I'll Be Home For Christmyth

I've acquired a lithp. We're back home in Edmonton for the holidays and even though we've jumped ahead an hour to Mountain Standard Time, I feel as though I've timeslipped back a million years to the Christmyths of my childhood.

Pick a holiday jingle and chances are I've been singing it. The weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful....let is snow, let it snow, let is snow. I can't believe I've already forgotten the feeling of freezing snot dangling from my nose. Or the sound of crunchy snow beneath the feet or the pain of thawing numbed fingers and toes as they adjust to heat again. I've quickly been reminded and it's only been about -14 celcius ('though it did dip to minus 25 the other night which translates to freakin' cold in Fahrenheit). Yes, baby, it's cold outside. But it's nice to be home amongst friends and kin. My people. I've missed Canadians. I ran into a fellow Canadian woman at a Nutcracker party last weekend and we both agreed Canadians look distinctly different from Americans. I can immediately spot Canadians. Unless Canucks happen to live in a couple of affluent pockets of Canada's major cities, chances are they are dressed ultra casual and driving a pick-up. It's so not like the West Coast dressy casual look of our fair American city, where highlighted blonde hair, French manicures and pedicures and designer label outfits are the looks du jour. I've seen many First Nation peoples and Ukrainians, too. Both of these are my people, too. Speaking of Ukrainian, I'm looking forward to pyrogies and cabbage rolls for Christmas at my birthmom's. Yes, it's nice to be home where memories loom large. We drove by the courthouse and I recalled my days there, working as a judicial clerk whilst covertly searching the basement archives for my sealed adoption file. Driving by The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald brought back fond memories of working late nights in sales and promotions, in prep to re-open the grand dame to the public after an extensive restoration. Everywhere I turn, I see stomping grounds and old haunts and the ghosts of Christmas' past. I recall going to visit my grandfather in the penultimate days to Christmas - usually Christmas Eve -as a child. I remember the excitement of seeing the lights and hearing the holiday music and waiting for fresh snow so we could go toboganning. And I remember sneaking out Christmas Eve as a teenager with my imaginary Catholic friend to go to midnight mass, so that I could stay out til 2am. And I remember Christmas morning coming way too early those years.
I had forgotten how pretty the city is, all dressed for Christmas. And of course, my children have been away so long, they've all but forgotten the home and native city of their parental units. We are here to visit grandparents and siblings and other friends and family until the 30th. We have three families here so visiting everyone is impossible and very exhausting.
Holy Hub flies in tonight and then the real excitement will begin, as we visit families, check out the holiday lights of Candy Cane lane, and do our last minute stocking stuffer shopping.
Anyhoo, hope your holidays are filled with as much holiday fun, feast and frolic with family and friends - both mandatory and otherwise - as our's are sure to be.

Seasons greetings, one and all.


I Saw Mommy Dissin' Santa Claus

Nineteen second photo, 19 bucks. And Santa isn't even looking at the camera.


Vive la Suisse!

Our Swiss passports came in Saturday.

I feel authen+ically Swiss now, minus the multi-lingual talent, love for stinky cheese and ability to blow hot air musically through a mountain horn. Yet, I do possess a fierce nationalistic pride for this tiny, mountainous place I have only spent 21 days in pretty near to as many years ago. And I'm a minor shareholder in the Lindt company and I kinda think that has to count for something. I know enough French to comment on Micheline's shopping centre habits (that junior high textbook Micheline gal - she sure did get around) ~ as well as to make my urgent need to pee well known in Geneva. And I can say rooster and that's crazy! and I love you and schmidthead in German, which are all good words to sprinkle into tourist pub conversations in the northern Cantons, if nothing else.

This fierce love and pride is definitely about the mystique and a kind of disjointed heritage. Holy Hubby's father emigrated from Switzerland to Canada as a young child - although they went to Quebec so technically that doesn't count. They moved back to Switzerland but he left again in his late-teens, to Denmark and then again to Alberta to work as a farmhand, which is where Holy Hub's mother comes into the picture. I like teasing her that she was the farmer's daughter.

And although his Dad could speak heaps of languages - German, Swiss German, Danish, a bit of French - he all but left his Swiss-ness behind when he moved continents across the water. So apart from learning how to yell dirty, rotten swears at the cat and say 'ich ube geige' in German (which translates to 'I practice the violin' - a talent, alas, he does not possess), Holy Hub learned nothing about his father's homeland. They visited Grossmutti once or twice and celebrated Christmas Eve in traditional Swiss fashion, ate spatzli and enjoyed fondues from time to time, but that was about the extent of it.

