well, i thought that last week was the last week of the year, but it turns out that we have one more bonus week to go. and i intend to use it exactly as i wish. resting, relaxing, netflixing, blogging, and planning for the new year. but, before i get ahead and think about the days ahead, i’m going to revel in the present moment and give thanks for the week that has passed.
it’s been a week filled with lots of cozy moments and a few near meltdowns. the almost break-downs due, of course, to the fact that i am, not with my family in the states. and, FaceTime is great, but it’s not the same. of course, holidays are filled with tradition, so missing out on sharing in them with the ones i love breaks my heart. at the same time, things here were great and beautiful. plus, the fact that i have my family in the states, and am part of a family here in sweden, makes me doubly blessed. so, who am i to complain?! well, of course, i am not complaining. i am just expressing my feelings, which are all bittersweet and wonderful. my life is so rich and filled with so much love.
so, with that said, on with my monday photo session now. here are quite a few photos from the past week, and many of those amazing moments that i experienced.
celebrating the winter solstice at home, at the precise moment the solstice occurred early in the swedish morning
an almost full moon rising at 2:30 in the afternoon
uppsala in the early afternoon. last minute shopping!
zola getting into the holiday/vacation mode
on wednesday, my love + i packed our bags and headed to norrköping (where we used to live a few years ago) to celebrate christmas with lina’s family. her brother, his wife, and our extra brother also joined us on the train down. we all live in uppsala, and, of course, were all headed to norrköping.
settled in at lina’s parents’ place. all cozy by the fire.
after a great night’s sleep, i woke to this gorgeous sunrise greeting me as christmas eve day began.
in sweden, we celebrate on christmas eve. so, there are stockings hanging on our bedroom doorknob when we woke up. candy, a christmas decoration, and a magazine were inside. then, we ate breakfast with a fire in the fireplace and christmas music. enjoyed a lazy morning, and finally got dressed. we visited lina’s grandmother for a short bit at her nursing home, and then headed out to lina’s sister’s for the big christmas eve celebration.
we were packed in the car. lina’s parents in the front, and lina, me, her brother and his wife all crammed in the back seat. but, no biggie. we sang christmas carols!
swedish christmas dinner is filled with meat products. i’m a vegetarian at home, but when i have a chance for good meat stuff, i take it! we had swedish meatballs, cocktail weiners, fish, more fish, ribs, and roe deer. some veggies too, of course. it was delicious – very different than an american christmas dinner. but, hey, that’s the beauty of living with two cultures in your life.
after dinner, we gathered in the living room to watch traditional swedish christmas tv (micky mouse and donald duck. that’s right!). and then, downstairs again for coffee + dessert.
pretty soon, santa came with all of the gifts! yes, santa visits the homes in sweden, and the kids get to interact with him (thanks to a da, or granddad or kind neighbor). it’s cozy and fun for the kids, but i admit that i love the magic of going to sleep and having santa come during the night.
the family shot by the tree
christmas eve’s full moon was shining brightly as we left the countryside and headed back to lina’s parents’ home. it had been a cozy, fun time together. but, now, it was on to the next part of the evening. an american tradition….
we watched national lampoon’s christmas vacation – just like i have always done with my family growing up. we drank wine. ate candy (and chips for me!). and it was about 1:30 when we finally all headed to bed. it was just what i needed to give me a little american feel too.
my love was asleep within about 1 minute, while i took a few minutes to soak in the silence and stillness of this magical night. it was now christmas day. i listened to a song, gazed out the window a the say, and just soaked in the peace and love of the moment.
we all woke late on christmas day and this amazing sunrise greeted me as i turned over in the bed at 9am. so gorgeous. such a gift.
the entire day consisted of rest and relaxation. breakfast. reading. sitting. chatting. lunch. more sitting and chatting. all while there was a great storm swirling around outside. rain and wind and weirdly warm temperatures.
mid/late afternoon, lina, her brother and his wife and i headed downtown to take a walk through norrköping’s light festival.
norrköping has a very beautiful and cozy downtown area, so we took off in the rain and enjoyed it all anyway. it was quite beautiful and magical.
as we reached the end of the walk, we passed by a pub that lina and i used to go to when we lived in norrköping. it was only a block from our old apartment, so it was definitely our go-to, cozy place. we even took my brother there this summer when he was visiting us and we were in norrköping.
suddenly, they were standing by the entrance and said, “surprise!”. they had been planning all day to end our walk at this favorite pub of mine in order to celebrate christmas day for me (since there are no celebrations/traditions happening on the 25th in sweden). they all knew how much i miss (and my love too!) the whole waking up on christmas morning thing, and being away from my family.
so, an evening of beer and fries was planned! and our extra brother/friend was also meeting us there. we must’ve stayed about 2-3 hours, and it was just perfect. i couldn’t have asked for anything better!
and suddenly it was saturday morning. december 26th. the sunrise was simple and very nordic-looking. as i gazed out the window after i woke up, i remembered that it was exactly 6 years ago that i had watched the sunrise from this window just hours before lina and i got married.
it was our six year anniversary on saturday, and we were headed home again after breakfast. it had been a very cozy, quite simple christmas. but, it was time to go back to uppsala and continue our celebrations.
when we got home, my love cleaned and i made dinner. but, we decided to make a traditional american christmas dinner for our anniversary dinner. yummy veggies and such. again, it was a very simple celebration, but just perfect. then we snuggled with zola, cozied up under the blankets on the sofa, and watched the last episode of downton abbey together. it truly is all about the little things in life.
yesterday morning (sunday), we celebrated our own christmas! so, it was christmas day, the american way! we woke, made coffee, turned on christmas music and sat on the floor together, passing out + unwrapping gifts. my parents had gone over-the-top sending us pretty packages all wrapped up, so we had a ton of things to unwrap. it was absolutely a perfect morning.
the rest of the day we organized, did laundry, and just stayed in. it finally turned cold out over night, and now, as i write this on sunday night, it is snowing outside. yippee!
you know, i have worked hard on learning to be present in the moment, to live life intentionally and slowly. and i am no where near perfect, but i have learned so very much. and one thing that i can share with you is, that when we live in the moment, when we soak it up and find the beauty in every little thing, then all of life, every single tiny bit of it, becomes beautiful and blessed. living in the present increases gratitude and only creates more positivity.
so, now here we are. ready or not, it is the week with the last few days of 2015 and the first few days of 2016. for me, this will be a week of much reflection, writing, planning, dreaming, and visioning. i wish for you all a very inspiring, relaxing, powerful week, as we turn the page and begin a whole new chapter of life, individually and together.