Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On Meeting Santa Claus - A Swedish Christmas Tradition

I used to be jealous of Swedish kids - who wouldn't be? They get to meet Santa. Every year, they get their presents one day early, and they get them hand delivered. What could be better? I mean, sure it made sense to my five year old self, Santa makes his early stops in the North, before heading out to us poor children who live far away, but I was still a bit, well, jealous.

(Note: I mean American jealous, not Swedish jealous - and yes, I think there is a difference).

But for all of the envy I had as a kid, I never got to experience Swedish Santa Trauma - which is really a right of passage for most Swedish toddlers.

Because really, a weird guy with a long beard, dressed in red - he wants to give you a hug. And what do most kids do? Scream. Cry. Go nuts.

A report back from most of my mom friends shows that about 75% of the two year olds in our social circle  had a nervous breakdown upon meeting Santa. There were tears and screams.

Our little Swede showed his Santa fears early - and thus we worked a lot to disway him. We talked about tomta. Looked at tomta. He met Tomta at day care.

So when the day arrived? I am proud to report no tears were shed and no screams were uttered.

Instead Little Swede looked skeptical, but gladly accepted his gifts. He refused to hug Santa, or even say good-bye, but he did give him a little side-eye now and then.

And our Santa? He was great. His beard almost looked authentic as he trudged in from the rainy outdoors.

All in all a merry Christmas. I have a feeling next year meeting Santa will be a much different experience for the Little Swede.

I think we will be adopting our SILs tradition of telling the story that the Christmas goat brings presents that arrive at the house at other times as well, since we had a more traditional American Christmas the morning of Christmas Eve.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas - God Jul - Don't You Forget About Me

Merry Christmas. Here in our house we are full of rice porridge and Swedish not-meat balls. It's been a great holiday. Everything worked out despite my not planning much of anything. I need to remember that. It is good.

I have a lot of blog posts planned for this week and next year (ack!)

For now I can only report that the first TV show Little Swede seemed remotely interested in was Kalle Anka.

So I actually watched the whole thing this year.

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, you can check out this article. I found out more about Kalle Anka from that article than I think I ever needed to know. Made for interesting side chat as we went through all of the memorized dialogue.

God Jul!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Preschool Lucia: A Whole Lot of Swedish Fabulousness

This has to be one of my favorite days of the Swedish calender. Santa Lucia - the story of some, I think (I'm not going to look it up) Italian? saint, who met with some violence - I think that is what the red ribbon symbolizes anyway, and she really loved candles.

At least that is what you might ascertain if you saw the Swedish Lucia celebration - but probably you would just think Lucia is a cute young blonde girl who loves to sing.

Anyways, meaning be damned,  it is a beautiful Swedish tradition - that really maximizes the need for coziness at this dark dark time of year.

But if you have little kids? It really is all about the cute.

St. Lucia means little kids on parade - singing and doing those silly hand gestures. It's awesome.

Little Swede was TERRIFIED of all things Lucia, they told us at his pre-school a few weeks ago.

So bring in Operation Save St. Lucia Parade here at our house

We watched countless other St. Lucia day care parades on Youtube.

We sang songs all day long - thanks to the Barnkammaren Silverboken.

An example of dinnertime discussion: "What does Vingesus mean exactly?"

"Vingesus? That's not a word, vingesus!"

"Oh really? Because it's in Barnkammare boken."

Oh Vingsus

Yes, älskling I mean Vingesus

The kicker is all I remember is that vingsus is something about fluttering wings, don't know if I have that right anyway.

(Why is pronunciation SO frustrating sometimes)

Anyways, the St. Lucia parade was a success! Little Swede, in a tomta/santa suit which we had to practice wearing for at least a week - led the way and sat down in his place no problem. He then stared out into the audience for about 5 minutes before shouting 'PAPPA!' when he finally spotted us. Then he continued staring.

The preschool teachers did a great job of singing. There was a little bit of everything. Some kids ran immediately to their parents crying. One little girl repeatedly fell off of the bench they were standing on and landed on some kids below. (She was promptly wooshed up and replaced on the bench - no tears shed).

