This Christmas season has been so different because we're in another country. It's been really interesting seeing how Germans "do" Christmas, and also figuring out how to make it special here. Since Christmas fell on a Sunday, we had a whole weekend to relax and enjoy.
We began our gift shopping exactly five days before Christmas because we planned to only get gifts for one another. We debated giving gifts to one another at all, but quite frankly, I really like giving and receiving presents, so we decided that things would be more special with them. We set a small budget and began our shopping in Dusseldorf, but picked up a few small stocking stuffer items the Friday before Christmas. I also made a list of things for us to do over Christmas weekend, just because I like to make lists.
On Christmas Eve, we had our annual (I think we started in 2013?) Christmas Movie Day. We began with the old Rudolph cartoon from 1948 and also watched Love Actually, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street (Carson hadn't seen it before!) and a Hallmark Christmas movie that has basically the same plot as the Family Man with Nicholas Cage. We'd planned on a few snacky things for the weekend and Carson found the ingredients for Pigs in a Blanket, so we enjoyed those as we sat on the couch.
Our landlords are from Portugal and they made us some tasty food! Well, I hear that it was tasty. I called my mom and Carson ate 95% of it while I was on the phone.
Carson is always dying to open presents on Christmas Eve, so we opened our stockings. My stocking was one of his socks, and I filled an oven mitt for him. We needed one anyway, and I felt proud of this genius "stocking" idea. Our stockings were filled with a toothbrush, as usual, a kitchen knife, some tongs also for the oven, a little fake succulent for me, a back scratcher for me, and some candy. I promise I do have shorts on... it's just a long sweater!
Carson wears this particular color combination often, but chose it on Christmas Eve specifically because it was red and green. I was wearing a navy and white sweater with purple running shorts and cared less about matching or being festive.
On Sunday morning, we went to church. We'd thought about attending the large St Paul's Cathedral in Munster, but stuck with the church we've been attending. Usually the pews are packed, but attendance was very light. They had services on Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas (it's also a holiday here), so perhaps people just attended those? We sang carols and the sermon was on Micah 5 (I know this from the slide with the text and the six words I recognized in the sermon... I don't suddenly understand a ton of German).
It was cold, windy, and had a misty rain, which is my absolute least favorite weather combination! This wall made things look cheery though!
Oh yes, we did take our Christmas tree into the backyard for a picture in hopes of better lighting. I hope none of our neighbors were at their kitchen windows!
It started to rain harder as we walked inside...
We tried our typical "picture in front of the tree" picture... which is more difficult when your tree is so tiny.
And then we opened presents! I don't like to know what I'm getting for Christmas each year, but since our budget was small and since we don't often have money to spend on things we want here, we discussed things more specifically. Now I have two hats! I also received a cutting board (we've been cutting things on the stainless steel oven/counter which is not great), a scarf and a small bottle of perfume (I really wanted this because Carson accidentally dropped mine in the TSA line in the airport on the way to Spain and it broke and went everywhere).
Carson received a new t-shirt (he brought mostly dressy clothes here so the few t-shirts he brought along are super raggedy), some non stretched out athletic socks, a bottle of cologne since his ran out, and a bottle of Gluhwein.
We made a half batch of spinach dip (we forgot to look for artichokes) and realized when we went to bake it that we don't have any bakeware, so we put it in a ceramic bowl and hoped it would be okay. It was, and we enjoyed it with some bread while we watched Christmas With the Kranks.