Being away from home this holiday season makes me not only miss traditions, but also makes me more aware of how sacred they are!

The idea of “Black Friday” never existed in our household. I had always found it quite ironic that Americans spent loads of money on the newest gadgets and materialistic goods the day after they devoted to giving thanks for all of their blessings. My family also shares this perspective, and we always choose to spend the day after Thanksgiving decorating the house and putting up the Christmas tree. We spend hours laughing and smiling as we recall the stories of holiday memories, favorite ornaments, and handmade decorations that have lasted decades. To accompany the festivities there is always an endless supply of turkey tetrazzini, baked goods, hot chocolate, and Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas music.

Though I could not be home this year to partake in this cherished ritual, today’s spontaneous occurrence of taking a steamroller to Mannheim, Germany to visit the Christmas Market was an absolute blessing.  I just love life’s perfectly coincidental moments like this!

Since being in Germany the past three days, I have been able to visit the Christmas markets in Frankfurt, Ludwigshafen, and Mannheim. It’s so unbelievable to me that these perfect places of holiday happiness aren’t more rife in America, especially with the holidays being so commercialized in the states! Little wooden huts, designed with the most detailed German architectural features, line streets and plazas. Each booth is uniquely decorated with lights, garland, and decorations. Some of my favorite items include: bratwursts, Nutella crepes, cheese fondu, handmade German chocolates and the staple of all “Christkindlmarkts”, the Glühwein (spicy mulled wine). Surprisingly the gifts for sale at the market aren’t all Christmas related and remind me a bit of the street fair tackiness of American festivals; but none the less, they are fun to look at!

The Christmas Market in Frankfurt, Germany (I'll post pictures from my adventure once I get home to upload them! And of course I road that carousel!)

Amidst the crowdedness, eating, drinking, and shopping there is an aura of true Christmas cheer. Laughter is the universal language at these markets with rides for young children (and the young at heart) and tables filled with friends sharing stories, as they keep warm with infinite rounds of Glühwein. Visiting Christmas Markets is one my newest and favorite traditions to celebrate this most wonderful time of the year!

Thanksgiving Skype date with my family whom I love and miss so very much!

My favorite Mannheim Steamroller Christmas song is “Joy to the World” which has been playing on repeat all afternoon:

Joy to the World!