Christmas has come and gone and I haven't written anything about it. I intended to write about many traditions, either those of my family or generalized German Christmas traditions. I wanted to write a post about the lighting of the candles on the Advent wreath. I had hoped to share with you our adventures at the various Christkindlmaerkte (or Weihnachtsmaerkte) this year. I planned to describe the differences in Christmas trees (ours needing sturdy branches set further apart so we can attach the candles) and to highlight Katarina's performance in our church Singspiel on Christmas Eve. But a long battle with tonsillitis and preparing for the holidays, among other things, allowed the time to slip right through my fingers. So, let me begin where I am now--in this moment, on this day. December 28.
Here I sit, once again reminded how quickly time goes by. On this day at seven-something in the morning 10 years ago, my family landed at the airport in Frankfurt to start a new adventure. Stefan already had a job lined up and we had a place to stay. Other than that, we had nothing but 3 suitcases and some hopes and dreams to get us started. We weren't sure how long we'd stay, if things would work, if life would be better, worse, or the same. There were only a few things we were certain of--that no matter what, we had each other, that it was extremely cold, and that I had to start learning German ASAP. To some people it might sound crazy. Why leave the states? Why put oneself in such a position? Why, why, why? They are fascinated by our choice and always have a million questions.
In actuality, my life hasn't changed all that much. As they say, the road hasn't changed, just the scenery. I still enjoy jamming to my music, LOUD, while Stefan is working and Katarina hopefully learning something at school. After all, who can clean without music? Not me. I still like to read and write and take walks through the woods. I love watching the clouds and sunsets. And hanging with friends. Enjoying good food and wine also tops the list (and the hips). I suppose some things in life never change.
On the plus side, unlike in America when Stefan was often away on business and working endless hours, I get to see him every day after work. Also, he gets 6 weeks vacation each year and we have more public holidays throughout the year. You can't beat that! Where people at home seem to "live to work" the philosophy here is more "work to live".
One thing that took getting used to is the store hours. When we first came, they closed at 6 on a weekday. That was tough. They have since extended their hours to 8 in the evening, some places to 10. They are still closed on Sundays. But that's okay. I just plan ahead. And that gives everyone more family time on the weekend. We can going walking in the woods, have a picnic, ride bike (bicycle paths are everyone and there is no risk of riding alongside cars). And in Germany in summer, there is always a Fest going on to keep one entertained. The downside--there are things I don't like about the school system, but hey, that's another post all together.
All that said, this venture has brought some challenges, but I've learned many things, had some great experiences. I wouldn't trade that in for anything. So...does that mean I am never moving back? Maybe, maybe not. If there is one thing I've learned most is that plans are just that. Plans. Nothing is definite. Fifteen years ago I never thought I'd live here. Ten years ago, I never thought I'd still be here in 2010. Ten years from now, who knows? I don't even think about it much. There is so much going on in the here and now. Lately, I think why not live in the present, enjoy the moment, because as we all know, this moment will soon be long gone.