Berlins and Outs

“Maybe We’ll Spend Christmas in Berlin”

Before E was even offered the job that brought us to Berlin, my mom and I started daydreaming about it. 2018 had just begun and I was experiencing some new year’s melancholy, and my mom commented, “maybe next year we’ll spend Christmas in Berlin!” It was a nice daydream, and I told her not to jinx it.

Christmas in Berlin

She didn’t. Obviously. But it still felt kind of amazing when the holidays rolled around and we were actually here in Berlin. My mom came to visit for three weeks — starting in mid-December and staying through the New Year. And my brother and his partner arrived two days after Christmas and stayed for a week. It was fun (and exhausting!) hosting everyone in our apartment and it made for a really special holiday season.

Family selfie

My brother and his partner live in Vancouver, and E’s older siblings live in Hawai’i, but most everyone else we know and love resides in New England. Living far away from the majority of our family and friends has changed the way we spend time with them. We spent our trip to New England last October running around and meeting up with as many people as possible. It was all short, intense bursts of togetherness.

Having friends and family come and stay with us also makes for intense togetherness — we have to make this time count because the rest of the year we are several time zones away from one another! It’s fun, but it’s also hard to balance the need for leisure time with feeling like we have to do everything now because who knows if/when we’ll all be here again. Okay, that last bit sounds morbid. All I want to do is highlight the uniqueness of time spent traveling with people you love.

A Christmas day hike

Maybe E and I won’t live in Berlin long enough for my family to come back and visit at the same time again. Maybe that restaurant we like will have closed or changed its menu. E and I will almost certainly live in a different apartment — maybe it will be in a different neighborhood. Maybe E and I will have kids and our family will grow and it will never be the five of us again.

The five of us rode the Ferris wheel at one of the Christmas markets in Berlin and had a view of the ice skating rink below

I wrote about this idea several years ago, when I got home from Senegal. How every trip is so unique to the time and the place and the people you share it with. But when I think this way I end up down an existential rabbit hole because every moment is specific and special and you can never get it back and wow my brain is an exhausting place to live.

Anyway… I had a really nice holiday season! And I’m so grateful to my family for coming to Germany to share it with me and E! And I’m looking forward to all the adventures 2019 has in store for us! To wrap up, here are a few more photos:

My mom and I spent a couple days in Wrocław, Poland eating pierogi and taking photos of the dwarf statues around the city.
We didn’t end up spending Christmas day proper in Berlin after all. My mom, E, and I took a trip to Bavaria and spent the day with the Alps instead.
A hearty Bavarian Christmas dinner!
Bavaria really delivered on the whole winter wonderland thing
We spent New Year’s Eve in Hamburg visiting Miniatur Wunderland, which is the world’s largest model railroad
I visited nine different Christmas markets in two countries this holiday season. Glühwein (mulled wine) was a staple, but only a few served this ridiculous beverage: Feuerzangenbowle.
Frohe Weihnachten und einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!

Emma Holliday is well-traveled. After 5 years in Boston, she and her husband upended their lives to move to Berlin where she is currently writing a (funny) book about travel and grief and attempting to learn German.

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