Anne G from Carol Perry’s Bainbridge, WA cluster shares her impressions of her first American Christmas:

After 5 months in the USA I got to spend my first American Christmas with a family which had become my second family over the time. I was scared of the upcoming holidays because I knew from former Au Pairs that the American Christmas is very different.

Everything started after Thanksgiving. The Thanksgiving holidays were barely over and everyone started to decorate for Christmas. There was a lot of Christmas decoration in our house, from a giant polar bear on the front porch to a singing Santa. We even had a Christmas tree at the end of November! In Germany we always picked a Christmas tree three days before Christmas and decorated it the evening before Christmas. That was very different here. I think the time before Christmas was similar here in the US. They don’t celebrate the 4 advent Sundays or have advent calendars, but it was a lot of family time. I baked a lot of German Christmas cookies in that time with my best friend; because that was a part we really missed. Baking Christmas cookies with my mum is a tradition for me at Christmas time. So my host family got to try all kinds of German Christmas cookies.

And now about Christmas itself: The 24th was totally different here. I had the feeling there was no Christmas spirit in my host family, because I think the 24th is the most important day of theChristmas tree Christmas holidays in Germany. But the evening was really nice. We ate dinner together and after dinner we went to church and the service was beautiful! That was the first moment when I really got a feeling of Christmas. The 25th started with a lot of presents. There was such a huge amount of presents underneath the Christmas tree. I have never seen a room filled with so many presents. I think we opened presents for almost three hours, but we took a breakfast break. After opening presents we went to my host grandpa’s house and celebrated Christmas. The 25th was similar to the 25th in Germany, except for the presents. I’m used to opening presents on the 24th, but being with the whole family was very similar.

It was a very nice experience to celebrate Christmas in a foreign country and to learn about new traditions. My host family included me in their traditions and really gave me the feeling to be a part of their family. That was really nice. Anyway I’m looking forward to celebrating a German Christmas again at the end of this year.