What does Christmas mean to you? – Part 4

by michelle anne richardson

And just like that, we are now in the last part of this most wonderful Christmas series that I ever did. If you have not read, parts 1, 2 and 3, click on the respective links. If you count all the 4 parts, we actually had 26 women – I know the more the merrier! Before we read the stories today, my heartful thanks to each one of the beautiful women that were featured on MySwissStory! You guys made it worthwhile – not just for me but for 1000s of readers globally!

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Feeling pretty merry at the Basel Christmas market!

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Without further ado, scroll down and see what these 6 wonder women have to say:

  • What does Christmas mean to me?
  • What is that one thing that I learned this year?

Alnaaze Nathoo, Adliswil

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Christmas has always been a funny thing in my life. For the most part, it was a holiday celebrated by other people. Not being a Christian, my mother was quite adamant that we were not going to celebrate Christmas. While I did try my best to explain the resemblance to the Roman celebration; however that didn’t matter much to my family. So, as a child, this was a lonely affair, I would wait for it to be over and for life to return to normalcy.

There was more than a healthy dose of jealousy! When you meet your classmates they seldom mention their trip to the church or other religious traditions what they describe is presents, Santa’s conspicuous consumption of all of the cookies in house, the big family dinner and other funny stories. I would report back on seeing the “The sound of music” for the 100th time; I let my friends knew that I had certainly figured out how to solve a problem like Maria and nannying n army of children really wasn’t the right solution for anyone.

As I got older, friends who were in a similar non-celebratory situation and I created our own ritual. For Christmas, we had a slumber party – which meant five or six teenage girls, eating pizza and ice cream cake while watching the same movie- “Tatie Danielle”. It was a French movie that we had first seen in school about a mad psychotic old woman with murderous tendencies. As you can imagine, there was nothing Christmas-y about this tradition, but we loved it. When I look back on those times I am filled with happiness and a sense of belonging. To this day, that sense of belonging envelopes me like a warm blanket, and it is what I try to feel and create, wherever and with whomever I am spending Christmas with. It’s not about gifts or dinners or anything (though I love the lights please don’t take those away from me), it’s about creating an environment where you love and you feel loved, where you are part of something that is yours.

This year has been extremely difficult for me, a year filled with drama, recurring illness, and major life changes. All of this has suddenly cleared something in my mind, something I have been struggling with my entire life. Much like my Christmas story, it all revolves around being comfortable with who we are and where we are.

My main lesson this year, and this is one that I am still trying to fully take on, is “No matter what the rules say, no one has the right to hurt us, manipulate our feelings, control our decisions and make us feel guilty about who we are or the choices we make.” It does not matter if they are a relative or a best friend if they gave birth to us or are serving us coffee, or simply live in the flat next door: each of us has our own life to live, and it is ours. We alone are accountable for our decisions, and for the people, we eventually become.

Alnaaze has a lovely blog where she posts all the letters she hasn’t posted yet!

Ella Brown, Wettingen

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For our family it’s about connection, being together, music, food, and gifts. It’s about slowing down and living in the moment. We always stay in our own house and welcome family and friends to join us. Its about time spent not money spent.

This year, I learned that creative projects can turn into something. I started the invisible women project as a way of working through my own feelings and it connected me with so many women having similar experiences. I never intended for it to be published. My only lesson to share is that being honest, authentic and using your own voice in the digital world will sometimes be the best gift you can share.

Ella is a professional photographer, capturing Life’s milestones, events, and portraits.

Gabriella Györfi, Thalwil


For us, Christmas means spending time with loved ones. Instead of buying presents, being present is more important. Being present for someone – and also being present right here at this moment. My family and I are making together gifts for each other. A personalized gift for someone who will always think of you looking at your artwork. 

This year was a big step for me opening my ceramic studio. It was always my dream.  Lots of people were skeptical and didn’t believe in it. They said I should go back to the corporate world and having a safe job. This was one of the best things that ever happened to me. What I’ve learned is, don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. If you make that step, go for it with all your energy. Never give up!

Kristin Reinhard, Zug


For our family, the festive season of Christmas is more than just a single day in December, but rather a month-long celebration filled with lots of little traditions. It starts with lighting the first advent candle to the sounds of my childhood advent song and continues to a weekly 6 am candlelight “Rorate” mass at our village church which includes a community breakfast before school and work. We spend evenings sitting around the table chatting with family or spend the weekends baking cookies to give to our friends and teachers. And while the traditions are lovely to revisit year after year, it is not the essential part. For me, the most important part is that we are doing all of this together. 

There will never be the perfect time to start something new. Instead of procrastinating and letting the fear of failure hold me back, this year, I have learned to let go of perfectionism and embrace failure. An ever-evolving life-lesson for a perfectionist like me, who needs constant reminding it is much better to of failed than to watch another year go by wishing things were different. I am learning that failure can be something positive. Failure means I have pushed past fear, past my comfort zone and allows me to learn. 

Kristin Reinhard is the founder of Swiss Family Travel and has helped us plan several trips with kids! She also wrote a chapter in my book, 21 Hidden Gems of Switzerland.

Sunrita Dutta, Basel

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Christmas for me is memories intertwined with the cultural mix of Indo-western festivities!! Joys of Santa stories on long winter nights, happy yelps of children running, lights and laughter. It’s a time for celebrating our successes and accepting the failures. A time to give and be thankful for what we have.

There are many distractions, and the free use of technology adds to it. I feel the failure to be Focused and being goal-oriented has become a mental disorder. I have personal struggles from achieving my goals and staying on task and find excuses. So the one learning I have had this year is to deliberating avoid distractions and complete tasks to fulfill the one goal. Knowing what one can achieve simply by being focused makes any job achievable.

Sunrita is the found of Spice it Up where she demystifies Indian cooking and also runs classes time and again!

Fara Schätzle-Notter, Zurich

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Christmas for me was a lot of stress and a lot of disharmonies where I grew up, I had a narcissistic mother and it was never a nice thing to celebrate Christmas. Even today, it does not invoke the most positive emotions, however now I celebrate with my son – we have a tree, we have gifts and a nice meal.

My son and I were both diagnosed this year with ADHD and ADD respectively, the prescribed medications are helping and we are at a much better place now. So my learnings this year are – Don’t be afraid to ask questions, don’t be afraid to seek help and don’t be afraid to put a label on whatever it is that has given you a hard time. There has been so much support and encouragement from all over!

Fara Schätzle-Notter is a divorced single mother who works as a medical secretary. You can check her IG account here.

What are some of your family traditions around Christmas? Is there something you learned this year which you would like to share with the world? I would love to hear all about it in my comments section.

It’s Christmas time, let’s spread some cheer and lift each other up!

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