I

From steaming mugs of glühwein and sausages that melt in your mouth to choirs singing Christmas carols and bells that toll at midnight, Christmas in Berlin is magical. The city may have fewer hours of sunlight and more gray skies, but the holiday cheer is evident all over.

My final Christmas market count was five (but I did one twice), and they all had unique aspects. The first one I went to had these German “gnocchi” called schupfnudeln.

The second one was on my birthday and required a twenty minute walk through a forest to get to it! The third one had live music. The fourth one was set at a palace. The fifth one was a trail of lights at the botanical garden!

I wish the US would adopt this tradition, because it’s very special to wander around the markets with friends and drink and eat and be merry as the year draws to a close.

II

New Year’s Eve is a holiday that can become more overlooked and unimportant the older you get. It can be seen as a young person’s holiday or a night to sit on the couch and watch tv as The Ball drops in New York City while you struggle to stay awake until midnight. Not in Germany!

From the time Christmas ends, fireworks can be heard in the streets. If fireworks are illegal within the city limits, as they are in so many US cities, no one enforces it. Steadily, it builds up until it culminates on NYE with a celebration so big and so long that I stood on a rooftop for an hour with my mouth hanging open as I was awed by a 360-degree show.

This isn’t government sponsored. The city residents have purchased their own massive arsenals of professional fireworks and go about lighting them off for as long as they last. This is a completely self-initiated celebration of another year lived and a new year to come, and it is beautiful.

III

I had the honor of spending Christmas and New Year’s with friends from all over the world. My friend Helen, from Austin but now living in Morocco, flew in to see her parents for the first time in seven months. My friend Carolyn, from Austin but now nomading all over the world, came to celebrate. My friends Pina and Julie from Edinburgh flew in to ring in the New Year, and I even had a few local friends who got to celebrate with us.

This holiday season turned out to be much warmer and family-filled than I could have ever imagined. A Chriss-a-miss miracle!

IV

Big News: I’m coming home!

I’ll be stateside Jan 17-Feb 9! Jan 18-Feb 1, I’ll be in Arkansas, and Feb 2-6, I’ll be in Austin! Get your hugs ready!

V

I’d love to hear how you spent your holidays and what magic you found. I’ll end this update with a video of my December told one second at a time.

Happy New Year!

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