We got up at 4.30 am on Christmas Eve morning to fly to a Swedish Christmas. We arrived just in time for lunch at my brother's summer house, which was lovely decorated with tree, candles and ornaments. The kitchen was steaming hot and running in full gear while the 8 cousins gathered together in laughter, pillow fights and crazy rumbles. I'm always amazed at how the kids connects within a tenth of a second. How they just know they belong and that their friendship is stronger than anything else.
While my brothers prepared and filled up the Christmas Buffé table, we ate candy, nuts and saffron buns with glögg (hot spiced wine) while watching The Donald Duck Show at 3pm. This is the thing. You see, for as long as I have lived we always watch The Donald Duck Show at 3pm on Christmas Eve. Its an essential part of the tradition. Even if I have seen every cartoon, heard every melody about 40+ times now (!!!), I wouldn't skip it for the world.
When The Donald Duck Show was over, the kids went outside to play "Catch In The Dark", the new big game of the year. It gets pitch dark around 3pm already in Sweden, and what the kids do is they go outside in the dark to hide in the garden, a grown up or two has to catch all the the kids... in the dark. When someone was caught he or she could be saved on the veranda through a hug from a cousin, brother or sister saying "Merry Christmas"... Well, it might sound a bit dangerous, and maybe it was a bit dangerous. But what is life without some danger. Playful danger... In the end we had to stop the saving part because it was impossible to catch them all. Those little legged people are really quick, slipping by in the speed of the light, I'm telling you.
And so Christmas dinner was up and we all dug in with rosy cheeks and cold noses. After about an hour of indulging in all the wonderful Christmas food, the kids got antsy pants and the gifting procedure took place. After a while (oh my there were lots of presents and a pause was very much needed half way through...) we took a break to clean up dinner all together. Because when you do it together, it isn't chore. Someone brought all the dirty dishes, I washed it all by hand, another one dried the dishes and a third one wrapped up left overs and a fourth one collected all the Christmas wrapping paper from the floor... A Grandma watched and helped the kids while they explored their new toys. It was all done during chatter and laughter and after, we all sat down with a hot cuppa to open the last gifts under the tree. It was a perfect Christmas. Everyone were so happy, full of delicious food and delighted to be together.
There is nothing better than being with family during the holidays. Family has become more and more important to me the older I get. And as we live abroad, far away from close family in both Sweden and the US, it is a real treat when we can all get together. I will treasure the memories of this Christmas for the rest of my life... The Catch In The Dark game will probably be something the kids will remember more than anything else. It was really, really special.
PS Thank you my lovelies for your sweet words, comfort and sympathy on yesterday's post. For your advice and tips. I am going to the bottom with this and hopefully I will be able to resolve my situation with the US immigration. I will keep you posted and let you know how it all goes. Warm heartfelt wishes to you all.