Pros/cons: one loves it, the other hates it – two authors about coming home at Christmas

Why I love coming home for Christmas:</p>For as long as I can remember, every Christmas Eve has been pretty much the same: first we eat, then we give presents, then we play and at the end there is hot punch in good company.

Pros/cons: one loves it, the other hates it – two authors about coming home at Christmas

Why I love coming home for Christmas:

For as long as I can remember, every Christmas Eve has been pretty much the same: first we eat, then we give presents, then we play and at the end there is hot punch in good company. You might think that this can get pretty boring over time. But it is exactly what fills me with anticipation days in advance. And it's just one of many reasons why I start my journey home every year with a good feeling in my stomach.

Home, what does that even mean? Each of us may associate the word with something different. For some it's a place, for others it's a person, some find home most likely in themselves. For me, home is a mixture of all of that. Coming home therefore means going back 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 trade the hustle and bustle of the big city for the tranquil hustle and bustle of my 2,000-strong village 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 days. On the way there I smile again and greet everyone who crosses my path and wish them a happy holiday – regardless of whether I know the person or not.

And I'm not alone in that: 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 celebratory and involuntary, but all the more beautiful, class reunion where you can reminisce and catch up together. Coming home is a little journey into the past.

Speaking of which: Our childhood plays a major role in the feelings we associate with coming home. Whatever we associated with home as a child, be it rumours, sounds or specific places, will always give us a sense of well-being. And it is precisely this feeling that we all too seldom consciously experience in our fast-paced world.

The world is such a crazy place and it's getting increasingly confusing; Stability and security have become a collective utopia in the last few years at the latest. For me, my homeland is an anchor point that at least conveys the feeling of stability that so many people long for at this time. Spending a few days with your parents means somehow being able to be a bit of a child again and recovering from the pain of the world.

And that brings us to the most critical point of coming home: the family reunion. Christmas is the celebration of the family - we've been drummed that into us since childhood. And you can certainly dismiss the supposed family idyll on the holidays as hypocrisy. Or you try to see it in a forgiving way, like the psychotherapist Julika Zwack.

She said in an interview with the "Süddeutsche Zeitung": "At Christmas we try to reconnect with each other again and again, despite all the experiences we have each year. That is a wonderful concern. And that we try again and again, although we failing again and again also has a certain beauty. 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 is also something nice about making a conscious decision every year to spend the holidays with the people who have shaped you the most.

While you are now considering which people are your homeland, I am looking forward to the fact that the Christmas tree will once again be a defective specimen, because my mother really always chooses the most needy Nordmann fir, in order to then pamper them lovingly and with oversized Christmas tree decorations. Just like the fact that there is always enough food for a whole football team "so that we all get full".

It may sound banal and exaggerated, but it's those little things that mean home to me. Regardless of how harmonious the year was within the family. I know we all just love each other at Christmas. And that's because we want it and feel it that way, not because "that's how we do it". Even if it's just for a few days. Nobody can take these moments away from you.

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

Chris Rea sings about it in "Driving Home for Christmas," that cozy feeling that sets in on him and everyone in the cars around him as they make their way home. Apparently every adult child has to set out to return to the house where they grew up. That is rarely questioned.

The thought seems too far-fetched, even outrageous: Anyone who scours the net will quickly come across a few forum posts in which people ask whether it is reprehensible if they prefer to sit under the Christmas tree alone or with their partner than with the hunchbacked kin. I know all too well that feeling of obligation to travel hundreds of kilometers across Germany to see my boyfriend's family and my relatives on the holidays.

My heart doesn't beat faster when I reach my home village. I don't have anything like a feeling of home towards the village. Rather, I have a queasy feeling in my stomach because I know that I don't want to spend Christmas there and 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 am supposed to leave at Christmas and spend the days there with my grandmother, parents, uncles, aunts and my boyfriend. For a large part of our families it doesn't matter how much logistical effort is involved in traveling to two federal states across Germany and whether we would like to celebrate Christmas like this. The fact that the wishes and ideas of the festival are not really discussed often causes 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 course and organization of the Christmas days.

So why, year after year, do we do it to ourselves 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 the expectations of others than with looking after ourselves.

But it's not important to me to spend Christmas with some of my family members. Plain and simple, because otherwise we're not really close. An example: My grandmother often complains to my mother that I don't get in touch enough. Although I only found out about this from corners, I felt bad at first and then called my grandmother a few times. The funny thing about it: the conversations sometimes lasted 30 seconds, sometimes a minute before she hung up the phone...

And she's 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 repeated invitations, most of my family members have never visited me - they didn't have time or the distance was too far for them. But that's not a problem for me?

I used to think it was great to spend Christmas Eve as a kid with all my grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins ​​and my parents. But the magic has gone away over the years. All that's left is that 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 in ten years. I don't seem to care enough for them. The truth is also: In the meantime, they are no longer me either. So I'm going to do it differently this year: my parents are going to my friend's and me's place. You understand why I would like to celebrate here. A Christmas without stressed hosts. Because: I like being the hostess, I enjoy spending hours in the kitchen and I enjoy decorating the Christmas tree. With this in mind – celebrate Christmas the way you like it!

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