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 2018 – Reunion and pain management
By the end of 2018, our lives looked vey different. He was living in New York, I was still in Hamburg. A couple of months of separation had turned into close to a year. Nevertheless we had managed to see each other in some capacity every 3 months or so, which made the time a little easier. By summer, we had found out the hard way that finding a EU employer to sponsor a visa for an American was not that easy after all. For that reason, we had started to work in both direction and I had started applying at U.S. companies (not much easier, let me tell you). Additionally, we were both looking into potential job opportunities in the UK. But no success up to that point.
Nevertheless, we were lucky enough that by the end of the year I still had a good portion of vacation days left over. Paired with German national holidays and weekends, I was able to join him in New York for a little over 3 weeks throughout December which was a big luxury.
That year came with additional challenges. We were dealing with health issues and after treatment in the fall of 2018, my love has had to deal with chronic and oftentimes excruciating pain ever since. It’s gotten better over the last couple of months and he has been a warrior throughout, but Christmas that year was especially marked by pain. When he was not working, his body would more or less withdraw involuntarily by sleeping and escaping in that regard. The hours awake were defined by pain management and using the available energy for the essentials.
It can be difficult to see your loved one in such agony, sometimes I felt quite helpless since there was nothing that could be done. But it made me even more grateful for the time that we had. We would spend a lot of it just cuddled up in bed, him sleeping through another episode, me reading “Shogun” by James Clavell or watching a “The Good Place” on Netflix.
One of my favorite memories though was the day that he took me to Manhattan’s 5th Avenue. The day was bright, he was feeling good and his pain was manageable that day, so we hopped on the train and got off close to Rockefeller Center. We both knew that it was a very touristy thing to do, but sometimes you have to indulge yourself and be a tourist in your home town 😜 The Christmas decorations for the different stores on 5th Avenue are simply exceptional and definitely worth throwing yourself into the hustle and bustle. My favorite are the window displays at Bergdorf Goodman, which are truly works of art in their own right. If you are ever in the city during that time of the year. Make sure to check it out.
Christmas eve and Christmas day are kind of a blur due to that reason. I think that we exchanged presents on Christmas morning and had a turkey dinner from a nearby dinner, but that’s about it. But at the end of the day, it’s not about what you do, it’s about who you are with. And I was spending those days with my favorite person in the world.
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 Manhattan, New York (USA) in Dec 2019