Being in America so close to Christmas was somewhat bittersweet. There is nothing like my parents' house at Christmastime, especially because my father is the decorator and makes the house so warm and cozy both inside and out. I realized when I was sipping on a Gingerbread Latte from Starbucks how the flavor immediately takes me back to Jacksonville and shopping at Target. Memories abound with each ornament on the tree, wrapping paper Mom has used for years, and Christmas china placed on the table. This year, we had Christmas early because I won't be there and my brother and sister-in-law will be with her family. As we were coming home from church today, I began to notice the familiarities around Jacksonville that remind me we're in the Christmas season. The nativity scenes in front of churches, the decorations (albeit tacky) that light up a neighbor's yard, Advent festivities taking place at my home church. All of these are reminders of what I'll be missing for the first time being away from my family at Christmastime.
Yet, I can't help but look forward to what new traditions will be taking place this year. Spending time with new friends in Kandern, reconnecting with my favorite families at ACB and how I'll get to be a part of their Christmas traditions, and of course going to as many Christmas markets as I can before they close on Christmas Day!
So I think it's normal for me to be torn. I want to be with my family, but this year it's just not feasible and in my heart, I've already prepared to be in Germany/Switzerland for the holidays. I'll of course be thinking of all of the sights and sounds mentioned the closer it gets to Christmas, but I'm glad I got to experience a little taste of them while I was in Jacksonville this week.