In Sweden, we celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. It’s an entire day filled with food, music, family, and traditions. And, this year, is a “Sweden year” for me + Lina; so we’ve taken the train down to Norrköping to spend the weekend with Lina’s parents, siblings, nieces/nephews, cousins, and more. It’s a full house, with lots of classic Swedish celebrations, all day long. And I thought I’d share just a little of it with you all.
But, first, what’s a “Sweden year”? Well, as an international couple, Lina + I have decided to celebrate the holidays in each country every other year. Last year we were in the States. So, this year, it’s Sweden. And here’s how it goes:
We arrived yesterday, Saturday, early in the morning. Like before breakfast. So, our tummies were rumbling + we were seriously craving coffee by the time we got here. Luckily, Lina’s mom had stuff all ready for us as soon as we walked in the door. The rest of the day was spent simply relaxing + doing a little food preparation for today. I mostly drank coffee, took photos, and chatted. You know, moral support and companionship.
In the evening, Lina’s brother + his wife arrived, so the 6 of us hung out + ate traditional Christmas porridge. After dinner, we grazed on candy + fudge + sipped wine for hours.
Today, we have a traditional cozy morning, with a long breakfast with more porridge, a fire in the fireplace, lots of string coffee, Christmas stockings and Christmas music. I mean the cozy factor is seriously high.
Then, a little after noon, we head out to Lina’s sister’s place to get the big crowd together for the big Christmas dinner, the arrival of Santa with presents, and Donald Duck shows on tv. That’s right, I said Donald Duck. It’s a strange and deeply loved Swedish tradition to watch Disney cartoons, especially Donal Duck in the mid-afternoon hours. I have no idea why or when it started, but it’s pop culture at its finest. And there’s no fighting it. Then, again, I love Disney, so, bring it on!
After a long day of celebrations + lots of people, we return to Lina’s parents’ place for a cozy night in front of the tv before passing out from all of the activity.
Tomorrow, Christmas Day, Lina and I are hanging out for most of the day here in Norrköping, but then taking the train home in the evening.
All this to say, that I am grateful for the cozy, crazy Swedish Christmas weekend. And I truly wish you + yours a cozy holiday as well, whatever you might be celebrating during this time of the year.
These are the days that are sometimes the hardest in which to stay grounded. So much is going on. So many people. The flurry of activity is constant. Or, if you find yourself alone right now, the lack of activity aches in your heart. Either way, it is tough to just be, especially from today until the end of the year.
But, dear friends, I challenge us to keep that promise to ourselves to just stay still, if even for just a minute. For me, it is always the early mornings. I am up way before the rest of the family, so I can sneak downstairs, put on a pot of coffee, and sit by myself. Just taking it all in.
And, in the middle of the day, when all of the activity gets to be too much for me, I allow myself to step away. To walk outside for a moment or even go to a bathroom, simply to pull away into myself + to feel my soul in the middle of it all. I usually communicate this to Lina, just so she knows what’s up. And, it doesn’t mean that there is anything bad or difficult going on, it just means that I want to slow down + savor the moment. Of course, I can also get that soaking up feeling by being very present with whomever I am around. By going all in when observing, listening, and laughing with the family.
All in all, it’s about setting that intention to simply be aware + present in the moments as they pass.
It’s a magical night, you guys. Christmas Eve. Yet, one more magical moment in these two weeks of shifting into a new year. And tonight is a night that, no matter what religion we believe in or don’t believe in, invites us to get quiet, to pause + soak in whatever is around us, and be aware of how we can be present in each others’ lives.
From up in the Nordic country of Sweden, I wish you a very Merry Christmas, a riktigt God Jul, and a magical Yuletide season. May love come down on you today, no matter where you are or what you do.
Haven’t read your blog in about a month, but today, I caught up. And I am glad I did. It is Christmas morning and I am feeling blue. Normally. Y now I would be hustling and bustling gtting everything ready for Christmas Dinner. Not this year. This year we are having a very simple quiet dinner with my brother & his significant other. Four people! A far cry from the usual 15-20 that normally descend upon us.
It is nothing tragic, everyone just had other places to go, some have moved away this year. But this morning the lack of activity has brought a certain melancholy that I do not normally have on Christmas morning. I the quiet, I thought, ok, time to catch up on blogs.
And on your blog was exactly what I needed to read. Instead of being upset that I have time, I was reminded that perhaps I need this time to renew and restore. So cuddled up with coffee looking at the tree, I feel so much better.
I particularly Iike your posts about the darkness. As you know, here in the Deep South, we have light—lots of light, so the concept of darkness in the mid day is quite strange and yet enchanting at the same time. Yet, it is a good reminder that one needs to pause and to think about what isn’t really important.
Thank you so much for providing the wisdom to make what may have been a depressing Christmas Day into one that will now be celebrated with gratefulness & joy.