kathryn-woodcock
8th December 2011

Family merriment

Christmas a la Austria
Family merriment

I’m afraid I’m one of those really annoying people who wish it was Christmas all year round and get positively giddy at the sight of tinsel.

I put up my decorations and listen to ‘I wish it could be Christmas Everyday’ on repeat by mid-November.  I don’t understand how people can get grumpy at the idea of extending Christmas for as long as possible – the food, the drink, the lights, the frost, the Coca Cola advert… I can’t get enough!

And every family has their own unique Christmas tradition. Mine is an annual skiing trip to Austria, which always results in one hilarious anecdote or another in consideration of the fact that my mum hates both skiing, and cold weather.

I remember one particular year when my aunt thought it would be a wonderfully festive experience to take a midnight sleigh ride to the top of a mountain. Not wanting to ruin the intense excitement that overwhelmed us kids, my mum reluctantly agreed.

Firstly, I have never seen a person successfully wear so many layers and still manage to walk and secondly, I’ve never seen someone look as positively gleeful as when the sleigh driver offered round a large bottle of Schnapps.  My mum’s a pretty small woman but I learnt very quickly that, when she’s cold, she can put Schnapps away like it’s water! Needless to say, with the thickness of the snow, the many layers of ski clothes, and the half litre of schnapps successfully digested, walking became a bit of a struggle once the sleigh ride ended.

As we were trekking up the very last snow-ridden hill, babbling to each other about the joys of Christmas, I turned around in the darkness to find that my mum was nowhere to be seen. After searching for several minutes, I frantically shushed everyone when I heard a mischievous giggle piercing the silence.

When I followed the sound, it took me to a pair of familiar snow boots, poking out of a nearby fir bush. It turns out that, mid-conversation, my mum had toppled over head-first into the nearest natural landmark and found it so irresistibly cosy that she had decided to stay there.

You might open presents, carve a turkey, make a toast – but you’ve never truly experienced the spirit of Christmas until you’ve dragged your intoxicated mother out of a snow-capped fir bush, by her ankles.


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