Good morning, and happy holidays! And if you celebrate it: Merry Christmas! I’m not religious myself, but I still really enjoy this holiday because of the many fond memories I have from my time growing up in The Netherlands and Germany. In The Netherlands, as children, we get our gifts from Sinterklaas on December 5th, so Christmas was always chiefly a time to spend with family, eating delicious meals and listening to or singing carols. Since the “rules” for gift-giving on Christmas in Holland are somewhat fuzzy, my family created their own tradition, which was to gift each other a book. We’d then spend most of the holidays snuggling up by the tree with our books and a hot beverage of choice. In Germany, we lived in a small town just outside Munich, and my most vivid recollections are of the Münchner Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market), specifically the unmistakable scents of Gebrannte Mandeln and Glühwein. (They say that olfactory memory is one of the strongest types of memory, and it’s definitely true for me in this case.)
Aside from delicious food and books and Christmas markets and Glühwein, though, the thing I associate this holiday with the most is the idea of giving back. So when Andreas asked me to write something for this blog, I knew it should be easy, because giving back to the PHP community is something that is on my mind often. Of course, once I finally started writing, it turned out to be harder than I expected, because suddenly I felt this pressure to say something profound. But I’ve kept reminding myself to just write from the heart and stay true to my authentic self. In that spirit, I’ll share a few thoughts; forgive me if I get a bit rambly in places.