A Christmas in Prague

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 There are many reasons why I love the Christmas season. 

There’s just a certain feeling that comes this time of year. I love seeing all the lights on people’s houses. I love drinking warm beverages outside in the cold. I love Christmas trees and being able to see them inside people’s homes. I love the Christmas movies and programs that are on TV the day after Thanksgiving. But most importantly, I love how family gets together at Christmas time.

When I was little, Christmas always meant going to Kansas to visit my mom’s family. I liked going up there because it meant that usually I would get to see snow. By the time I was 16, we were no longer going to Kansas, but it wasn’t because I grew up. It was because we were living in Paris, France, and so it was a bit too far of a trek.

Even though I wasn’t with my entire family, those Christmases were some of the best Christmases I’ll have in my life. My senior year was the most memorable. My parents, my great-aunt, great-uncle, their two daughters, and I all piled into our seven-person van and drove two weeks to and from Prague, sightseeing along the way. We spent Christmas Eve, Christmas, and the day after in Prague. Even seeing all of those wonderful sights couldn’t live up to the memories that my family and I created while we were together.

My cousins and I decided that the best way to make sure we were all accounted for was to do a countdown every time we got in the car. This side of my family is all German, so instead of counting one through seven we named ourselves Weinerschnitzel numbers one through seven. I was Weinerschnitzel number three. Whenever I’m with my cousins, we will still count off. It’s gotten to be one big family joke.

Another great memory from the trip was the story of the infamous gas cap. None of us can remember the exact details, but as we were driving towards Prague, my dad or uncle would fill up the gas tank when needed. At one point, we filled up the tank somewhere in Germany and my dad got this, “Oh, crap” look on his face. My mom was inside the station when my dad got back into the car. He started off by saying, “Now, whatever you do, don’t tell Joen.” Of course we were all curious as he explained, “I lost the gas cap.”

To understand why my mom would have been upset, you have to know that the gas cap had a lock on it, and it would be hard to find a replacement unless you were to go way out into the boonies back in Paris, park someplace hard to get into, and try to explain the problem to someone in French.

It was a running joke with us the rest of the trip. My mom had no idea what was happening. My cousins would giggle every time we had to fill up the tank, and my dad would not let my mom go near the tank. She never suspected anything until one day, months later, back in Paris, when she finally went to fill up the tank herself. That night, we all got a strongly worded letter from my mom complaining that we never told her, to which my cousin, Sara, responded, “What happens in Prague, stays in Prague.”

Nicolette Schleisman is a junior journalism major. She can be reached for comment at nschleisma@smu.edu

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