Sunday, December 22, 2013

31 Days in December #22: Swiss Sunday Christmas

I've really enjoyed the red and white themes of Christmas decor in Switzerland. This is the first year of marriage that I haven't prepared for Christmas. Oh, we made and froze stuffing and bought turkeys before we left home. I put 2 homemade tabletop trees in the LR. But there was no baking, no gift-wrapping, no decorating the front door and stairs. No decorating a tree. We sent Christmas cards to a few via post, but most heard from us via email.

Typically Swiss: red bulbs
and Stollen (bread)
It's weird this year. Different. I can't decide if having no Christmas decor is freeing or if it's just another loss to process. Probably both. We don't get another chance for Seattle traditions. Next year, we expect to be in sandals and hot-weather clothing, far away.

A typical Swiss tree:
plainly striking
We'll arrive home late Christmas Eve. I'm a Boxing Day fan (Dec 26) of putting Christmas things away ... so Christmas will come and go in a day.

Funny thing: last year I felt this surge of decorating motivation. We decorated our big tree and the house, used all the festive dishes, hosted friends and family, and prepared our traditional Christmas feasts.

However, in January, I began shedding 35 years of Christmas accumulation. We sold our 10' tree, lights, and about 15 boxes of ornaments during our move. By fall, our Christmas "stuff" had been reduced to the 2 little trees and one box of keepsakes (still packed up).

Smile worthy: Christmas decor includes a
stuffed squirrel that sits on the pulpit
I thank God for His gift of energy and the pleasure in "doing Christmas" one last time. He knew then of the changes coming - that we'd never celebrate in that home again. This year, T and M are letting the family use the space for family Christmas but it's up to them to decorate (or not - they just had a baby a month ago). We'll meet in their home not ours.
This Sunday morning, we're out of the Oberhofen house by 8:15am to get things set up for the service. Leanne sings through her songs; the worship team reviews their music.

Leanne Russell, a true soprano with a big heart
The tables are set and the room fills with regular attendees and guests. Leanne's a wonderful soprano and very confident, easy to play for. It is relaxing, energizing, and fun for me to play for a service again. The audience response is positive.

The morning worship service at Kristliches Zentrum Thalgut
W preaches before taking questions at the end as usual -- this time in German. Students and adults come up to ask theology questions after it's over. We talk to a lot of people before we're out the door.

Hot stone feast
We have our last big lunch at a hot stone restaurant. The family works as butchers. Oh my! W's steak is amazing, my veal is tender and tasty. The decor is Swiss and the service friendly. They bring huge bibs so the cooking doesn't splatter our clothes.

D enjoys a "fitness classic" of steak and salads
The world-famous cookie factory, Kambly of Trubschachen, lies in the Emmental (famous for Emmentaler cheese). We've skipped dessert at the restaurant. Nothing prepares us for aisles of cookies. Nearly every type has a plate of samples: we cruise along, tasting as we go like the dozens of other customers. In the end we buy a few favorites.

Marzipan figurines
Some long tables are set up for clients learning to make marzipan figures from the store's experts. Children and parents lean over their colored dough. Little birds, bears, and elves emerge.

The sun burns through late afternoon clouds
Swiss regulations restrict the color, size, and shape of homes. Therefore, the landscape unfolds with traditional houses made of wood and plaster, endless variations on a theme.

Traditional Swiss architecture in the Emmental
The wind blows quiet ripples across the Thunersee as we drive home near sunset, renewed in spirit and body.

Read more:
*The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. Psalm 19:7 ESV

*By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. The wise prevail through great power,and those who have knowledge muster their strength. Proverbs 24:3-5 NIV

*Now by this we may be sure that we know him, if we obey his commandments. 1 John 2:3 ESV

Moravian Prayer: We are a tired people trying to be faithful, God. Renew us through your acts of grace. Invigorate us when we see your Spirit at work in the world. Restore in us the joy of your salvation through the birth of your Son. Amen.

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