As much as I love Starbucks, I’ve been feeling left out — they didn’t have any of the typical US autumn offerings here, and I was thinking that Vienna is probably too cool for Starbucks’ traditional red holiday cups and tasty wintry drinks. I’d kind of resigned myself to paying the price of giving up my usual coffee holiday merriment in exchange for spending a wonderful, festive holiday in one of the most Christmassy parts of the world. (It’s a rough life — oh, the sacrifices I must make!)
But today, I went in to Starbucks, and they had the red cups and Christmas drinks! I know it’s a little thing, but thinking about Christmas has been making me really miss home lately, and this was just a little, familiar thing that made me smile.
There’s a lot to smile about in Vienna right now, though, and it’s absolutely impossible not to feel wrapped up in the Christmas spirit — already.
The first of the Christmas markets open this weekend, and preparations are well underway. Trees are going up, lights are being strung, wooden stalls are being filled with wares, boughs of pine are decking the aisles, giant chandeliers are being hoisted (literally) into the sky. Nothing is quite ready yet — the stalls and booths are roped off, and the lights aren’t on yet (mostly), but even so, I feel the excitement and the anticipation of the Christmas season already.
Walking down the Graben (a huge pedestrian shopping area downtown) this evening, and looking at all of the (as yet unlit) decorations, I actually got a little teary. It’s already so beautiful, and I’m impressed and amazed by the city-wide feeling of festiveness and imminent merriment.
When I came home and walked through the front door, I heard the Christmas music that Dan had put on while I was out. Some of it is music I grew up listening to at the holidays, some of it has been added to Christmas more recently (mostly by my sister) but all of it means HOME and HOLIDAY to me. It made me very, very joyful.
I’m very excited about Christmas, but I also miss my family. I’m not sad, but I so badly wish that I could share all the magic and wonder of this experience with them. They mean so much to me, and they ARE Christmas to me. I am here, eagerly anticipating the Christmas season in Vienna, but my heart is split between here and home.