Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sehnsucht for Thanksgiving

A strange thing happened this year.

The Frau spent Thanksgiving with her family. Granted, she still had an expat Thanksgiving in the sense that she celebrated it the Saturday before the actual holiday. But it was the first time in 14 years or so that she celebrated Thanksgiving with family.

It was wonderful.

But it also made The Frau realize something: Namely, that she had acquired another family while in Switzerland and she missed them.

The Frau missed her expat family. For the last five or six years, she’s spent Thanksgiving with the same group of friends. And it was as strange not to be with them as it was to be with family.

No matter how The Frau does things these days, she finds herself longing for something else. Maybe that’s only a normal part of life as an expat or ex-expat. When you learn you can live life many wonderful ways, you wish all of them could somehow be combined. But they can’t. So if you’re like The Frau, you find yourself digesting a good portion of Sehnsucht for Thanksgiving.

Sehnsucht. A German word. How appropriate. Hard to translate, it involves a deep emotional state of longing.

Will you, like The Frau, be passing around the Sehnsucht this Thanksgiving? Longing for real family? Longing for your expat family? Either way, The Frau will say this: she understands. En Guete, mitenand.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Lanternenfest in America

The Frau joined a German Spielgruppe in Chicago. Ja, ja. She did it so Toddler M could continue her German, but instead The Frau continues her German while all the Kinder run around speaking English.

C’est la vie, yodelers. However, you’ll be pleased to know that Toddler M still yells “nein” at a good portion of kids in the US, although she saves her “neins” for the American children at the local library instead of the ones at the Spielgruppe. Kids these days.

Anyway, The Frau digresses. One of the benefits of being in the Chicago Spielgruppe is that they organize events around holidays The Frau is familiar with.

Like Lanternenfest.

Unlike Halloween, which ended up feeling almost as foreign as Sechselaueten used to, The Frau knew Lanternenfest. She celebrated it last year with Toddler M’s Kinderkrippe.

Toddler M's lantern
was naturally
Swiss inspired.
But of course, The Frau was new to the German-American version of Lanternenfest.

This version included:

-Battery-lit candles. (What? A lack of open flames around toddlers? The Frau tried to gracefully adjust to the safety standards of her own country, but it wasn’t without a feeling of loss for the excitement the open flames used to add to the event.)

-Kids spoke English while parents spoke back to them in German.

-The parade route was a pathed walking trail that went over an American highway. (The Frau tried to imagine there were some cobblestones, but that was difficult with the sound of traffic, yodelers.)

-A potluck buffet filled with hot dogs and hot chocolate. The Frau thought she’d fit in by bringing Birchermüsli, but barely anyone ate that. They all wanted hot dogs and tortilla chips. Live and learn, yodelers. Next time The Frau will make sloppy joes.

Anyway, it’s almost time for Thanksgiving and only time will tell whether it will feel as foreign to The Frau as Halloween did. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a x-mas present about fitting in and not fitting in, check out  The Frau’s book, Swiss Life: 30 Things I Wish I’d Known. It would make a great gift. Even if The Frau is a little biased.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Moving Day. The Swiss Version.

The Swiss have a special culture. And sometimes The Frau needs to be reminded just how special it is. By Mexicans.

In particular, the wonderful Mexican movers that unpacked The Frau’s container yesterday.

Her Mexican movers were careful, gracious, and did a great job. But they couldn’t help but comment on the packing job that the Swiss had done, since they had the unfortunate task of well, un-doing it.

If you can't imagine the extremes the Swiss go to with packing, it's your lucky day because The Frau is going to show you just all that this wonderful culture is capable of.

Package number 40 of 342 upon arrival.

Package 40 being unwrapped.

Oh, a collection of shopping bags. Thank goodness it was bubble wrapped for extra protection. Now, if the shopping bags got this much wrapping care, imagine a bike. Or better yet, don't imagine it. Just enjoy it.


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