For the 39th December in my life, a feeling of deep loss and emptiness is upon me.

It finds me every year the Christmas season presents itself. And while I put on an air of holiday cheer within me, I all but curse the spirit that eludes me. Having spent 5 Christmases in Freising, a village that has had Christmas since the 11th century, Christmas ceased to exist for me when I returned to the states.

The villages, so quaint you would have thought them to be fabricated Christmas card scenes had you not known I was seeing what a child of 12 generations had seen before me. The antiquity of the ancient cobblestone streets under my feet filling me with a feeling of being honored to be in a place where this holiday season held reverence.

My heart quickens as I recall the joyful anticipation of opening the door of the advent calendar for that day, and knowing that the one marked “24” would bestow upon my eyes the Christkind in all of his swaddling splendor.

Try as I might, I have never in all these years been able to duplicate the wonder of this magical season. Try as I may, I have never been able to replace the innocence in the heart of the child within me. Should God spare me, I vow to give this child a gift that will once again fill her heart with all the herald of this season.

She will be in her beloved Freising when next she opens the first door on the advent calendar.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in Military Brats Online in 1997.

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1 Comment
  1. At the ripe old age of 40, I still wait with a child’s wonder at the arrival of my Adventskalendar.  And until this past year, Christmas in Germany was always an option, as my mother still lived there, just outside of Kaiserslautern.  There simply is nothing more peaceful and joyful for me than to wake up Christmas Eve, a plate full of homemade German Christmas cookies, while various CD’s of both German and American traditional Christmas music plays.  As the sun sets, we’d all gather around the tree as my father (up until his death 13 years ago) skillfully passed the presents out to all of us.  Christmas Day would find some of our family over to our house for a big dinner.

    The relative lack of commercialism of the Christmas holiday, and the beauty and marvel of the numerous Weihnachtsmarkts always revealed a more tranquil and fulfilling definition of Christmas for me.  A warm glass of Gluehwein steaming from a cup as we wandered around the various booths circling the Wasserturm downtown Mannheim is a true comfort and cherished memory for me.

    Even though we now live in the States, we do our best to uphold many of the traditions that we came to expect for each holiday, and in that way, my inner child will always shine through, happily clinging to a Lebkuchen cookie while listening to Stille Nacht.

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