christmas-boys

together for christmas: an american xmas day

when you have two countries represented in your marriage, then you have the joy of living with two cultures. lina + i absolutely love having the opportunity to celebrate holidays by combining our two traditions: american + swedish. this year, as many of your know, we are celebrating the christmas holidays with a little extra excitement because we have all four of our parents gathered in the same place, and actually even under the same roof for christmas eve + christmas day!

yesterday i shared with you our swedish celebrations of christmas eve (you can read that post –> here). today, we continue our christmas day celebration, complete with the american tradition of waking to presents + a cozy, lazy christmas morning + more yummy food.

our american christmas day

good morning from the mountains!

christmas-sunrisesanta came!!

christmas-morning-giftslet the fun unwrapping + gift-giving begin!!
christmas-family-timechristmas-dadchristmas-presents-lina
christmas-anders
christmas-nick

and now… time to explore the gifts, play with the gifts, and make some breakfast (thanks, mom!)christmas-linachristmas-guys

christmas-momchristmas-boys

dressed + ready to prepare lunch: my mom, brother, and me worked together to get everything ready!christmas-me

christmas-turkey

christmas-table-setchristmas-meal

christmas-dinner

the american christmas day meal is set (it’s a lot like thanksgiving food in my family – because we love it so much. hehe. | sweet potatoes with marshmallows, corn pudding, green bean casserole, two kinds of stuffing, turkey, ham, rolls, two kinds of cranberry sauce. | a super souther meal, i’d say. christmas-dinner-2

after stuffing ourselves full, we pulled out computers (yep. we are that family) and looked at houses for sale in ohio (where my brother is moving to in february) and uppsala, sweden (where we are moving to in january). we are weird, but we had fun!christmas-familychristmas-my-love-and-meas the sun began to set we said goodbye to my brother (who left just before us) and my parents, thanking them for such a cozy and wonderful christmas day celebration. christmas-evening

christmas-night

 after a 30 minute drive back home, we were nestled in our apartment. lina and her parents in the living room, chatting and relaxing. me, snuggled under the covers in the bedroom. then it hit me. christmas is over and it’s now time to look forward. a great sadness fell over me, knowing that i am moving from these mountains and my family. the close of the day found me focusing on the goodbyes that loom in my near future. and yet, at the same time, snuggled in my bed, i also felt such great, wonderful gratitude for this holiday season. and it is only because of this great gratitude and love that i feel such pain in my heart as well.

it has truly been an incredible, amazing, time. my heart is full. my cup is overflowing with abundance + love. the beauty of this season has shone bright. and i am counting my blessings over + over again… as i fall asleep feeling loved and grateful. i could not have wished for anything more.

my wish is that your holiday time has been exactly what you have wanted + needed, that you have felt moments of peace + joy in the midst of this season.

gone too soon, now it’s over
the season’s down to a smolder
i hold to the warmth of december
till next year’s flame
till christmas, christmas,
christmas day.
- johnnyswim

light + love to you all. xoxo

IMG_2899

merry christmas eve: bringing sweden to the states

god jul!! hello, friends! can you believe that it is christmas eve already? how did that happen?!

things are pretty exciting in our home right now. since it’s christmas eve, it’s the big swedish celebration day for christmas, and we are planning on putting on the most swedish julafton (christmas eve) we can! what that means is that we get christmas stockings this morning, search for a donald duck cartoon on the internet to watch (a swedish christmas tv cartoon that the entire country watches at 3pm on christmas eve – don’t ask. hehe. traditions are what they are! and i love donald duck!), make meatballs, potatoes, and ribs for a big dinner this afternoon, listen to christmas music, light candles, have a mid-afternoon fika, and enjoy a slow, cozy day together.

this year, of course, we are celebrating with lina’s parents who are here – soooo cool! and my parents + brother will join us for dinner this afternoon, so they’ll get a little of the swedish christmas vibe, which means so much to me.

it’s a very rainy + dreary day here in the mountains of asheville. no snowy christmas eve, but it’s still cozy. right now it’s early morning, and i’m enjoying a few moments to myself before the festivities begin. by this evening we will make the switch over to celebrating christmas eve in the traditional american way – a trip to the church where i used to work ages ago, for their candlelight service, family movie time with popcorn, and then bed – to wait for santa to come! we are actually going to all sleep at my parents’ home, so we’ll even have a traditional christmas day morning. it’s so much fun to celebrate in two different ways – makes the holiday last even longer. hehe.

basically, it’s just all a bunch of excitement right now. (*giggles + squeals*). wishing you a beautiful christmas eve filled with lots of laughter + a few stolen moments of peace and silence. soak it all in. breathe deep the love. and enjoy the little things. i know i sure will.

