christmas-eve-lunch

together for christmas: a swedish christmas eve

you probably already know that my in-laws from sweden are in town to celebrate christmas with lina + me, which i think is super cool. and you may or may not know that my parents live about 30 minutes away. and my brother lives 5 minutes from me. with all of that said, this christmas was something extra special to me. having these most important people in the same place, at the same time, and over the christmas holiday, meant that, for me, this would be a christmas of being together.

it would have been completely completely if lina’s siblings + their families, and my brother’s girlfriend could have been here. but, gathering our parents in the same place, considering we are spread out over two countries, was a huge feat, making me feel totally overwhelmed with gratitude.

seeing as we are two families from two countries, we have different traditions for celebrating christmas. no matter where lina and i are during the holidays, we always try to combine traditions and celebrate the swedish + american way, as much as possible, given whichever country we are in. but, this year, we were able to celebrate both ways with just a little more pizzazz.

here’s how we did it: luckily swedes celebrate chrismas on christmas eve. it’s the big day with the family gatherings, large amounts of food, and santa’s visit. americans celebrate a tiny bit on christmas eve,but the big highlight is christmas morning + christmas day. so, we just planned to have about 48 hours of a holly jolly time! and we did it the swedish way on christmas eve, and the american way of christmas day. perfect for our double celebration!

now, that i’ve written to you a bit about our plans, i’m ready to share a ton of photos with you. today’s post will be all about christmas eve – celebrating the holiday with a swedish touch (and ending the night by transitioning into classic american traditions). of course, there are a few things missing from the swedish celebration – like watching donald duck on national swedish tv at 3pm and eating lots of fish. still, i think we did a pretty good job!

our swedish christmas eve in the states

i spent a few quiet moments, as usual, in the morning, before everyone else awoke. just letting the season soak into me + preparing myself for the day.christmas-eve-morning-presents

we had stockings to open (lina and i both filled each others’ stocking with earrings that we loved, without knowing  that the other one was giving earrings. how cool!) + then we decided to each open one package on christmas eve (saving the rest for christmas morning). zola got a little ball (as you can see) in her stocking. so cute.christmas-eve-morning-family

christmas-silly-me the table is set! and, it is featuring the swedish christmas soda called “julmust”, a very special drink. but, i love it! christmas-eve-table

our parents watched over us as we prepared the meal… i think they were a bit hungry (and perhaps excited too). my mom, lina’s mom, my dad. l to r.christmas-eve-waiting-family

cheers! sipping on some egg nog to fill our bellies a bit as we wait.christmas-eve-egg-nog-toast

more waiting… almost done!christmas-eve-hungry
let’s eat! the swedish way: lots of meat + some potatoes. hehe. we had ribs, little hotdogs, sweidhs meatballs, mushroom omelette, and potatoes casserole. and it was all super yummy.christmas-eve-swedish-food
christmas-eve-food
cheers again! with a little moscato!christmas-eve-lina-and-me christmas-eve-lunch

after the meal, what else was there to do but just lounge around?! look at our parents there… chatting, resting, relaxing. i love this capture.christmas-eve-parents

menawhile, lina and i were preparing fika: coffee, lussekatter buns, cookies, candy. mmmm!christmas-eve-fika

then… we rested. ahhhh. i think i even fell asleep. but, it was so cozy as i snuggled down under my covers. hehe. more christmas eve fun to come!my-love-and-me-christmas-eve

after all of the day’s activities, including our hour and a half rest period (ha!), we then switched gears a bit and began to bring in the classic american activities on  christmas eve: a candlelight service at the church where i used to work + a late night family viewing of national lampoon’s christmas vacation – a reynolds tradition every christmas eve. here we are at church. soooo cozy.

christmas-eve-church

i worked at this church, with these amazing people, for 8 years. it was absolutely overwhelmingly wonderful to see so many faces that i haven’t seen in a while. i don’t know how many necks i hugged + how many people greeted me/us. i saw some of my deepest, dearest, old friends. i talked with pole who’s hands i’d held in the hospital after major surgeries. i celebrated new life that some of my old youth are now carrying in them.  i sang and spoke and laughed with people that i had the privilege of sharing so many sacred + special moments in their lives. i remembered what a joy and an honor it is to minister to people. i felt as if i’d returned home. this place, is, in one way, will always be my home. and that people haven’t forgotten me… i was so touched. oh, my heart was so full of wonder + light. so. very. full.christmas-eve-light

then, we headed to my parents’ house. that’s right, we had all packed a bag, grabbed all of the christmas day food i had already baked, and gathered up all of the presents under our tree to take to my parents’ place. we were going to sleep there!! christmas eve slumber party. hehe. when we arrived, we are quite hungry, so my mom offered us tons of snacks she prepared + then we sat down for the annual national lampoon’s christmas vacation showing. cozy + hilarious fun!christmas-eve-snacks christmas-eve-goodies

after snacks + the movie, it was coming on 1 am. time to hit the sack… so santa can come!! we all retired to our bedrooms, lina + i curled up together on a tiny twin bed, which turned out to be just perfectly comfy. i laid my head down, took in a deep breath in all of the quiet + the stillness, and gave thanks for the abundance of joy that had been this christmas eve. good night!

check back tomorrow to see a glimpse of our cozy christmas day!

