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My Christmas Holidays

ILKA.jpg

A little bit late but still I wish you all a happy new year! I hope that you had a good start to the new semester.

This past Christmas was different for me in many ways because it was the first Christmas that I did not spend with my family at home -  but here in Salem. Luckily a part of my family was here with me since my older sister Katrin came to visit me in Salem. For me Christmas is connected with many traditions and I always spend it back in my home city with family and friends. Since my three siblings and I all moved to different cities for studying and working we all return to my home city around the 22nd or 23rd of December. We are always looking forward not only to Christmas Eve but also to the morning of the 24th („Heiligmorgen“ – „holy morning“). It is a special day of the year because in my home city we have the tradition of gathering all together in the city center. All the students and young people that moved to other cities for studying and working meet up there on the Christmas market. The city center is small (only 2 big streets) so one has the chance to meet good friends and acquaintances that one sometimes has not seen since a whole year – and you can have a „Glühwein“ (hot wine punch) together.

We return back home around noon, have a snack for lunch and then usually go to church. In Germany Christmas eve is celebrated on the night of the 24th. So in the evening we first have a big dinner together (my parents, 2 brothers, my sister and me) before we hand out the presents. In my family we do not have a traditional Christmas dinner, but the past years we ate trout and sometimes (since my father is a hunter) we would cook some deer. Then we sit together for the whole evening and talk and eat homemade Christmas cookies. My family and I enjoy the Christmas holidays a lot because it is one of the rare times in the year that the family spends being all together (since we all live in different cities). In Germany the 25th and the 26th of December are also Christmas holidays and all the shops are closed, so it is a time to be enjoyed in the company of family and friends.

Meeting in the city center of my home town on the morning of the 24th

My brothers (Gunnar & Björn), my sister (Katrin) and me on Christmas eve at home (2009)

Our Christmas tree at home

This  past Christmas obviously was very different for me. My family was split in half: me and my sister here in Oregon and the others in Germany. My sister and I used the day of the 24th to go on a trip to Portland. We bought each other unique Christmas presents at the Saturday market and spent a great time walking through the wintery streets of Portland. And finally in the evening… I should get my Christmas dinner! When we returned back home Qian, Alba and Kazue were already preparing the most diverse dinner that I ever had on Christmas: Chinese dumplings, Japanese sushi and Lasagne! What a treat!

With all this delicious food and German Christmas cookies (Lebkuchen, Dominosteine ect) for desert, the evening cozily faded away. And I have to say, even though it was different from my usual Christmas celebration, I really enjoyed my Salem-Christmas. Thanks to Skype, my sister and I could also meet the rest of the family (on screen) to share some of our Christmas experiences. Directly after Christmas, Alba, my sister and I went on a road-trip. Starting in Las Vegas we had the chance to explore the Grand Canyon, San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Francisco! It was an amazing and unforgettable trip. Driving through the beautiful and impressive landscape of the south west and sight-seeing some of its’ greatest cities was great fun! That is why I am really glad that I spent the winter break here in the States!

International Dishes on Christmas

Christmas dinner in Salem

German Christmas cookies

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