Yes, I’m still writing about pre-Christmas stuff. I’ll get caught up. Eventually. Probably. (Maybe. After all, I still have posts to finish about our summer vacation last year . . . and the year before.)
One of my favorite times of year in Vienna is the Advent season. From mid-November through Christmastime the Christmas markets are open, the weather is cool but not overly frigid, the city is lit up to celebrate and the Viennese are enjoying the season. I just love it. I love to be out and about, taking care of my Christmas shopping somewhere other than the mall, visiting the different markets, decorating the house, preparing (usually) to travel home to see our families. I just love Vienna in the Advent season. It hasn’t yet failed to be wonderful.
But this year was different. From the day after the first market opened in November, all the way through the day before we left to fly home to see our families for Christmas, at least one of us was sick. There were only 2 days during the entire month of December that none of us was sick enough to have to alter our daily schedule — we had only 2 “healthy” days during the entirety of the Christmas season.
So, it was different than usual. There were almost no Christmas market visits (and only one together as a family). We didn’t go out to see the Christmas lights. We didn’t ride on the Christmas train at the Rathaus, see the decorated trees or ride the carousel. I didn’t take the boys out to choose gifts for their teachers (or for each other). I wasn’t able to go to the Christmas party at Benjamin’s school, and Liam wasn’t able to go to the one for his own class. The days I had set aside to shop and pack for our trip home were superseded by trips to the pediatrician and mornings spent rushing to school to pick up boys that had seemed fine in the morning, only to be feverish by snack time.
It was entirely different than what I expected . . . but it was no less festive. We went out less, and we were in more. So there were fewer red-cheeked pictures under massive Christmas trees, and more afternoons spent painting trees and snowmen onto our own windows. There were fewer warm treats scarfed up in the chill of the market, but much more baking in our own kitchen. The boys’ teachers got shortbread that the kids helped to make themselves instead of something chosen from a shop. And I spent an insane 48 hours before our departure to the US in a whirlwind of laundry, packing, trips to the pediatrician and to the pharmacy.
I know I have a tendency to be very “Pollyanna” about just about everything, but (other than the kids being sick) it wasn’t awful. It was a good reminder. Our Christmas season wasn’t at all what I expected, and it wasn’t full of the things I usually say I want to do during Advent. But what we lost in bustle we made up for in peace (the last 48 hours of mad packing not withstanding). And having to accept the utter “imperfection” (i.e., lack of adherence to my “plan”) of preparing for our trip helped to put me in the right perspective — what mattered wasn’t really whether all of the “right” socks were clean or whether we got all of our presents wrapped before we packed them, but that we were going home to see our family, who were all overjoyed to see us, regardless of the chaotic and disheveled state we arrived in.
It wasn’t the Christmas season I would have planned, but it was no less wonderful. It was lovely just how it was.