my-love-and-me-christmas

 

light + love xoxo

m4s0n501
bokeh-christmas-tree

meditation mondays: as faithful as the light

did you feel it? did you see it? did you notice that the sun rose just a tad bit earlier today? the dark half of the year is over for those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, and the season of light is upon us. isn’t it just amazing how year after year after year we dread and endure the dark + cold. and then, year after year after year, nature does her thing and brings the light back, making the days ever so slightly longer as each one passes.

whether you celebrate nature or christmas or hanukkah or kwanzaa or some other religion or nothing at all, this is a powerful time of the year. we cannot deny what we see, what happens to our days, how the earth is faithful to her patterns. for me, personally, the celebration of christmas, is a beautiful metaphor for the same things that we see in nature. light comes, new life begins and grows, and then dies. darkness takes over, and just when all hope is lost, we remember that the light will return again. always. it is a faithful cycle – this christian story and the story of nature herself. ultimately it is all a story of hope. it is the story of what the world is supposed to be, and how, in the end, love always wins.

winter-solstice-morning-dark

i woke early this morning, in the darkness, and decided to watch the sun rise. i had a cup of coffee and the living room all to myself, as everyone else still slept soundly. i just love these long, dark december mornings alone. and even though i was inside and it was completely cloudy outside, making it not the most spectacular sunrise i’ve ever seen, the light still arrived. and it was beautiful.

as i watched and waited, i listened to my song for the day from my december photo challenge: oh come all ye faithful. {you can listen to the song –> here} as i listened, the word “faithful” kept tugging at me, as if it was a message to me. mixed with the message of gathering to adore the newborn christ child, there was something deeper i felt. a call to my soul.

every year i choose a word to guide me through out the year. this year, the word has been paradise, somewhere along the way, it became the word wild. i’ve been spending the past week working on discovering my word for 2015 – and i came up with empowered. it felt so big, and whole, and complete. balanced, i suppose. empowered and inspired, and empowered to act. i know that i need a balance of being + doing in 2015. i need a kick in the ass, and i feel it will be a very practical, nose-to-the-grindstone kind of year. but, that feels very focused and good to me. of course, it will all be supported by my mediation practices. so, yeah, empowered feels quite nice… powerful + inspired.

but, today, this word faithful seemed to spark something in me. and i wondered, is that a better word for me?

sunrise-solstice-christmas-tree

as i watched the sun + the light return faithfully to the earth, i began to feel that faithfulness is exactly what i need in 2015. the sun, the moon, the stars, all of nature are faithful to their calling to bring forth their light. the christ child is born + remains faithful to his calling to share a message of love and hope for all people – regardless. perhaps, focusing on being faithful – faithful to my authentic self + to my calling to be the light  – is exactly what i need…

i’m going to think about it some more. and just let this holiday week, with its celebration of light + love come as it will. i’ll let the word faithful roll around in my head and perhaps take hold of my soul. and, then i will decide.

for now, though, the light has returned to faithfully inspire and warm and remind us that we, too, are children of the light. it’s time to bask in its glory.

light + love to you all. xx

candle-balcony-winter-solstice

the magic of the longest night + a family ’round the table

i’ve been preparing for the winter solstice for days, even weeks, anticipating it with excitement, thinking + pondering + feeling + reading all of the signs in my life. listening to my soul. observing nature. slowing down + letting the dark mornings i’ve spent alone before the sun rises wrap around me like a warm blanket. today, however, the solstice is finally upon us northern hemisphere dwellers. the night has finally come.

and it is the longest night of the year. which, by itself, sounds like a drawn out tortuous day of darkness + boredom. in reality, however, it is a day of beauty and celebration. a day of warmth and hope and energy and light. how interesting is that? the longest, darkest night of the year brings us light + hope. but, it’s true, i believe. though the daylight hours are short, and the night seems to go on forever, with the darkness engulfing us, it is only because it is the longest night that we make the turn toward light. beginning tomorrow, the light returns to this part of the earth. from here on out, until the summer solstice, the days are longer and the sun shines a minute or two more each and every day. this day, that seems so hopeless, is actually filled with possibility. a day for dreaming dreams and setting intentions. a day for leaving behind all of the things of the previous year, harnessing the energy that the light brings, and celebrating the newness that comes with a new year.

