The expat in betweeness around holidays

As the windows around our neighborhood start to look like this and gather more and more decorations I have really started thinking about the holidays as an expat.

This is one of those constant things that you start to think about when you live abroad from the place you came from.  Increasingly and especially around holiday times there is this constant sense of living in between….you don’t really belong here and yet as you approach to going “home” you don’t really have space and belong there either. The window above is decked out and just around the corner in typical German window ways and is in the place I live and yet this still strikes me as unique to Germany and not just something I live in…see what I mean?

This weekend was a fabulous weekend.  Ana and I got up on Saturday, walked to one of the bakeries around and got pastry, drank our coffee and then got the dogs ready to go out with us all day. It was a beautiful albeit cold day but we were headed to a place called Grunewald (literally translated to “Green Forest.”  There is a part of this huge forest that is specifically for dogs to run around off leash. The dog area is huge with a little castle, a big lake and lots of trails that they run like crazy on plus they get other dog time. We wanted to go because there was a specific Christmas market we were interested in and I am always interested in Gluhwein at the markets as well (you may know it as mulled wine or some other spicy warm wine beverage).



As we were taking a break from running around and sipping warm wine (we were sitting right under the gifts at an outdoor table). I said to Ana, “there are some days when we live in Berlin and it’s just Berlin and life and other days I look around somewhere and think, ‘Wow! This is sooooo German! Today is one of those days.”  All of a sudden it struck me like it does every once in a while, that we are living in Germany around some very German things.  We continued on and had a fabulous and exhausting day outdoors for us all. We all came back happy and content with being outside all afternoon and doing some very holiday type things.

Then yesterday, on Advent 1, after a leisurely breakfast and morning, Ana and I headed out to visit friends but also to go to the Berlin Philharmonic to watch the Philharmonic choir and symphony play all of Handel’s Messiah.


It seemed like the perfect way to usher in December and to walk around to see lights afterward.  It has a fantastic concert, a little longer than I remember it being, but awesome. Everything was done soooo well and we had excellent seats. It was three hours of a different kind of Advent worship and worth it.  We both had a fantastic experience and when it was over we got to see part of the cities awesome lights in Potsdamer Platz.

We hurried home and took out the pups and then headed over to our friend Eva’s house for an amazing meal that she put together.  She has become a dear dear friend.  She is German but has lived in the States so is a friend who intimately understands the space of in between.

Yesterday morning, over our French toast and coffee, I asked Ana if she was excited to go to Portland in just a week and a half. She exclaimed she is and ask if I am. I definitely am! I can’t wait!!! The countdown is so on but then I was reflecting to her that the only thing I am not looking forward to is not having our pups and our space while in Portland. I can’t wait to see my family and my friends. I can’t wait to eat tacos and wander around the city that I know I belong to. I can’t wait to hear the language and tones I know and to preach!  But at the same time, I like our space. I like our home and it each day it feels more and more like the space I live in.  What a weird place to be, isn’t it?  The life we have chosen puts us constantly in the in between for better or for worse and the longer we stay the more that is true.  We will always be foreigners here but the world as I knew it continues on so it constantly displaces me from that world as well.  The perspective is un beat and yet it is also weird, isn’t it?

Happy Advent to you dear reader!!!


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