Far from Home for the Holidays

Readers recall holidays spent in unfamiliar surroundings.

| November/December 2009

For the Heart of the Home section for the November/December issue, we asked readers to share their memories of spending the holidays away from home. Here are a few of the stories we printed in the magazine.


Several Holidays Spent in Germany

June 1976 began my four-year sojourn overseas in Germany, first in West Berlin for two and a half years, then in Wiesbaden for 18 months. Although I was very far from home – Houston, where my parents lived – Christmas 1976 was a monumental time for experiencing the fabulous sights overseas for the first time in my life during a holiday season.

In order for Hanukkah and Christmas gifts to arrive back home in time for opening on the appropriate mornings, I had to carouse the shopping centers no later than the week before Thanksgiving. Then I had to get the gifts wrapped and mailed to the United States.

As I journeyed down the main shopping thoroughfare in West Berlin, the stores and people were already in high spirits in anticipation of the upcoming holidays. Store fronts and interiors were lavishly decorated, subways and buses were jammed with bustling people carrying shopping bags, and the aroma of Glühwein (mulled wine) and roasted chestnuts wafted upon the winds as the occasional snow flurry drifted downward.

In no time, I was caught up in the excitement of the approaching holidays. Thoroughly enjoying the act of gift-buying and the anticipation of wrapping and giving the gifts to loved ones, every moment in every store was a treasure to behold. However, as Hanukkah came and went, I terribly missed experiencing the holidays with my mom and dad. I couldn’t even call them because overseas calls were too expensive for me to afford.

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