It is that time of year again, and there’s just something about the holidays that just perks me up, no matter how down I’ve been. I can thank my Omi (grandmother) for making the holidays a magical, happy time of year for me. She always decorated the apartment we lived in so it looked like a Christmas Wonderland and every year she added some new decoration she made herself (those fancy felt and sequin Christmas scenes).
Omi started a tradition when I was very young – on my birthday (December 2) we would put up the tree (always an artificial contraption that would take all afternoon to assemble and decorate). We decorated with colored lights and dolls and lots of gaudy hand-made decorations. However when I was a small child it was all very magical and amazing.
Omi would bake goodies, and put treats for me in a hand-made advent calendar that had little pockets. Every day I’d have some small cookie, piece of chocolate or quarter to collect. The bigger the buldge in the pocket the more exiting it was!
Then every year we’d get a packages from Germany – yummy canned food from local farmers in the town where my Tante Erie (my grandmother’s youngest sister) lived. From Onkel Adolf (Omi’s nephew) we’d get sweets and a delicious nut and chocolate cake. I’d always get toys and clothes and as I kept growing my Tante Margot (Adolf’s wife) would hand-sew me new Dirnls (traditional German dress). When the package arrived there were always so many packages with my name on it I would always be allowed to open one for my birthday. The rest had to wait until Christmas Eve.
We followed the German tradition of celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve. When I was very small my Uncle Roland would come to our apartment and we’d have a Leg of Lamb and nummy desserts. Then close to midnight (earlier than that I’m sure, when I was very small), we’d distribute gifts and open them. It’s supposed to be done at midnight but of course when I was a small child I couldn’t stay awake that late. When I got older we started going to Uncle Roland’s house (after he got married). I loved that – was fun riding in a car out to the suburbs and being in (for me) a fancy house (it was huge compared to our tiny apartment).
I will always cherish my holiday memories from my childhood and to this day when the holidays roll around my mood is always lifted and I’m happy to the point of almost crying at times (sounds silly but hey I can’t always control my emotions – I am a chick you know!). I still miss Omi this time of year too, but she went to great lengths to make the holidays happy and special for me so in honor of her I try and maintain our traditions as much as I can – the one dearest to my heart is sending a package to Germany every year. Staying close to them makes me feel closer to Omi.