Summer

homey for the holidays

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it’s incredible how a couple of songs, like smells, can transport you to a different state of mind. music carries so many memories and it’s always around the holidays that i’m digging out all of my favorite christmas albums from years past, some from genres i would never normally listen to and others from genres i wish i could listen to more!

and isn’t it funny that all of the memories attached to our favorite songs were from times that just sort of slipped by? times that you didn’t actually know would later become a cherished memory? i sometimes wonder this as i listen to my new lucie bílá christmas album and ponder if this czech singer is going to remind me of these years sometime later. and if i will feel that these years were special. it’s impossible to tell that right now, but i’m just going to err on the side of “yes” and enjoy every moment.

there’s nsync’s home for christmas album that is undoubtedly amazing despite your position on late-nineties boy bands. my new classic from the college years, sufjan stevens’ songs for christmas that always reminds me of driving around fidalgo island in the snow on christmas day in the grey fading daylight. clint black’s searching for christmas is like a big snuggly christmas security blanket of lovely memories of being at home for the holidays. but if you can’t be home, that making yourself feel homey is the next best thing. i am cranking these christmas tunes at almost every free hour i get (because you all should know by now that i was basically born a christmas elf) and it’s a great way to fill this big ol’ house in the czech republic with good holiday feelings that i can take with me wherever i go.

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then, there’s the candles. ALL THE CANDLES! i took a tip from bailie and decided this winter would be the winter of my discontent candles. every room. burning. all the time. i was especially delighted to discover this brilliant advent calendar candle at tiger the other week. (two birds with one stone!) there are notches that tell you how far to burn down the candle as it gets closer to christmas. i always felt like the four candles for advent weren’t enough– this baby’s gonna burn every day! behind, you can see my milka advent calendar. i decided to go fancy this year after 20kc discount store advent calendars the past two years in a row. i mean, i’m growing up. i’m twenty eight now, so this means it’s time to get serious about my advent calendars.

(wait, what?)

holiday cheer has been holding strong since the opening of the advent markets in budějovice last weekend. i love how beautiful our market is and how like a christmas village it really does become around this time of year. countless people gathering at the many punc stands with friends, smiling; kids running around ringing the christmas bell or enjoying a pony or carousel ride. and the live music every night is so much fun. after my last class ended in the square the other evening, i joined the crowds in watching a very talented local folk group banjo it out to all the best christmas tunes with a czech spin. spending the holidays away from home is not so terrible when there is basically a christmas party going on every day and night! 

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st. mikuláš eve was last night and i was looking forward to it allll week. it’s a perfectly festive night out at the christmas markets…. meets devils (čert) running amok! i spoke a bit about this tradition last week, but it was fun to see the devil get right up in the faces of children and growl. (am i mean for thinking this is hilarious?)

i was so pleased that alex could come this year to experience what is a uniquely budějovice tradition: the angel that flies down from the black tower and then transforms into a GIANT angel which circumnavigates the square in about thirty minutes. the angel speaks to the crowd and then walks around greeting children, thowing “fairy dust” down below. with a mug of vanočni punč in hand, it was such a magical evening. and fortunately the weather decided to cooperate as it was the warmest night it had been in weeks! i still wore three pairs of socks for the occasion. if i’ve learned anything living in central europe, it’s how to layer and not just for your arms. legs and toes need some love too so i don’t clomp home with giant ice blocks for feet like i did last year. 

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so my fresh wreath has been hung (and the one on the door, too), lights in the windows are twinkling, and the evergreen candle smell is wafting through the house. because if you can’t be home, make it homey!

the next adventure: purchasing of the tree (coming soon). happy december!

ps, more festive posts from the archives: last year’s mikuláš eve and a word on christmas

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