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A memorable Christmas and new year’s

Hey Worthington,

Happy New Year 2017! But before I tell you how I welcome the new year, I want to tell you what happened in the last two weeks of 2016.

Before I came to my second host family I prepared a so-called “Advent wreath,” which is kind of a German tradition. It consists of four candles in a circle that are attached to a wreath with green twigs and branches. Every Sunday in December, one candle is lit to express the waiting and the excitement for the birth of Jesus Christ.

My weekends in December consisted of a lot of patience — driving my host mom’s car, lighting candles, preparing goodies (I am about to keep all the recipes in a book) and waiting for Christmas. The last days of school before winter break started were literally running away. With my hockey team, I had every week a game, and on the last day of school Meet the Trojans girls hockey took place. It was game day. Starting early in the afternoon, the Trojans played three games that day. I got to play in the junior varsity game followed by the girls varsity. After the games, we girls gathered in the Dryland Room, and as the doors opened people streamed into it to get a signed poster of the hockey girls. It was more than cool. I mean, I have been to Meet the Trojans nights before, but sitting there giving your own signature and just feeling that you are part of the team is a completely different feeling — and it’s great! After that evening, my cheeks were hurting because I smiled so much, but I couldn’t help it.

On that Friday before Christmas, it was time for some tubing in the Great Bear Ski Valley near Sioux Falls. With my host family and their relatives from South Carolina, we had a blast sliding down the soft hills covered with snow and getting warmed up after a long afternoon with apple cider in the commons. This was the perfect definition of winter break for me! My host family shared with me their two biggest passions: the annual Alumni Ice Hockey game at the arena, because my host brother Mitchell — who had come home for Christmas just a few days earlier — played in it. Their passion for the Green Bay Packers was very obvious, as I figured out  while watching the football game in the TV. The Shreiners completed their mission in converting me into a Packers fan, to be completely honest.

Christmas Eve was to spend with family. Together, we went to the church service downtown. I was impressed. Meeting the people, it felt like we were one big family sitting around the fireplace, singing and just listening.

As soon as we were home, our Christmas dinner began. It consisted of lasagna, and it was great. The real Christmas dinner would be on Christmas day. After the food was succesfully stored in our tummy, we were ready to unwrap our Christmas presents. The plan was following: one person grabbed the presents lying under the tree and distributed them to each person, but nobody unwrapped their gifts before all of the presents were distributed. That was new to me and fast because soon all the gifts were unwrapped and, at the Shreiners’ house. a marshmallow fight began due to the fact that we wanted to use our gifts right away. My best Christmas present for me was that I got my official driving permit. I mean, I got my permit one month ago when I passed my test, but now I got the hard copy and it is official now. Watch out Worthington, there is a German student driver behind the wheel hungry to take on the roads.

In Germany, I have heard about the tradition that Americans put a plate with cookies and a glass of milk next to the Christmas tree in case Santa stops by. And indeed we did it. But instead of Santa eating it, we ate them the next morning. CJ ,the family dog, woke me up on Christmas day. He was an effective weapon if he started licking. The reason why it was so urgent to get me out of bed was the fact that we still had to unwrap “Santa’s presents.” I completely forgot it because I was just not used to getting gifts on Christmas morning.

Right after, we girls started to prepare our christmas dinner. My host mum, my host sister, their aunt and me shared the kitchen to do some magic. I was in charge of the cranberry salad. I was amused by the fact what Americans understand under the expression of salad — a lot of sugar, that is for sure.

Christmas Day was a day of hanging out together as a family and sharing one mutual passion: food. Just like my Thanksgiving, it was unforgettable, and I will keep it in my heart.

In the following week during ice hockey practice I realized how good the holidays had treated me and my tummy, but now it was the time to start training again. I was glad that we did it as a team. Although it was winter break, I was relieved that I could meet with my team and that we did something. On that Thursday in December, it was game day. We departed early in the morning from the Worthington Hockey Arena with the bus packed with all of our gear to compete in Austin at the girls hockey tournament. We gave a lot and one more time we grew stronger as a team. But the day was not over yet. On this day, one of my biggest dreams came true. Since I first put my feet on Minnesotan ground, I wished to see the Minnesota Wild play and attend a real authentic American NHL game. This dream came true on that Thursday, the 29th of December, in St.Paul. Directly after we got done with our game in Austin, my host family picked my host sister Maddy and me up from our hockey game to get to St. Paul in time. And we made it. The Wild played the New York Islanders, and they won 6-4 after a very intense game where even their goalie Dubnyk got smacked down in a fight in the last minute. It was incredibly exciting. I was simply impressed by the size of the arena and the amount of Wild fans that gathered to support their team. I personally made a sign for the Wild as well to express my German support. Since it was my very first Wild game, my host family took me to the guest service to receive a certificate with my name on it and a special Minnesota Wild puck. A great way to end a great year with a highlight of it!  Experiencing ice hockey in such an unforgettable way was great.

The end of the year came closer and closer. On the day of New Year’s Eve, I went shopping with my host mum and host sister to Sioux Falls. We drove in nice sunshine and were determined to trade our gift cards in the Empire Mall! We returned to Worthington just in time to attend the open skate. I met some friends there I hadn’t seen in awhile, and we had tons of fun. I remember attending my very first open skate just two months earlier, when I could barely stand on ice skates and needed assistance with every step I made. Now, looking back on the past two months, I am proud of myself being brave enough to make the best out of my opportunities.

I am incredibly thankful for how 2016 has treated me, and I’m glad that I have so much support of so many people in so many different ways. For that I say thank you! But the year was not over yet. I celebrated the coming of 2017 with my host family at home. We saw the ball drop at Times Square in New York and how the fleur de lille in New Orleans dropped. That was amazing to see for me since we just have this one time zone in Germany. Hugs and happy-new-year wishes filled the room, and I stayed up late just to enjoy the New Year. To be honest, I do not have any resolutions for the new year, except to not make too many resolutions and live more in the moment.

With the new year, school came back but no boredom. In my stained glass class I started with a new art project, and in ice hockey we continued to practice hard as a team. In the first week of January, we’ve already had two hockey games. We lost both, but we developed a sense as a team — a team spirit — which made me think optimistically. It was time for Meet the Trojans boys basketball, and as a member of the Trojan Pep Band I cheered loudly as they won. With the first weekend of January, the Winter Formal Dance came closer. And so I gathered my friends on that Saturday afternoon at my house to get ready, and we all got pumped up for the winter formal. We took tons of pictures, danced, played basketball, worked at the concession stands and had an unforgettable evening. Now I know how queens feel at their royal dances.

Have a great start into your 2017!