Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Another year over

29.12.2011 15:34

Christmas is more or less gone (at least the climax of it), and another year is almost over. I can’t help but wonder what 2012 will bring. New Year’s Eve usually has that effect on me, and I assume I’m not the only one who does.

As usual, this year’s Christmas catch was modest, and I don’t mind at all. This year, I got a large tea cup, two mugs, two small plates (which goes with several tea cups I already have with a similar design), some licorice/cinnamon tea (Pukka brand, not pictured) that was actually quite good, a small bath towel, a concrete @-sign decoration (which unfortunately broke the second after I had opened it due to bad packaging, also not pictured), a luxury soap with bath towel, a fleece hat, a scarf, and some DVDs. Out of DVDs, I got Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows parts 1 and 2, Hodejegerne (a Norwegian thriller released earlier this year), Cars 2 (Blu-ray+DVD edition), and the two first seasons of NCIS. All of these DVDs were on my wishlist, but I’m going to exchange Cars 2 and one of the last Harry Potter films, since already got Cars 2 about a week or so before Christmas, and I got two out of Deathly Hallows part 2. No biggie, though, as they’re in “exchangeable” condition (sealed). And, as usual, I got another thing I wanted, which is on my list every year: Time spent with family.

I can’t help but notice a disgusting trend recently making rounds of well-deserved ridicule around the Internet, though. Namely, the high number of spoiled brats who complain about getting or not getting an iPhone/iPad/iPod, laptop/MacBook or even car, or getting the wrong one of these. I’m simply baffled that people can be that selfish and spoiled to feel depressed about something so materialistic when there are people in the world who don’t have a great life. People who don’t have a home, who don’t have a family, who don’t have enough food or clothes, who don’t have safety and security, who don’t get presents, or even a combination of these. And I’m not just talking about people in poor and/or war-torn countries in the so-called second or third world, but also domestically in the so-called Western civilization. There are people who spend Christmas alone, not because they choose to, or because that happened to be the case this year, but because they don’t have anyone to spend it with, even if they desperately want to. There are people who consider “a great Christmas” to be shelter and food for the day, or maybe even the whole week, and when I see people complain about such high-priced gifts, I feel like whacking them with a clue stick. I mean, at least you got something! If you don’t like it, you still have to option to exchange it for that other thing you might’ve wanted!

When it comes to helping those in need, I feel that organizations like the Salvation Army does help a lot. I may not agree with them in religious or political terms, but I do believe they do a lot of great work for the less fortunate people in the local community (in terms of food, heat, and to some degree, shelter). I did contribute my small share to their Christmas kettle in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It wasn’t much on the larger scale of things, but I did at least contribute something, and I hope they will keep doing the good work they do. And they do it without pushing religion onto those they help, which is a big reason I like their work.

To sum up, be thankful for what you have, be even more thankful for other things you get, and hope the new year only have good things in store for us. And to make my wish a little early: Happy New Year! 🙂

The time is here again!

21.12.2011 19:01

It’s that time of year again, when we celebrate Christmas. I may have said it before, but I’m not religious, but I respect those who are (and those who respect others with different religions and lifestyles). I’m not a believer in Jesus Christ as the great saviour of all, but I do believe he existed in history. There are other sources than the Bible that confirms that he existed, and that he was professing his religious beliefs.

To me, Christmas is a winter tradition. Jesus don’t really have that much to do with it, other than what people make of it. About one and a half millennia ago, the church decided that the birth of Jesus was to be celebrated in December, corresponding with the already-existing winter solstice festival (Yuletide). In fact, the Norwegian word for the Christmas time is “Jul” (pronounced roughly the same as the word “Yule”), and I stand by it. Like I said, it’s a winter tradition for me and my family, and I celebrate it with joy. Not the parts that have to do with Jesus (although I understand that some people might want to keep connecting this time of year to his birth), but with the togetherness, generosity, light and warmth that comes with this tradition.

On Christmas Eve, we go through the same ritual as ever; mellow out, eat candy, watch some traditional TV shows we always (and only) do on Christmas Eve, pay my respects to my gone grandparents (on my father’s side) at their grave, Christmas dinner with “svineribbe” (pork ribs) and “fåreribbe” (mutton ribs) together with my family, coffee/tea and Christmas cookies afterwards, relaxing together and finally, opening presents.

It’s only a few days away now, and my Christmas shopping is also at its end. I only have a few small gifts left to buy, and I’m still waiting for another item to arrive. All in all, I think I have a good handle on things. If not, I’ll be stressing out on Friday for that gift that’s supposed to be in the mail by now.

In any case, I’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas! God Jul! Buorit Juovllat! ¡Feliz Navidad! Buon Natale! Joyeux Noël! Hyvää Joulua! Frohe Weihnachten! С Рождеством! Vrolijk Kerstfeest!

Merry Christmas!

25.12.2010 17:40

Merry Christmas, everybody!

It’s another wonderful time of year, and the big gift day has just passed for us in Norway. See, over here, “Santa” comes along on the night of the 23rd, and we open our presents on the evening (or late afternoon) on the 24th, ie. on Christmas Eve.

