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!
Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.
"Children are fascinated by the ordinary and can spend timeless moments watching sunlight play with dust. Their restlessness they learn from you. It is you who are thinking of there when you are here. It is you who thinks of then instead of now. Stop. Let your children become the teachers and you the student" - William Martin