Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Jul - a different kind of Christmas

So, despite living in Denmark for just over two years now, this was the first time I experienced the real Danish jul. (just as an aside - nothing is capitalized in Danish, not even Christmas. I always figured this was sort of an act of autonomy against Germany, where every fricking noun is capitalized). I should explain that two years ago, we held Christmas in Austria and I was on call last year, in a different city than SR, Natali and The Lorax (quite sad - don't ever try it).

Part of me was really looking forward to Christmas. I was most looking forward to The Lorax's reactions. Ever since we had decorated our Christmas tree, he would stand next to it every night, after we had lit the lights, and sing a medley of Christmas songs he had made up, some about the tree itself, some about train stations, etc. Then he would park a chair in front of the tree for an hour or so and look up at me and say "looking at the Christmas tree now" and smile.

But there was another part of me that was really worried about Christmas. It is a little hard for me to write about, because it seems kind of unbelievable, but I have been suffering from violent anxiety attacks on and off at night since I was about 5 weeks pregnant. I get this combined feeling of fatigue, low blood sugar and fear and start yelling. It has really frightened the kids. Heck, it has frightened me, too. Immediately after I am done with the screaming, I enormously regret my outburst.

In the couple of days before Christmas, it was at its absolute worst. I had been alone with the kids for about 4 days, working full time and trying to get everything ready for Christmas. I not once, but twice, screamed at The Lorax in public, so loudly that people looked at me and he began crying. At one point, when I was changing The Lorax, he hit me and I got so extremely close to hitting him back. I called SR and his parents and told them I needed someone else to watch them for a while. Thank God I did. I so badly needed a little time to relax. Being pregnant is one thing. But being pregnant with two kids and a full time job and for multiple days without help is a totally different ball of wax. Perhaps that alone is the explanation for all of my additional nausea this this pregnancy.

Christmas arrived (it's celebrated the 24th here) and I felt good again. Our Christmas was held at SR's mother's sister's house by The Lakes in Copenhagen (which I've written about running around before). From the moment we arrived until the moment we left, there was one tradition after another that needed to be fulfilled. And these are not traditions exclusively within SR's family, as far as I understand it, they are simply Danish traditions.

Some of the best food, in my mind, was the sweet pickled cabbage and the sweet pickled potatoes.

Then everyone eats a supposedly French dish called "ris a l'amande", which is sweet rice with cream and almonds. The lucky person who gets a whole almond in their dish receives a gift. The gift this year was Peter Høeg's latest novel.

We moved on to Santa Claus arriving and giving all the kids a gift. Then we lit the candles on the Christmas tree, held hands, sang carols and really danced around the tree. After this, we opened presents. And then we got to feast on fine liquor and marzipan bread. Do I even need to mention I threw up (no I didn't drink the fine liquor).

So there you have it - the Danish Christmas, jul. No one got tired or cried - not even the two babies there. Not even me. It really was a magical night.

But almost better was the next day: the 25th. Nothing is open, no one does anything. Well, there were a few other people running when I was out on mine. But other than that, we (SR's parents, Natali, The Lorax & I) sat around and, talked, read or watched tv. It was just what I needed. And probably just what we all needed. I just wish SR had been there to relax, too. But finally, after tomorrow, he's got 6 days off.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas!


The Chapples said...

I have been a total bitch this time around with no explanation other than hormones. I picked a fight about laundry yesterday. I think my husband is terrified.


cherelli said...

Merry Christmas SLG!! Sorry to hear about the crazy pregnant woman hormones but I'm glad you got to have a chill-out Christmas with the family (minus SR)...enjoy the countdown to 2011!

olga said...

We have sweet pickled cabbage and sweet rice with cream, and we also find a button hidden in Russian dumplings - and that person gets a gift. Funny how Europe is similar in things:) Happy holidays.

SteveQ said...

The tradition here - which I don't follow, because no one else does - is to bake a cake for Twelfthnight (Jan. 6, the 12th day of Christmas, the one with Lords a Leaping) that has a dried bean or coin in it to decide who's the lucky one. The cake made turns out to be the same as a Mardi Gras King Cake, another one I skip.

Happy jul!

Kirsten said...

Don't be afraid of writing about these attacks - it's important to get it out and you are not the only one! As I probably told hundreds of time, I've got three kids and they are quite close in age. It's so hard being pregnant when you have another two who want attention etc. and you just are too tired. Well done that you got somebody to help you and you have to do that once in a while. After giving birth - that was the time when it hit me big time and I just wanted to throw this little screaming thing that didn't let me sleep, out the window! Sorry to write this, but that's what hormones do to you. I didn't do it and that's why I've got three kids.....
So young lady, take some good care of yourself and get those grandmothers and aunts and teenagers to do some of the work for you! The Lorax will love some teenager who has the patience to play with him for hours!!

SteveQ said...

Please, I need you to make a resolution for the new year: no discussion of the mechanics of sex when 6+ months pregnant.

Have you figured out on which continent the baby will be born?
I saw a touristy TV show about the island of Mon (I'm skipping the slash diacritic) not far from you. Looks like a good place for a trail race, but I'm holding out for the 2012 Bornholm 6 Day.

sea legs girl said...


All this time living here and I've never been to Møn! Møns klint (Møn's Cliff)is such a famous landmark. I'm hoping we can get there this spring. The Lorax is now big enough that he can walk around on his own.

Um, the mechanics of sex after six months pregnant? I really don't remember much changing, so it shouldn't be too hard to abstain (from talking about it, that is, haahahaha).

The babe will be born in Europe. Paying a hopsital bill like that in the US without insurrance would ruin us! Here - we don't pay a cent!

Olga, that is fascinating - makes me wonder where those dishes originated. Cute about the button in the dumpling!

Kirsten, The Chapples, Cherelli - thanks so much for you thoughts and support!