Month 5 mark

Here we are, surrounded by unbelievable Christmas festive-ness which feels like being on a movie set. Except like every good movie there are always plot twists that keep you from fully letting down your guard.

I feel like I’m always at least one step behind in figuring out life here. On the way to hockey this aft D said “are you sure this isn’t one of those special practices where we need to be early?”

“I’m not sure of anything here Buddy.”

It’s true. I get 14 emails a week about hockey, none of which I can read and google-translate really only gives me the coles notes. Details are missed.

This conversation happened right after I made us miss the bus to get to hockey on time. Whoops-a-daisy.

In my defence, getting out of the house was a challenge. I was dealing with a sobbing child, begging to quit hockey. In his opinion, Switzerland has ruined hockey for him. This breaks my heart. This is a kid who eats, sleeps and breathes hockey. And now he hates it?

Well, not exactly.

He hates the group shower and as of late, it has become mandatory. He’s no longer able to flee the dressing room like a house on fire. Correction…he does still flee it like it’s on fire but now he does so dripping wet. He gets in and out of that shower in record time and emerges from the dressing room still dripping, literally. The other kids all know that showering is mandatory and it is the fact that all his teammates remind him, at every practice and game, multiple times, that showering is mandatory, that has him in a state.

That and the nakedness. It’s his own personal showering peer pressure hell.

And for this he was ready to throw in the towel. Ha! That metaphor just took on so much more meaning for me!

While my boy was sobbing and begging me to let him quit hockey, 5 minutes before we needed to leave the house for the bus, I did my best to supportively tell him that showering was not a reason to quit hockey. If this year away has taught us anything it is that quitting when things get tough is not an option.

Pushing through, surviving, saying “look at us! We’re doing this!” is worth it.

But it’s hard.

Thank goodness for packages of Christmas goodness that keep arriving in the mail creating scenes like this that make us smile.

Crafting busily on the daily advent craft. Great idea Les!
They gasped when opening the gingerbread village kit. So much joy. Thanks Tim & Janey.

While today was tough, yesterday was pretty darn great. Yesterday is a big deal in Switzerland. Dec 6th is when Santa comes. Samichlaus here. Santa is not part of Christmas Day here. Santa is also not a jolly old fellow with cheeks so merry and a belly like a bowl full of jelly. His job description here differs significantly from his North American counterpart.

As researched we learned that Samiclaus (along with a creepy side-kick Schmutzli) strolls from the forest into town and visits the kids in person to tell them how naughty or nice they have been. Kids are expected to rehearse a poem and make a promise to better themselves for the upcoming year. He leaves behind nuts, fruit and, of course, chocolates. In decades past, the legend tells that kids were actually trapped in Samichlaus’s bag and kidnapped! That is why, so the legend claims, the Swiss children are well behaved.

Image result for samichlaus
Well doesn’t that make you feel all warm & fuzzy.
Because they are terrified out of their wits! 

I do like the separation of Santa from Christmas. It was nice to be able to get this part over with early. It has way less pressure than staging a late-night chimney break-in complete with artfully gnawing carrot ends and cookies all while praying that the kids are finally asleep so you can go to bed.

This merriment (read: terror fest) takes place in the afternoon/evening. You’ve got all the time in the world to plan and there’s no need for secrecy. Sort of.

We did not order a personal  Samichlaus visit in advance (you’re welcome kids!) and so I did need to “plant” a gift from him. Helena came home at lunch to announce “we need a shoe!”

“Pardon me?”

“We need to put out a shoe and then Santa leaves snacks in it.”

“Fantastic! Get one of Daddy’s, they’re the biggest.”

And so, while they were back at school, I filled the shoe with the traditional nuts, fruit and chocolate. Easy peasy.

Dad has cowboy boots? Sweet, we’ll get loads of stuff!

Helena still believes.

I have a great deal of one-on-one time with my kids here and so had “the talk” with D just last week. Simply asked him “what do you think of Santa?” as there is great conversation about how weird it is that Santa is so totally different here. He replied. “I think you and Dad are Santa.” Bingo.

And not a minute too soon as when Samichlaus arrived at his classroom yesterday his teacher announced “Santa is NOT real.” Glad we got that out of the way.

But the magic is still alive. We still found ourselves cuddled up on the couch in front of Elf last night giggling away. And now we have Christmas day to look forward to, surrounded by family, able to reflect on exactly how blessed we are, wishing baby Jesus a happy birthday and over eating and drinking. On Dec 24th…that’s the big day here.

The kids are in school up until the 23rd. But just for a short day.

Sort of.

Helena will be dismissed by 9:30. Diego will be dismissed at 10:00 but needs to be there at…

6:25!!!!

What!?!?!?

Why!?!?

I have no idea. They don’t share that sort of information. These are the plot twists that sneak up on you like a panther leaving you thinking “What is wrong with this country!?”

And then scenes like this make you realize that they are doing somethings very right.

Christmas trees in the centre of all ice rinks. So great. Volunteered at Helena’s skating field trip this morning.

Best bold mistletoe I’ve ever seen.

Perhaps the most spectacular real tree I’ve ever witnessed. I don’t think NYC even does it this well.

Giant department stores wrapped up like a big present.
We were lucky enough to catch a brigade of motorcycling santas. Caught up with them all smoking and drinking in the square.
Pop-up outdoor bars are everywhere. Including this igloo one.
 

So what do I know for sure at this 5 month mark?

I know that we can count on life to continually push us to grow. For that I am thankful.

I know that there will always be a balance of all that is right and good and that which frustrates, confuses and sometime angers us. Without that balance how would we know when things are super awesome?

I know that my boy will make it through hockey here and it will make him love his funny little pond-league so much more once we’re back.

I know that as long as Helena still believes I will happily stay up until WAY LATER THAN 9:30 to put out presents from Santa. Who are we kidding, Santa is still totally coming to our house this year. And now I have an extra helper with D in the know. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. 

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