When I was a little girl, Christmas was a a crowded and sparkling three-day event. They all arrived the evening before Christmas Eve and filled every corner of the house until Annandag afternoon, the day after Christmas Day. Three generations, tons of food, fika and lots of presents.
My mother had a brother and a sister, Arne and Inga-Märta. We took turns celebrating Christmas in our home in Nordmaling south of Umeå, my uncle’s home in Robertsfors north of Umeå, and my aunt and grandma’s home in the city. We were six cousins, and then there were my mothers three great aunts. Altogether fifteen people under the same roof for three whole days. And it wasn’t like we had mansions, just regular homes, where did everyone sleep?!
In my home, the preparations for Christmas started early. The house needed to be cleaned from top to botton before the guests arrived, and decorations were not allowed until the house was shining and smelled from detergent and teak oil. But oh the joy of finally putting up the Christmas posters and of course decorating the tree.
Most of all though, the anticipation. The knowing it would happen, they would soon be there! Later I put a name on that anticipation, the Pär and Lena-feeling. Pär and Lena are my cousins and there was nothing more fun in this world than getting together with them. And now, three whole days, and it was Christmas!
Now, you should know that Christmas in Sweden is a lot of eating. 15 people were each day served breakfast, morning hours fika, lunch, afternoon fika, dinner and evening fika. You know by now fika is a sit down coffee/tea/lemonade with a cardamom bun and some cookie. But a Christmas fika is an overload of special Christmas cookies, served (by that time) at least twice a day. I thing the evening fikas might have been sandwiches. And then, of course, there was the Christmas candies too.
All this was cocked, handled and served by the three women in the family, my mother, her sister and my aunt Eva, married to Arne. My father, who was a pastry chef was somewhat involved too, I’m sure there also must have been a Christmas cake.
Trying to remember myself in all this, I have this feeling of us kids running around in our own universe while the grown ups were chatting and laughing, taking care of the kitchen, and there was always some table to be set or a table cloth to be shaken in the cold out the back porch door. The great aunts were often resting thanks God, cause I really disliked having to be polite putting up with their conversations.
But, in spite of the great aunts, Christmases were heaven to us children. Imagine being together from the minute you are waking up until you are forced to bed for three whole days! Then again, imagine the emptiness when having to separate, watching the tale light of the cars disappearing down the snowy street.
I am recalling all this, this Christmas. Christmas Eve was here, at the end of the road. We were unusually few this year. First time without Trouble 1 who spent Christmas withs his girlfriend Fay’s family. So we were only six here, very calm and relaxed. And as we have put the early morning Christmas service -julottan- to rest, there was no singing to prepare (quite strange) and we could stay up as long as we wanted (quite nice).
And what about Annandagen? Well I guess I am not a little girl anymore. I felt quite happy on my couch drowsily and accidentally watching a parade of seventies dance movies on TV by myself.