All posts filed under: Reflections

Austrian Christmas 101

On the twelfth day of Christmas, I thought I’d share some snippets of my holiday with you, since many people have asked about the local customs and how I experienced it for the first time. At Christmas time, the city of Graz and its surrounding villages were oozing with charm. Throughout the month of December, it was a delight to witness the transformation of town squares, storefronts, and living rooms to reflect the merriment of the season. I found the atmosphere no more beautiful than Manhattan’s 5th Avenue window displays or the glowing suburban neighborhoods of my Christmases past. But this year, the wonder came not from sparkle and lights but from long standing traditions and a personal touch that is evident in all things Austrian. The Season of Advent Austrians observe the season of Advent, the period of anticipation and reflection beginning four weeks before Christmas (Weihnachten). Many families display an Advent wreath (Adventkranz) with four candles, each one ignited on the Sundays leading up to Christmas. To count the days until Christmas, our …

Pre-Holidays, Inspiration Trumps Isolation

It’s happening. Fall-themed merchandise is now on clearance, making plenty of room on the shelves for Christmas stuff. Some things aren’t so different from America after all. I’m definitely somber about the absence of Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. Ever since college, the anticipation for Thanksgiving has always paired naturally with the nip in the air, ochre and auburn tones, hearty stews, and a longing for family. But the gaping hole in November on the Austrian calendar is sending me in a tailspin. Without the lockstep cadence of Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas, I’m feeling disoriented. Dear Christmas, hold your horses. Especially because I won’t be with my family in America on Thanksgiving. I know you’re waiting in the wings for your faaaaabulous entrance, and you’ll get it, I promise. I’m just asking for some time to defend myself against an inevitable bout of homesickness. Thanks. If you’ve ever been away from your loved ones during the holidays, you know how much the distance strengthens your love and connection to them, and how acutely it intensifies the loneliness and the guilt. …

On Departing New York

In less than two months, I’ll be leaving New York City. This gargantuan, inspiring, and maddening place has been my home for virtually all of my adult life. I’m feeling at a loss. It’s not just any city. Living in New York requires working yourself to the bone, toughening up, pushing past your comfort zone, and tolerating all kinds of human beings. It forces you to keep your motivations in check. You learn to value people and experiences as part of the process. I take a lot of pride in calling it my home. It’s shaped my character in so many ways that I’ll carry with me as I move on. When I leave, New York will inevitably surge forward without me. I fear that when I return, I’ll be demoted to visitor status. I cringe at the thought of no longer be able to recognize neighborhoods and storefronts, at not being able to navigate the subways with the same dexterity that I once had. I wonder if, when I come back, it will have …

In the Spirit of the New Year

Today, people all over the world are ending the year with reflection and gratitude, while welcoming a new one with hope and opportunity. My 2013 was highlighted by wonderful moments that I will remember many years from now. It also paved the way for a 2014 that will be full of tremendous change in my life: leaving New York City, getting married in Spain, moving to Austria, and taking on new personal and professional goals. I am starting this blog to document these experiences and those still unknown. Happy New Year!