The holidays this year was probably the best I've ever had in my adult years. Living half way across the world from my family always leaves me torn through the holidays. Family is always split, I am never getting to see everyone I want and usually I end up sad and depressed and missing my family on Christmas morning. But not this year! This year I went to my family and my family came to me! So it began with….
My lovely cousin Heather, who I see far to little of, hosted thanksgiving at her house this year in Jacksonville. It was wonderful. We spent a few days on the beach before thanksgiving started and just enjoyed ourselves. I got to see Maks and Eli for the first time and we spent the mornings playing on the beach, pretending the ocean was lava and the sand was safety while drinking (me) pumpkin spice lattes.
We went to my aunt Rebecca's new shop and my cousins Heathers new shop (different one) and shopped until we dropped. But the best part was surprising my whole family with our presents. My family didn’t know Uli and I were coming, and man were they blown away.
For thanksgiving day aunts and uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces all gathered together to celebrate. The kids played with the new train set my mom brought over while the big kids and adults celebrate in traditional American fashion while watching football, stuffing ourselves with appetizers and catching up with each other until the big din din was ready. The meal was just what I was dreaming of back in Germany… and the company along side it was amazing. Everyone seemed to have a good time. Got time with my TALL, handsom cousins, played with the little ones and laughed as I watched my dad sink more and more into the sofa until eventually he just fell asleep… for two hours. HA. It was just lovely. Thanks Big H for a great day!
And yes... Caroline and I shamefully woke up at the crack of dawn for blackfriday....at least we got crowns.
ADVENT IN ATLANTA
My sister Caroline and her family decided this year to focus more on advent as a family then a big celebration on the 25th. They invited Uli and I to be part of it and we were honored. To start the festivities off we all went out together and picked out a beautiful christmas tree on the first of December, which Eli and Maks pulled back home on their beautiful new red racer wagon my grandparents gave them for an early christmas present.
We brought it home and decorated it ever so beautifully. Misha hung the lights and garland while caroline helped the little ones decorate the tree and my dad enjoyed our german eggnog we brought him ;) I watched from the teepee as Eli got to hang the star this year and Uli and I got to laugh as he was so scared at the height.
Over the next two weeks we would gather together at nights (after long days in the studio recording, this was so nice), read a passage from an advent book Misha bought to teach the boys about christmas and one new family member got to open up a little gift. It was absolutely wonderful. We ended our time in Atlanta by going to the "Festival of Lights” in the botanical gardens. Beautiful christmas lights covered the trees as we walked through with hot chocolate and apple cider. Maks and Elis loved the train and the shouting out which colors the lights were (they are learning colors and numbers right now.) The best part of the evening was when Eli walked past the professional carolers screaming “merry christmas!” They responded by asking him what song he would like them to sing, to which he responded “Jingle Bells!” As they agreed and began to sing, Eli took this as his cue to get up and join in. Which of course… Maks proceeded to follow. There were my 4 and 2 year old nephews standing in the middle of the performance with the rest of the carolers singing at the top of his lungs “jingle all the way!" This got more attention then anything else in the gardens and by the end of the song 40 people were clapping and cheering “man, who are these awesome kids?!” to which I shouted “MY NEPHEWS!”
Having thanksgivings, advent and “express Christmas” with my family was incredible. When it was time to go back to Nürnberg… I just couldn’t leave my family behind, so I brought back with us my momma : ) Having my mom fly back with us was such a treat. The flight alone was so fun. Finally I had someone to watch the same movie with, and hold a conversation with me on a 8 hour flight. Sorry Uli, you know you are terrible at engaging on flights…I still love you.
CHRISTMAS IN NÜRNBERG
The week before christmas with my mom was absolutely perfect. We went shopping for foods and splurged on good meats and cheeses, wines and sweets for the week. We made new dishes every night. Some mom taught me, some I taught her. We baked pies, took the tram to and from the city, got and decorated our christmas tree, and had fun hanging out in our little apartment and decorating it for christmas.
We took mom to her first ever christmas market. She ate her first brat, drank her first gluhwein, and bought the cutest nutcracker for the boys. It was such a magical Christmas week.
Christmas eve my mom decorated the table, so beautifully (was wonderful having her here to help and not doing it via Skype like we do every other year.) Uli was in the kitchen with his mom (like he is every christmas) on the phone cooking the goose. We lit the christmas tree as we always do to welcome the birth of jesus, read the christmas story and thanked the Lord for the life he gave to us.
We hosted our traditional “Mannchen Christmas Dinner” with our guest the Pools and Tefts. When our guest arrived we had baked brie and pears. Stuffed mushrooms. And good wine. Our feast was made up of the best goose Uli ever made, dumplings, my grandmas mac n cheese, butter nut squash, green beans and the traditional: TO MUCH SAUERKRAUT. We ate until Taylor was so stuffed her crawled to the sofa to lay down. But then I stuffed everyone even more with pies and eggnog… muahahha. We took pictures at our “photo booth”, opened presents, rubbed Kristens belly (she’s pregnant.. just to clarify) and celebrated the birth of Jesus and the birth of baby teft, who now will be called "Hay-Soos”.
Christmas morning we three hobbled out of bed, opened presents and welcomed Uli’s family who arrived with lots of food and presents. The rest of the day we spent together as one big happy family. Having Uli’s family and my mom in one room just about made us the happiest kids alive. BEST CHRISTMAS EVER.
My birthday, December 27th was also perfect. We took my mom to the airport at 5:30 am… which was beautiful because we saw the sunrise come up over the snowy hills as we drove to Munich. On the way home Uli gave me my presents to open in the car. It was so sweet. At home we plopped on the sofa, watched home alone and fell asleep by the lit christmas tree. Later that day the pools came over and we all went to see the hobbit in our Pj’s, and ended the night with sushi and sparklers in the snow... which came just for me : ) Was nice spending my birthday with friends, I so rarely get that because of the day my birthday is on. It all was perfection. Thank you Uli for this day.
The holidays were so dreamy. I got it all. Time in america with my family, time here with my family, time with Uli’s family, time with my friends. I mean… just perfect. I always want to be able to teleport, and I finally think it happened this year! Thank you Jesus for an incredible holiday season. What a perfect way to finish off this year!