It’s no secret that Christmas is my favorite time of year. I have four full size Christmas trees inside my home, many little ones scattered about the house and lights and decorations outside, too. I love the magic of the season and the opportunity to give gifts and spread cheer.
As a military brat, then active duty Airman I have loads of memories that do not involve big family celebrations at “home.” I’ve spent many years overseas during the holidays. Beginning with my first “outside the US” Christmas in Germany in 1975, I’ve made an effort to embrace local traditions.
I thought I’d take a moment, on this 2020 Christmas Eve, to share a few of my favorite holiday memories from the road with you.
Germany is magical at Christmas. Almost every town sets up some sort of Christmas market – whether it’s a Christkindlmarkt or a Weinachtsmarkt. Gingerbread hearts, little wooden ornaments and Gluhwein, a spiced wine sipped warm as you stroll from booth to booth. I’ve been back to Germany many times during the Christmas season and even took Greg back a couple of times … he’s hooked now, too.
Krakow has an amazing market at Christmas, too. Add in the Polish snow and you really get that holiday feeling.
In Prague, there are actually several small markets around the city. It’s another city that makes it easy to get caught up in the season of giving and joy!
As a mostly Catholic country, Italy wraps many of its traditions in the Christmas story. Greg and I attended Mass at the Duomo in Milan one year during Advent. It was fun to hear the Christmas story (the one from the Gospel of Luke) we all grew up listening to told in Italian in this magnificent, soaring structure.
A particularly memorable Christmas for me was the year my daughter was one. I was stationed in Italy at the time and had the chance to attend midnight Mass at the Vatican. Pope John Paull II actually came right up to me and blessed my little girl as she lay in my arms.
Children in London get to marvel at the windows of Hamleys. Once inside, they can crawl up onto the lap of Father Christmas to share their wishes before heading home to dream of Christmas morning. My daughter did … and as you can see enjoyed it immensely.
You’ve seen my pictures from Key West, where the tropical breezes can make it tough to remember it’s the end of December. But the sailboats light up at night and the famous lobster trap Christmas tree on the pier help keep the spirit of the season alive and the sound of “happy holidays” can be heard up and down Duval Street.
There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. Wherever you are this Christmas, may your spirits be bright and may joy fill your heart and home!
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