Being born and raised in Switzerland, when I moved to Florida more than 25 years ago, at first, I truly missed the snow which for me was part of Christmas and the entire Holiday Season.
In Switzerland, one of our traditions is the way we celebrate Santa Claus, which is different than other countries. On December 6th Santa, together with his helper “Schmutzli”, arrives early in the evening to most kid’s living rooms. Santa brings a big book with him that has written in it how every child did in the passing year. With a deep voice, Santa would bring up the good, and not-so-good deeds. One particular year I heard, “Beat, you did help your Mom a lot with the household chores this year and as well watched your younger sister often, however, your grades in math went down this year, and you did not always do the required school homework on time.” My brother, sister and I were half excited, and half scared about the visit of Santa and Schmutzli. With a few exceptions, the visit usually turned out well in the end, and Santa left the kids with many goodies like candy, oranges, and apples.
On Christmas Eve the parents in Switzerland generally divide up for the afternoon, and either Mom or Dad brings the Christmas tree into the living room (which had carefully been hidden in the basement), decorates it, and puts the presents under the Christmas tree. While this is happening the kids then are taken ice skating or elsewhere, by the other parent to avoid seeing the “secret operation” by the parent placing the Christmas tree. When coming home, the door to the living room would be locked and only after a festive dinner featuring a traditional ham, the doors open and the Christmas tree with the presents would be revealed to the children. In this tradition, it is known that Baby Jesus brought the tree and presents through the chimney.
Avalon Park has a long and rich tradition of celebrating the holidays. This year we will be holding the 23rd Annual Avalon Aglow holiday event. I remember fondly the first year we held Avalon Aglow. It was 1999, the year that we broke ground, and at the time of the event in December we had approximately 75 homes. There were no restaurants, schools or stores and Avalon Park Boulevard was a 2-lane road that ended at Founders Square. I remember it was cold, however no snow, and we had about 50 people gathering at Founders Square for the inaugural Avalon Park event. Since then, Avalon Aglow has grown with Avalon Park. I felt the 50 people then and today the 10,000+ people who participate at Avalon Aglow are made in the same spirit, they all found in Avalon Park a place of belonging and safety.
I am looking forward to celebrating this holiday season with my family and you all as we continue our holiday traditions.
I wish you a Healthy and Happy Holiday Season.