Sleighbells ring. Are you listening? No? Perhaps only I can hear them. I do live in Norway, so, sleighbells could mean it's Christmas time, or it could mean that the roads are too icy for cars, and the locals have switched over to their Sami-driven teams of reindeer in order to get to work, all decked out in bells. (Kidding! That doesn't actually happen here. Though some locals cross-country ski to work. Crazies.)
Let's pretend it's as simple as the former.
Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings, and Merry Christmas, dear readers!
This year, it was Disney's turn to pen the message. (Crypto used our card last year to send an SOS to PETA. Not really in keeping with the season, wouldn't you say?)
I'm love mailing Christmas cards. It feels like a good way to keep in touch, even in this hyper-digitized age. Just a sentimental, snail mail reminder that I love and miss people. This has become even more important since our overseas move. "Missing" people has taken on a new meaning. There are folks, friends and family, who I "lack." It hurts. And even though I keep an active blog, Facebook timeline, Twitter feed, and website, there is still a teensy, old fashioned part of me that worries I'll be forgotten... when the lights are low, the candles are lit, the presents are glistening under the trees, the carols are sung, the turkey is carved, and the visions of sugarplums begin to dance.
While life in my hometown goes on, Jonathan and I will be spending our second Christmas in Norway. It's a wonderful time of year here, full of beauty and tradition. This year we're trying pinnekjøtt or the first ime. And when the weather outside turns frightful, we'll be pulling the covers up around our ears and staying put. Together. Waiting for Santa. (And since he's practically our next door neighbor, it shouldn't be long now!)
Enjoying Small World covered in Christmas lights... in 2003 AND 2012, Disneyland Trip 34.
Deep-fried, cinnamon-and-sugared churro. That's the smell. Music and the rattle of roller coasters and laughter and the murmur of the crowd. Those are the sounds. Disneyland is a theme park. I won't try to make it more than that for anyone else. Many adults I know find it gimmicky and childish. But some don't. Like me and my guy. Disneyland was our first trip away together. It's where we went when we got engaged and where we began our honeymoon the following year. We've celebrated birthdays and anniversaries in the park, and we've even completed two Disneyland half marathons!
At Christmas, it's doubly special. In December of 2008 I blogged our 25th trip to Disneyland, detailing our list of park rituals. When the opportunity arose for Jonathan and I to hit the park for a day during our recent trip back to California, we jumped at the chance. Even just one day would ease our withdrawal. We hadn't been to Disneyland since December of 2010, just before we moved to Norway. Not only did we check off most of our old favorites on the ritual list, but we tried out the new Star Tours, lunched at the new Jolly Holiday Bakery, sang Under the Sea on the new Little Mermaid ride in California Adventure, and explored the recently-opened Cars Land.
The night ended with the annual Candlelight Processional and the holiday edition of the nightly fireworks spectacular. When the faux snow began to fall, backed by purplish-blue lights and a slow, sweet rendition of "White Christmas," we held each other close. Though our life now includes the chance for a real white Christmas in Oslo, we loved spending a December day the old way... and remembering all the twinkle-lighted Decembers that have come before for us.
Most years, Jonathan and I have put up our Christmas tree on or around December 1st. This Christmas season has been different. I've been in California for four of the last six weeks. The first trip was for pleasure; the second was to celebrate the life of Jonathan's Grandpa Wilson, a wonderful man, who passed away a few days after Thanksgiving. Jonathan and I were fortunate to make it home for the memorial service. While we were in California, we helped decorate two Christmas trees, but it wasn't the same. I couldn't wait to get back to our flat here in Oslo and make it all piney and glowy.
Yesterday we walked a couple of blocks to the nearest tree seller. This one only opened on 14 December; last year, because we wanted our tree earlier, we took Trikk 13 out toward CC Vest (a mall) to get a tree. Riding on a tram with a tree was a new experience! We were happy to skip that ritual this year, though, as the season has been much colder and there's a LOT more ice on the ground.
We spotted this year's tree right away! A little sparse, but beautifully proportioned. A nice, straight trunk. A rich shade of green. How much does a Christmas tree cost in Norway? Ours, just under 2 meters tall, cost 450 NOK ($80), including netting. We think they might be cheaper outside the city.
My manly husband carried it home and hauled it up the four flights of stairs to our place. He set it up in the tree stand while I made cocoa. Then, with When Harry Met Sally on in the background (I don't know why I think of it as a Christmas movie, but I totally do!), we began to decorate.