It’s been a big week for me here; I am now on my own each day, as it should be, as Teresa has officially gone back to work. This week was also Beni’s birthday (he turned 10!) and St. Nick, not to mention there seemed to be many birthdays in their extended family this week, all being celebrated this weekend. So, it was a great week full of celebration.
Unfortunately, I got a cold and am now writing this from the couch in my room, covered in blankets, Christmas music playing, and a bottle of orange juice next to me. But, it didn’t keep me from celebrating, which is probably why today I don’t want to move from this spot.
To kick off the week of celebration all six of us had a “Family Day” last Saturday, including a Kinderkonzert at the Musikverein, a late lunch at TGI Friday’s (the only one in Vienna), and fun at the Weihnachsmarkt (Christmas Market) at Karlsplatz-a beautiful park area in front of Karlskirche. TGI Friday’s was a huge hit; the kids had so much fun coloring before our lunch, watching soccer on a tv while eating (Crazy!) and eating Hamburgers. I told the family a little about the restaurant back home and somehow got onto the subject of restaurants in my hometown, of which there are basically none. They were shocked when I told them, asking if we at least had a Gasthaus (a typical Austrian family owned restaurant with regional food) and I could only laugh as I shook my head at their confused faces.
After the enlightened lunch, we went to the Christmas Market. Hanging string lights connected each stall, illuminating the hand-made ornaments, soaps, scents, and food in a special Viennese tradition. There was even a central area for kids, which included tents for making candles, traditional Christmas scent pouches, coloring, and so much more. Oh, and like four carousels. It was like Apple Holler times 10. The kids had a
ton of fun and we were all exhausted at the end of the day.
Then this week came Beni’s birthday-I gave him a Young Sherlock Holmes book, which he will no doubt devour in the next week. We celebrated his birthday with a delicious and fluffy cream cheese raspberry cake and presents, mostly books-he’s my kind of kid :).
On Friday we celebrated St. Nikolaus instead of Saturday, the real holiday, because of the many celebrations the family has this weekend. It was quite an experience for me. My family has always celebrated St. Nick back home. It’s a special holiday for my mom; she loves it and seems to have more fun choosing small gifts and things for St. Nick than at any other time. She always finds a way to make it a really special holiday, especially since not too many people celebrate it in America.
But St. Nick in Austria is much different from how I have ever celebrated back home. St. Nikolaus actually comes to the house!! He comes with a sack, a staff, and his red book that includes all the information on the children present in the house. The children perform music for St. Nikolaus-we had a wooden flute player and two pianists with Leonie reciting a cute little poem about St. Nick-and then St. Nick reads from his book calling out each child’s name and saying the good things they have done and some bad things they need to work on for next year. Then, one by one he retrieves smaller brown sacks from his bag and hands them to each child and adult in the room. After that, the kids are a little too preoccupied with the candy inside their bags and St. Nick leaves wishing all a happy St. Nikolaus.
It was an incredible thing to watch. Once again the Austrians caught me off guard with the public discussion of behavior. (that would honestly be my worst nightmare) But the way the family came together, playing music, reading stories, and truly being a part of the holiday, in a sense, was touching. Also, I think they got more candy in their individual bags than most children in America get on Halloween!
I, too, received some chocolate pieces in my shoes on Saturday morning from good old St. Nick. That was nice, since being away from family during this time of year is tough. I miss being able to celebrate the holiday with my family and I won’t lie, I miss my mom’s incredible St. Nick stocking. But that’s ok, I’ll be with them soon.
In all, it was a pretty high energy week, especially from all that candy! I am the opposite, sitting here in lounge heaven, my cough continually interrupting my typing. Darn cold. Where’s that orange juice? Ooo, I wonder if there’s any chocolate left…that helps to coat the throat, right? Yeah, science. Or medicine. Whatever. I think the cold has taken over my brain. Until next time!!