It is sneaking up to 17 years since Grossmutti passed away - it seems like yesterday and we mourn her still - she was a dear, sweet lady (despite her penchance for serving lumpy cream in coffee and warm soft drinks on hot days). So quite naturally, his father feels no burning ties to Switzerland anymore. Her house in Aarau was sold, and with it, that final sense of home.

But we still feel the love and the tug of this begged, borrowed, stolen Swiss heritage. Holy Son has begun studying German at his international school and it is our hope that by his senior year, he will be armed with enough of a fluency to travel, study and perhaps even live abroad, if he chooses. Have passport, will travel.

Getting these passports has been on our to-do list for...get this...19 years. That's how long ago we initiated the paperwork process. And then set it aside. And then picked it up again when we lived in Pakistan. And then let it slide. So this time around, living outside Canada again, we decided to pursue this incomplete task in earnest, fearing that if we didn't, Switzerland would suddenly decide to revoke the grandfathered citizenship clause for all Swiss abroad not born or raised in the country. As it stands now, this citizenship is one that our children can pass down through the family pipeline for generations to come. And as it stands now in world history, having dual Canadian and Swiss citizenship is not too shabby of a deal.

So here we are - we're our own global village now, with dual-ing passports and a US green card that is right around the bend into the new year. We've just received our advance parols (travel permits allowing us to depart the US), which is a good thing since we're leaving the country tomorrow. Might have had to sneak out on our Swiss passports and that could have been messy.
By passport standards, the Swiss passport kicks butt ~ there is a colorful page and accompanying image that depicts each of the 26 Cantons.

Now I guess the tricky part is going to be putting it to use before it expires in 10 years.


Nutcracker Sweet

Warning: This blog contains overt boastful parental statements concerning said blogger's beautiful, talented and holy children. Said blogger is aware that this may be the second blog in as many weeks to contain such abject praise and devotion but nevertheless, makes no apologies for this fact. After all, there's a reason the tag line says, same schmidt, different blog and there's a reason this blog is titled Schmidt Happens. 'Tis the season for fawning folly. Having said all that, if you should find maternal bragging to be in the least bit offensive, repulsive or disturbing, then do heed the following rating: BB (boring blog)....Reader discretion is advised.

We made it through another Nutcracker extravaganza season.

Holy Son was, once again, performing the roles of the Nephew, Nutcracker and Nutcracker prince in a local production of The Nutcracker with his sister's dance company this past weekend.

His sister danced in Act II as an angel and she was, to steal a quote from her: "heavenly." This was the first year she was able to audition and land a part, but hopefully not her last. She was terrific and when she moved across the stage with her big hoop skirt, it looked like she was floating on air.
Last year, there were two full December weekends dedicated to The Nutcracker - one for tech and dress rehearsals and the following weekend for four performances. A venue screw-up this year necessitated that everything be packed into one weekend, so the kids were up to their eyeballs this weekend with rehearsals Friday night and Saturday and two performances Sunday afternoon.

It was exhausting but rewarding. Exhausting because doing hair and make-up on a boy who hates me so much as touching a stray strand of hair. And don't even get me started on how he felt about having eyeshadow, foundation, transluscent powder, blush and clear lip gloss. It weren't perrty, Berty. Multiple that equation by the number of times Holy Daughter screamed, yowled and cried while we attempted to get her chin length bob into a bun at the very top of her head - thank God for gel and plenty of pins - suffice to say, it wasn't simple math. More like a combination of weird science and classic literature.

Good Ole Charlie sums up Nutcracker weekends best I think..."It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way." But as in this last Christmas past, all the performances were near flawless, the music was seasonally inspiring and the performers enjoyed theatrical fun and fame. And of course it was rewarding to see how both kids continue to get recital and theatre stage experience, such that butterflies and jitters are pre-emptors to that wonderful feeling of achievement rather than dread. They both love to perform and are the very picture of grace under fire backstage. Me? I'm a nervous wreck.

Oh, and did I mention that our Prince was a regal sight to behold? (Re-enter boastful mother, stage left). This year, he looked more comfortable on stage and he even managed to smile and look quite animated for most of the show. Holy Hubby and I looked at each other in amazement, trying to figure out whose gene pool this theatrical flair came from - we decided it was the stork.

I was momentarily relieved to see that he had all but dispensed with last year's nervous tic of licking his lips at 10 second intervals ~ only to discover that he had, in fact, replaced it with an annoying if unconscious habit of grasping his long shirt sleeve cuffs and flexing his hands at odd and/or awkward moments.

Despite these minor moments, he provided great props to all the ballerinas, who were really the dancing stars. Holy Son had very simple choreography - no real dancing to speak of (which is good because he is not a dancer). He was there to look good, as the only male, apart from the small karate mice and the adult men at the party scene during Act I.

