For the past three years, I haven’t gone home for Christmas. There were a few reasons. First, plane tickets from Europe to the US around Christmas are hella expensive, and travel is a pain in the ass. Second, I usually had a longer two-break at the beginning of February, which I thought made more sense for a nice, long trip home. And finally, because Christmas in Europe is awesome.
I mean, what’s not to love? The whole holiday is built around bringing cheer and light to an otherwise gloomy and dark season. Pretty lights adorn everything. Christmas markets pop up everywhere, and while some countries do it better than others (coughNorthernEuropecough), who can object to hot wine and snacks? I do hate cold weather, but there’s nothing like holding a glühwein to keep your hands warm in the nippy air, or popping into a cute cafe decorated full of fairy lights to take temporary reprieve from the wind.
My first Christmas in Europe, I had planned to go to Bruges (because of the movie In Bruges) but the Polish immigration office had forgotten about my paperwork so I didn’t have a residency card. Instead of flying to Belgium, my friend Morgan and I took a bus to Vienna then worked our way up through Prague and finally to Berlin for New Year’s Eve. We got day drunk at several Christmas markets and ate our weight in wurst and langos and trdelnik and stollen (staple snacks of every Christmas market experience).
The next Christmas we finally got to see Bruges and quote movie lines like the lovable idiots we are (It’s a fucking fairy tale city!) and drink all the Belgian beer and eat all the Belgian chocolate. (No joke, I bought 80€ worth of Belgian chocolates to take home as presents that year.)
The rest of the holiday was spent in Rotterdam and Amsterdam, freezing our asses off in between stroopwaffels and Chinese steam buns at hipster Christmas markets.
My third Christmas was spent in Malta, where my friend Paolo and I decided to have a “Fancy Bitch Dinner” a la Broad City on Christmas Day, and he surprised me with an actual gift which made me feel really guilty ’cause I hadn’t bought him anything, but it was still so nice to feel like someone had been thinking of you enough to surprise you!
But even though I’ve spent three Christmases at three very different, lovely locations around Europe, I always get a bit depressed the day before. I listen to Frank Sinatra’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” on repeat, thinking about that last line: if only in my dreams.
I’m not Christian and Christmas is not particularly important to my parents, there’s still something about comforting and familiar about going home for the week of Christmas and New Year’s. Going home for the two weeks before Lent was just not the same. By which I mean to say, I’m so excited to have my 25˚C/85˚F Christmas in Los Angeles!