I think I am slowly getting the hang of this cold Christmas caper. I am not saying I’m converted, I’m just saying I can live with it. If I have to. After last year’s intensive course in European winters, I vowed I would never go through one again. And yet, hilariously, here I am. Every morning, as I trundle to work at 6.30am, in the pitch black, fresh, icy rain tightening my pores, I think to myself, ‘isn’t this an experience! Isn’t this fun! Isn’t it wonderful to see how Northern Hemispherers live! Aren’t you a lucky girl!’ These thoughts usually descend at around 9.15am, when a glance out the window reveals jack all has changed since 7am and it’s entirely possible the sun actually never rose at all. But I don’t let them descend too far. Instead, I veer off down the ‘isn’t this cosy! Isn’t this just like all those English rom coms you have seen over the years!’ path. You may wonder why I didn’t employ such forced enthusiasm last year. This is because last year, when I trundled to work every morning in the pitch black at 7am, I was concentrating on not falling on my cheese-padded arse in front of everyone at the bus stop and when I wasn’t doing that, I was saying to myself, ‘this is shit, this is shit, this is shit.’
To be fair, this year has been a little kinder. Nature has backed off a little and allowed me and winter some breathing space. Some time to get to know each other a little better. It is mid-December and it has only ‘snowed’ twice and both times for 5 minutes. It hasn’t rained that much (for Germany’s Rain Capital) and most days have remained above 5 degrees. Some have even snuck up to 9. There isn’t any ice on the streets and the nights aren’t so cold one’s nose detaches from one’s face. All in all, this has been a bearable start to winter. Debbie Downers may, at this point, mention that winter hasn’t technically started, that it starts on December 21st. Whatever. The weather has dropped below 10 degrees and it’s pretty much dark by 4.30pm. That, by my standards, is winter. End of.
There are several coping mechanisms I have employed – apart from repeatedly ordering boots and jackets on H&M online – to retain my sanity, embrace this icy beast and see the positives in spending another 4 months wearing half my wardrobe at once. The main one is to pretend I am in a movie, namely one set in NYC or London. One in which the women wear amazing knitted hats from which tonged waves of hair protrude, and cup mugs of coffee or cocoa whenever possible. One in which menacing grey skies and rain seem romantic and whimsical. I have also taken to you-tubing some classic Christmas carols and reminding myself, whilst lustily singing along, ‘you are experiencing what they’re talking about’ … as a child, the lyrics of White Christmas fell somewhat on deaf, sunburned ears. And then, of course, the final coping mechanism, the food. The sheer abundance of chocolates, cakes, biscuits, lollies and nuts; the raclett; the impending Christmas fondue. It helps, it always helps. As does the advent calendar hanging on my wall, which yields something delicious everyday.
Of course, this optimism will last up until the first true snowfall, at which point all I have been repressing will surface in a wild moment of likely reckless abandon. But, and this is important to remember, when all else fails, there’s always the gluhwein.