Wednesday, December 3, 2014

christmas around the world

This has been a great December so far.

The other day I was shopping at World Market, and I found these rather extraordinary globe ornaments. Restraining my desire to decorate an entire tree with them, I picked a single blue earth for our tree. It's the perfect addition to our ever-growing collection of ornaments, which we love to collect from each new place we travel. I absolutely adore Christmas ornaments. This tiny obsession comes directly from my dad, who has a very large obsession. His collection could probably fill 3-4 Christmas trees. It's magnificent. It's not Christmas until I can come home and hear my parents' tree, which is laden with 35 years of ornaments, including live-motion elves and villages which clink, tinker and buzz with our very unique Christmas morning soundtrack.

The new globe ornament was perfectly timed, because last night Dustin and I picked out our very first real Christmas tree together. Our basement smells incredible. It was rather thrilling picking one out for the first time! As soon as we pulled up to the striped circus tent covering the vibrant green trees and stepped out into the rainy night air, I was transported to a very long ago Christmas when I was a child. I vaguely remember getting real Christmas trees once upon a time, but over the years it became a hassle (they're messy, they dry out, they're a fire hazard) so we switched to a giant, rather glorious fake tree. I didn't really think about it again until my husband and I moved to Virginia, and we had friends who would legitimately go and chop a tree down each Christmas. That's the actual real deal right there. We don't have that kind of nature life in AZ. But it did galvanize my desire to have a real tree again.

So we dressed like it was 30 degrees (it was actually like 65), hopped in my mom's ginormous new truck with Christmas music blaring, and waltzed into the tree tent like pros, breathing in the fresh scent of fir trees. We carefully picked out our favorite tree (we immediately named him Frankie, short for Frankincense) and hopped up and down with freshly-cut Christmas spirit.

I have a secret wish to travel the world on Christmas.

Part of me knows I'll never do it, because as the song says, "there's no place like home for the holidays." I really couldn't imagine a Christmas without family.

But the wanderlusting dreamer in my heart imagines all of the magical ways the world celebrates Christmas, and longs to experience them. The Netherlands with their Sinterklaas and France with their Père Noël. Or perhaps Iceland, where Santa is replaced by 13 Yule Lads who come bearing treats the 13 days leading up to Christmas. I would love to visit Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland in London, or the Christmas Fair in Budapest to sample honey cookies and folk music. 

Wouldn't it be enchanting to do all of your holiday shopping in a Christmas market in Germany? With giant strings of stars sweeping from medieval buildings, and the smell of fresh gingerbread wafting from a nearby cart. I would love to know what it would be like for the hills of Austria to come alive with the sound of Christmas music. Or to wander through the wooden stalls of Prague's Christmas market, with their wooden toys and sparkling crystal and local animals.
What better way to celebrate the season than with a red-bridled llama?

I love Christmas in all of its wonder and worldwide reach. It is a different experience for every person, and yet it joins us together in so many ways. For me Christmas is intricately tied to my faith and to my family, and I revel in the twinkle lights and the celebration.

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

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