The last time I wrote about advent, I was eighteen years old, living in a town an hour outside of Reykjavik, and lonely as a Mormon on the Ganges. Different times.
This year was a little different.
I’ve already touched a little on Christmas in Germany when I wrote about Munich and Regensburg, but it’s different in Berlin. Winter is harsher somehow without that omnipresent, catholic, four-week-long winter anaesthetic festival you find in Bavaria’s approach to advent. Of course there are Christmas markets – but, except for the one at Gendarmenmarkt, which is really quite spectacular, they’re just pastiches of the real thing.
In Berlin, the wind whistles down the gulleys between skyscrapers, lashing your face with sleet. The streets are void of life, at times making you feel like the lone survivor in a radioactive wasteland. And when you do encounter someone you have to be ready for the sourest of tempers – this is the “Berliner Schnauze”. They’re not known their warmth to start with, the Berliners, and winter just makes them even worse…
But complaining ain’t gonna cut it, buster.
Please excuse me while I get philosophical here for a moment. There is value in the lack of beauty – because it isn’t easy and pretty and handed to you on a plate. You have to craft it into how you want it to be, it’s in your hands, and you are rudely woken up to the reality that your advent (like your life) is what you make of it.
And I chose to make it cozy.
I sought out the snuggliest cafes, I drank hot chocolate with rum, perused Christmas market stalls, took my knitting with my on the S-Bahn, I decorated my room with paper stars and ornaments, I went ice skating with friends from home, fell over, and got back up again.