Christmas Outside the Box

Last year, Christmas was frankly kind of a bummer. We had been living in the States for the previous seven years, celebrating big Christmases with extended family. Switching gears to a just-the-four-of-us holiday proved to be harder than we anticipated it would be.

So, this year, we thought outside the box, making only minimal Christmas preparations at home (no tree!) and getting the heck out Dodge for the big day. We are staying in the Bavarian resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen for a week. Good call.

Our kids have good memories of the Garmisch from the four visits we made to the Armed Forces Recreation Center here during our tour in Prague. Even our teenage son–the one who spent our Tuscan vacation last year sulking in the basement of our rental villa–was interested in the trip. My top priority was just to keep everyone happy! And so we spent a good chunk of our vacation budget on visiting a place we already knew like the back of our hands. Because it’s Christmas, you see.

This time we aren’t staying on base. The cabins were all reserved by the time we decided to come, and in any case we thought it would be better to stay in the middle of town, where everyone could get around by themselves if need be. Another good call. We rented a nice, big apartment with plenty of room for four adult-sized people to spread out. There is a washer and dryer, a well-equipped kitchen and a slick flat-panel television for watching movies together. It’s like home, only better!

This is Bavaria, so of course the place is very gemütlich, done up in knotty pine and gingham with a fake fireplace. Our landlady even supplied us with Christmas decorations, including a small tree! How cool is that?


Today, the husband and daughter are out skiing. The teenager went out earlier to do whatever teenagers do (probably involving McDonalds), and is spending the rest of the day playing guitar and video games in his room. I went out to a little town museum this morning, stopped to pick up some Prosecco and pastries for tomorrow, and then went for a long hike in the hills around town, exploring a cemetery that had been decorated for Christmas along the way.

It’s about 45 degrees and sunny here, which may annoy a lot of skiers, but as far as I am concerned, this is perfect Christmas weather! Growing up, I am not sure if we ever had snow for the holidays in Nashville. Probably for that reason, I’ve never been fixated on a “white Christmas.” I’ll just take good weather whenever and wherever I can get it. (This may be the one and only way in which I am actually well-suited to the Foreign Service.)

Tonight, we’re dishing up my husband’s famous bacon cheeseburgers and fries with a good Italian wine for Christmas Eve dinner, and watching another shoot-em-up spy movie together. Tomorrow, Christmas Day, we’ll probably go for a hike after breakfast, and go out for a big German dinner of game dishes and good beer later. I am sure there will be plenty of Skyping as well. But, no baking, no decorating, and no producing a traditional Christmas dinner for a dozen or more people. I can live with that 🙂

In the Foreign Service, we learn that Christmas is what we make of it. This year, we made it a relaxing vacation. Next year, who knows? And before long, I’ll be back in the States and celebrating with lots of family once again. I’m looking forward to it! But, maybe I’ll just make pizza next time.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


  1. We’ll be having ham and sweet potatoes with marshmallows and wish you were here! Though Chris’ famous bacon cheeseburgers and fries sounds quite tempting, insofar as food is concerned, — still wish you were here! Love and Merry Christmas–wherever you are, whatever you do or whatever you eat!–love, Nanny


  2. aww I love this! Christmas in Goa was a bit of a bummer (what I would give to have never seen all of the Russian babushkas in string bikinins getting massages from creepy Indian men on the beach–too much time in India turns one into a real prude apparently). Your Christmas sounds just about as awesome as it gets while still being across the world from family and friends


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