Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas in Sweden

Well, I guess I really took a real vacation this time. Even from blogging! Here is the synopsis of our fabulous Christmas:

12/22: I was sick as a dog and stayed in bed all day. Rebecka, Katie, Todd, Ester, and Scilla went to Stockholm and visited Junibacken and Gamla Stan. From what I can tell, they had a swell time.

12/23: I mustered up enough energy to make a day trip into Stockholm with Todd and Katie. We shopped, visited Gamla Stan (a must!), and had "fika" with my brother David and his familiy. Levi (just turned three) entertained everybody by singing in the streets.

12/24: Christmas Eve is the big day in Sweden. We spent most of the morning preparing for the traditional "julbord" (Christmas table). It includes meatballs and potato casserole, ribs, sausage, bread, cheese, and of course the Christmas ham. We ate together (all twelve of us!) and enjoyed. 3 PM is Disney time. This is the most sacred Christmas tradition in Sweden. We watch a one-hour special that has been on for decades. Later on, we delivered and received presents in a slightly chaotic manner. It was all good fun. The day ended with Christmas porridge ("risgrynsgröt") and some singing.

12/25: Relax... + Tour of Järna with my dad. We saw the areas which are inhabited mostly by "antroposofer." This is a group of people who are followers of Rudolf Steiner's teachings. He is the founder of the Waldorf method of teaching, for example. The have their Swedish headquarters in Järna and run a very successful mill called Saltåkvarn. They have very interesting architecture as well with smooth, round shapes.

12/26: Drop Katie at the airport (sad...) and then mostly relaxing. I've made quite a dent in Hot, Flat, and Crowded during vacation. I hope to finish it on the plane tomorrow.

12/27: Cleaning Day! After a week of lots and lots of people at the house, it was time for some thorough scrubbing. Todd and I went to down downstairs, while my parents took care of upstairs. We also had the insentive that we had lots of relatives coming the following day. I also went for a slightly chilly run outside. It was super refreshing. I can't remember the last time I didn't work out for more than a week. I guess that's what my body needed.

12/28: Sang in church in the morning. In the afternoon, relatives slowly trickled in until we reached 20+ people. It was nice to see aunts, uncles, cousins, and others. We ate good food and chatted into the evening.

12/29: All-day date with Todd in Stockholm. We took the commuter train into town and then the subway for our first errand. We dropped some used books at Proklama, which is a bookstore run by my aunt Margareta. I also found a book I had been looking for, so I bought it from her. We then proceeded to try to return a pair of boots I had bought the previous week. Unfortunately, there were no returns on sale items, so I had to pick out a different pair. Fortunately, I found a really awesome pair of sheepskin boots. (Yes!) Throughout our date, we fervently searched each store we passed for a special nut and chocolate snack mix we had discovered two years ago. Either nobody else realizes the beauty of this treat or it is so popular it is always out of stock. We also spent a good bit of time in a large bookstore, Akademibokhandeln. I found lots of interesting titles such as Complex Theory for a Sustainable Future, The ISIS Agreement, and The Final Energy Crisis. Todd found some Swedish books as well. We didn't buy any. Books are expensive in Sweden. We also enjoyed a very, very cozy fika at Kaffekoppen in Gamla Stan. This coffee shop is located on the edge of the main square of Gamla Stan and has the best atmosphere ever. We finished with some mandatory shopping at Åhléns before heading back on the train. Good day.

12/30: Rebecka and I took one of my parents' cars and drove west to Örebro to visit my sister Priscilla and her husband Fredrik. After getting a little lost, we finally reached their home. We enjoyed delicious soup a la Fredrik, downtown Örebro, fika, bowling, and picture sharing time with them. It was nice to get a glimpse into their life.

12/31: New Years Eve included an even colder (and longer) run - this time with Todd. He was dressed in only shorts and a sweatshirt. People looked at him kind of funny. It was an energizing run! The rest of the day was spent in preparation for the New Years Eve feast. We had an interesting mix of Mexican and Medeterranean. Something for everybody, to be sure. We enjoyed a new game called "När & Fjärran," which really exposed my lack of general knowledge, for example, aparently I don't know which president is on the one dollar bill :P (I'm OK with that). Todd and I won (thanks to Todd). We ended with a vigil led by sister Miriam and rocket watching from the balcony (documented by Rebecka on YouTube).

1/1: Wow, it's a new year! For some reason, this year I was really ready for the old year to be over and to get started on a fresh, new year. I think it has to do with all of the new ideas and thooughts I have been reading about and practicing, as well. Here are a few of my hopes/goals for 2009 and beyond:
  • I am not going to eat meat until the majority of US meat is produced in a ethical and sustainable manner.

  • I will focus on using what we already have and buy new things only when absolutely necessary.

  • We have established a giving goal and decided where most of the money is going to go month by month. (More on that in a separate post...)

  • Go for a daily walk with Rebecka and Sophie when I get home from work.

  • Learn more about sustainable business and especially the energy/efficiency business.

  • Continue to practice productivity techniques to free up time for music, reading, writing, and socializing.

There's much more, but that is a good sample. We spent most of the first day of 2009 with my brother David & fam in Bagarmossen. I recorded several tracks for the last song of my upcoming Swedish album with David on guitar and Miriam, Rebecka, and Todd on vocals. It's going to be great! It was nice to get to spend some quality time with them. We enjoyed spinage soup, reading, singing, washing dishes, and acting crazy.

1/2: Hey, that's today! And my entire family is waiting for me to finish this post so we can play one last game of När & Fjärran. We leave for the US tomorrow morning. See you then...

Happy New 2009!

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