All Is Bright

The holidays have come and gone, and oh my goodness they were wonderful and crazy. Here’s what went down:

Everyone arrived by Christmas Eve, and the crazy, fun, crowded, and busy family time began. A HUGE surprise was that cousin Avery brought a girl with him. A girl. Like a not-related-to-us girl. Like a girl-met-at-university-and-I-want-you-to-meet-her girl. Auntie T didn’t even know “the girl” existed until they showed up at Avery’s university to pick him up! She was pretty upset. It got a bit awkward when we realized that she would have to share a room with the rest of us girl cousins. Ellie was not happy, she was extremely sassy when they got here, way more than her usual sassy.

It worked out okay though. First of all, the girl’s name is Megan. She’s from California, but is going to school at Avery’s university. She’s very nice, though she dresses very colorfully. Cammie and I have caught Avery and Megan several times together under the mistletoe.

Now, we are all enjoying our presents. Oh, what a plethora (Father says that’s a better word than “a lot”) of presents! I think this is the most fun, seeing my cousins playing with their new toys, wearing their new clothes, and all using their new things. Ellie is walking around like a peacock, showing off all her new things, practically strutting. Cammie and I burst out laughing every time we see her prancing around and glancing at herself on every reflective surface (windows, clean tables, and mirrors).

The day after Christmas, Father and I have a tradition: We get up early, bundle up, take a thermos full of coffee for him and tea for me, grab our cameras, and “go for a wander”. We walk and take pictures, but only a few, because we have a rule that we can only take a picture of something truly beautiful. Before taking the picture, we must explain our reasoning to the other. Why is this picture of something truly beautiful. He always finishes our walk by taking a picture of me and telling me that he “must”,and “because there is nothing in the world more beautiful to me than you, Marie”. 

I asked him this year, why he started our tradition of wandering. He said that he didn’t; Mother did.

Father said that when he and Mother first got married, they didn’t have money to go anywhere special for holidays, or any other special day for that matter, so they would go walk, talk, and take pictures. When she got sick, and couldn’t walk as much anymore, Father started taking me on walks. This is how most of our traditions started, with Mother.

Our walk-wandering is probably my favorite Christmas tradition. More than presents.

The picture I took today was of a grey field, taken at a slightly crooked angle, and full of sheep. Normal, everyday beauty.

New Years is right around the corner. Father says we will be heading to the States after New Years and probably staying there for a while. That will be different. I know America is big, but we go around the world all the time, so staying in one country for a while is really different for us.

Mother’s side of the family is in America, so maybe that is why? Father really isn’t explaining much to me. He’s almost being secretive about it. It makes me nervous when he does this. I don’t like unknown things. Father probably thinks he’s being fun or that I’ll love the surprise, but I just want to know so I can talk to him about it and think it over and bond with the idea and…. I just want him to tell me!

Fall Days – Father and I

It has been a busy month! Father and I first arrived at the Blasi family’s vineyard the second week in October, and now there is only one week left in November. We are leaving in just two days. We have been here a while, and I want to write some things down so I remember them. Father says that’s what a journal is for, so here we go.

On Wednesday morning, Mami, Mrs. Blasi, baby Leo, and I all head to the local market for the weekly shopping. The nearby town is about a 20 minutes drive, the Blasi’s are pretty well out in the country. Mrs. Blasi spent the drive there talking nervously with Mami about what happens when the roads have snow on them. I entertained baby Leo so he wouldn’t cry the whole time, he’s not a big fan of car rides. 

Of all the things I have done in Switzerland, going to the market is my favorite. All the stalls, smells, people, fresh things, it’s wonderful. My favorite stall at the market is the honey stall. All those golden jars of deliciousness (Father says that’s not a word, but it is accurate). Because it’s a market, the honey is not mass produced (meaning, made for lots and lots of people in a factory style way), but made by one local person in small batches. This honey stall has jars of honey from several people actually from several of the local towns. The owner of the stall says that she and another lady have a partnership with a group of local beekeepers.
This is how it works:
The different beekeepers have their own hives, own bees, own flowers for the bees, own jars and labels, but they sell them together at one stall. The owner says that this group all started because her husband used to keep bees, and travel to all the local markets to sell the honey. It was a full-time job! She actually doesn’t know anything about beekeeping, and really never enjoyed it like her husband did, but she loves honey. When her husband died, there was no one to keep the bees, or to collect the honey. She says using up that last jar of honey was like losing her husband all over again, and she couldn’t stand it. So! In honor of her husband she organized a local beekeeping group, and she and her friend gather the jars from the different keepers, and sell them at the markets, so the keepers can stay focused on just one side of the process.
I have three jars of honey ready to go in my case. I love honey.

Mami says it’s too bad I’ll miss the Christmas market, because it’s even better. Fresh baked sweets, gingerbread, steaming mugs of hot drinks for the cold nights, the twinkling lights, the decorations, ah! The way Mami describes it! I wish we were staying for Christmas just so I could visit the Christmas Market, even just once. But, as Father says, “We have a previous engagement” (meaning, something you have promised to do).

One Saturday, a few weeks ago, Mr. and Mrs. Blasi, Gabriel, Laura, baby Leo, and Father and I all went into town for a fun time and a special lunch. We had so much fun! The car ride was the funniest, because we didn’t exactly fit in the car. The Blasi’s have a larger car, but there were still not enough seats for us all. Laura and I sat on the floor on Mrs. Blasi, and Gabriel’s feet, and baby Leo kept throwing his toys on our heads and squealing with laughter. Father and Mr. Blasi were in the front seats with their knees nearly at their shoulders, because they had shifted the seats forward as far as they could. Both Father and Mr. Blasi are about 6 feet tall!

After lunch in town, which was amazing, we wandered around looking in the shop windows. Laura and I loved this, though she kept moving on too quickly. I saw the most beautiful necklace in the window of one shop! It was silver with a little pendant in the shape of Switzerland, and a heart cut out of the shape. There was a little card next to the necklace, and Laura translated it for me. It said, “My heart is in Switzerland” It was too much money for me to buy, since I have already spent so much on delicious honey. Then, we got some ice cream and sweets and headed home. When Laura and I went upstairs to go to bed that night, Gabriel was waiting at the door, with something behind his back. It was the necklace! I was so excited, I kissed his cheek. His face turned bright red, and he muttered something in Italian, then went to his room. Laura laughed until she almost fell off her bed.

So many more things have happened this month, but, like I said, it’s been very busy! I really just want to remember these two things and the feeling of being with the Blasi family. I like being with them, I like their vineyard, I like their home.

But, Father and I leave in a couple days. We are heading to England, to spend the holidays with Father’s side of our family. 

I’m excited for it, but I’m sad to leave my Swiss family.