Now the clocks have been turned back, which means that by 18:00 I feel like it’s 22:00 and I’m ready to skip dinner and go right to bed (not a popular idea with the kids – not even if I promise them we can all watch Netflix together in my bed, not even if I include popcorn!). The kids need gloves in the mornings, and the Stadtgärtnerei (city gardeners) have spent a week blocking our parking spaces so they can clear the road off the foul-smelling Ginkgo fruits. This can mean only one thing, that winter is fast approaching.
What can we do to keep those cold November blues from getting the better of us? I recently chatted with an American friend, and she said that Thanksgiving helps her cheer up, because she really looks forward to all the amazing food and family get-togethers. But we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Switzerland, and I miss the huge Guy Fawkes bonfire we used to celebrate around with all those fireworks and running around when living in the UK. So what do people here have to look forward to?
Skiing is the answer for us. We have always looked forward to skiing. To this day, my father’s eyes twinkle when he finds out it has snowed, and we know it won’t be much longer until we’re charging down those mountains. When I was a child, no matter where we were living in the world, we always came back to Switzerland twice a year for skiing. And, in fact, now that we’re living here full time, this hasn’t changed one bit. Our kids also love to ski, and thanks to the REKA villages all over Switzerland, which offer flats at very reasonable prices, even après-ski is fun with kids, because there’s a room for the younger ones to play in and a separate one for the teens; so having a relaxing Glühwein (mulled wine) is very do-able indeed.
Then there’s fondue of course, or raclette. Sometimes it feels like I’m catching up with all the cheese feasts I must have missed as a child in faraway places, and I’m not sure whether I do them because it’s cold outside or because it’s a great, fun, easy meal (we’ve even expanded to chopping up vegetables for a “healthy” fondue variation so we don’t feel too cheese-greedy). But of all the things I have always looked forward to that have taken me through childhood until today, I can safely say that skiing and fondue are the Swiss traditions that will always brighten up my winter moody moments, and for that I will always be glad to be in wintry Switzerland (or to return, as needed). Now all we require is the arrival of that first set of snowflakes playing gently in a cold breeze, with the promise of more to come.
And in the meantime I’ll also secretly look forward to the mince pies my sister is bringing from the UK!
By Karin Mohler
Karin is a former expat, having settled down in her native Switzerland after a childhood abroad. She is challenged daily with balancing the peculiarities she picked up on her travels and integrating them in daily life in what is supposed to be her homeland. Her three children aged 16, 14 and 10 help her bridge the gap in understanding the culture she is now living in. Failing that, she gains insight and inspiration from the book Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, by D. C. Pollock and R. v. Reken (2009).
Illustration by Laura Munteanu
Laura has studied Journalism and Advertising, and has been working as a journalist and an illustrator. She has been illustrating for magazines, websites, charity and diverse campaigns. She lives in Zurich with her husband and nine-year-old daughter.