Among this year’s “loot” there were several things that were on my wish list, and several others that weren’t, but were still appreciated. The most important thing for me, though, is family togetherness, and I believe we had that covered (although one of my sisters spent this Christmas with her boyfriend’s family in Sweden – they’ve started doing that every other year). As I mentioned in my previous post, I don’t really care about the price of my gifts, as long as I get something from those I love and care about. It could be as simple as something they made themselves, or all the way up to something big on my wish list. No matter what, even the smallest gift shows that they care about me back.

To sum up this year’s gift craze:

This year's loot, neatly spread out for display purposes

So, what exactly did I get? On DVD, I got season 8 of CSI, Iron Man 2 and Toy Story 3. No big surprises there, as they were all on my wish list. So was the new pair of slippers I also got (seen at the back in the above photo). The rest wasn’t on my wish list, but nonetheless very appreciated. In book form, I got “Guinness World Records 2011”, “Nostalgisk ordbok” (a “dictionary” of words that we “old” people have often used, but are no longer in the vocabulary of the latest generation) and “30” (a book of quotes and “definitions” of things you do when you’ve crossed that magical line of becoming 30 years old). I also got a Pondus (a Norwegian comic strip) calendar, some exclusive body and hair wash (“Kourus” by Yves Saint Laurent) and a notebook cooler board (you know, something to place my laptop on to keep it chilled).

Come to think of it, my laptop does seem to run a little hotter when I bring it to work, so I believe I’ll use it there (it was also a gift from someone I’ve worked closely with since I started at this company 7 years ago – I know, it kinda jumped me by surprise as well).

So, if you celebrate it, what did you get for Christmas? Feel free to leave it the comments below (as long as it lasts).

Now we’ll just enjoy a couple of days of rest and extra slow living, gearing up for our “romjul” (Boxing Week) celebration with a larger part of the family.

Almost Christmas

22.12.2010 04:45

It’s true, wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas.

Yes, it’s that time of year once again. Our office just had our small, yet dignified, Christmas dinner party (or “julebord”, as we Norwegians call it), which was more of a “pleasant gathering of colleagues in an out-of-work setting, with good food and great stories from work” rather than “heels to the roof, it’s par-tay time!” kind of thing. And now, I have some time off these next few days to finish up what’s left of my Christmas shopping (just a couple of gifts still missing).

In Norway (at least those of the Christian faith, as well as those who want to follow or create some holiday traditions), we have Christmas dinner and opening of presents on the evening of the 24th, while the 25th and 26th are federal holidays (ie. not even shops are open). And every 24th, there are a set of annual TV shows and films on TV worth catching to get into the Christmas spirit.

Yesterday, I read an article on some Norwegian cartoon blog discussing what  puts you into the Christmas spirit, and that made my mind start wandering around what really “does it” for me…

And every Christmas, it really kicks in on the 24th. My parents have usually bought the annual stack of Christmas cartoon albums (“julehefter”) with all the classics, so we start reading these on the morning of Christmas Eve. Around 11am, it all starts on TV, tuned into NRK1 with “Tre nøtter til Askepott” (“Tři oří¨ky pro Popelku“, or “Three Nuts/Wishes for Cinderella“) from 1973, which is narrated by Knut Risan (a Norwegian actor) with all voice characterizations dubbed to Norwegian by the narrator. It’s a bit unusual for non-Norwegians, but we’ve come to love it as an essential part of our Christmas tradition. This is followed by the Norwegian classic film “Reisen til julestjernen” (translation: “The journey to the Christmas star”) from 1976, and further by “Donald Duck of vennene hans” (translated: “Donald Duck and his friends”, which is just a Norwegian name for the old Disney Christmas special “From All of Us to All of You“).

All the while these TV shows are on, my mother has already started making the traditional Christmas dinner – pork and mutton rib, with various accessories (which cooks slowly for several hours) – and the true scent of Christmas for me starts filling the home. Now that’s when the real Christmas spirit finally kicks in for me.

After the TV shows are done, my dad takes me and my sisters to my grandparents’ (on my father’s side) grave to light a candle and put down a wreath for them, and reflect on their memory (even though my grandfather died the year before I was born, my grandmother died when I was 15, and lived just barely long enough to see my Christian confirmation as she was my Godmother).

When we return, some of us usually attend the early afternoon church service, and upon the return after it, dinner is ready. After dinner, we take a wait to get coffee/tea and cookies before handing out and opening presents from under the Christmas tree. After all presents are opened, we tidy up the wrapping paper, thank everyone for the presents (at least those who are easily available to thank), and basically wrap up the evening.

And that’s Christmas to me – family togetherness. To me, the presents could be anything from gift cards, to larger items I’ve been “drooling over” for a long time, or even to something home-made. It’s the thought that counts, as long it has materialized to something (even if that “something” is just a pair of socks or a set of coasters nitted by the person who gave them – that would just make the present all the more personal).

Just the thought of the Christmas TV specials inspired me to make a collage of the shows and movies that help me get into the right spirit during the Christmas time:

Merry Christmas everyone!