Reading and hearing about other people’s Christmas traditions, including all the wheres, whats and hows of it, made me contemplate (once again) upon my own.
For nearly sixty years of my life, Christmas always involved a lot of travelling back and forth, both longer and shorter distances. In my childhood, we lived around 100 km away from both sets of grandparents – who in turn lived around 10-15 km apart from each other (in the same area where I live now).
Christmas nearly always meant travelling to stay with one or the other for a night or two; and never mind whose house we stayed at, it also involved some going back and forth between the two, and perhaps other places as well.
I have a blur of memories of me and my little brother (six years younger) sitting in the back of the car, in the darkness of winter, counting Christmas trees in the gardens we passed by while driving between the Village and the Town… Outdoors Christmas lights were not as common back in the 60s and early 70s as they are nowadays!
At age 20 I moved away from home; and from then on, the next 16 years involved hours of train and/or bus rides to visit my parents at Christmas.
Then followed another 19 years with me living in Borås, and my parents relocated to this area as well (dad’s childhood home); and my brother driving down from Karlstad + also doing a lot of to-and-fro chauffeuring between the city and the village whilst here.
After our parents passed away, a few more years of worry about the House (empty of people, but full of Things) until we finally got that sorted and sold in 2014.
Truly: At this point in my life, I count it as a Blessing just to be able to spend Christmas in my own home, and not having to go anywhere at all!
I also don’t mind spending Christmas “on my own”; as in my thinking there is a big difference between that and feeling lonely.
Sooo… This was my Christmas Eve 2018:
Around –5’C in the morning, but dry, and no wind. No snow, just patches of ice here and there (but not everywhere). I went for a walk into the city centre and attended a “Nativity” church service (starting at 11 am) in the church you’ve seen several times before on my blog:
Then I went home and ate lunch (prepared the day before). I never really cared much for the traditional “a hundred courses and too much of everything” kind of Christmas buffet anyway, so I skip most of that now… On a typical Swedish Christmas table you would find for example a ham, meatballs, sausages, ribs, a potato dish with sprats in it, and various kinds of cabbage… My Christmas lunch for One was meat loaf with bacon, a potatio gratin without sprats, and mixed green salad without cabbage…
In the afternoon at 3 p.m., we have the very strange tradition in Sweden to always watch the same Disney Christmas Special on TV. This goes back nearly 60 years now, to the very early days of television, when we had only one TV channel (and in black & white of course) - and Everyone watched Everything, because that was all there was. They have tried to change or move or remove that Christmas special every now and again over the years - but any suggestion of such a sacrilege still causes massive protests from half the nation. So we’re still stuck with it - nowadays in colour and HD, of course. (And of course a million other choices now, if someone really does not want to watch it!) So – did I watch?? The answer is: Actually I did… (Traditions die hard!!!) …with my afternoon tea and ginger biscuits…
After ‘Kalle Anka’ (Donald Duck), it’s time for Tomten (Santa Claus/Father Christmas) to come knocking on the door. Well, as you know, he already came knocking on mine a week early, disguised as postman… So I had a little basket of parcels waiting…
And, as has become our new tradition (to replace all the travelling!), I opened them during a Skype session with my brother (who also opened his from me).
One of the parcels from my brother contained some coloured LED-lights (see below + the 4th photo from the top).
For now, I have hung them on a bookcase in the “dressing room” corner of my study; but I think they might actually also fit my little Christmas tree, should I fail to find any more replacement bulbs for the old chain of lights (problem mentioned in a previous recent post).
A bit later, I also talked on the phone with my aunt, who had sent me a package of Christmas “goodies” including tea, crisp bread and chocolate.
Later I watched a film on DVD that I’ve had for years but never got round to before now: The Soloist, from 2009. About a newspaper journalist who discovers a homeless musical genius (with some mental health problems) and tries to improve his situation. The story was a bit different from what I thought– and probably all the more realistic, for that very reason. (No simple answers.)
What inspired me to watch that on this particular day may have been the Romani beggar sitting on the street outside the grocery shop in town where I stopped by on my way home from church to buy a few “extras”. Because it was Christmas Eve (and perhaps because I had watched A Christmas Carol the night before!) I also gave her a bit “extra”… (Not that I know if you can rightfully call it “extra” when I rarely give anything - like that, on the street - and every time I do, it sets me wondering whether I do it for them, or for myself, and if it really helps improve anything, in the long run, and… and... Ah well. Again: No simple answers!)
Eventually, late on Christmas Eve, I went to sleep in my own cosy bed…
… wearing a Christmas present from me to myself…
PS Today: Obviously one can easily spend another day just contemplating Yesterday!