In an attempt to break the cycle of lethargy perpetuated by a nagging cold-cough-flu thing last night, I finally got around to decorating the little Christmas tree that Will and I bought at a nearby greenhouse on Friday.

After Will patiently positioned the tree in the stand and expertly strung the lights, a task I’ve never quite had the patience for, I began searching for just the right branches for my favorite ornaments.

Rather than sticking with a theme or a specific color scheme, our decorations are like Will and I’s respective iTunes playlists, a rather eclectic mix of everything we love. But instead of Bob Dylan, Nick Drake, Florence and the Machine, ABBA and Coldplay, there’s the skiing snowman adorned with a winter hat that resembles the kind Will likes to wear on the slopes. Or the first ornament that Adelyn ever bought for us during her school’s shopping day, a delicate crystal angel nestled in an iridescent half moon, plus another bright red bulb with a picture of her and Santa.

Rounding things out in equally random fashion, there are glittery purses and sparkly stilettos and Starbucks cups vying for prime placement along with a growing collection of reminders from our travels—a cable car from San Francisco, a hand-painted homage to Positano, a replica of Big Ben and the famed glockenspiel from London and Bern respectively, a blue and white spinning windmill from Amsterdam…

But it was another city, namely Lucerne, Switzerland, that was on my mind as I simultaneously  trimmed the tree and watched the Steelers whomp the Colts on Sunday Night Football. Lucerne, our next stop after Paris, was a place practically tailor-made for Christmas lights. Set against a stunning backdrop of snow-capped mountains, Lucerne is a picture-perfect Swiss village with a gorgeous lake, covered bridges and no joke, the best pizza of our entire trip (it probably helped that the owners were from Puglia, but seriously, it was so good we found ourselves ever so slightly disappointed with all the pies we tried afterward, even in—gasp!—Italy itself).

Your first night in a new place is always memorable, and that was certainly the case in Lucerne. There was the slightest chill in the air, so Will and I bundled up in our winter coats and scarves before setting out to explore our new surroundings. We walked over one of those wooden passageways to Lucerne’s Old Town where we peeked in the shop windows, sampled spiced nuts from a local purveyor, overheard conversations in a variety of languages and wondered how in the world we could possibly be somewhere so spectacular. As if to underscore just how idyllic the city was, the stars twinkled brighter than any I’d seen in years. They felt so close and gave off the most spectacular light.

And for someone who’s called Texas home for nearly five and a half years now and has waited until this past week for the leaves on the big pear tree in the front yard to finally change colors, Lucerne was also our first real glimpse of Fall. All the trees were decked out in fiery reds, burnt oranges and golden apple yellows and practically begged to be Instagrammed. It was a sight I didn’t want to forget any time soon, and while the camera of our Smartphones couldn’t do it justice, it was still better than nothing.

Now, six-ish weeks later, I’m not sure how crazy the Swiss get with Christmas decorating, but I still couldn’t help wondering what Lucerne looks like now. If it’s anything like I’m imagining, I’m guessing “stunning” might be the appropriate adjective. It helps when there’s plenty of natural beauty to begin with, of course, something that Switzerland—not to mention the friendly locals—definitely had in spades. But with garland, a fresh dusting of snow and a few strings of lights? Well, even better.