Our kids' editor weighs in on the challenge of where and how to celebrate Christmas.
I shall never forget the first Christmas spent in my very own, Berlin home. My eldest daughter was three weeks old - reason enough not to be going anywhere. My husband is really into Christmas, but it was also his first time without his mother acting as an omnipresent executive force. He turned out to have very specific ideas about what had to happen and when, based on age-old family traditions. "The German way, huh?" I asked him, as my inner alarm bells rang for the first time. They were not playing Christmas carols.
I knew beforehand that I would be eating sausages - SAUSAGES! - on Christmas Eve, which in its own right was enough to truly shock my family and friends back in Denmark. I could hear them suppressing their disbelief and Mitleid. Frankly, I was just glad I didn’t have to eat carp: that disgusting, tasteless fish bred in a pond that Germans, for some reason, fetishise at this time of year.
First shot: A very tense mother sits in Gethsemane Kirche, clinging to a baby wrapped in five layers of fur. The father is trying to hold the psalm book so that everyone can see it. It’s minus 10 outside and minus 15 inside. (I was sure my baby was going to freeze to death. She didn’t. She hated the organ music, though.)
Second shot: A father and his baby in front of the Christmas tree. An idyllic moment.
Third shot: The mother, crying in the sofa. (Breastfeeding kept my blood sugar level on a constant rollercoaster ride, and my hormonal balance wasn’t exactly stable either. My husband is very slow in the kitchen. Bad, and slow. He’s great at lots of other things, though. After I had waited for two hours for dinner, and for all the things to happen in the right order, I was overcome by hunger and grief and cried my eyes out. Still, the rest of the evening turned out okay.) This year is safe. We’re going to my mum’s place. May you and your family have a blissful Christmas and a happy New Year.