Holiday Greetings and a Lesson from Christmas Past

Happy holidays

As Christmas and the new year approaches, we’d like to wish you and yours a very happy holidays from an unusually warm Berlin!

Just about this time of year, we’re often reminded of one of our first Christmases together in Europe and a lesson we learned about the benefits of understanding limits and letting go.

The Ghost of Christmas Past in Prague

Over a decade ago we moved from San Francisco to Prague, Czech Republic just before Christmas. We’d come from winding up our lives in San Francisco, having sold everything we owned and packing our lives into six suitcases. We arrived in Prague smack in the cold of winter without jobs and a long-term place to live. We thought back to the “are you crazy?” questions our family and friends asked when we’d announced our plans.

And we wondered for a moment if in fact we’d lost it.

So there was doing to be done. But we quickly realized that everything in Prague shut down for the holidays. Real estate agencies were off for the week, as were recruiters. There was nothing “productive” we could do.

So we had no choice but to let go. And sometimes, that’s the most productive thing you can do.

As it turns out, this was just what we needed. We spent the week eating Christmas cookies (ours and the some of the nice old lady’s living next door — when you are new in town in Prague, you must exchange Christmas cookies with your neighbor!), drinking tea and reading our way through the entire Harry Potter series. It turned out to be one of our best Christmases ever.

Not only was it wonderfully peaceful and romantic, but it also yielded remarkable clarity. An empty to-do list and going offline will do that. And so we began the following year refreshed and ready to take on just about anything. (We did so by finding an apartment almost immediately and jobs shortly thereafter.)

The Ghost of Christmas Present in Berlin

As we close out this year — a full year — we take note of the lessons of Christmas past. We’re spending the next week in Berlin focused on cookies, reading, friends, and clarity — not necessarily in that order — as we continue to think about and carve out plans for 2014.

First Christmas market of the season. 1€ glühwein...wee!Alt-Rixdorf, #Berlin
Enjoying our first Christmas market of the season in Berlin.

One Last Bit of Holiday Advice

As the holidays can often feel overwhelming, exceptionally busy and filled with expectations, a suggestion: breathe. This simple act can do wonders to slow things down and to bring once foggy notions into clearer perspective.

And with that, if you are celebrating, we wish you and yours a wonderful and relaxing Christmas. And to everyone, much joy and peace in the new year!

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Comments

  1. Clare says

    I just discovered your blog two days ago and love it! I’ll be rugged up in Stirling, Scotland with four other Aussies, a Slovakian, a Scotsman, an Italian, a Greek and two Spaniards sharing a pot-luck dinner and board games. I’m really looking forward to it, despite the fact that I’ll be missing my family back home on the other side of the world who will be enjoying a nice, hot Aussie summer day. Merry Christmas and I’ll continue to enjoy your blog from now on :)

  2. says

    @Clare: Thanks so much for your kind words about our site! Very glad you found us :) Sounds like you have a wonderful Christmas ahead of you – Scotland is wonderful and we’ve always found that multinational holiday meals are a ton of fun. Not only is hanging with people around the world great, but each nationality does holiday food just a bit differently so there’s lots of new things to eat. Enjoy!!

  3. says

    @Thomas: No matter where we are around the world, the Christmas cookies from home come with us. We try to make them everywhere. Glad this brought back good memories of your mother’s cookies. Happy Holidays!

  4. says

    everything should shut down during the holidays. That’s why its not advisable to travel during those days. Holidays should and must remain a day to spend with the dearest one’s, quite days and a lot o sweets! Merry Xmas!

  5. says

    @Sorin: That was the tradition, for sure. However, we’re noticing more and more businesses in Germany (Berlin at least) remaining open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Maybe this is due to the fact that some of the folks running those businesses don’t celebrate Christmas. Might also have to do with the facts of old fashioned business.

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