… on the 1st day of Christmas…

I used to love the season coming up to Christmas. Ok, so in South Africa you spend Christmas sweating through it, with watermelons, fresh salads, a braai, loadshedding and the obligatory layered trifle that is soaked in alcohol.

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Lekker Braai 🙂

I grew up with German and South African traditions. Normally some family member had a plastic tree hidden away that was crammed out and decorated in bright red, blue and green tinsel. My dad, having grown up in Germany, however insisted on getting a live tree – with the lack of traditional Fir trees in Africa we ended up with a thorn tree decorated in tinsel.. (sorry for those who love it, but I find green, red and yellow shining plastic not very attractive… 😂) This included him actually going out to look for a tree, cutting it down, loading it onto a bakkie (South African Puck up truck) and then positioning it in the living room we had. Then came the decorations and after that a significant layout of a nativity scene. This was his speciality… our nativity scenes even had a little fire to warm the shepherds while they were looking after their sheep! AND, the wise men and shepherds magically used to move around the scene overnight until they reached Joseph and Maria with baby Jesus. It was quite extravagant!

My favourite Christmas Memory was the time we spent in Germany one year with my Aunt. My brother and I experienced the whole process, and in Germany Christmas is a process starting on the first Advent. We went on the St. Martins procession with Lanterns and Saint Martin in his white and golden Robe on a white horse (in November). We got sweets and cookies on Nicolaus day, and were told by my aunt to stop being naughty otherwise we would get a shoe full of coal. Building a gingerbread house and eating it… I will never forget the smell of Christmas Cookies in the oven – German Christmas baking is a smell that is beyond amazing, ask anyone who has a German heritage and who got to know the uniquely delicious smell of Lebkuchen in the oven.

It was however happy times and happy memories, experiences which faded as we grew older and my family split ways, memories I desperately clung to as an awkward teenager. As I was the oldest, I was the only one who really remembered those days.

As a grown up I developed my own little rituals, I started baking, and I really enjoy the time leading up to Christmas with all the different things to do, time spent with Family or friends on Advent Sundays around a cup of coffee and some baked goodies.

This will be the 3rd Christmas after my Mom passed away, the last Christmas we spent together was here in Germany. It was a special, although short, time for both of us and I was fortunate enough to really spoil her during her time here as well as giving her the opportunity to visit her brother in Berlin who she has not seen in years.

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Mom at the Berlin Wall

While I am still trying to find my way in mourning a mother, especially during this time, it is the good memories that I will stay true to and honour during this time. I sometimes feel as if I go through the motions and half-heartedly try and maintain an assembly of normality with visiting the Christmas markets or joining in the festivities around this time in Germany that I am so fond of.

So during this time of shared family time, despite the old family quarrels and disagreements that mostly come up during the festive time, treasure one another. Spend time with those that you love, because one day it was the last holiday spent together, the last show, the last laugh, the last smile, the last irritated eye roll.

I wish everyone a blessed and wonderful Advent time!

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