This year, I am noticing an increased number of sentimental waves, as well as an unusually strong afinity towards the Christmas holiday season.

As it is now the first Advent Sunday, I feel it is time to share a little personal bit about how this year has been going so far. It has been a rather eventful year in terms of family matters, health conditions, and some other events that were emotionally challenging in one form or another. As a result, I have been noticing a very strong sense of longing for some peace and quiet. Something to slow things down a bit as the year winds down.

In February, I came down with a serious case of bacterial infection that hit me out of the blue. It was not the result of a cold or pneumonia, it was just a hugely increased level of infectious markers in my blood. It knocked me out within hours, and resulted in my first visit to a hospital in over 12 years. What followed was a real cold I acquired in the hospital waiting area, which shamelessly took advantage of my already weakened immune system.

In March, I then became sick for almost four months with a case of burnout. That got sorted, and resulted in some changes that feel better, but I have a feeling that that’s not completely finished and behind me yet.

Shortly afterwards, on July 13, my grandmother died at the age of 98 after a long life and a few years fighting with dementia. Her funeral was the first I had to attend in a long time, and it brought together family members like a lot of cousins and their children, and in one case grandchild, that I hadn’t seen in many years. I don’t live where the rest of my relatives live, so don’t get to see them often.

In August, after only nine months, my wife and I moved apartments again. We had moved to a different place, a little cheaper and more on the outskirts, that totally didn’t pan out the way we had hoped. Thankfully, due to a chain of totally lucky events, we got our old apartment back. It feels like we had only left for a prolonged vacation, although we actually feel better now that we moved back to the old place.

In October, my aunt, my mom’s younger sister, and her husband celebrated their golden anniversary. Yes, that’s 50 years married. They’re the first in our extended family that I am aware of to have reached this stage. If all goes well, my parents will follow suit in February of 2022. I’ll be 50 one year and two months later. This occasion made me visit my home village again, seeing the whole extended family for the second time this year, and this time actually celebrating.

Speaking of my parents: My mom will be 70 in a few days. I will go there to celebrate with her and see the whole family again, the third time this year.

And we ve just made arrangements with my parents to spend Christmas Eve, which in Germany is the main afternoon/evening of family get-together, presents and such. We haven’t done this in a few years, but this year feels like we really want it. My sister, who lives in Vienna, Austria, now and who I haven’t seen in two years, will also be there.

Yes, family sense and the feeling of wanting to spend more time with them is very strong this year. We started listening to Christmas songs much earlier than usual, in fact the first time I felt all Christmassy was in late October when a random playlist played The House Martins “Caravan Of Love”. And since its release on November 22, Robbie Williams’ “The Christmas Present” has been on shuffle repeat for hours every day. If you haven’t listened to it, I can only encourage you to. It is a gorgeous, emotional, and yes also warm and fuzzy, Christmas album. And funny, too!

To all of you who celebrate it, a very happy first Advent!