Monday, January 3, 2011

Holidays in Switzerland, Part II

So, last night, we had a random camel sighting.  Mr. Big and I were wandering the streets in downtown Lausanne doing some last minute stocking-stuffer Christmas shopping and, lo and behold, what do we see out of one of the store windows overlooking the square?  A live, theatrical reenactment of the Nativity.  Cool, I said.  Look, there’s Joseph and Mary in the manger.  Now, remember, we can’t hear any of the dialogue because we are looking at this performance from two floors up through a window.  (Like hearing it in French would help us follow along.  No.  But I live in hope.)

Me:  Dude, are they doing what I think they are doing?

Mr. Big:  Yes.  I believe that we have stumbled upon the Virgin Mary actually giving birth.

Me:  Are his hands really under her garment?

Mr.  Big:  Yes.  I believe Joseph is catching the King of Kings.  Who cuts the cord, I wonder?

Me:  Maybe that little angel girl waiting in the wings over there?

Y’all!  They acted out an actual vaginal NOT VIRGINAL birth on stage surrounded by a whole flock of Swiss sheep!  I mean, she, MARY, had her hands on her knees and her face was all screwed up and she was pushing!  Then, as if it wasn’t funny enough, “Joseph”, a.k.a. The Baby Daddy, pulls, from underneath the skirt of the Virgin Mary, this baby doll and holds it aloft and all of the Swiss people were clapping.  I’m like, Swiss people!  Clap for Susan Boyle, clap for Manchester United, but is it really appropriate to clap for the successful birth of the Sweet Lil’ Baby Jesus?

Of course, you know me, I told Mr. Big we had to leave the store immediately and get down there to check out the action in person.  Off we swoosh, but, remember, this is an old European city.  Just to get to the Place where this was going on required one alleyway, three sidestreets and crossing a small bridge.  We made it just in time for the 3 Wise Men to show up on camels.

Real camels with two humps.  There’s a word for that kind of camel but I forget what it is.  Dromedary, maybe?  I said, Mr. Big, these folks take this shit seriously.  Those are really big, hairy camels.  I mean, these camels had to have handlers to make sure that the Wise Men did not get smooshed or fall off or whatever.  So, that was all really interesting and quite the learning experience.

The center of town was lovely last night.  There were carolers and musicians on every corner and in every Place.  It was all very festive and the lights, the decorated store windows and the rich-Swiss-people-watching was at its’ finest.  Love, love, love.  But it will be a very, very long time before I forget the scrunched up face of the Virgin Mary pushing out the Baby Jesus.  I think I am scarred for life.

OK, I promised to tell you about buying a Christmas tree here.  Last year, our first year, we stumbled upon a cut-it-yourself Christmas tree farm up in the German-speaking part of Switzerland while we were at Christmas market in Bremgarten.  AT THAT TIME, I had no idea that a Christmas Tree Stand was a difficult item to find here.  After we cut our tree last year, we stopped at a hardware store on the way home and bought a stand.  At that time, I did not know that I was experiencing a RARE OCCURRENCE .  This year, we were looking around here for trees in the nurseries and we noticed that every tree came with this weird, triangular, wooden stand on the bottom which held the tree up.

Fine.  But where do you put the water?  The man at the nursery looked at me like I had two heads.  (Ex-Pats get used to this look.  This is a completely normal, everyday thing.  We have two heads.  We are used to it.)  L’eau?  Like, who WATERS their Christmas tree?  Apparently, only Americans.  We tell the nursery man that we will take the tree, but will he kindly take off that stupid wooden frame and cut about 4 inches, oh, excuse me, 10 centimeters, off the bottom so our tree will drink?  That poor guy had no idea what we were going to do with this poor, chopped-off tree once we got home, but he took off the frame, cut off the bottom and sent us on our way, 80 franc poorer.

Here’s the deal.  The stand we found last year in a Swiss-German Mom and Pop kind of hardware store out in the middle of Jabip was, apparently, a complete anomaly.  But y’all!  It is the coolest, most highly designed Christmas tree stand Mr. Big has ever seen.  I will attach a picture of the box.  (I can’t attach a picture of the actual stand because our tree is occupying it right now!)

What is all of this leading up to, you may ask?  Nothing, really.  I’m just killing time until Charming Daughter arrives tomorrow afternoon and our REAL Christmas begins.  As we do every year, we have rented a ski chalet for the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  I know you enjoyed last year’s account of that week in Chamonix with Domestic Son and his entourage.  Unfortunately, he and his new wife and Grands 1 and 2 are not coming this year.  But Small Son is bringing New Girlfriend and we have Dear Friends coming as well, so the chalet will be full and, I’m sure, the stories will be plentiful.  Actually, I’m going to have to think of a different name for New Girlfriend because she has been around for awhile now and she is not so New anymore.  Seeing as she hails from one of the frozen, northern states, I think I will christen her Ms. Yankee.

Anyway, the shopping is complete, the fixin’s for the Christmas dinner are purchased, the gifts are wrapped and ready under the tree and Mr. Big and I are just sitting around staring at each other, twiddling our thumbs.  I do have to go out later and buy the Buches de Noel for dessert on Christmas day.  Perhaps we will stumble upon yet another odd Christmas spectacle while we are in town, but I really don’t think they are going to be able to ever top that birth thing.  Happy Holidays to all of you from all of us!  Safe travels, Domestic Son and Family, drive carefully, and don’t forget to Skype us on the 25th!

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