ESCAPE – Join Me For An Austrian Christmas!

austria Let me tell you a story. When I was 14, I signed up to be part of the AFS program and live overseas with a family for the summer. Unfortunately, they called me with the news that I’d been accepted after I’d already made other commitments so I couldn’t go. I learned that my chosen host family consisted of a mother, a father, a younger son, and a girl about my age who all lived together on a dairy farm near Leoben, Austria. I immediately sent them an apology for not being able to meet them, and a few weeks later received a letter from the girl, Walpurga (Burgi for short), who soon became my pen-pal and first international friend. We came from totally different realities, but in our letters we talked about everything we could think of despite the language barrier, focusing on the things we had in common: school, friends, pets, concerns about Michael Jackson’s hair catching on fire… (Seriously. I wrote an entire letter about that. She still has it.)

Sound of MusicAfter high school I lost touch with Burgi, but when I was 24 I began planning my first backpacking trip to Europe and sent her a letter. A few months later, the Austrian girl I had only seen in photos was all grown up and standing in front of me at a train station. It was surreal.

Now here I am at 43 and Burgi has been one of my dearest friends for as long as I can recall. We’ve had our ups and downs (Mainly due to our cultural differences – we have a bit of a Felix/Oscar thing going on. I’m clearly Oscar.), but ever since that first meeting we’ve visited each other at least once every three years and now thanks to Skype our friendship is in constant motion. She’s a senior flight attendant living in Vienna, I’m a board game designer living in Los Angeles, and neither of us would be the people we are had we never crossed paths. We are connected for life. It’s one of those relationships that kind of blows your mind when you think about how rare it is.

Vienna Boys ChoirSince my father passed away last year, Christmas is a bit bittersweet now and I felt like I really needed to do something more meaningful and relaxing this year. On one hand an escape sounded wonderful, yet on the other I longed to bask in the comforts of the season. So I cashed in all of my air miles and pointed myself towards a holiday with old friends that would be devoid of palm trees and mall Santas. This Sunday I will be flying to Paris, on Tuesday I’ll be in Vienna, and on Christmas Day 2009 I will be sitting in front of a roaring fire… in the main house of a dairy farm in Lower Austria with a mother, a father, a younger son, and a girl named Burgi who’s about my age.

I spent the holidays there in 2001 for the first time so I know a lot of what to expect. But this time is different because this time I’m going to bring you along too. I bought a new camera and I’ll have my laptop. I’ll try to share with you when I can. Trust me, Christmas in Southern California is a much different animal. Case in point: a traditional Austrian Christmas dinner is… baked carp. Yes, carp. Weren’t expecting that, were you? Oh, that’s just the tip of the iceberg my friends. I’m looking forward to sharing all of it with you. :)
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One Response to “ESCAPE – Join Me For An Austrian Christmas!”

  1. Oh Lynn! This is so very sweet! I know you’re going to have a great time! I’ll be thinking of you! xoxoxoxo cath

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