The lovely Wilhelmina Upton (you should ask her why she calls herself that) from Lazy Happy Bored Happy Sad has been amazingly nice about writing for me for the holiday. You may know her from my rants in the previous post. Since I don’t have the luxury of travelling right now, I often let my mind wander, especially during big holidays, to places I haven’t yet been. I wonder about culture and traditions and which one I can adopt for the year. This is Willie’s story of what usually happens in her neck of the woods.
I think I’ve’ve never even believed in Santa. Not really. Not even as a little kid. The thing is, growing up in Germany, Christmas gets confusing, or so I think, at least. First there is Nikolaustag on December 6th. He traditionally brings small presents to children. When I was growing up, it was mostly Christmas cookies, nuts and oranges or clementines. These days people give real presents because everything needs to be bigger and more all the time, always.
Then comes the actual Christmas. Depending on your family’s tradition and partly where you live in Germany, you either get your presents on the eve of the 24th – as in my family – or the morning of the 25th. If this is not confusing enough, just give me a second. Santa isn’t the one bringing your presents! Again, depending on your family’s tradition, the so-called Christkind (child of Christ) brings presents instead of Santa. So what was I supposed to believe in? At grandma’s the Christkind brought presents, at home it was Santa. With these confusing alternatives Mini!Me knew there wasn’t some magical, mythical creature bringing my presents.
While it is nice to get gifts, I’m terrible at writing wish lists because the things I want most in life are not material. This doesn’t mean I don’t want more books, a new lens for my camera, a new camera and so on, only that these things do not really count. They may fill a void inside me for a hot second, maybe two if I’m lucky but having things and stuff doesn’t equal being loved and seeing love reflected in the world. Some people may confuse it with the joy of material things at first but it really is not the same.
Maybe I am the odd one out though because I crave love like a black hole craves matter. Does this even make sense? Let me try to explain. I can be the loneliest person when I’m surrounded by an abundance of other people because they are usually not the right people. Not for me. It’s as if I don’t belong anywhere specific. I am either too shy or too forthcoming and direct; never part enough of the socio-economic construct I find myself in. Not German enough at times but nothing else as well. Most days my head doesn’t even think in the language it lives in. When it snows, my head speaks Swedish, most other times it’s English while I live in rural Germany. I either feel dumb or too intelligent for the people I’m with. I’m never anywhere really except on the internet. Which in return is a made up place. It’s beautiful but not completely real.
As a teenager there was nothing I hated more than seeing consumerism around Christmas. Well maybe my father but that’s a whole other story. You couldn’t go to the mall because EVERYONE was there starting late November. The escalators were full of people, trying to find the one right gift for their loved ones. While I do get that gift giving is a way of expressing your love or appreciation of a certain person, it never sat completely right with me. It still does not. When my uncle asks me what I want for Christmas, I get dumbfounded every year; wishing he would stop asking, mostly because I’m an adult and he doesn’t have to give me anything anymore. I name a book, or a cheap DVD box set of some series I watch just to make him shut up. Of course I am by far immune to the joy of unwrapping gifts or even giving them. I do it, but I feel like we sometimes forget the scope of it all, wanting more and more. Personally, I like to give cookies or other home baked goods as gifts because they were made with love and care and in my opinion say a lot more than some generic thing I bought on Amazon. (Don’t hate me Amazon, you’re still my favourite of all the online shops, k?!)
What do I really want for Christmas, you might ask. – Seeing my Grandma happy and without pain. Knowing my friends are happy, safe and with loved ones. I want racism, misogyny, genocide, homicide and violence in general to end. I want us all to get along and talk things out instead of trying to bomb each other senseless. I want someone to hold my hand while singing Christmas carols. I want to love and be loved back. Instead I will spend the evening of the 24th watching my two younger cousins unwrap their many presents only to see them disappointed because it’s not what they wanted, or not as much or some other stupid thing.
PS: I hope I didn’t ruin all your Christmas feels with this post. I swear, I’m usually no grinch.
Thank you SO much for writing for me. For all of you, Merry Christmas. Let go and have fun. And if you’re wondering where in the world Santa is this year, you can return the favour by watching him as he sleeps!