From my childhood I remember December, 24th, Christmas Eve, to be the longest day of the year. I remember waiting and waiting for something to happen. It was to get up and have Christmas breakfast, to get the last present from the Advents calendar and than it basically meant to wait… It seemed that time had stopped and it just didn´t get “late afternoon”. It seemed to be an endless day. Like each minute lasted for hours and we never would get to the time when we were allowed to go into the living room, to see the Christmas tree and open the presents.
Nothing felt as long as waiting for that one special moment. And even worse were the times when our grandparents were supposed to join us at Christmas Eve. It was a bit easier when it came to my mothers parents then my fathers parents. I never quite understood why it was easier for my mothers parents to arrive “in time” then for my father parents. My mothers parents lived far up north in Germany, close to the Danish border, which is quite a bit to Cologne. My fathers parents lived in Opladen, not to far from Cologne. But it always them we had to wait for… They had to be picked up by car and it seemed like my father wouldn´t ever return. When they finally arrived we had to have coffee and cookies and talking… . And after that we had to stay put in our rooms, that means we had to decide if we wanted to wait together in one room or not. Ones in a room we weren´t allowed to come out again – and so it was best to go to the bathroom before entering that room….
We would sit and wait until the Christmas child had been there with the presents and we sat and listen for the bell that would tell us we now could come into the living room. And that was THE BIG MOMENT of the day. The tree my father had bought some time ago looked totally different with all the decorations and lights, and for me it always was difficult to believe that it was the same tree. I always believed my mother had secretly switched the trees….
It was the same routine each year and part of the routine was that I had to steal the Jesus-child from the manger… I sometimes hid him in my doll house or did hang him in the tree with the help of some tinsel… And of course than everyone has to the search for the Jesus child because we couldn´t have dinner without Jesus in the right place… Don´t think I ever told where he went… .
Nowadays December 24th for me is mainly about travelling from Norway to the small town close to the Danish border to visit my grandfather. Now it´s my grandpa who´s doing the waiting while I enjoy the “slow” journey on Christmas Eve. I find it actually quite relaxing to travel that day. Much more easy going than the days before.
The airport isn´t as busy and crowded as it uses to be, even if there some charter flights to warmer areas early at the morning. Everything seems to be in slow motion.
I enjoy having coffee and look out of the airport windows wondering where the plans are going. After arriving at Hamburg in Germany I slowly make my way through the customs and take the city railway to the station where the train to Husum in Schleswig-Holstein departs. I use to call grandpa when I found my seat at the train so he knows it only will be some few more hours before I arrive.
The years the plane left Oslo early at the morning, like this year, I arrive in daylight and can enjoy the changing landscape outside the train windows. It changes from the busy and tight big city to the open and flat land with the small farms and villages, with sheeps on the pastures, the seabirds in the sky, some lonely pheasants running across the grass when the train goes by.
I always look for ships when we pass the bridge above Kiel Canal and wonder how it is to be onboard on Christmas Eve.
Arriving in Husum I got lucky to catch the local train to Tönning just some minutes later. It was an almost warm and sunny afternoon with the special light we got here in the North. The grass on the pastures is still green and the sheeps were outside, watching the train go by like they also would wait for someone to arrive. I like the local train with the small stations were you have to give the stop signal to get of. One of them is almost right in front of a small farm. And this year the stable doors were open and you could watch the farmer pet his animals.
When I finally arrived in Tönning it still was sunny and warm and I walked through the small town to my grandfather’s house, passing the old marketplace and the church.
Grandpa was happy when I arrived. At the age of 87 years he´s quite open about at he´s in his last years. We spend the time talking about old times and watch old movies he made from his family. He probably is the best history book we have.
And like each year the Christmas seasons passes with having dinner with old friends…