of course, in order to endure this dark time of year, it is necessary to create as much coziness as possible. it’s the perfect time to light candles and string up twinkle lights. to warm ourselves with toasty drinks of mulled wine + cider. to decorate our homes with greenery, lest we forget that underneath all of the cold + snow + dark, life still exists. and even though we are inside during most of this time of the year, if we gather together, we can feel the glow of love, the energy of life, moving between us. and, if we dare to stand or sit outside in the middle of the darkness for just a minute, if we find the courage to embrace the darkness, then we learn how much the dark has to teach us, and we understand the beauty of the night.

i have celebrated this winter solstice very simply. i began the day by taking part in our little family advent candle lighting ritual. an little moment meant to acknowledge that we are still journeying toward christmas, that we are still seeking love and light.

advent-4th-sunday-

and then, after doing some errands (and christmas shopping on my own!), lina and i prepared a dinner for our parents. yes, the joy of this season, one that i did not realize would be quite as moving as it is, is that we are celebrating this holiday with both of our parents. it is so amazing. we picked up loan’s parents at the airport last night, and spent our first day together today – just resting and relaxing, so they could get over some jet lag. but, we decided to invite my parents over for dinner.

the six of us gathered around our dining table, eating food + drinking wine/beer, reacquainting ourselves with each other, laughing, joking, and sharing the simple pleasures of a family gathering. i had no idea how much this would affect me, how emotional i would be to be able to celebrate and share this time with each other.

family-dinner-xmas

family table solstice christmas

after dinner, i snuck away for a few minutes by myself on the balcony. this was going to be the heart of my solitary solstice celebration. i took a candle out, wrapped myself in a big blanket, and grabbed my journal + a pen. i must have sat outside in the near-freezing temperature for about 30 minutes. the air was cold, but i was warm. i sat and thought. i wrote, and i gazed at the light of the candle, flickering in the darkness. i fell the hope of a new season, a new year, new opportunities. i jotted down something that i knew i needed to leave behind now. i gave up and left some old patterns of thinking and ways of being. and i harnessed the energy inside me that will carry me throughout this next phase in my life.

balcony-solstice-lights

candle-balcony-solstice

now, the apartment is quiet. i’m back inside, warm and toasty. the tree is lit and a christmas movie plays in the background. everyone else is in bed. there is a wonderful sense of rest + calm in my home. and i know, that when the sun rises tomorrow, the light will have returned. yes, it is very, very dark now – in the middle of the nigh – but, i feel at peace. i feel present and alive and ready. but, i am not in a hurry. i’ll let the darkness be as it is right now – and i’ll simply be aware + embrace it.

tomorrow, the light returns again.

 

light + love xx

girls-burial-beer

little christmas + the end of an era

last january i met a blogging friend that i’d been keeping in touch with for a few years only through our blogs. she  was 20-something and lived in missouri. i was pushing 40 and living in sweden throughout our blogging friendship. but, then lina and i moved to the states. and my friend graduated from college + decided to take a solo road trip, passing through asheville to stay with us for a days, giving us a chance to meet face-to-face for the first time.

fast forward to almost a year later, and this crazy young girl, lina, and i have spent most of the year living in the same city, spending summer in sweden for a month, going to concerts, drinking tons of beer, having cozy days at home, enjoyed blogging dates, eaten brunches out, done a few road trips, and become a little family – complete with meltdowns, ups + downs, tough times, and unforgettable moments.

but, now, it’s literally time for all of us to move on. lina and i to sweden. and paige back to missouri, as she prepares for her next step in life.  so, to celebrate and commiserate together, we had a little christmas at home on thursday night and then spent our last brewery visit together on friday at burial brewing in the south slope part of downtown asheville.

christmas was fun and cozy – with gift exchanges, snacks, and a favorite movie. but, friday, well… it was the perfect ending to our crazy 2014 together. just the 3 of us, sitting at the bar of the brewing company for like 4-5 hours, tasting beer, laughing, crying, and soaking up these last great times in asheville (for now!) together. what a great, great night!

christmas-home-dinner christmas-home-matching-pjs christmas-home-pjs outside-asheville-south-slope-burial-beer tasting-room-burial-beer farm-tool-taps-burial-beer kiss-burial-beer flight-burial-beer bar-burial-beer burial-beer afternoon-bar-burial-beer girls-burial-beer

as we say goodbye to paige (for now!), we greet lina’s mom and dad this afternoon. that’s right, lina’s parents are coming all of the way from sweden to spend christmas with us – and our family here! we are so overjoyed + excited! we leave this afternoon to go to charlotte to pick them up at the airpot tonight. crazy!!! so, i don’t have time to blog anymore today… gotta clean and do some grocery shopping!

here’s to wishing you + yours a great weekend… as we head full force into the solstice, holiday week, and new year! let’s find the little things in life + celebrate them!

light + love xx