It's that time of year again and everyone is starting to get that tingly festive feeling. I love this time of year but it can also make me homesick. I can't remember the last time I spent the 'run up' to Christmas with my family, for the last few years my days before Christmas have consisted of last minute packing, shopping and crazy busy airports. Flying at Christmas is not fun. It takes double the time to get through passport control, you always forget to bring someone's present with you and it's freezing cold so you wear two jumpers, a coat and a scarf only to melt into a puddle of your own sweat when you get inside the airport.
Being away from your family around Christmas sucks, you miss out on annual family Christmas meals and seeing your cousins, you miss taking your nieces and nephews to see Father Christmas, you miss Christmas baking with your sister, you miss advent Sunday with your mum, you miss singing Christmas carols with your Dad. Growing up in one country and being surrounded by certain holiday staples and traditions such as the coca cola advert, cadburys advent calendars, school nativity plays, the annual carols and hymns, mince pies and hanging stockings by the fire.
Last year I was so nostalgic for Christmas in England and this year I'm so nostalgic for Christmas in Paris. I miss the vin chaud and wandering around Montmartre, the Christmas lights down the Champs-Elysees, mass at Notre Dame, perfect snowy pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower, the Christmas tree in Boulogne, the Christmas markets, sharing in the galette des roi tradition with the kids, real Christmas trees waiting to be bought on every street! Not to mention the dinners with friends, the window displays at Galleries Lafayette and the cosiness of curling up with a book in Shakespeare & Co.
But unlike last year, I also realised I had traditions to look forward to in the Netherlands. Like going to the Kerstmarkt (Christmas market) with my friends and drinking glühwein and joining in on Sinterklaas (albeit it a little more international). Singing Sinterklaas kapoentje and leaving out our shoes for Sinterklaas to fill. Buying pepernoten or kruidnoten, a kind of little cinnamon biscuit, to gorge on. Watching the Christmas lights appear all over the city, which are so much prettier than the Christmas lights in my hometown!
This year I was so lucky my exams finished early, so I did get home in time to go with my niece and nephews to see Father Christmas! And it made me realise that whilst part of me will always get a little nostalgic around Christmas time for the traditions of my childhood, and want to be back with my family that there are so many amazing ways to celebrate the holiday season, and it's such a beautiful time, and that I am so lucky to be able to experience these different ways to celebrate and take little parts of each to create my own Christmas experience. And next year, all things going to plan, I'll be in Turkey at Christmastime so I'm trying to soak up as much Christmas spirit as I can before filling next December with more baklava than carols!