INSP Advent Calendar: day one

Count down to Christmas with #INSPadvent! Each day in the run up to Christmas, we’ll have a message from a different street paper vendor. Come back tomorrow to open the next window in the most heart-warming advent calendar imaginable.

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Photo by: Katrin Schmoll

Evelyne, 47, & her husband Georg, 46, both live in Salzburg

Evelyne has sold Apropos since 1999 and Georg since 2007. They’ve both been homeless at some point and struggled with alcohol addictions. Evelyne also struggled with a gambling addiction. Georg spent seven years in prison for robbery. He met Evelyne three months before he got arrested and she waited for him until he got released – they wrote each other more than 1,000 love letters and got married after his release.

What is the best Christmas present you’ve ever received?

Georg: I am not a big fan of presents – for me the best present is, that I can finally enjoy Christmas. When I think about my childhood, Christmas has never been a joyful holiday for me because of the bad situation in my family: my father was always drunk and the family was fighting. Then I was homeless and in prison, so I couldn’t enjoy it either… now it’s really a peaceful and joyful event for me.

Evelyne: For me the best present was to spend Christmas with my mother – unfortunately she died six years ago.

How do you plan to spend Christmas this year?

Just the two of us in our small flat with our pets (two cats and a dog), cosy and quiet with good food. We are very busy before Christmas with paper sales and other projects and on Christmas Eve we like to enjoy some peace and quiet.

If you did not sell a street paper, how do you think you might be spending Christmas this year?

Georg: Honestly, I think, my whole life would be different. Maybe my wife and I wouldn’t even be together anymore. Apropos is a huge part of our lives and it’s keeping us together. I don’t know what I would do without it. I don’t even want to think about it.

Do you have a special Christmas message for your customers?

Georg: Not just for our customers, but for everyone: don’t make Christmas all about presents, but use the time to reflect quietly about yourself and your life instead.

A Krampuslauf [Krampus run] in Pörtschach am Wörthersee, Austria

What is a traditional Christmas greeting in your language?

We don’t have a special greeting in Austria apart from ‘Frohe Weihnachten‘ [Merry Christmas], but we do have ‘Perchten‘ or ‘Krampusse‘ – devils running around in very scary costumes, usually at the beginning of December, to cast out bad spirits.

Georg: I love these traditions, especially the Perchten, they are just part of our Christmas. I can’t imagine it without them.

Evelyne: I also love Christmas markets, especially Waldklang – a beautiful market in the woods next to a lake and the Christmas market at Hellbrunn Castle.