As you might have found out from my other posts, I was born and raised in Germany. My significant other on the other hand was born in Guyana and grew up in New York City. As you can imagine our cultural backgrounds are quite different. When it comes to a lot of life aspects, this allows for interesting conversations, readjustments and compromises. Additionally, life circumstances sometimes call for changes in plans as well and require us to make the best out of our situations.
We have been lucky enough to spend the past 3 Christmases together and will again this year. Each of these was very different, so we still have not built our permanent Christmas traditions, but it will be interesting what establishes in the future.
Christmas 2017 – Our first roller-coaster
Our first Christmas together was a roller-coaster. We were living in Hamburg (Germany) at the time and had made plans to spend Christmas eve with my younger siblings and their significant others at our family home on the outskirts of Berlin. On Dec 21st, 2 days before we were supposed to leave, we got devastating news. His visa application had been denied and the immigration authorities had asked him to leave the Schengen area within the next 2 weeks. We were shocked and devastated. Nothing had indicated that he was going to get denied. And with the national holidays on the horizon, the opening times of the authorities were very limited to urge for an appeal. We tried our best to get a resolution or extension that Friday, but to no avail. We would have to return after the 2nd Christmas Day on Dec 26th.
So we picked up our rental car with anxious hearts to make our way east. We ended up being upgraded to a literally brand new Maserati SUV which seemed a hilarious change of fate and gave us a good laugh. The 3 hour drive gave us considerable amount of time to talk things over. By that point we had been together for a year and a couple of months, and even though we were serious about each other, the prospect of having to live on different continents required a different level of honesty and alignment. So we laid it all on the table. Our hopes, our dreams, our fears regarding our future together. We were aligned on pretty much everything, the only thing. And even though we were both anxious about the struggles of a long distance relationship, even temporarily, we knew that we wanted to be together and make our way back to each other, one way or another. And by the middle of that car ride, the future seemed a less gloomy.
I had booked us into a central and cheap hotel in the borough of Charlottenburg. Unfortunately, it was “ein totaler Griff ins Klo” (“an utter grab into the toilet”). The hotel and room were run-down, dusty and chilly. Nothing inviting about it whatsoever. Also, our “queen-size” bed turned out to be two mismatched single beds of uneven heights that had been pushed together. Not the coziest way to spend your nights in freezing Berlin. But it prompted a very memorable conversation between us. Early in our relationship, he had once mentioned that he was looking to us to grow together in a way, that it would not matter where we were. If it were up to him, we could be in a shoe box and still be okay. And that hotel room very much felt like that. It was an uncomfortable place, but still, I would have not wanted to be anywhere else than there with him. And I was happy in that moment. In that “shoebox”. Paired with our earlier conversation on the car ride, this made us grateful for that moment and hopeful for the future.
Christmas eve dinner with my family with nice though. We got to introduce my love to his first raclette, exchanged gifts and played a couple of board games. There was a little bit of a language barrier, since most parties involved were a little bit shy about speaking in anything but their native tongue, but we made the best of it. Shortly before midnight, we said our goodbyes and headed over to St. George’s Anglican Church for their Christmas service, which was lovely. We also exchanged our personal gifts at the hotel room, just the two of us.
On Christmas Day, we drove to Sanssouci Park in Potsdam and had a long winter stroll. We had great conversations and I got to show off my knowledge of history, architecture and anecdotes regarding the Kings of Prussia. We only returned to the car after we were thoroughly frozen through to the bone. From there, we made our way back to Hamburg. My love took full advantage of the Maserati’s power and the lack of speed limit on the German autobahn. We made it from Berlin to Hamburg in a potential record of 1.5 hours for the 289 km (180 miles). Quite an adrenaline rush.
After we returned to Hamburg, we had another run to the immigration authorities. With the help of one of our company’s managers, we got his deadline to leave extended to 4 weeks. It was not much, but better than nothing. When we left that office, we were both so relieved. We had avoided to talk about it for most of the Christmas weekend, but we had both been dominated by anxiety due to this unresolved and unclear prospect. The extension felt like a small victory and a glimmer of hope for what was to come. I would have to stay in Germany while he would return to the U.S. and try to find a legal way back. Until then, we would have to navigate the ups and downs of a long distance relationship.
And on that note: Happy holidays to you and your loved ones! I hope you get to celebrate as best as you can considering this year’s unusual circumstances. Stay safe and healthy! 🎄🤶🎅
How about you?
What Christmas traditions have you built over the years?
Cover picture was taken in Hamburg (Germany) in Dec 2016
Wow, what a crazy ride it was for you and your SO! The Maserati was a nice upgrade, though… 😉 Immigration is a pain in the ass wherever you go, but it looks like you two made it out (and back) fairly well!
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Luckily, we did 🥰
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