Are you ready for Christmas?

That’s a question that Joss brought up in her blog yesterday. I started to write a comment there; it was getting longer and longer …almost turning in to a blog entry of its own. The question has lingered, brought up memories, today as I was doing some cleaning here. Christmas evokes many memories and emotions with people and I’m no exception.

We all have traditions with regards to holidays, and they vary throughout life. I don’t have the same traditions now as I had as a kid, sufficeth to say, as my mom is no longer alive, but back then we celebrated a rather typical, Swedish Christmas. Getting out of bed on Christmas Eve morning was wonderful. The tree was dressed — it was never lit until Christmas Eve, the house smelled good from all kinds of cooking and baking. Even though my mom wasn’t all that interesed in cooking normally, certain things just had to be done for Christmas — that was just ‘the way things should be’. Breakfast would be rice porridge with sugar and cinnamon, a certain dark brown bread. Later on we all had dinner together with her brother and his lady friend, but we had to be back home for 3PM when Donald Duck was on TV. This is (was?) a rather strange, Swedish tradition ever since 1957 I believe it was. The whole country came to a stand-still on Christmas Eve at 3PM because of this. Everybody watched it and knew it by heart because it was the same show each year. Recognition can be powerful. We all watched Santa’s Workshop and waited for some little santa to paint chess boards with checkered paint!!!

When that was over … that was about the time Santa would arrive. I don’t remember how old I was when I realized he wasn’t really ‘real’, but I do remember one year when I got convinced he existed! Santa was late … I kept nagging my mom, wondering WHEN he would show up, so finally she told me to call him and ask. She gave me a phone number. That was it! If Santa had a phone and even picked up, then there was no doubt any more!

Now the anticipation of receiving gifts had been building up for a long time. To be honest, as a child I think gettings gifts was the peak of the Christmas. I can’t speak for everyone but I think it is for many kids. Strangely enough now, thinking back, I can’t remember any particular gift that really stands out in my memory, but I do remember one that my brother got! Maybe because how happy he got and how unexpected it was. He’d been wishing for a certain kind of leather jacket that was popular at the time … perhaps he was sixteen … but he had never expected to  get one.

Early on Christmas Day it was time for Church. 6 or 7 in the morning, depending on which church you went to. We always went to my mom’s ‘home church’, quite a ways outside town. I might add that in Sweden, it’s Christmas EVE that is the big thing.

As I got older, started to work and had a home of my own, things changed slightly. I did all the things that you, as a woman, should do — I cleaned my little apartment as a maniac, regardless of whether it was necessary or not, I cooked most of the foods, I baked even though I didn’t like to bake, but I did cut back on a lot of stuff. On Christmas Eve I had my Mom over, most of the times, and later on we went to my brother, who now had a big family of his own. Then it was all over and I was back with my friends doing what we usually did.

I remember my co-workers, who were all older than I … they were married and had families … talking about all their plans for Christmas … how they were going to either visit with, or having relatives over all the time …lots of events for each day of the holiday. Sometimes when I listened to them, I could feel a slight twist of … not envy, but perhaps longing. It all sounded so nice but also somewhat stressful. Later in life, I’ve talked with one of them about this … she who had the most to do … and as she thought back at these times, she said that she used to feel envious of me!

The last Christmases before I left Sweden, I was living alone and was perfectly happy with that. I’d come to terms with my life and with Christmas too. At that age, I’d cut back a lot … thought it over … and only had the foods that I really liked, brought out a few but dear Christmas decorations, went to midnight Mass in town. I was content with that, but I could sense that I was being pitied by some. One of my friend’s kids … he felt so sorry for me so he asked his mum if they couldn’t invite me for Christmas Eve! She knew better, and explained to him that I was happy with my way of living … she knew me that well.

Little did I know back then, that I would meet Love and move to another country … create new Christmas traditions … having different foods … different decorations, except one that I brought with me 🙂


15 thoughts on “Are you ready for Christmas?”

  1. A nice Christmas reminiscence from another place —
    Now you are still you, but you are somewhere new, creating new Christmas memories.
    I hope that this Christmas is a fine and warm one for you and Gerry!

  2. Hi,
    A very enjoyable read. The different traditions in another country, yet not that different in the sense of the celebration itself.
    I had to laugh about Donald Duck at 3pm. and I can envision all these people sitting around watching the show and enjoying every second of it. I think that is fantastic. 🙂

    Oh and yes I am all prepared for Christmas, presents are wrapped, the only thing I have to do now is buy the fresh fruit and vegs, which I will pick up on Friday, I will be doing a lot of cooking on Saturday, Christmas falls on Sunday this year here in OZ.

    1. Thank Mags … the little things are different but basically it’s all the same. A certain amount of cooking will take place here too, and the last details of cleaning..

  3. What marvelous memories and how strange sounding to me. Our traditions were so different growing up in rural Mississippi. This was a great post. Thank you for sharing these memories.

  4. I loved reading how Christmas celebrating has evolved for you. It has for me as well, and I’m so much more comfortable with things the way they are this year. No gift exchanging, a lovely meal with my daughter and a new friend of ours. A few lights in the windows. I think this Spring, i will go through the Christmas ‘stuff’ and save a few that matter and the rest give away. Life is good, especially when we claim it for ourselves, I think.
    Merry Christmas to you and Gerry!

    1. Joss,
      Yes, as I’ve grown older I’ve learnt to cut it back to do only what I really like and appreciate. I still remember how worn out those ladies at work looked on the 23rd of December. They were totally exhausted and I don’t imagine Christmas could have been all that much fun, feeling that way. Merry Christmas to you too!

  5. Love all the traditions you brought out, very different from my youth but the same, if you know what I mean.
    However, your title threw me. Ready for Christmas? What a strange idea.
    My wife and daughter are both ready, presents bought and wrapped, just a few little corners to fill in but me…Let’s just say that the next present I buy will be the third one and no stocking stuffer are in place. On the other hand I still have 4 days so I am ahead of schedule!

    1. QHR,
      yes, down deep, it’s all the same. I’m not ready … woke up 4AM thinking about that I have to clean out the fridge.. I’ll do that today 🙂

  6. I loved this post Rebekah, learning how your Christmas celebrations used to be back in the old country and now you are creating new memories with Gerry in a new country. Life is good, to be enjoyed your own way!

    1. Barb,
      I don’t know what possessed me last night to write 900 words about this… I just kept on typing, and there it was. So … I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂 didn’t think anyone would have the stamina to read the whole thing all the way through. LOL

  7. Our celebration was always Christmas Eve growing up and then when I had kids. We exchanged gifts and then the whole family would gather in one relatives home or the other for Christmas dinner the next day. My family was always musically inclined so we a lot of times sang Christmas carols while my mom or aunt played the piano. Lots of laughs. I miss the huge gatherings but it was a lot of work for the women. We kept the Christmas Eve opening of gifts, Santa would leave something over night and we get up the next day and find it as long as mom was alive. When she passed last year our kids have other families to attend to so we now have to change our routine again but my daughter now makes Christmas dinner. She is thinking of making it Christmas Eve this year, so a new making of memories. I guess it doesn’t matter as long as there is some form of ritual. Years ago I went to midnight mass as a teen and loved that too. So many memories flooded back with your post.

    1. Suz,
      thank you for stopping by and commenting 🙂
      That must have been so different for you guys last year, with your mom passing so close to Christmas. Lots of work for women in the olden times and still, I think.. Music is an important part of Christmas … all the old songs we love and recognize!
      Merry Christmas! 😉

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