grandpa.

Christmas 2012 1

Happiness inducing today: Watching Love, actually with my mum.

Happy Monday to all of you and I hope you’ll have an awesome time celebrating Christmas with your loved ones!

It’s your turn:

What was your favourite or most memorable Christmas?

Who do you celebrate with?

What do you want for Christmas?

And I’d be curious to hear your answer to any of the other questions, too!