And he even managed to amass a bit of a following. One of the tiny Ginger cookie dancers took quite a shine to him - sending him little love notes all weekend to let him know what a great actor and dancer he was. She sent him so many notes that he relented at the end, with his mother's prodding, and presented her with a flower after the final curtain call. It was very sweet, and doubly so because he did this in front of his girlfriend, who made a special trip to come watch his performance.

He received lots of praise from friends, family and strangers and was even asked to pose for pictures with young children who were smitten to be able to see a real live Nutcracker Prince in person.

The weekend was topped off with a visit from my brother and SIL from Victoria, Canada, who stayed for a good time, not a long time. (Y'all come back now, ya hear?) I lived with them when Holy Son was born 11 years ago and Holy Hub was starting his Pakistan contract, so it was a bit of a shock for my sister-in-law to stand nose to nose with her nephew and realize that in a matter of weeks, he'll be taller than her.

So that was our backstage pass weekend. Short, busy and Nutcracker sweet.


Coquets, Cults & Circuitious Conundrums

There Katie goes, copykatt'ng me again. And there I go, blogging about her again.

It started when she married Tom Cruise, who shares a rather dubious honour with Holy Hub of being born on the same day and year. Coincidence? I think not.

And now it would seem she's doing her married white female act once more - getting her hair cut and styled like mine.

Next she'll be moving next door, and starting a religion blog or something.

On the brINK
I heard the funniest thing this morning. It sums up precisely how inane our laws are.

Apparently it's illegal in this state and a few others for anyone under 18 to get a tattoo - parental consent or not.

I personally think this is a terrific law because I don't know of one single teenager (or 30 year old for that matter) who has the ability to project ahead in their life to the age of 63 to know with absolute certainty if they'd still be happy with their kitschy and wrinkly shoulder art.

But get this. Last week, a local 14-year old, JW boy dying from cancer made headlines for refusing critical blood transfusion work that would reputedly have saved his life. He died hours later. A judge had granted him the right to do so, on account of his religious convictions. Without parental signature.

So let me get this straight: our sonic youth cannot get a tattoo in some parts of this country but it's their party, they can die if they want to?

What a mixed-up, crazy, inane ride we're on. I'm just glad I'm sitting in the back with the party'ers because this trip would be hell on wheels if I wasn't medicated at least part of the time. It's not all fun and games back here though. The proximity to the washroom is a downwind nightmare, the ride is not exactly smooth, there ain't no view out the tinted windows to be had, and it's standing room only.

Not to mention that I'm stuck beside some guy who keeps mumbling, whoa dude...like who's driving this bus anyways?

Beats me. Ask the 14-year old - he'll know.

Walking in My Winter Underwear

I miss the kids bounding up or down stairs with thrilling exclaims of, "It's snowing, it's snowing!"

But as would be the case with most places we move to, thinking we've escaped the worst bites of winter, winter follows us. We moved to Halifax in 1988 - it was bitterly cold - one of the worst winters on record. We moved to Pakistan a decade later and both winters, we got unseasonably cold weather, as in seriously, wear fleece, crank the heat up and shiver me timbers cold weather. Just prior to Pakistan, when I moved to Victoria for the birth of our son, we were snowed under in the worst blizzard ever for weeks.

So while I miss the so-called timeliness of these excited outbursts, alas, I'll admit - we still get them. Winter has followed us once again: it has snowed here every winter since moving here. We now live up on a mountain, or so the locals dub this them thar hill we're perched upon...so we get snow where others might not.

But for it to snow, like clockwork white, on December 1st, the first day of Advent in the Schmidt house, when six chocolate and/or toy-filled calendars (three each this year) vie to be the first window ripped open or pocket peeked in ~ that is simply and seasonally divine.

Yes, that's right kiddies - we woke up to a blanket of white this morning. Not quite skiing or tobaganning white, but if it's snowing here, it's dumping in the mountains.

This is timely because we will be setting up our newly-arrived, beaut and Noble 8 ft. Christmas tree in our vaulted living room tonight. We'll be lighting a fire, drinking some Merlot, listening to Holy Son play Good King Wenceslas on the cello, and lifting little Miss Wonder-filled up so she can dangle ornaments from the highest boughs.

And we'll be praying that we don't get the weeklong power outage we got this time last year during the wind storms. We managed to set the tree up but had to decorate it in the dark and weren't able to enjoy the lights until 8 days later.

On that note, I'm off to a snowflake workshop to make Christmas ornaments with Holy Daughter.

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?