This is the second of our Christmas essays and they couldn’t be more different. I decided to go with two because they were both wonderful representations of the holiday season that most of us don’t experience here in North America. I hope you enjoy Karin’s memories. 🙂
When Wave put a call out for someone to write a little Christmas essay, I was both intrigued and daunted. It’s been years since I’ve had to write an essay, to the point where I’m not even sure how to write one anymore. Still, I was compelled to try, especially when Wave explained she wanted to hear about favorite Christmas memories. Now those, I have. Not specifically for one Christmas, but more the season as a whole during a chapter of my life.
Very few of you who’ll read this know me. I am, after all, no published author (though a few who roam the “halls of Twilight fanfic” might recognize me). I’m just one of you: a reader and follower of this awesome site. So, let me start off with a very brief introduction beyond the above. I’m Dutch, though I live in the USA. Now, as you may or may not know, the Dutch do not celebrate Christmas as you do in the States. Oh, over the years we’ve adopted much of the holiday, but mainly it’s Sinterklaas that’s celebrated, especially for kids. At least, such was the case back when I grew up. I’m certain things have… changed, since then. 😉
Anyway, growing up, I knew the basics of Christmas, of course, but not a whole lot about the traditions that went with it. Then I moved to Denmark for a few years to be with my (now ex-) boyfriend, and that’s where my favorite memories come in. I loved learning the traditions the Danes have – to immerse myself in their culture and learn their songs (which, to be honest, are often funnier and more tongue-in-cheek than some of the English/American ones. Definitely better than “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”, but hey, to each their own).
The very best, though? They had a televised Advent calendar for kids. Yes, I was an adult, but I loved it. The first year, I was introduced to Pyrus, in Alletiders Jul (Great Christmas),
a lazy nisse (elf, for lack of better translation) who gets up to all sorts of mischief. He gets in trouble of course, to the point where Christmas itself is at stake, and he and his friends have to try to sort everything out.
Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the best, but definitely up in my top three of things that to this day stands out in my memory and makes me think of Christmas fondly.
Spending time with friends and family over the holiday season was also a lot of fun. We always made new paper Christmas hearts and stars every year as a family, something that still holds a special place in my heart.
In Denmark, they hold Julefrokost, which is basically a potluck lunch – well, we did it potluck, and we went all out. My ex and I hosted a couple of times, and I enjoyed it a lot. Even the prep, which I know usually throws people in fits because of all the cooking involved. Now I say it was lunch, but trust me, it lasted for hours, and plenty of alcohol was usually involved.
Then, of course, there was celebrating Christmas itself. My ex’s dad always led the songs in church, and we all went out to morning service, all dressed up (my very first time going to church, actually, if you ignore going for funerals). After that, we had a nicer than usual lunch, and hung out. Christmas dinner followed (if memory serves, it was usually a very nice duck. Remember those Christmas songs I mentioned earlier? One of them involved a very irate Donald Duck. Yep. That happened), then singing Christmas songs and exchanging presents. Nothing too out of the ordinary, there, except for the singing. That wasn’t something I’d grown up with, and it took some getting used to, but now it’s something I look back on with fondness.
Now, I have to backtrack just a little here, because I just remembered one thing from even before moving to Denmark that holds a very special place in my heart. I always watched the Andy Williams Christmas special to kick the holidays off with. Not just any old special, either. No, the Early New England Christmas one.
It simply wasn’t Christmas without it, and to be honest, I miss watching it now. It just isn’t the same.
Anyway, those are some of my favorite things/memories for Christmas. What are some of yours?