Each year as the holidays roll in and we start to get ready for the festivities, we are once again reminded of the differences of raising our children in Europe.
As we stood under the glow of a charming square, listening to our son’s second grade class sing carols in the crisp, misty air, I smiled and created a mental checklist of how things are different here. Not better, nor worse, simply different, and after nine years, we have learned to embrace the new, wrap our arms around the unfamiliar and smile with the realization that we are exposing our children to a culture outside of our own. It is a beautiful blend of old and new.
Christmas Carols/Songs – We have grow accustom to our children singing songs in different languages, filling our hearts with joy as they learn the words and we too, start to sing along with them. The traditional carols of our childhood don’t always exist here, but we are learning to expand our play list.
Christmas Markets – The Christmas Markets are nothing short of magical. With tiny wooden structures selling anything from glühwein, to hot chocolate, to hand made wooden gifts, the smell, the energy and the people all create a festive atmosphere.
Christmas Performances – Our children are always in some sort of Christmas performance and as they stand on stage, deliver their lines in German or Swiss German, we gaze over at one another and smile. This is such a special time for us as a family, watching our young children so fully engaged in their schools with their friends, and for a moment we forget that we don’t understand much of what is being said and we smile in delight.
Lights – The streets are lined with Christmas trees and tiny white lights, the city center glows and the city is a festive place to observe as the sun fades over the Rhine.
Time Off – Each year during the holidays we slow down. Robert takes time off of work, the children are free from school and together we create memories, gather around the tree, bake Christmas cookies, hike in the snow and simply enjoy time together as a family. There is no rush, no call to return to work, rather it is as it should be, quiet, and calm with no external pressures.
Raclette – With our freshly purchased raclette machine (a machine that melts slabs of cheese and keeps potatoes and meat warm), we gathered around table and enjoyed melted cheese over potatoes, with side salads. A delicious tradition we are now making our own over the holidays.
2 X Christmas – Did you know that each year the Swiss Post in conjunction with the Swiss Red Cross and SRG SSR, ships (free of charge) the items you donate (food and useful items) to those families with limited means in Switzerland and abroad?
This year to help celebrate their 20th year of giving, the Swiss Post, the SRG SSR and the Swiss Red Cost will be donating items to Armenia, their chosen country.
If you are looking for a way to contribute to the holiday cheer by helping those in need, all donations can be dropped off in a box at your local post office from the 24th of December through the 7thth of January. This is a great way to teach children empathy for others as well. This year, together as a family, we shopped for items for those in need, built our boxes and dropped them off at the post.
Gutes Rutsch ins Neue Jahr