 

light + love xoxo

7 more things to celebrate in april.

it’s been a challenging week for celebrations. but, true to what i believe, i must practice what i preach. so, even though i’ve been scared, sad, lonely, worried, and exhausted, i still have found something everyday to celebrate. what a great opportunity april’s photo challenge has been for me. it’s as if my subconscious knew something back in march when i planned april to be a month all about finding something to celebrate every day. it’s not always easy, and some days it seems like it’s almost impossible, but it’s there. there is always something, even if it’s the tiniest thing, to celebrate. there is always one reason to go to bed thankful and one reason to wake up hopeful.

here’s what i celebrated this past week:

8: cry

cry: crying, mourning, and remembering is a part of life. today was holocaust remembrance day.

cry: crying, mourning, and remembering is a part of life. today was holocaust remembrance day.

9. risk

risk: if i hadn't taken one risk after another, this picture would have never happened. #wife #married #lgbt #expat #sweden #travel #dublin #ireland #guiness #friendship #love

10. pink

pink: a pink orchid on my windowsill... in honor of international anti-bullying day today.

pink: a pink orchid on my windowsill… in honor of international anti-bullying day today.

11. warm

warm: keeping warm while standing at the bus stop waiting for our friend n, to arrive from ireland!

warm: keeping warm while standing at the bus stop waiting for our friend n, to arrive from ireland!

12. unhindered

unhindered: this is the day my love went to the hospital. i need some strong, unhindered, tough inspiration . this was perfect. face those fears & challenges, and grab onto life! y e a h.

unhindered: this is the day my love went to the hospital. i needed some strong, unhindered, tough inspiration. this was perfect. face those fears & challenges, and grab onto life! y e a h.

13. joy

joy: lots of joy when n and i went out to eat and received lots of yummy, unique, delicious food... for free!

joy: lots of joy when n and i went out to eat and received lots of yummy, unique (smoked octopus & pork belly), delicious food… for free!

14. laughter

laughter: this movie did it for me. laughter is sometimes the best medicine.

laughter: this movie did it for me. laughter is sometimes the best medicine.

so, what are you celebrating? what has happened lately that has reminded you that life is a beautiful journey, even when it’s messy? talk to me!

party on! peace & love.

28 days of love: black & white style.

well, here we are again. another week has flown by and there are only a few days left in february. crazy!! and from where i am sitting now, it feels pretty good to be moving on into march. good in an exciting way! for now, though, i have a few more super fun things waiting for me as this month winds down. so, it’s time to live in the here & now. time to soak up the present moment as i embark on the last week of this photo challenge. and i can promise you that there will be some super cool pictures in my last week… stay tuned & check back. i’m leaving sweden for a few days. wink wink.

as you can see, there is a little black & white theme going on with my photos this week. i didn’t plan on it being that way, but after 3 days i realized that i had inadvertently used a black & white filter, so i decided to complete the week with the same theme. a little artsy, ya know.

15: nostalgic

feelin' all nostalgic in one on my fave hippie t-shirts.

feelin’ all nostalgic in one on my fave hippie t-shirts.

16: flower

do you see the cat among the flowers? hehe.

do you see the cat among the flowers? hehe.

17: dream

i'm just a little american girl livin' my dream with my love from our home in europe.

i’m just a little american girl livin’ my dream with my love from our home in europe. seriously. i live here. soooo cool.

18: breathe

breathe deep. fingers crossed. dreams in the making.

breathe deep. fingers crossed. dreams in the making.

19: soft

these thingys. so soft & adorable.

these thingys. so soft & adorable.

20: memory

making memories on a girl's night. chips. popcorn. drinks with fun straws. and movies.

making memories on a girl’s night. chips. popcorn. drinks with fun straws. and movies.

21. beloved

my beloved being her funny self this morning as we played games. last night our niece stayed over & we had a girls' night. super fun.

my beloved being her funny self this morning as we played games. a continuation of our girls’ night. fun!

as the month comes to an end, i am left wondering what i’m gonna do in march? photo challenge? or not? and if i do one, should i make it myself or follow another one’s? hmmm… what do you think?

have a great thursday! peace.