Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pre-Holiday Musings

Well, I’m back from America from the 16th annual Misfit Thanksgiving and already throwing myself into the Swiss Christmas Hoo-Haw.  We have got a lot to catch up on, so let’s get started.

In early November, Mr. Big had a meeting scheduled in Gdansk, Poland.  Would you like to go to Poland with me, Trailing Spouse?  Umm, I don’t know, really, Mr. Big.  WOULD I like to go to Poland? 

I was picturing a country entirely rebuilt from rubble after 1945 in communist-bloc style architecture, gloomy and gray, with an abundance of kielbasa shops and women wearing kerchiefs and army boots.  Stupid American!

Gdansk was great!  They did rebuild their city, but in a thorough and historic manner and it couldn’t have been prettier.  Stay at the Radisson Blu hotel but don’t eat the eggs on the breakfast bar.  They LOOK like fluffy mounds of deliciousness, but they are some unidentified powdered product. 

I haven’t spit anything into my napkin since I was six, but the busboy at the Radisson Blu can tell you that that is no longer true.

One of the best things we did was climb to the top of the tower at the Archeology Museum to enjoy the views of the whole city.  Fabulous.  Here’s a hint.

You don’t have to go into the museum proper, which we didn’t know, to climb the tower.  The tower is free and separate from the museum.  Oh well.  We did get a sick sort of thrill looking at all the exhibits of the skeletons that were displaced during the bombings.  Sadly, when a city gets annihilated, the cemeteries are blown sky high along with everything else. 

It is common practice in Europe to stack bodies in villages one on top of the other, century after century after century.  When the dust settled, Gdansk found itself knee-deep in a thousand years of jumbled bones.  Impossible to sort, obviously.

Their scientists, after the war and during reconstruction, picked some of the most interesting examples for display in the Archeology Museum.  The rest they reburied.  (I think in mass graves, but I didn’t want to be crass and press the point, even though I was morbidly curious.) 

So, they have skulls on display from the 1300’s that show what happens to a human head after a spear has been run through it.  They have all manner of examples of some seriously medieval dentistry issues.  Scurvy, dwarfism, malnutrition, various plagues, etc. can all be followed through the centuries via these poor folks who were upended and tossed willy-nilly in the 1940’s.  Creepy but fascinating.

The Polish food, by the way, was delicious.  Gdansk sits right on the Baltic so there was abundant fresh fish on the menus.  I did make Mr. Big order sausage one night just so we could say that we ate Polish sausage in Poland.  One restaurant, Velevetka, serving typical, regional food, is located in the cellar under the Tourist Information building right in the main square. 

Order either the meat platter or the fish platter.  That’s it.  The chef sends out a big platter with various kinds of either meat or fish and bowls of side dishes of his choosing.  It was all good.

Misfit Thanksgiving also involved many big platters.  Too many.  As usual, every time I return from the US to CH, I carrying an extra 5 pounds of body fat back, which, luckily for me, I could just transport on my stomach and hips, because there was no extra space in my baggage.  I thought for sure I would be singled out in security in one of the many airports I slogged through to go through the new Peek-A-Boo x-ray machines, simply because of the crazy crap in my luggage.

TSA:       Ma’am, you’ll have to come with me.  You’ve been selected for additional screening.

Me (feigning innocence):  Me?  Why, whatever for, Nice Officer Who Is About To See Me Naked?

TSA:       We cannot determine the nature of your carry-on items.

Me:        What?  Have you never seen a woman lugging a sewing machine, the seat and backrest of an Eames lounge chair, including down-filled insert, a bag of corn meal, a bottle of cream of tartar and a small container of allspice?  Really?  Where have you people been?

Y’all.  I took a brand new sewing machine (remember I blew up my last one?) through 4 airports and no one batted an eye.  Apparently, you can’t take a half-drunk bottle of water through security but various needles and a seam-ripper are OK.

Anyway.  Misfit Thanksgiving 2010.  Uneventful except for our walk-in fridge died halfway through dinner.  On any other night this would be a minor issue, but on Thanksgiving, one must guard the leftovers.  Many people, myself included, like the leftovers more than the meal itself.  A Thanksgiving without edible leftovers would be like, umm, something really bad. 

So, our pictures this year include shots of the two, glistening golden brown turkeys, the three tables set with sparkling china and stemware for 26 guests, a Martha-Stewart-Worthy rum cake with caramel sauce brought by one guest who is DEFINITELY invited back next year, and . . .

shots of the asses of Mr. Big and Small Son hanging out of the ceiling as they try to repair the refrigerator.  Lovely.

Now, it is back to normal life in Switzerland and I am checking our outfits for his work Christmas party.  Long blond braids?  Check.  Chainmail head gear?  Check.  Sword?  Check.  Ahh.  Switzerland.  You see, they have no Halloween.  (No Halloween and no Thanksgiving.  No wonder they always look so dour!)  But they like to dress up in costume just as much as the next guy, right?  Dilemma, dilemma.  I know!  Let’s dress up at Christmas parties!  Done.

Last year, when we were just newbies, we didn’t realize that the invitation was serious until we arrived at his office party and everyone else was in some crazy get-up.  I was in an LBD and Mr. Big was in a suit and tie.  We told people we were dressed as the Clintons with better stylists.  They didn’t buy it.  THIS year, we are prepared.  The theme is Medieval Times.  Mr. Big is wearing tights.  I am going as the honest and hard-working peasant girl from the village who enjoys the occasional dalliance with the knight who lives in the castle on the hill.  THIS year we even have a backstory.  I hope we get some pictures early in the evening before Mr. Big starts to shed parts of his costume.  I cannot foresee him wearing those tights for more than, oh, 11 minutes or so.

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