For many years (ie pre baby) I considered the silly season to start with the Melbourne Cup in early November and finish with my birthday in early February. It included end of work drinks, Christmas, Happy New Beers, many summer barbeques and the odd weekend away and admittedly a significant number of before midday champagnes. My change in life circumstances has curtailed this extravaganza somewhat, however there’s still a silly season to be had. This year, it started officially for me with the lass’s first birthday, days before Christmas. We were still in Dijon, where two little cousins weren’t quite sure what was going on but knew something was up.
Something delicious. It was the second time in her life she’d tried cake – the first was at Fletcher’s first birthday – and although she made a valiant effort she preferred the strawberries. I’m not entirely sure whose daughter she actually is.
We returned to Switzerland in time to prepare for our first Swissmass. The views from our apartment helped get us in the festive spirit.
Our little miss watched as the house filled up – her second Christmas she was spoiled by having two of her aunts to stay with her and give her all the cuddles.
Traditionally in this neck of the woods Christmas is celebrated primarily on Christmas Eve, which is when the Christkind comes. The tree is assembled that night (often with real candles) and the family celebrates together and exchanges gifts. I wasn’t sure how that worked logistically, but apparently the parents go into a room with the tree and set it up and get the gifts ready while the unusually well behaved children wait patiently outside the room (I guess they’ve been scared senseless by Schmutzli a few weeks prior, so that may help). Once the ‘Christkind’ has done his job, a small bell is rung. The kids then line up in order of age and go into the room where they sing carols and are given their gifts.
We were too busy auditioning for Embarrassing Family Photos to carol and ring bells.
We had a house full of family and friends and as such the Christkind came and went, largely unobserved. Instead, we decided to stroll around Luzern and check out the Christmas lights.
There was a distinct lack of Glühwein as everyone was at home ringing bells and carolling, so we too adjourned for our Swissmas Eve dinner – fondue bourguignon. This was a traditional cheese fondue (garlic clove rubbed around the pot, and a mix of local cheese melted with kirsch and swiss wine) with bread, potatoes, pickles and beef for dipping. I’d never made it before, but how can one ever go wrong with an epic bowl of melted cheese?
One can’t, is the answer.
There was much merriment (and a late night viewing of a classic Christmas film, Home Alone).
The following morning the white Christmas we’d hoped for hadn’t quite arrived so we improvised with the girl’s present. Much of the day was spent indoor tobogganing (kids) and sipping bubbles (adults).
We had my sister and her family, Tim’s sister and her partner and some friends from Australia (one of whom lives in Berlin and the other who was here on hols) spend the day with us, leisurely eating and drinking, chatting and laughing. Instead of a lonely first Christmas away from Australia, we had a happy bustling home, tiding well for our new life here.
As the light dwindled and our first Swissmass drew to a close, there was evidence of more than one of us with festive hangovers.