Expat Diaries: (not) Driving Home for Christmas
Earlier on in the year, I booked the last 3 weeks of the year off work. Firstly, because I needed to use my holidays up. Secondly, I was still cautiously optimistic that the second wave of the pandemic would be better and we would get our chance to travel back to the UK for Christmas.
We had already missed two trips due to travel restrictions.
It was pretty important to us that we get that big chunk of time to spend with our families and friends. The first time seeing them in over a year.
I was so full of hope.
Germany entered “Lockdown Light” at the beginning of November, which turned into a strict Lockdown as of Wednesday 15th December. One we are not going to see the end of until at least 10th January. Although, if the numbers and amount of people and cars still out and about are anything to go by, I highly doubt we’re getting out of this until the end of January.
England also locked down for a month in November and has now returned to its tier system.
The number of forms required to fill in, different quarantine periods for both countries and different tier systems within England itself simply created too much unnecessary stress in order to visit family that we may not even be able to physically be with anyway.
Why waste a trip when I can’t even hug my Nan?
What could have been.
We should have packed up the car with various German foodstuffs and drinks for people to try. We should have put together a playlist of our favourite podcasts to listen to. It’s a 15-hour drive after all. We were looking forward to driving through the night, soaking up all the festive cheer throughout one of the most Christmassy countries in the world. We were looking forward to staying awake for a full 24 hours because we’re too cheap to get the Euroshuttle or catch a ferry at a normal daytime hour. It’s all part of the fun.
We were looking forward to hugs. To kisses. One too many drinks and six too many mince pies. Answering the same questions from different family members over and over again. How’s life in Germany? What do you do for work? Are you coming home?
And even though there are questions I utterly despise being asked (inevitably) by the grandparents, (what are you doing with your life? When are you getting married?…the usual) I would give anything now to watch one of them tilt their head as they ask sympathetically yet forcefully, “So…any plans to have kids?”
It was the trip I dreamed of all year. It’s what got me through Lockdown number one. It’s the reason I spent the year saving and saving and saving so that when we did go back, I didn’t have to worry about money. I could just enjoy my time with those I love the most.
I am sitting here, with four weeks to kill. I have a huge pile of books to read, workouts to get done, plans to write every day and of course, I have my German to practice.
I will not be short of things to do. I will not be bored.
And we will have the Christmas I had dreamed of. But it might be in June.
A little side note: I’m actually very angry and upset as I write this blog post because I have seen several social media posts from old friends and even family members who have decided that it’s totally fine for them to travel halfway across the world this holiday season (not to worry, they’re all blocked and deleted now – gotta have boundaries!). When the only thing I want in the world is to hug and be with my friends and close family.
This is a reminder that absolutely no non-essential travel should be taking place this holiday season. It will only add fuel to the already burning hellfire that is this pandemic. Non-essential travel is travelling for skiing, for a Christmas getaway because it’s “been a tough year”, getting a tan on, or simply for sex. Just don’t do it.
bis zum nächsten mal / until next time