December – a month filled with Holiday cheer. A time of year where Coke commercials make you feel sentimental, Christmas tunes dominate every radio station and where a glass of hot spiced red wine has never tasted better. There’s nothing I love more than Christmastime. It may sound cliché, but there’s a feeling in the air. For me, the month has it’s own atmosphere and I can’t help but smile when seeing Christmas decorations, chubby men dressed as St. Nichols or a huge evergreen tree in the middle of the city center.
Each year I spend abroad during the Christmas season I notice the subtle differences countries practice during this time of year. From the type of decorations, to how a Christmas tree is presented - each has their own signature. The uniqueness is something I cherish. Every year I try to bring home a little part of the traditions I experience and incorporate them into celebrations with my family. I can’t think of a better time of year and there’s nothing like spending it with the ones you love. (2 more weeks!)
My favorite thing about December in Europe is Christmas Markets. I love them. Every season while overseas, I try to visit as many as I can. It’s not as though the shopping is great (most of the objects sold are things you would never need) it’s the environment, entertainment, decorations and food vendors that make them worthwhile. This year I’ve been to 3 different cities to attend markets and have enjoyed every single one of them. I wish we did something like this back home, but we don’t. Sure we have street fairs, exhibitions and craft markets, but nothing can quite compare to this holiday tradition practiced in Europe. Most run from December 1 until Christmas Eve, with the Europeans being king when it comes to this event. Strolling through the cool crisp air, viewing various booths with glühwein in hand is all I need to be in my happy place.
Saturday a friend and I drove 3 hours to Strasbourg, France to visit one of the most well known Christmas Markets in Europe. It’s been in existence since 1570 and has a reputation that has only grown over the years. During the month of December, Strasbourg’s city center shuts down for pedestrian traffic only. The amount of people walking around is insane! Every street is packed with bodies and booths – to the point that I had to use my boxing out skills to get by masses of people.
It’s easy to see why the city holds such high status. It’s unique and gorgeous. The city center looks as though you’ve entered a fairytale and is surrounded by a circular canal. Every building is distinctive and exudes it’s own character. You can’t help but pause every few steps when walking down the streets to take in the sights. All the decorations are simple yet classic and very tasteful. You’d be hard pressed finding a city that resembled Strasbourg. After spending a day full of Holiday spirit, gluwein, crepes and one too many sweets – I couldn’t help but think about my family and friends and how much I would of loved spending this day with them. Fourteen more days… ☺
Basketball Update: Last weekend we beat the 3rd place team on their home court in a hard fought battle. I think it was the best game we’ve ever played as a team and our defense was what won the game for us. It was a dogfight. I sprained my ankle in the 2nd quarter, but was able to tape it up tight for the rest of the game (don’t ask how it felt later). In the 4th, I was clocked in the nose with 8 minutes left in the game. Though we had a 20-point lead, the home team was experienced and I knew they could make a run to get back in the game at any moment. Running off the floor covering my gushing nose, I couldn’t get it to stop bleeding. I spent the rest of the game in the bathroom applying pressure and using ice while our physio ran back and forth updating me on the score. Thankfully, we pulled out the 8-point victory. Yesterday, we won another close game. It was probably the worst game I have played in a long time. Though my stats look good on paper, I didn’t rebound well, was fatigued the whole 40 minutes and missed too many FT’s. Our Belgian player and point guard really stepped up and had a huge games which was why we got the ‘W.’ Phewwww!