Why I like coming home for Christmas:

For as long as I can remember, every Christmas Eve has been pretty much the same: first there is food, then gifts, then games and at the end there is mulled punch in a friendly atmosphere. You might think that this could get pretty boring after a while. But it’s exactly what filled me with anticipation days beforehand. And it’s just one of many reasons why I travel back home every year with a pleasant feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Home, what does that even mean? Each of us may associate the word with something different. For some it is a place, for others it is a person, some find home best within themselves. For me, home is a mixture of all of these. Coming home therefore means returning to where you grew up, seeing old friends again and spending valuable time with your family.

Every year when I go home for Christmas, I swap the hustle and bustle of the city for the tranquil hustle and bustle of my village of 2,000 people for a few days. I then get the rolls for breakfast from the village baker, who can still remember my favorite pastries from my childhood. On the way there, I greet everyone I meet with a smile and wish them a happy holiday – regardless of whether I know the person or not.

And I’m not alone: ​​Many friends and acquaintances from days gone by who flew out into the wide world after school are coming home at the end of the year. It’s like a festive and involuntary, but all the more beautiful, class reunion where you can reminisce together and get up to speed. Coming home is a little trip into the past.

Speaking of which: Our childhood plays a significant role in the feelings we associate with coming home. What we associated with a home as a child, be it rumors, noises or certain places, will always give us a kind of feeling of well-being. And it is precisely this feeling that we experience far too rarely consciously in our fast-moving world.

The world is such a crazy place and is becoming increasingly confusing; Consistency and security have become a collective utopia in recent years at the latest. For me, my home is an anchor point that at least provides the feeling of stability that so many people long for at this time. Spending a few days with your parents somehow means being able to be a child again for a bit and recovering from world-weariness.

And that brings us to the most critical point of coming home: the family reunion. Christmas is a family celebration – that’s what we’ve been taught since childhood. And you can certainly dismiss the supposed family idyll during the holidays as hypocrisy. Or you can try to see it in a conciliatory way, like the psychotherapist Julika Zwack.

She said in an interview with the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”: “We try to connect with each other again and again at Christmas, despite all the experiences we have with each other every year. That’s a wonderful thing. And that we keep trying, even though we There’s a certain beauty in failing over and over again. We’re not giving up at this point.”

Whether we go home for Christmas or not is ultimately a conscious decision that each of us has to make for ourselves. But there’s also something nice about consciously deciding every year to spend the holidays with the people who have influenced you the most.

While you’re now thinking about which people are home to you, I’m looking forward to the fact that the Christmas tree will once again be a flawed specimen, because my mother always chooses the most needy Nordmann fir tree and then lovingly spruces it up with an oversized amount of Christmas tree decorations. Just like the fact that there is always enough food for an entire football team, “so that we all get fed.”

It may sound banal and exaggerated, but it’s exactly these little things that mean home to me. Regardless of how harmoniously the year went within the family. I know we all just love each other at Christmas. And that’s because we want and feel it that way, not because “that’s how we do it.” Even if it’s just for a few days. No one can take these moments away from you.

Why I’m not celebrating Christmas in my home village again this year:

Chris Rea sings about it in “Driving Home for Christmas”, that cozy feeling that he and everyone in the cars around him get when they make their way home. It seems like every adult child has to set out to return to the house where they grew up. This is rarely questioned.

The idea seems too far-fetched, even outrageous: If you search the internet, you will quickly come across a few forum posts in which people ask whether it is reprehensible if they would rather sit under the Christmas tree alone or with their partner than with the hunchbacked relatives. I know all too well this feeling of duty to travel hundreds of kilometers across Germany to see my boyfriend’s family and my relatives at the holidays.

My heart doesn’t beat faster when I reach my home village. I don’t have anything like feelings of home towards the village. Rather, there’s a stone in my stomach because I know I don’t want to spend Christmas there and I don’t want to hear the same discussions year after year.

And don’t get me wrong, Christmas is important to me – also for religious reasons – and I like to celebrate it! This terrible expectation just annoys me. I should go on Christmas and spend the days there with my grandmother, parents, uncles, aunts and my boyfriend. How much logistical effort it takes to travel across Germany to two federal states and whether we would like to celebrate Christmas that way doesn’t matter to a large part of our families. The fact that wishes and ideas for the holiday are not really discussed often leads to conflicts: According to a survey by the opinion research institute YouGov, 34 percent of the more than 2,000 respondents argue with their loved ones primarily about the process and organization of Christmas.

So why do we make it a point, year after year, to spend Christmas the way we “have to” instead of celebrating the holidays the way we think it’s nice? We are often more concerned with meeting other people’s expectations than taking care of ourselves.

I don’t care about spending Christmas with some of my family members. Simply because we’re not really close otherwise. An example: My grandmother often complains to my mother that I don’t get in touch often. Even though I only found out about it through corners, I initially felt guilty and then called my grandma a few times. The joke about it: The conversations sometimes lasted 30 seconds, sometimes a minute before she hung up the phone…

And she has never called my landline phone. But she would have had the opportunity, after all, I haven’t lived in my home village for over ten years. Despite being invited several times, most of my family members have never visited me – they didn’t have time or the journey was too far for them. But for me that’s not a problem?

As a child, I used to love spending Christmas Eve with all my grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins ​​and my parents. But the magic has faded over the years. All that’s left is this nasty feeling in the pit of your stomach.

And the question of why I go there at all when my aunts or cousins ​​haven’t made it into one of my apartments once in ten years. I don’t seem to be important enough to them for that. The truth is also: I no longer care about them either. So I’m doing it differently for the second time this year: My parents are driving to meet me and my boyfriend. You understand why I would like to celebrate here. A Christmas without stressed hosts. Because: I enjoy being a hostess, I enjoy spending hours in the kitchen and having fun decorating the Christmas tree. With that in mind – celebrate Christmas the way you like it!

To protect their families, our Stern authors have decided to only tell their stories anonymously.