Monday, December 12, 2011

A tree and some blessings

Merry Christmas.
As of yesterday, Christmas is only two weeks away.  Two weeks! Can you believe that?  Before we know it, it will have come and gone.  I am trying to soak up every last minute of the season--it is my first Christmas that I am staying in Germany since I have moved here and have had a place of my own--but it is harder than you think on a teacher's schedule.  There are exams to be created and graded, ill teachers to fill in for, cookies to make buy as little treats for my classes.  I can't wait til next week when I more or less begin my holidays.  My plan is to savor every minute at home in front of my tree with Christmas music, Glühwein, candles and plenty of gifts to wrap. 

I often complain about not being home for the holidays, but the truth is, there is really no place I would rather be this Christmas than right here in northern Bavaria.  (Of course, I wish my family would hop on a plane and join me here...they would be in for a Christmas treat!)  When people ask if I am going home this year, I say no and try my best to look disappointed.  But the truth is, I am not.  Don't get me wrong, I love going home, but Christmas in California is hectic and just a little too warm.  It can be more trouble than it is worth to go for a holiday. Besides, I am excited and happy to be staying here this year.  It is the first time Peter and I are spending Christmas in our home and it has so far been the most heartwarming, wonderful experience. 

I have done my very best to create a real grown-up Christmas for us.  I was getting a little tired of the unsettled feeling of Christmases past and decided it was time that we act like adults and have Christmas traditions of our own.  Up until this year in my life everything has felt so temporary and Christmas always reflected that.  I never had a tree or decorations of my own.  I never put any effort into making wherever I was living Christmassy.  I always knew I was going home, that my Christmas tree was there, or for the last few years, in Peter's parents home.  I still felt like a child, reliant on parents to make Christmas special. 

All that has changed this year and I have taken everything into my own hands.  I have put time, effort and money into making my home homey, into making it feel permanent.  And I have done the same, now in December, to make it feel Christmassy.  I have started to collect Christmas decorations that I can box up and store in the basement until next year.  I have bought strings of lights and a Christmas tree stand that I can use for years to come.   I have committed to this place, at least for a little bit longer, and have definitely committed to this man. 

The perfectly perfect tree.

I bought our Christmas tree on Saturday.  I negotiated the transaction in German and conversed with the man who helped me carry it home, explaining to him my Christmas traditions and asking about his.  I piled on ornaments which belong to Peter and I and nestled it into the corner.  It is a beautiful tree--perfect in every way.  Unlike many German trees, it is tall and lean and quite dense.  There are a lot of branches that stick out randomly, making it look very natural and woodsy.  It is slightly too big for our apartment, but it fills the space with love and joy and is representative of so much more than the holiday it is known for. 

This year, our tree is a symbol of love and commitment.  It is a symbol of building a life together and of permanency.  It is a symbol of growing up, getting older and creating and living a life that is your very own.  It is a symbol if appreciating and loving your roots but of moving and creating your own traditions with the people that you have come to know and love.  For me it is a symbol of a full heart.

At the moment, sitting on the couch, looking at the tree.
This post has gotten a little sappy, but it's been a really big year for me.  As I am writing this now, I am sitting on the couch, looking at the tree and it almost brings tears to my eyes.  I am so thankful for this tree, for this year and for everything that has happened.  I am so thankful for the courage to stay, even when it seemed impossible.  And I am thankful for every moment this Christmas that I get to sit back enjoy life, spend time with people I love.  

Christmas sure has brought me a magical gift this year; I hope it brings you one, too. 

Positioned just between the living room and dining room so you can see it from both!
With stockings and a garland on your makeshift fireplace.  This room is too cute and cozy isn't it?  I love the slanted, paneled ceiling.

A cute ornament from my mommy!

A pretty glass ball from grandma Dettling hanging in the window.

Looking towards the dining room. 

The "fireplace" and couch. 


Anonymous said...

Jamie, this beautiful. I wish I could've had a tree like this this year! We can't even spend Christmas together. I'm so happy for you though. I want to re-read the post now and tear up myself!

Kendall Marie said...

Jamie, I love this post, it really resonated with me. This year I am feeling the same way about being an adult and making christmas our own way. Dont get me wrong, I love going to my parents and my in-laws, but the joy in christmas gets lacking when we are running around and driving back and forth. This year we are going for a more relaxing approach, more time at home together, enjoying our life and having a Christmas together.
its so hard when you have family obligations, but im trying this year to have more time for our little families christmas. :) I hope you and Peter have a great christmas! I love hearing about your new traditions! xoxo

James said...

Hi Dana,

Thanks for your sweet comment. I am sorry to hear that you and Derek won't be together for Christmas this year, but the beauty of being in love is that you can expect to be together next year over the holidays :-)

BTW, thanks for the shout out on your blog! I am going to add it to my list of favorites. I LOVE reading about library stuff.

Kendall, I definitely noticed this year how far we've all come and how much we've grown up. It's so nice to hear that you are starting your own Christmas traditions. I'd love to hear about some. As we get a little closer to Christmas, I will share a few more of my and Peter's newly established traditions. There is something so beautiful about taking some time out to really appreciate each other.