Thursday, 12 January 2017

A Black Forest Christmas

As yes, Christmas. This is part where the whirlwind traveling comes to a halt and the real Christmas tradition kicks in. It might not have been my own family's Christmas tradition, and they may have still been 6000 km across the world, and I may not of had WiFi or cell service up in the mountains of Black Forest, Germany, but it was definitely one to remember.

For some quick background, I was so graciously invited to spend Christmas with the Tresson's, my old host family from my exchange to France back in 2013.

For the holidays they rented two large apartments for their extended, all of whom I had met previously while in France 4 years back, but hadn't seen since.

The place came furnished with a Christmas tree and all!

One of the most memorable parts of this Christmas was learning about the French tradition, and the tradition of the Tresson family in particular.

On Christmas eve, instead of putting gifts in stockings hanging from the mantel like we do in Canada, each member of the family places one of their shoes around the Christmas tree, and their presents are placed by their shoe.

In other Christmas tradition, I found myself kneeling at Christmas eve mass at a church in rural Germany, followed by indulging in Foie Gras (now that's a tradition I could definitely take home with me). The big meal of Christmas was eaten on Christmas eve, which left quite a simple dinner on Christmas day...soup in a cup, no complaints to be had on a cold evening in the Black Forest.

A lot of time here was spent hiking around, as it should be! Although I can't exactly remember every little town we visited or hiked through, the one that sticks in my mind is Feldberg, where we hiked (I think over 10 km?) to the summit of the Black Forest region. The view was spectacular, never mind the accomplishment of hiking up to the highest point.

Our other day trips included visiting cathedrals, some additional hiking, and the city of Freiburg.

In addition to the hiking, we also did a lot of eating (which was well deserved because of all the hiking, in my books)...

And we can't forget about the French cheese...

The Tresson family truly made me feel like family in a time where I was certainly missing my own. I cannot be more thankful that they were kind enough to take me in, when heading back to Canada for the holidays was simply just not in the budget. Although I had overwhelming feelings of homesickness during my first (and hopefully only) Christmas abroad, I believe it is experiences like these that truly make us thankful for everything we have in our lives.

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