Christmas in Chamonix

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There’s just no way around it. I am suffering from some post-holidays blues. I really thought this year was going to be different. I was all ready to face the new year, looking forward to facing the new challenges and adventures this year would bring. But January 1 rolls around and, as it invariably does, I’m questioning what the hell I’m doing with my life. You’d think that in your thirties you’d have grown out of the phase, but apparently, no.

I have had no inspiration, no desire to do much at all, and the thought of keeping in touch with people seems overwhelming rather than enjoyable. I have to drag myself out of bed in the morning. I’ve been feeling sluggish, lazy and creatively constipated. And life at the very moment is anything but glamourous. The thing with living in Switzerland is that life is sometimes incredibly awesome – I wouldn’t give that up for anything. But no matter where you’re living, life is often commonplace, boring, even kind of gross sometimes. For example, I am at the moment potty training X. I’ve been dreading this for awhile, but it’s time. It’s raining nonstop and what better time to stay in and work on perfecting peeing into a small receptacle?

I’ve spent the last five days staring at my half-dressed toddler, asking him if he has to pee every five seconds and literally following him around with a potty in hand. I’ve had pretty good success – X wants to get things right and hates being dirty, so he’s responding really well to the whole process. But he tends to get so involved in his play that he forgets to go until it’s too late. So when I saw him pop a squat while he was playing with his cars this morning, I hustled him to the potty as quick as I could. I got his underwear down and saw they were still dry, and was silently congratulating myself when my darling little boy says “Uh oh, Mommy.”

“What? You’re dry? What’s wrong? Don’t say uh oh,” I say, not at all completely panicked.

“Uh oh, Mommy’s slipper.”

I looked back in dread at my slipper. And sure enough, there was a large human turd stuck on the bottom of my new slipper, where I had stepped in it in my haste to get him to the potty. Yuck. Lucky it was a rubber-soled pair, easily cleaned, but still. This is my life. Like I said, not very glamourous.

And it’s during those moments in life that you want to have your people around you. I’m missing my people. I want someone to commiserate with. I want to hang out with my sister and go over to my mom’s for dinner sometimes. I want to share a glass of wine with my girls, not the occasional Skype conversation (which are wonderful, just sometimes not enough).

But, that’s the way life goes. It’s not always going to be awesome – sometimes it’s just so-so, sometimes it’s really awful, and sometimes you’ve just stepped into a pile of shit. Luckily, I can reminisce about some of the more incredible times – like a few weeks ago spending a week in Chamonix Mont Blanc just before Christmas.

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It still amazes me that the French Alps are just down the road from us. It wasn’t even that major of a production getting on the road to spend a week away. The car ride was no big thing at all. Sure, we loaded up two cars until they were absolutely brimming, but that’s just the way you have to travel with kids. Thank god we had two cars, otherwise somebody would have been left behind (along with all our luggage).

By some miraculous twist of fate, the chalet we had rented for the week was having heating issues. We had gone with what I thought was a nice place, enough room for everyone, and it had a hot tub. All I cared about was the hot tub. But, due to this unfortunate heating issue, we were upgraded to another property. And it was one hell of an upgrade.

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We spent the week here. It was so amazing. Yes, it had a hot tub. And a stunning stone wood-burning fireplace. And soaring ceilings with wood beam rafters. And a gym where I did yoga every morning, along with a sauna I hopped into after my workout. Um, in a word, spectacular. I’m sorry the owners were having heating problems at their other property, but not that sorry.

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This is the view of Mont Blanc from our deck. And we had a field full of ponies right next to us. This was a pretty major feature for X – he was very excited about the ponies.

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They were curious about him too – and only him. They ignored the rest of us, but whenever X went over to go see them, the ponies would come running over and crowd around him, like, what’s up, tiny human? It was adorable. And that is X on miniature skis – he got out on the slopes for the first time ever! No big deal, just learnt how to ski in the French Alps.

While the boys were out being adventurous on the slopes, I didn’t do very much at all while there, other than kick back in our gorgeous accommodations. My big adventure was taking the train up Montenvers. We lucked out to a very clear day, perhaps the only one, and got to see some pretty spectacular mountain peaks.

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Even taking the train up the mountain side was enough to give me vertigo. It might have cemented my resolution to not ever try to learn how to ski. I don’t understand how people find that fun. I mean, it’s great for you, I’m glad you find it fun. You can find me at the bar, you know?

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We also grilled up some delicious raclette. Any experience in the Alps needs to include much cheese, obviously.

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The other thing I really wanted to do was wander the Christmas markets in Chamonix in the evening. My family graciously accommodated me. It ratcheted up the Christmas spirit, I’ll tell you that. We got glasses of vin chaud and wandered the stalls full of spices, cakes and cheeses. The air was just the tiniest bit crisp and it was all together wonderful.

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X even got to see a one-horse open sleigh. His one and only carol this year was Jingle Bells, which involved yelling Jingle Bells over and over again in a loud monotone. Here he is serenading the horse.

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It was all so beautiful. And yes, quite glamourous. So I’ll take my potty training lumps now. I hope that everyone is having a good start to their year, whether or not they are questioning what the heck they are doing with their life or not!

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2 thoughts on “Christmas in Chamonix

  1. I’m sorry you stepped in shit (literally) and I’m even more sorry you’re going through a rough time right now. I always find I’m a bit more emotional/sensitive right after New Year’s and plagued with a general sense of “what am I doing with my life” too (and also “where the F did the time go?!”). I wonder if I’m the only one who can’t listen to Auld Lang Syne without tearing up, even though I actually love the song. Anyway, your time in Chamonix sounds like it was absolutely lovely – your pictures are great. Someday, I’d love to experience Europe, anywhere really, during the Christmas season (the markets!!!). Hang in there 🙂

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