All is Well That Ends Well
It’s never good when you wake up to the doorbell ringing. In this case it was Uri, the bus driver, asking “Is Jonah going to school today?”
School??? I’d just stepped out of bed. I had on my robe, standing in the open doorway, freezing, the cold doing something at least to awake my fuzzy brain still brimming with dreams. No, I thought, no one’s awake, Jonah can’t possibly go to school yet; I’ll have to take him. Unless…but oh…oh gosh, do I really want to make that drive to the British school…45 minutes there and 45 minutes back? What about my plans to go to Gamla Stan? “Wait just a minute,” I told Uri.
I ran into Jonah’s room, (the one he shares with Maggie and Micah in our temporary house) and pulled off his covers. “Quick,” I said, the bus driver is here. “What?” Jonah looked alarmed. He jumped out of bed sensing my urgency and hobbled to the entry where in his zombie-like state he pulled on his ski jacket over his t-shirt and shorts (bless him). “You need pants,” I said. So I ran back to his room to get some. Maggie was still asleep. The room was dark. I grabbed the first pair I found and gave them to him, along with a baggie of grapes (what a mom, he didn’t even skip breakfast). He rushed out the door. “Good-bye,” I waved.
There, everything turned out fine, I thought walking back to the bedroom. Cooper, who happened to be home sick asked, “Did you really just send Jonah to school?”
Well, it did turn out fine, just…the only thing was when Jonah came home his pants were dragging and wet on the bottom with rain. In our flurry, I’d given him Micah’s pants by mistake. He’d had to keep his hands in his pockets all day, he said, to hold them up. Oh well, life could be worse.
And the good news is Maggie and I did make it to Gamla Stan! It was such a nice morning too, around 5 degrees, with the sun shining. We dressed warm (lots of layers) and drove to the train station in Ropsten (only 15 minutes away). We parked and rode the Red Line directly to Gamla Stan (just another 15 minutes). So easy. Walking up from the underground we could feel Christmas. Strings of lights were hung in storefronts, outdoor market vendors were selling pine boughs and wreaths; bread was baking somewhere.
What I didn’t know was that nothing opened until 11:00. So we waited in a warm café, Maggie drinking a juice box until we could begin our shopping. Our first stop was Krabat and Co, a toy store a Swedish friend had recommended, located at Stora Nygatan 21.
It was filled with colorful wooden toys and vintage playthings, stuff your grandmother or grandfather might have had (if they were rich). I fell in love with a 3-tiered dessert set, complete with wooden cupcakes, cookies and pastries. I couldn’t pass it up, especially after the owners discounted the item on account it was the last one on display.
After the toy store, we headed to a lighting shop a few doors down. I found some LED electric candles to put in our windows, the traditional ones with 7 candles for 7 days of the week. Everyone here has them. It’s something to do with the tradition of lighting the night streets for people to make their way to church at the beginning of advent. The candles stay in the window until Twentieth day, January 13th, at which time it’s the custom to celebrate again with food and friends, dancing around the Christmas tree and singing songs before tossing out the tree and putting away the lights. (Can you picture my boys going along with this?)
In the same city block, we found the English Bookstore—a haven of familiar comforts. Maggie and I sat undisturbed in the corner reading Swedish children’s books translated into English. We ended up buying another Elsa Beskow book, “Around the Year.” Do you remember me telling you about her? The book has the prettiest illustrations for each month and poems to go along. I remember this one my mother use to read to me:
Thirty days has September, April, June and November: All the rest have thirty-one, February has twenty-eight alone, Excepting leap-year, that’s the time when February’s days are twenty-nine.
(Sweet huh? But thank goodness for google, cause I can’t remember that poem either.)
After that we visited the candy store, Polkapojkarna (I’m not even sure the Swedes can pronounce that one right). There you can watch them make ribbon candy and candy sticks by hand. We chose a Sour Rhubarb stick for us, (tart but delicious), a Coca-Cola stick for Daddy and peppermint ribbons for the boys. See there, consolation for that morning (all is well that ends well.)
Our adventure lasted just long enough that we came home tired and hungry, ready to eat leftover turkey. Visiting the old part of Stockholm, I’m happy to say, brought me the Christmas spirit. Something about seeing the old-fashioned toys and candy making, gave me the feeling of nostalgia for Christmases past, and remembering the past made me cherish the present even more.