It is all about perspective, most of the time we are a fixed part of the picture though, which makes it difficult to change where we stand and what we see. Sometimes we even feel trapped in a supposed set of traditions. And then, sometimes we are lucky, and get to see something we thought we knew, but from the outside. To me the best kickstart for having new thoughts about Christmas has been to live abroad.
26 years ago, we lived in the Netherlands. I knew how Christmas was supposed to be then, and expected it to be more or less similar to what I knew from Norway. After all, we are almost neighbors, the religion is the same and the people look alike. And then they mixed it all up! They had all their gift giving at Sinter Klaas, on December 5th, and all their dressing up on New Years eve. Which left Christmas in the middle, as a time for going to church, for visiting and relaxing. The Norwegian tradition puts all the stress on Christmas Eve. That night is the time where we traditionally serve the meal everyone gets stressed out about. That is the night where everybody is dressed in their very best, where everything should be decorated, and when everyone shall have gifts. That is also the one day of the year where most people go to Church.
As the Sinter Klaas food was unknown to me, I did not bother about that. As no one bothered about Christmas being like this or like that, I did not have to bother about that either. Which was a blessing for all of us. I had given birth to our second daughter on the 3rd, and did for different reasons not come home from hospital until the week before Christmas. I would have had to slow down anyway, but I was able to slow down only when I saw everybody else was doing it. So one day we talked about what we should have for dinner when we were not going to be traditional. Why not have something we really liked, the best thing we could think of, something worthy of a celebration?
We did. At Christmas Eve I had a long nap. As dusk was falling I lighted the candles and Stig and our oldest daughter came home with all the trappings for a Rijstafel, bought at our favorite takeaway. It was a great success.
Did we continue to do that? No.But it made us able to create our own traditions, the meal we like to serve, and that we all enjoy to make. Which is almost as good as a takeaway, by the way, we have not decided for this year yet…..pizza?
The only thing that is sure, when it comes to getting entangled in expectations: you have to be your own life guard.
Believe me, I know better than most how frantic and exhausting it is possible to make the season of peace and goodwill. The main story on Indexyourlife in December will be my way to a Christmas free of tangles.
In December my brother and I write an advent calendar blog together in norwegian.You may visit at JULEFRYD or Christmas Joy. This year we will be writing or sharing thoughts and joys of gifts, giving and sharing. We will post there every day, and I will share some of that blog here on indexyourlife too.
All pictures at Indexyourlife are mine, if not otherwise stated.