It has become apparent that, at this stage of the proceedings, I am essentially existing off Stollen. I was inclined to ignore it myself, but as I ferried in another plate of it into the living room at around the lunchtime hour, SG idly mentioned it seemed Stollen was replacing meals. I thought back to breakfast … Stollen with a side of Knusperhaus. I looked ahead to the afternoon, and saw Christmas Market treats. Momentarily, the poorness of my diet loomed large. Then I shrugged. ‘It’s Christmas.’
And Christmas it indeed is. The most magical and, in a way, most bittersweet time of year. There is always, and will always be, one eye so very firmly fixed on Australia during this season. Sure, there is the nostalgia associated with my childhood Christmasses, that seeps into adulthood, even more so now I have children of my own. There is the keen awareness of the passing of time that the end of year brings, and the knowledge that time has once again passed without certain people in it; it begins to weigh heavily on my conscience, a strange type of guilt. And then there is the simple fact that I miss home, I miss my family, I miss my friends. The dull, ever-present pull of Heimweh is more acute at this time of year than at any other.
But what luck I have, how rich I am, to have family and friends in good health on both sides of the globe. And how wonderful it is to peer into the bittersweetness of December, with its light and chocolate and carousel rides, its post boxes and Skype calls and story-telling, and see that richness, that luck. There is a part of being foreign, the part that sees your family living so far away, that sometimes wonders when that luck will run out, that awaits the time a flight home will not be for a happy reunion, or a hot Christmas. It sits alongside that aforementioned type of guilt, that you put roots down so far away from those who love you. It is an odd confection, emigration, and mine was in the most privileged circumstances, that I am all too aware of.
St Nicholas came last night and left some little treats in die Lüdde’s slightly muddy gumboot. We will get our tree today and dress it with ornaments new and old. I’ll cut another slice of Stollen and we’ll risk a late afternoon visit to the Weihnachtsmarkt with a toddler and a baby a few more times yet. It is always worth it for the delighted cry of ‘Lights! Lights! Mama look!’ and the steaming hot Glühwein. And the Poffertjes. The most wonderful time of the year it most certainly is, the most bittersweet time of year it will always be.