One kid emphatically did all of the hand gestures.

The rest just kind of watched us.

It was classic.

Afterwards there were saffron rolls and rice porridge - what more could you want?

I love Lucia!

(Here is a pre-school lucia just for grins)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Jag är inte en lat mask or this is not an apology

Jag har inte försvunnit, jag lova er. Nej. Jag är fortfarande här. Och jag kommer skriva mer ganska snart.

(See that there? That's me sucking up to my Swedish readers, by trying to post a little in Swedish, something I've been terrible at lately)

Jag har fullt upp denna veckan med skolan, jobb, julkaos och med att försöka övertala The Swede att vi kan vänta med att köpa en ny soffa tills efter jul.

This post I am going to whine about how busy my life is, but really I am very excited about how my work has really taken off in the direction I was dreaming it would. So my busy busy is good busy.

In other news, The Swede wants to buy a couch. This week. I think I may have convinced him to wait until January, but last I left him he was measuring the walls in the living room.

1. I do not do IKEA in December. It doesnt have to be IKEA, but I found one there I might be able to live with.
2. Swedish sofas are super unfriendly. Either they expect you to have legs at least two meters long or they are stuffed with what feels like soggy dish rags. They are hard and not cozy at all.
3. I dream of a dark brown sofa, but I have too many light furred pets. (Yes, Swedish meow is still around, but the final verdict is still not in). But I still have the urge to just buy a nice brown sofa. And then I remember what happened to the last area rug I owned.
4. I really wish I could just import a sofa from the US without it being all crazy insane expensive, but I don't see that happening.

Does anyone have a sofa to recommend? My brother-in-law actually imported a sofa to Sweden from the US, but all attempts we have made to bribe him for it have been for nought.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Swedish Christmas failure – not as integrated as I think I am....

It's Christmas season, and while I LOVE LOVE LOVE the lights, the spirit and the idea of Christmas, I do not like the work involved. I have, in the past, said that the best thing about not being Swedish is not having to get all wrapped up in the Swedish Christmas madness, and I stand by that statement. But now that Little Swede is getting bigger, there is a different type of pressure.

Today is Dec. 2, advent is upon us, and here are the many ways I accept that I will fail this Christmas.

  1. JULPYNT fail – we have an attic full of Christmas stars, Christmas candles, outdoor lights (I know its not very Swedish, but our courtyard always does a lot of outdoor lights) and more. And we still have an attic full of them. Hope to get them down this weekend – hope!
  2. Advent Calender frustrations – I decided it was time to get Little Swede an advent calender. I hit Panduro – a great store for crafts for the non-crafty. I picked up an advent calender made of wood, with 24 pull out drawers. The idea is you should paint your advent calender and decorate it in the Christmas spirit. I bought some number stickers. That is the extent of my craftiness. The saleswoman tried to show me an array of glitter glues and paints. Not going to happen. I accept that which I cannot change. I had planned to buy an advent calender for DH and I as well, and thought the Triss advent calender would be fun. Then I saw it cost 600 SEK. 600 SEK? For some lotto scratch offs? Seriously? I better friggin win 500 SEK if I spend that kind of money. There better be some kind of win guarantee. Because if I don't win for 600 SEK I won't just be my disappointed self like when I play megaball for 1 dollar and lose, I will be pissed. I did NOT buy the damn Triss advent calender.
  3. I have not baked anything yet. This time last year I had baked Lussekatter, kanelbullar and other Christmas yummies. Last year I was still on parental leave. This year? Not so much. I have bought quite a few this year already. Yum.

So as you can see, I am not very good at putting on a traditional Swedish Christmas. And I am 100% OK with that. I am happy to attend Swedish Christmas. I love spending time with family. But I am not going to be making chocolate, no gingerbread house design, and I refuse to set foot in IKEA for the entire month of December.

Hope you are all getting into the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa spirit however you see fit!