By Jordan Sapir
The holiday season, whatever that means in your traditional sense, whether is be Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Christmas, is for family and togetherness. Well, at least in the fairy tales. In real life we have disagreements with our loved ones, children, gain weight, eat poorly and overspend. We’ve equated celebration to eating and spending and it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. No matter what your religious beliefs or moral views are on the holiday season, we all can agree that it would be best celebrated in peace.
As expats (how many times will we read that sentence), we have the advantage of re-inventing holidays. Those of us who are lucky enough will go home to visit friends and family. Those of us with German spouses and or families will most likely stay in Germany. What a great time to re-evaluate what the holidays mean to us and start new traditions.
There were a lot of things I loved about the holidays with my family in America. One of them being volunteering at the soup kitchen on Thanksgiving before we sat down to eat our meal. This taught me empathy and appreciation. No matter what happened that evening, the disagreements, the overeating, in the back of my head I always appreciated that meal more than ever, along with the understanding that not everyone was not as fortunate. Most years I made a vow to volunteer more. On the contrary, going to my grandmother’s house was a chore and her mean-spirited disposition made everyone miserable. The long drives in snow storms to satisfy everyone was emotionally consuming.
These memories are for your kids what they were for you. Take the good and the bad, put your own selfishness aside and establish what traditions you feel will be valuable to your family and dump the rest.
We are mothers now and as the matriarch we can decide what traditions we want to maintain and which are for the birds.
With the holiday season underway, make note of the traditions that are here. Venture out into a Christmas Market, go visit the bakeries for traditional fair, celebrate St. Nikolas and other traditions here in Germany.
There is no single season for happiness and cheer. Hold close to your heart your many fortunes and be appreciative and recognize that you have a significant influence on what your children will think the holidays mean.
Celebrate, embrace, cherish the love happiness and privilege we are awarded as mothers and expats.
Whatever your holiday is his season. Enjoy.