12/17/07

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.

3 comments:

Natalie said...

About 5 years ago, I set-up a surprise trip for my mom and me and we went "home" to the SF bay area for a five day nostalgic trip. We'd found the house that my great-grandparents lived in, in the city, map-quested it, and set out upon our journey. We then looked up some old records and came for find out that our last name, a name she long ago gave up but one I still have, is not German, as we were told: it's Swiss! Yep. All these years I thought I was German and Hillbilly and it turns out I'm actually Swiss and Hillbilly. Yeehawwwww! It seems they dropped the "z" from the end of the name when they came over on the boat. Weird. I'd rather be known as Swiss than German but I guess that was a different time...

Have a wonderful trip and a lovely holiday. Long time a-comin', eh? I love Lindt, by the way, and think it's way, way, way better than Godiva. Melts in yer mouth...

Cheers!
:)

Jeri said...

A Swiss passport for a Canadian Ukrainian chick? Fun!

People are hopefully going to treat you with respect as you pass through customs. LOL

Have a really lovely Christmas trip back home!

Jungle Mama said...

Okay, can you tell I'm doing a lot of catching up? Sheesh! Away for a month and suddenly you've changed nationalities ;) I love this post. It brings me closer to . . . well, I don't think I need to be much closer to Switzerland, do I?