When I was a little girl, my parents always made very special Christmas's for us. As an adult, my memories of those times have encouraged me to celebrate the holidays not just as the one day for Christmas, but as an entire season.
Sometimes these urges push me, and those around me, to a level of expectation that can be a bit stressful at times. When my son Nick was a young teenager, I realized that somehow I had given him the wrong message about the meaning of Christmas. At the time, I wrote a fictionalized story of about those feelings. I posted the story on this web site this Christmas. You can find it here.
Even though I had recognized the 'craziness', I didn't change much. In 1999, Herbert and his daughter Natacha flew to Minnesota to celebrate Christmas with me and Nick. Both Herbert and Natacha were overwhelmed with the number of gifts that were under the tree. I tried to explain to them that in my family, opening gifts always took hours. If a gift could be separated into pieces, we wrapped each piece separately. In 2000, Herbert's son Yves came with Herbert and Natacha for Christmas in Minnesota. Natacha had filled him in on my gift 'thing' and he came prepared with many wrapped packages in his suitcases. The five of us packed gifts under the tree and laughed when the overflow of gifts had to be placed not only under the grand piano that I had, but on top of it as well.
2001 was my first Christmas in Oberwil. That year, as I unpacked the Christmas decorations that I had shipped from the US, Herbert's mom Frieda quietly watched me. When I brought my Christmas china down from the attic, she just shook her head. But, when Natacha and I decorated the tree that year, Herbert's mom cried. I thought we had gone a little too far. Then Herbert explained that she was happy and had said that it was the first time in many years that there was a Christmas tree in this house.
We now have the tradition of having Christmas dinner at our house with the kids, Herbert's parents, his brother's family and our friend René. I have come to be known as the one that's a little crazy about Christmas. I accept this because I think that even though everyone jokes, they also enjoy it.
This year was my fifth Christmas with Herbert. We decided that we would do our best to take it easy on the gift giving and we did. I also did less baking that I usually do. We relaxed and enjoyed the season with family and friends, which is, I think, the way it's supposed to be.
The following photos are a view of our Christmas this year in Oberwil.
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|1 - When I had Christmas in Minnesota, Herbert and Natacha and I baked Christmas cookies. I wanted to keep that tradition. On Sunday the 21st, Natacha and her boyfriend Patrick came over to bake. Here they are cutting out the sugar cookies.||2 - Yves (who lives in an apartment in the lower level of our house) came upstairs to say hi and ended up helping decorate some of the cookies.||3 - While we worked on the cookies, Herbert worked on our dinner. He made one of his many specialties - homemade weinerschnitzel and french fries.|
|4 - Laurence and Andreas were home for a visit from Australia and came over for a Christmas brunch on Monday the 22nd.||5 - Andreas made all of these beautiful sandwiches for our brunch. I ended up trying all of them and they were delicious!||6 - This little guy is a Gritibänz. It's a traditional Swiss Christmas bread that Laurence baked. He was so cute that I had a hard time eating him.|
|7- Laurence had hidden behind our cat Sid in picture number 4 and so I took this one of her.||8 - The afternoon of the 24th, we stopped by the Sternen to give Mädi a Christmas gift and stayed for a drink.||9 - In 2002, Herbert and I spent all of Christmas Eve wrapping gifts. This year, since we had decided to take it easy, we saved Christmas Eve as our private time. Herbert made fondue and we were actually able to relax.|
|10- Herbert's father had built a guest room for us on the lower level of the house. We convert it to a dining room when we need space. This year, Herbert bought two new dining room tables to accommodate everyone.||11 - The table in our kitchen, set up for dessert.||12 - Our tree and the gifts. Believe it or not, this is a mellow amount of packages. There were eleven of us giving and receiving gifts this year.|
|13- Natacha always plays Santa for us and distributes the gifts.||14 - Yves opening a gift.||15 - Natacha opening a gift.|
|16- And... Herbert opening a gift.||17 - This photo is a little dark, but it's the only photo I was in.||18 - Patrick, Natacha and Yves watching the gifts being opened.|
|19- Herbert's nephew Florian watches as Hans opens a present from me and Herbert.||20 - Our friend René opening a gift from us.||21 - Frieda and Herbert's sister-in-law Hela.|
|22- After we finished opening gifts, we had an appetizer with champagne.||23 - Patrick and Natacha in the buffet line.||24 - Christmas dinner.|
|25- Patrick and Florian.||26 - Yves and René.||27 - René and Natacha.|
|28- Hans and Frieda||29 - Herbert and Hela.||30 - We asked a few of our friends to join us for drinks and desserts for Christmas evening. As they started to arrive, the table got crowded.|
|31- Later in the evening, after the family left.||32 - Even later in the evening.||33 - We had so much fun - until early morning - that we've decided to always invite friends for the evening as part of our Christmas traditions in Oberwil.|