04 December 2010

That's the Spirit!

The last couple of weeks have been pretty exciting. The holiday season is upon us, and strangely enough, I'm thinking more than ever of Switzerland. Most people away from home during the holidays are homesick, but it's like I'm homesick for a place that doesn't even exist, as my friend Grace so eloquently put it. Even though I've been back for almost a whole semester, I'm still not entirely used to being in the States. I still think in Celsius upon occasion and still have trouble remembering words, except that now all of my languages are worse off than they were, instead of just my English being worse.

I've had two Thanksgivings this year because Watkins Hall had our own before break. Experiencing an authentic Thanksgiving reminded me of the poor approximation of Thanksgiving I tried to create last year. First of all, it was about a month late because we had to find a weekend day when everyone would be home. (Remember, I had to go to school on Thanksgiving last year!) Just for fun, I've included pictures from my Swiss Thanksgiving last year and from my family's Kansas Thanksgiving this year.

Small turkey, small family.
Big turkey, big family.
Notice that my brother and I are wearing matching sweatshirts, because we are just that cool. Also, we think it's fun to confuse people about whether we are twins or not. Katie, a friend from Nevada studying in Chicago whom I met in Switzerland, came to stay with me in Lawrence for a few days and then at my family's house during Thanksgiving. My roommate Leslie from Texas also stayed with us. She's the one who made the rolls and folded the napkins.

We drove around to look at the Plaza lights and also stopped by that one house that always has all of those lights and decorations. It was early enough in the season that it wasn't very crowded so we had a good view. It was chilly, but it could have been worse.

Leslie from Texas thinks this is as cold as it's going to get (and is being loomed over by the others).
This week has been pretty relaxing after I finished presenting my physics paper and lab. This morning I spent an hour and a half ringing the bell for the Salvation Army in front of the JCPenney in Lawrence. It was a chilly job but I managed until my shift was over. I realized from doing this that the Salvation Army's stratagem is to make people feel guilty that they get to be inside of a warm store while the bell ringer has to stand outside in the cold. This is why people make donations; it's to make the bell ringer at least feel like there was a reason for them to stand outside in the first place. I mean, if people rang bells for the Salvation Army in the spring they wouldn't probably get any donations since the people inside the stores would rather be outside ringing a bell anyway.

So when I got back home, I was chilled to the bone and had to do something to warm myself up. I decided to make a special kind of tea that is especially prominent in Switzerland around the time of St. Nicolas and Christmas. It's called thé à la cannelle and consists of black tea brewed with cinnamon sticks and has honey mixed in. It's pretty much my favorite tea ever. This weekend, the holiday of St. Nicolas will be celebrated in Switzerland so I thought I would recognize it myself by making some of this tea!

Mmm...thé à la cannelle!
in a really cute mug that I found in the cabinet
After enjoying my tea (and finally warming up) I joined in on decorating Watkins for the holidays. We put up a tree, lots of garlands, a wreath, etc. I thought it looked really nice and hopefully the decorations will brighten our finals week a bit.

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