It’s Christmas, so I want to write something very personal. It is said that Christmas is a time for reflection, a time spent with loved ones.
And for me, too, Christmas is one of those moments when I can pause for a minute. But in our family, you don’t really get to relax at Christmas. Because I come from a really big family. I have 10 brothers and sisters. And if you count all the grandmas, grandpas, grandchildren, uncles, nieces, nephews and in-laws, we are probably one of the largest families in Germany.
And to answer the question right away: Yes, we always celebrate Christmas together, because fortunately we all have a really good relationship. I’m not saying that it’s always peace, joy and happiness. But the big dramas of resentment and jealousy, which the television program wants to sell us today as a normal thing, do not exist with us. My parents brought us up as Christians, and faith plays a significant role for all of us – and so Christmas for us is first and foremost a big birthday party. Everyone contributes something to the feast, and prepares something. It has also become a tradition that everyone comes up with something for the festive table. We have goose, duck fillet and roast. My wife makes excellent pork tenderloin.
Our family belongs to those who go to church not only at Christmas – but also at Christmas. This is then above all an event for the children, who enthusiastically watch the nativity play or even play along. Those who are familiar with such services know that it is not quite as contemplative as it usually is in German churches. But that fits much better with a birthday, doesn’t it? And it is precisely in these moments, when everyone is distracted, that my thoughts do not revolve around robotics. Then my thoughts circle around my life, the many gifts and challenges I encounter. Then I get goose bumps and feel deep gratitude for being blessed with such an extraordinary life.
When I was a child, I was especially eager to receive presents at Christmas. I was very lucky with my parents – because it was always important to them to give a lot of presents. Today, as an adult with friends and colleagues in different countries and cultures, I naturally have a completely different perception of Christmas. You guessed it: the thing about charity. For once, I don’t want to suggest that on Christmas we should think of all the people who are starving or at war somewhere. Because their situation will not improve if we think of them once a year at Christmas.
My point is that celebrations like Christmas offer the potential to get to know each other better, to overcome cultural and religious divides and to practice tolerance. These are not empty words for me now. After all, NEURA Robotics employs people from all walks of life and from a wide variety of religious denominations. Some of them have only been living in Germany for a short time, their families are still at home and Christmas is something completely new. This was the case for two Neura colleagues, brothers from India, whom I invited to celebrate Christmas with our family two years ago. Of course, that was an overdose of Christmas for them right away – but I think they really enjoyed it.
So last year, on Christmas Day, we invited everyone from the NEURA team who didn’t have a family and would otherwise have been alone. We always do that now: we share our Christmas joy with others and discover lots of common ground. I don’t know how cohesion works elsewhere. But in a colorful and multicultural society like we have at NEURA Robotics, Christmas is a very special opportunity to strengthen empathy and community spirit.
Blessed Christmas to you all!