Well, Christmas has come and gone. In a way. Like my sister Scilla expressed last night, it is a little bit of a letdown when all the gifts are given and received, the Christmas porridge eaten, and family members who live nearby have taken off to their homes. Then it's just a matter of starting the building up of the anticipation for next year.
Letdown or not, yesterday (Julafton) was a wonderful day filled with joy, love, harmony, and very good food. It will be a day to remember.
The morning was spent preparing for the big Christmas lunch. We were all put in charge of a dish. Todd peeled and cut potatoes for potatisgratäng, I was in charge of the fruit salad, my mom was in charge of most everything else, except for the red cabbage salad, which Fredrik lovingly prepared:
And the outcome was marvelous! Todd and I were quite pleased with ourselves that we managed not to cave in and get seconds. We'll eat the leftovers today instead. :)
Well, after partaking in the meal, those of us with kids (and those who are still kids at heart) went downstairs to the TV room to watch the traditional 3 PM Donald Duck Christmas. This is a tradition that has been with the Swedish people for over 40 years and has more viewers than any other Swedish television show. It aired in the US the first time in 1958 under the name From All of Us to All of You and consists of snippets from various Walt Disney movies. The best part about it this year was watching my little niece Ester watch it for the first time. She was ecstatic! They don't have a TV at home, so this was especially exciting.
After that little piece of tradition, it was time for afternoon treats (candy, gingerbread, glögg). All of a sudden, we realized we had visitors who had snuck into the house (well, they were spotted by Rebecka, but she kept their secret). It was my aunt and uncle from Linköping on their way up to their second home in the north. They stayed for some goodies, but moved on when we got yet another couple of visitors: It was Mr and Mrs Clause!
And thus began the handing out and opening of the Christmas gifts. It was a rowdy time with lots of happy yelps and big thank-you hugs. Imagine 13 fairly loud people opening presents all at once... But nobody was more excited than Rebecka. She got everything on her list...
...including the present of the year: the iPod nano. We gave some to my brothers and sisters and I got a special edition red with my name engraved on the back (Todd is a rockin' gift giver). I think everybody was pleased and very tired. When all the gifts had been unwrapped and we had collected all the paper from the floor and stuffed it into large plastic bags, it was time for the traditional Christmas porridge (risgryns gröt). There's nothing like it - especially when accompanied by some homemade bread and leftover ham from the lunch table.
I love Christmas in Sweden. Hopefully it won't be another 9 years before we make it over here in December again.