By Mallika Bhatia
Never did I imagine that my child would wake up at 5 a.m. just because she was excited for someone’s visit. She dislikes both ends of the sleep cycle: falling asleep and waking up. And yet I heard her call out to me and tell me in all her excitement that today is Nikolaus Tag!! Persuading her to go back to sleep while still half asleep myself, I hear her say, ‘But Amma, Nikolaus is coming to the Kindergarten today and he is bringing surprises for us.’
Up until three years ago, Nikolaus meant nothing to me. If I am honest, even his famous counterpart Santa did not hold a place in my heart. I always knew he wasn’t real and we never really celebrated Christmas while growing up. December 25th always meant a party at home with a delicious cake that my mother had spent months preparing for. My contribution to the cake used to be checking on the soaked nuts and peels every few weeks and topping the jar up with black rum every time. The cake would always be cut by my mother and brother together, while me and my relatives sang Happy Birthday for them. They shared their birthday and that was the most significant thing on the 25th of December.
The date changed its meaning when my daughter started going to a daycare in Germany. She got chocolates shaped as Santa and baked cookies with her friends; they would be visited by Nikolaus and received super sweet presents from their daycare. Christmas entered our lives with full force thanks to our child. The changes seemed gradual and yet they were drastic. Soon we lovingly embraced a new reason to celebrate and the very next year, our child had her first advent calendar. We had our own Christmas tree which we decorated with ornaments that we made ourselves. We hosted a cookie baking and decorating afternoon with friends and also got a few boxes of homemade Weihnachtsplätzchen as gifts. Friends invited us for a cosy Christmas dinner and suddenly Nikolaus meant something to me as well.
A new festival meant we can form our own Christmas traditions. We do little things together that make the festival special for us as a family. We almost never buy decorations for our tree. We try to make a new thing to hang every two days. Sometimes it is something as simple as a star cut-out of a shiny paper and at other times it is something a bit more complicated. We also use the art our child creates in her kindergarten to decorate our special tree. We DO NOT buy each other presents. Our child wakes up and rushes to the tree on Christmas morning, like most children do, and she always finds something special that is homemade. Last year she got two giant polar bear cookies that I had decorated and painted exactly to look like the animal. A year before there were chocolate and vanilla hedgehogs. I bake a cake, just like my mom, but have replaced the rum for fresh orange juice for now.
We start our day with milk and cookies and follow it up with video calling my mother and brother to wish them well on their special day. We watch a movie together, all tucked into a blanket with a hot chocolate in our hands and have super sweet dreams of the coming new year that night.
Mallika Bhatia is Life Coach with a Master’s in Clinical Psychology and a Diploma in Hypnotherapy, with more than 13 years of experience in this field. She is a writer, a blogger, and a published author with regular dedicated columns in two National Dailies in India. She also manages The Hope Tribe, a platform to share true stories of people who overcame obstacles and became real heroes. She practices in Munich at her office in NeuHarlaching or over Skype/FaceTime. Her website has more details about her work & for regular doses of wisdom, like & follow her on Facebook.