In Switzerland, there is a special name for that seemingly boring January that starts with a bang but really drags on uneventfully. The Swiss call it the “Januar-loch”, translated literally as the January void, when nothing of significance seems to take place.
Last December, after a month of counting down to Christmas with the kids, then packing up and celebrating with the in-laws, then escaping those normally quiet days in the countryside to spend amidst the uproar of Europapark, followed by another handful of sleepless nights with family friends for the new year festivities… January is a comparative drool. Or a welcome relief, depending on how you look at it.
I spent the first few weeks trying to re-orient myself, unpacking, settling in, running errands, and preparing for the daily grind, in hopes of easing into our routine without too much of a hiccup. But soon after, it rapidly diminished into that hole in the calendar, now at the end of the month the holiday season seems like ages ago. The three-year old is already asking how much longer until Christmas, and if “Samiklaus” will come again because our Christmas decorations are still up, and it’s snowing outside. Oh dear.
But what to do with the Januar-loch (besides finally putting away the Christmas decor)? Already next month, the Carnival craze will begin, but in the meantime, I have to wile away the children before they start marching around the house, banging on boxes and pretending to be Carnival musicians, four weeks too soon!
And so fortunately we live near the mountains. Living in the countryside in Switzerland usually means you probably live only an hour away from the nearest ski resort. And although we now technically live in the city (of about 35,000 inhabitants), we still live in Valais, where the Swiss go for their vacation. So the next ski resort is a silly 15 minute drive up any (dizzying) mountain road.
And like most Swiss families in these parts, Januar-loch means ski and sledding season is open!