I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas?
Updated: Dec 21, 2022
I wanted a white Christmas, dammit.
Let's roll the tape back to last year for a moment.
When The Scientist and I traveled back home to the States last year, our return dates had already been predetermined by our past selves looking for a great Round Trip deal. (Thanks, past me!) And so it was: home for the holidays, warm and balmy in the South and snowy in the North.
So, of course, we spent Thanksgiving here in Vilnius last year.
I'll paint the picture for you: international friends spilled into our shiny, new flat for a very, um, idiosyncratic Thanksgiving. I won't lie - I got a huge kick out of the German and Lithuanian-made American staples like cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. That just doesn't happen every day. It was great!?
But I wanted the best of both worlds, y'all. I was so curious about Christmas here in Vilnius. I'd heard about a Christmas train to Kaunas, and I was experiencing the spirited Christmas market in Old Town - small but mighty! The Christmas tree was lit up front and center against the cold air, making the weather way more palatable to all of us crazies imbibing karštas vynas (hot wine).
Alright, we're back to 2022. This year, I was intentional in my decision to go back to America at Thanksgiving and celebrate Christmas in Lithuania. (I mean, I don't celebrate Christmas, but I do celebrate sparkly trees, warm spirits, and the Solstice! Y'all get me.) Plus, there's that whole Kūčios curiosity - a tight-knit Christmas Eve family celebration popular in this region of the world.
I feel like I made the right choice, y'all.
So far, I've celebrated the end of the year with the wonderful ladies of Girl Gone International, attended the Vilnius University Christmas party, froze my ass off in a scavenger hunt around Old Town with International House Vilnius, recharged in steams rooms in Druskininkai (again!), and most recently, visited the largest manor in Lithuania for a wild holiday light show.
If we're honest, my husband tried to surprise me with this event, knowing full well I'd enjoy it even more than Austin's Trail of Lights. (I mean, a festive event at a manor!? Davai!) But even though I figured it out, I still readied myself for the experience.
We piled in our friend Martynas's Rav4 and gratefully watched the 4pm sunset - an unusual sight these days! Both huge gearheads, Martynas and my scientist talked cars and motorcycles literally the whole way there and the whole way back. (Meanwhile, I melted into the sun and pet my personal heater in the backseat.)
Not only is this the largest manor in Lithuania, Pakruojis Dvaras has also been the most clearly renovated. During the summertime, it hosts a huge flower festival, as well as Shakespeare festivals, and also offers overnight stays in its mansion quarters. (Note to self: come back for this!) I touched some beautiful 19th-century manor's stylized dresses, which my friend Svajūnė tells me can also be rented to wear around the grounds. In between energetically loud lions and trippy pinkish elephants, I sighted a child on a camel ride, a bumbling polar bear, shimmering dreamcatchers, bold dragons, and a room filled with crystal and tarot cards. (Also: why!?)
There was so much to see at every corner, and I could tell that these grounds were just as aesthetically pleasing in other seasons. And although the ride took five hours round trip, I've gotta say, y'all: it was worth it. This is exactly why I wanted to stay in Lithuania for the holidays.
I may not celebrate Christmas, but I've definitely got hold of the spirit Lithuania is bringing. I'm picking up what you're putting down, Lietuva.
Are you doing anything special for the holidays? Visiting any neighboring spots? Forest bathing? Lounging at home watching The Happiest Season with your Zen Master dog? (Just me?) Happy holy days with whatever you're doing - every day is holy, right? And most importantly, I hope you all have a meaningful Winter Solstice or Summer Solstice! If you're in the Northern Hemisphere like me, you understand the beauty of letting in the light while sitting in the darkness. All of these experiences are colliding with vibrant color, sound, snow, sleet, community, a white Christmas. I'm in the presence of all colors, a glittering white.
As per usual, feel free to subscribe at the bottom of this page to receive a bi-weekly email from me on whatever's on my heart that day! And as always, I'll see you next time here at Into the Forests I Go - iki pasimatymo - see you soon!