Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas 2016

Here come a ton of pictures from the past few days of Christmas celebrations. My apologies in advance if your hand gets tired from scrolling.
While we typically spend Christmas at the Segerstens' in Söderköping, Annemor and Matt were joining us from London, so we all gathered at Mama and Papa Swede's. They arrived on Thursday evening and the celebrating began for us on Friday afternoon, after The Swede and I got off work and had completed a bit of last-minute shopping. We headed to The Swede's folks' place for dinner and televised bingo, which was apparently big in the nineties but had dwindled in popularity in the recent past but is now making a comeback. So it was new for Jamie and me and we both got really into it and came super close to winning a car and a vacation in Thailand, but no dice this year. It was so much fun, though, that I think we'll definitely make it a tradition.
On Christmas Eve, we were back at Mama and Papa Swede's early enough for the traditional rice porridge and ham sandwich breakfast. Matt found the almond in the porridge and got to make a wish, which is totally unfair since this was my eighth Swedish Christmas and I still haven't gotten it and it's Matt's first. I suspect Mama Swede of rigging things.
After breakfast, I headed to the cemetery to light some candles with The Swede and his dad. They lost a couple of friends this year - the father of one of The Swede's best friends as well as their best ice-fishing buddy - so it was an especially important tradition this year in particular.
The Segersten family arrived at the tail-end of Kalle Anka and just in time for the julbord. Poor Elin was running a fever but fought through dinner. It was delicious, as usual, and, as usual, took days to make and mere minutes to eat up.
After dinner, while waiting for Santa to show up, we took some family portraits. 
This one of Julia and Charlie is for my mom. Charlie is her favorite family member... even though she's never met him.
Another picture of Charlie for my mom. Oh, yeah, and her grandchild. 
Elin was too sick to crack a smile for the annual cousin portrait. I'm pretty sure the wiggling dog and child hopping around behind her, dangling a ribbon in her face didn't do much to help. 
It was so much fun to have these two around all weekend. I'll never forget this Christmas as the one where we finally got to spend a ton of quality time with the cousins from London. 
Then Santa came! Mama Swede had bribed a neighbor to dress up and visit us this year and he did a great job. Jamie is the only one who believes, though even he asked me why Santa didn't arrive on a sleigh and why he was wearing a regular shirt under his red outfit. I was like, "Here... have another present and quit asking so many questions."
On an unrelated note, my five-year-old is almost as tall as me.
 Sarianne at her most natural: covered in packages.
The present-opening process was slightly shorter this year because Elin fell asleep in the middle so we got to skip her for several rounds. 
Jamie's favorite gift was a Hatchimal from Mama and Papa Swede that required some intense study by two intelligent, grown men in order to operate. I'm pretty sure it was Jamie himself who figured it out in the end.
We kept a few packages at home for Jamie to open on Christmas morning, and it was the best. He woke us up way too early, per American tradition, and was totally overjoyed by the stuffed stocking and presents under the tree. It was a lot of fun to see. He spent all morning playing with his new toys and games, then we went back to Mama and Papa Swede's to celebrate the day with a English-style turkey dinner courtesy of Matt. I also got to Skype with Mom and Ray, and Mom even sent me pictures from the traditional Christmas Eve Cracker Barrel Breakfast back home in Ohio. It was an amazing holiday and a restful weekend and now I have three days at work before more than a week off while Jamie's school is closed. Life is good!

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