The official countdown, or as some children call it the "waiting period", began on December the first for our daughter and children alike. Similar to many households, our morning began with the opening of the first flap of the advent calendar, which revealed a small gift. The day improved ten fold when our daughter first learned of her eventual up close and personal meeting with Samichlaus. A man who she understood had not only access to more chocolates than on her advent calendar, but an unlimited toy supply to give to little girls and boys. Our two year olds comments to this discovery was pure and simple; “he is good.” Thus, it was clear to us that the Samichlaus event at 3:00 could not come fast enough.
Our family’s first participation in the Samichlaus festivities began with the sweet smell of freshly peeled mandarins and homemade baked goods ushering us into the Las Palamas Park center. The tables were beautifully lined with mandarins, nuts, and red ornamental pyracanthus. After people conversed on the latest news and watched the children keep busy like elves at the activity table, we were corralled together by a choir in traditional songs of the season accompanied by the keyboard playing of Valerie Lenz.
Thereafter, the long awaited moment finally arrived when Samichlaus (also known as Carsten Hoffmann in other circles) spoke with each family of the past year's acts of good and bad. As a child of non-Swiss traditions, I curiously awaited to see this dark figure named Schmutzli change the atmosphere from jolly fun to nervous apprehension. But, it seems our Peninsula Chapter of children were angels this year. Schumutzli did not make an appearance and there was no big black bag lingering in the corner for a quick stuff and run. In fact, most kids walked away from Samichlaus smiling with mom or dad in one hand and a bag full of goodies in the other hand.
To wrap up the afternoon, we were greeted by Dieter Hurni and his truck load of ice shavings for our own grandiose wintry wonderland in Sunnyvale. The ice crystals clearly brought out the inner child in us all. Young and young at heart were hurling ice balls at one another with smiles and glee, especially when the ice balls hit their target. Others endeavored in making a child size snowman with all the trimmings. The infectious fun of the ice shavings even brought other children from around the park to participate. This picturesque scene really signified the true spirit of the season in full swing.
However, all good things must come to an end. The sun was beginning to set and children needed to go home to change out of their wet clothes soaked from "Dieter's snow" to their warm pajamas. After saying our goodbyes, everyone gathered their gifts from Samichlaus and walked away with another gift of homemade Grittibanz made by chapter members. These treats would be a tasty reminder the next morning of all the fun we had the day before.
special thanks to all those who contributed to the festivities, your time and efforts are truly appreciated. We look forward to next year!