A Scandinavian Christmas - Part 2
Christmas Memories from Norway (as told to Yanti by Torunn Fredriksen)
"At Christmas time when I was small, I used to wake up very early in the morning and sneak down the stairs to the living room. I loved gazing at the wonderfully decorated christmas tree and I remember thinking the simplicity of its beauty and magic really struck me. It would be dark and snowy outside while inside the tree was silent and sparkling. Our English setter Kicker, who had such an affectionate nature, would join in and keep me company, laying his head on my lap as I continued to bask in the radiance of the tree in all its splendor.
We loved skiing and playing in the snow with friends during the day. We'd get back inside again and drink hot chocolate and tell stories. Of course on Christmas evening we'd go crazy with impatience and we'd be both mesmerized and intrigued in equal measure to see what would reveal themselves in the mysterious packages. We are a family of readers, and after the unboxing, inevitably we'd end up, the four of us, on the sofa each ensconced and in love with our own pile of Christmas books.
As a single mother to my son Håkon, I really want to give him the same sort of atmospheric experience during the holidays that I had as a child. We love calming down at home in front of the Christmas tree and the stove, just the two of us, or with friends and family. We ski and play in the woods. We bake gingerbread and listen to beautiful music. Our favourite cartoons get watched over and over again. I read Harry Potter to him for the fourth or fifth time. (We stay away from shopping centers). I'd like to say some of my values are sneaking in to his consciousness, but at the same time I have to realize that he is his own person. He needs to find his own way, as he develops his own tastes, preferences and beliefs. But we are still having our quiet moments together, and I do my best to appreciate these special days. Christmas is the time to remember and give gratitude for all we have been given; the small and the big things."
Christmas letter from Svanhilde Sunde in Norway:
"I love cooking and I love to blog about health and wellness. So, not surprisingly, my favorite memories regarding the holiday season are about food. My grandmother was a great cook and we were always quite a big crowd at Christmas, so when I was small, Christmas was about beautifully presented food which was plentiful and delicious. Unlike nowadays, there would be a lot of snow outside and a few days before Christmas, my father, brother and I would always go cross-country skiing before the eating began.
When I moved abroad in my twenties, I missed having my family around me if they weren’t able to visit. I knew this was also true for many others living away from their loved ones, so I decided to start a new tradition. On Christmas Day we have what we call a Christmas “Open house”.
I make a lot of different foods, both traditional Norwegian and Canarian, and people bring their own drinks. Of course we invite family and close friends, but we also make sure to invite anyone we know who would otherwise be alone on this day. Friends and guests come, they eat and drink, they meet old friends and make new friends. Some stay only a short while, others the whole evening. Some play an instrument and some sing. All are welcome and we have a lot of fun.
The first time I did this was in Gran Canaria in 1995, and the tradition has grown to be a great one. My husband Pål Erik loves it, and keeps inviting new people every year!"
Photos by Torunn and Svanhilde - Christmas stories as told to Yanti.