Season’s greetings 2021
My daughter saw the advertisement for the Christmas story in the newspaper and she was excited and asked if she should participate. Immediately we started to think of some funny topics for her story and her imagination was wild – I told her that maybe she should write something more personal than an out-of-the-world fantasy story and then she. gave me THE LOOK – which, of course, is true enough, if this is to be her story, she has to write it exactly as she wants it! But it got me thinking about what to write and I decided to give it a go, so let’s go …
For this story you’ll have to do a bit of time travel and even change continents as I’m taking you back to around 1985 in central Switzerland. At that time, I was an elementary school student, around 2nd grade.
I need to tell you a little bit about the meaning of a satchel and the accompanying pencil case. At the start of your school career, it is at the age of seven in Switzerland, you will go to a store with your godparents who will then be busy choosing your schoolbag and pencil case.
It really is a ceremony and this bag and case will either be your birthday present for that year or under the Christmas tree, depending on what time of year your birthday is.
This purchase is your first step towards adulthood, no more kindergarten, but almost fully adult!
Back then, school bags were made of leather, and so was it. You would keep it for the rest of your school career and your life. My bag was orange and my case was green.
And this is where we come into the part of the Christmas story.
December for me, when I was a kid, was the longest month of the year. In my imagination, you could easily squeeze a few months into those 24 days that would go by very slowly until Christmas was finally here. In Switzerland in 1985, there was no Christmas tree until December 24 and for me the Christmas tree was the most beautiful thing in the world.
Instead of Santa Claus, in Switzerland there is the Christmas Child (an angel with wings and a halo) coming down from the sky and bringing the Christmas tree to each family, lit candles and all, gifts included.
However, the Christmas child mastered this task, I did not know – but I believed in it thanks to the ingenuity of my mother.
Come December 24, my mom was in a baking frenzy. In the early afternoon she packed all of these baked goods and my brother and I had to go with her to deliver all these fresh treasures to many of the elders in our church. My brother and I would recite Christmas poems to the elderly who then gave us cookies and mint tea in return.
Meanwhile at home (which my brother and I didn’t know about) was our dad, setting up and decorating the tree and laying out the presents.
When we returned from our delivery tour the lounge was locked and the whole house filled with a very solemn and mysterious atmosphere. We had to wait for a specific bell to ring that came from the Christmas child and then we could walk into the living room.
The weird and funny thing was, and I pieced it together after many years, that my mom had to do the laundry right before every Christmas Eve.
Our laundry was downstairs in the basement. But what she was actually doing was getting around the pile of laundry and out of the basement, running around the house, climbing out the living room window, lighting all the candles on the floor. tree and leaving the window open, which when going out, she left garlands for evidence stuck to the curtains. Then she rang and ran around the house and went back to the basement to do her laundry.
The ringing of the bell was a sign that we could enter the living room – and he was standing there in all its glory, the Christmas tree with burning candles and packages underneath! The magical atmosphere, the view and the smells, I will never forget! During this time, my mother was always in “laundry mode”.
With all of this knowledge about my Christmas tree enthusiasm, you now have to go back to the beginning of December, when the Christmas excitement has just started and the Advent calendars have only opened a few doors. Christmas was still far away. Electric Christmas lights and light decorations were virtually non-existent in our village in 1985.
Electrically illuminated trees throughout our village could be counted on the fingers of one hand. But our neighbor had a gas station along this big main road and he used to put up a Christmas tree in early December, right next to the gas pump.
On my way to school every day in December, I would stop at this tree and stand right in front of it in awe – who cares about traffic or the gas pump as long as there is a tree of Christmas on!
But the picture was incomplete through my child’s eyes. The gifts below were missing! I decided to do something to change that and went home to find things that I could wrap and lay under that Christmas tree next to the gas pump.
Wrapped all kinds of trinkets, maybe 10 gifts all together, all in different papers with bows and cards.
I don’t remember what one of the gifts it was like – I packed my green leather pencil case that I got from my godmother and that I’m supposed to have for my life – what I don’t because I put it under that tree next to the gas station, open to the public.
I remember admiring my project and coming home – but a little later I realized that it might not have been the best idea in my life – however, the mind Christmas I had understood and every year when Christmas comes I will remember my green leather case and hope someone really liked it. It was then that my career as a Good Samaritan began.
May you have a beautiful Christmas this year with a magnificent tree!