Yesterday, we invited our neighbours for coffee and cake. What sounds like a casual thing to do can actually become quite a challenge – especially in Switzerland.
We live in a house with six flats and when we moved here last year, we took the opportunity and invited everyone over in order to introduce ourselves and to get to know them. In the building we lived before, we didn’t know anyone and we really missed the communication. After all, you do meet in front of the door, in the laundry room (in Switzerland, the buildings have a communal laundry machine in the basement) or in the garden. In our current building we are blessed with very nice neighbours who kindly ignore the little one banging her toys on the floor. And we noticed that everyone seemed to enjoy the chance last year to meet up with the others over coffee and cake. So when we came back from Finland we thought we repeat it.
The challenge in inviting Swiss neighbours over lies mainly in fulfilling the high standards. If you think Germans get things done it is nothing compared to the Swiss!! Switzerland is an incredibly clean country. As a stranger you don’t get invited to Swiss homes that easily, but if you do you’ll soon notice the lack of any dust, crumbs or any kind of chaos. You can, as you say in German, eat from the floor. In our flat you can eat from the floor too, especially after a meal with the little one. I am already struggling in fulfilling my communal cleaning duty. Inviting 10 people over to a flat that is regularly haunted by our daughter seems like an impossible thing to do. Therefore, I spent the entire Saturday cleaning. And half of the Sunday after the little one had played for two hours and had her lunch.
In addition to the cleaning comes the baking. Swiss people, especially elderly people, seem to have a perfection when it comes to baking and cooking. For christmas we put a little bag of christmas cookies into the letter boxes of our neighbours and I kind of ignored the fact that the cookies we got back as a thank you tasted much better than ours. By now I am trying to foster the “deal-with-it”-attitude, though I am still figuring out whether I should apply it to myself or the others…So, I spent the other half of the weekend baking: a Finnish spice cake, a lemon cake…and because one very persuasive person in the household insisted on it, I made chocolate chip cookies as well.
On Sunday afternoon we had a full house, some additional chairs in the living room and a happy little one that smiled at each and everyone. The lemon cake was pretty sour and the coffee quite strong…(deal with it). But they seemed to enjoy the afternoon. Even the old lady from upstairs came although she normally never joins any social invitations. Maybe we should make it a tradition. And after all, with the little one we have a good excuse if things are not perfect.
And now it’s Monday: time to relax!