Thursday, 12 December 2013

In the words of Freddy Mercury (and a little German too)


Deep breath.

The last few weeks have been stressful. There was the difficult news we received last week, obviously, to which we are still adjusting. Ultimately it wasn't so much the test results themselves that threw me, or even the possibility of a diagnosis that comes with that. It was the sobering reminder, intruding into my blissed-out pregnancy haze, that anything can happen at any moment, and that often, no matter how fiercely we love our babies, there is nothing we can do about it. It doesn't bear further thinking about actually, and so as I said, we have instead focused on processing the possibilities before us as we move forward.

But naturally, daily life doesn't stop for that process of adjustment; work has been especially hectic recently, with me taking on some particularly high-needs clients while also racing to perfect my Grooveshark holiday playlist meet many a proposal-writing deadline. While H precipitously careens towards the final completion of his thesis and with most days spent in the library 'til the wee hours, I feel like the only time I do see my husband lately is for those anxiously and nervously anticipated hospital visits.We also spent an over-extended Hanukkah week, travelling to events in London, socializing lots and cooking for 20+ people, and then there are my final rehearsals for the holiday performances with my singing group this weekend. It hasn't all been scary and stressful; some of it has been fun and lots of it very productive. But all of it busy, not leaving us much time for much of anything.

But forget about all that for the time being, because, dear readers.....on Sunday afternoon we set off for nearly three weeks of holidays in Austria and Germany, during which we'll have ample time to catch our breath, (re)count our blessings and just be together as a little family. <little happy dance> We prefer our holidays low-key and don't go in for any of the prevalent consumerist frenzy. There'll be some obligatory family engagements, but for much of the time it'll be just H and I, while we house-sit for his folks as they're abroad. Long hikes in what are sure to be enchanting snowy landscapes, chancing upon alpine huts offering warming food and crackling log fires, exploring ancient castle ruins. Christmas markets and gingerbread and chocolate and twinkling lights and woolly socks and sleigh rides and skiing. (And oh yes, the gluten free diet will be violated.)

Aaah. Deep breath. I can't wait.

In German there is a word for all this: Gemütlichkeit, which my German/English dictionary defines as any situation 'inducing a cheerful mood, peace of mind, a sense of belonging, coziness and unhurry'. Yep, sounds like just what the doctor ordered. 

And the Austrians excel at it, particularly at Christmas. You guys, they are the Kings of Christmas. It's like being dropped into a Santa's village/Sound of Music mashup, with really good home cooking on the side. (And to balance out the saccharine sweetness of that image, they have this badass guy as part of the traditional festivities too.) Every corner of every street festooned with markers of the holiday season, but (with apologies to those who are fans of the more-is-more-at-Christmas school of decorating), not in a tacky way. No tinsel or glitter, but rustic and homespun and charming. Every open space is transformed into a tiny wonderland of a Christmas Market; little wooden huts selling the famous gingerbread and stollen and glühwein (though this year it'll be only the kinderpunsch for me) and impromptu outdoor, mittened social gatherings that seem to burst out spontaneously as everyone stops in their busy workaday lives (not that the Viennese are well-known for that), to slow down, smile (not that the Viennese are well-known for that) and just savour. And rampant fire hazard be damned real candles on the Christmas trees. On everything. It's so warm and cozy and contagiously delightful in a simple kind of way. It makes my heart happy.

And really, that's what I'm wishing for all of us in these waning days of 2013. I hope that wherever this finds you, you may encounter moments that bring you peace of mind, a sense of belonging, coziness and unhurry. May our hearts be happy and find peace, in whatever form it comes.

In looking back on my feelings towards the year that is passing, I think Freddy and Co. really say it best.*





* Also, how can you not love the 'stache/tank top/santa hat combo?


22 comments:

  1. You make Austria sound like a dream. My husband is freaking out lately since we've decided to work and travel - a new concept to him, and he's taking about cutting our trip to Vienna. Hmmm. I might have to drag him there - it sounds so very special. Enjoy each moment of your break.

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    1. Oh Catherine, if you find the chance you really MUST go. Remind Zsolt that it is, after all the holidays :)

      Germany is more famous for it's Christmas markets, but I find the Austrian ones so much more special and atmospheric, probably because they're much less touristy and still focused on traditional handicrafts and are mostly food and drink. The ones in Spittelberg, Am Hof and Schönbrunn are my favourites. And you can stop in one of Vienna's famous cafes for rests in between :)

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  2. I hope you have an amazing holiday! It sounds lovely!

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    1. Thanks! Happy holidays to you too!

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  3. Wow, sounds like the best holidays ever if you ask me!! Enjoy, and I hope you take lots of pics!!

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    1. It's not far off, that's for sure :)

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  4. Yay, I am so happy you're taking this vacation! You deserve it, friend. Austria at Christmastime sounds amazing. I hope you spend lots of time savoring the beauty of this season :)

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    1. Thanks, I think we *do*. And really, there is no place like Austria for the Christmas holidays - with savouring as the top priority :) You guys are off somewhere spectacular too, no?

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  5. My god, that sounds divine! Enjoy and be safe! I expect a few photos ;)

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    1. :) I'll post photos in due course. Watch this space!

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  6. That sounds like the perfect way to spend the holidays. I'm sure you'll have a splendid time, and I can't wait to see photographic evidence!

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    1. We are SO looking forward to the down time - it's much needed. And yes, photos to follow!

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  7. Enjoy every second of your time in Austria, it really does sound idyllic. Could it be that "Gemütlichkeit" would be the german equivalent for the Dutch "Gezelligheid"? The definition sounds very very similar. The Dutch love to throw the word:"Gezellig" every time they can, having tea with cake, a cozy afternoon at home...

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    1. Yes, it is very much the same as the concept of Gezelligheid. I love those words and the meaning behind them...I don't think there is an equivalent in any other language I have come across so far. But the sentiment is lovely and reveals the right priorities in life, if you ask me ;)

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  8. Sounds like you have an amazing few weeks ahead of you! I hope you'll share some pictures upon your return (for us poor folk who probably won't be vacationing anywhere as idyllic until retirement!).
    Candles on Christmas trees are beautiful, but the thought makes me shudder in fear. I've seen what happens when a Christmas tree catches on fire!

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    1. It never ceases to amaze me how they can do that and NOT set all kinds of stuff on fire. But I guess if you're culturally atuned to it, maybe you instinctively know how to avoid calamity? Whatever the case, it's really beautiful though!

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  9. That sounds like a lovely trip. Enjoy your holiday. I was in Berlin over Christmas a few years ago and absolutely loved the Christmas Markets. There is nothing like them anywhere. I imagine it would be even more magical when you get those markets outside of the modern Berlin setting.

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    1. There really is nothing like them anywhere. Christmas markets are starting to become a thing in the UK, but somehow here they just never capture that same gemütlich atmosphere. I'm looking forward to absorbing a large does over the next few weeks :)

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  10. I hope you have a WONDERFUL time!

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  11. I wish you the most wonderful, joyful and restful of holidays. You deserve this time away. Happy New Year, my friend. With courage and grace, we will welcome the new year. I am so glad I "met" you in 2013. I count you among my many blessings. I will be thinking of you. Enjoy!

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    1. I am touched by your words and, as usual, your generosity of spirit Eve. I am so glad to have found you too. I wish so many good things for you as 2014 dawns. Sending love and warmth.

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