Morby Badet (And Other New Discoveries)
Christmas was the best this year. (Of course we say that every year.) But it was especially true of this year…because of Maggie. Having a 3-year-old who still believes in Santa (what joy!) makes Christmas morning exciting for everyone. Her excitement bubbled over when the week before she met Santa at the Embassy—a special visit made possible by the Counselor section <wink> who issued the Visa. For that we were grateful. The event also included cookie decorating, a cakewalk, games and best of all a snowball fight with wads of white paper (isn’t that clever?).
Earlier in the fall we had thought we might travel for Christmas, escape the darkness, but I’m glad we didn’t. We would have missed the winter wonderland and the fun of doing nothing or just sitting by the fire.
We also discovered a new family past time—indoor swimming at Morbybad. It’s just a couple of minutes away and for a very reasonable price you can get a family membership for two adults with kids up to 18 years swimming free. I suspect they didn’t count on families like ours though, with 4 kids. There wasn’t enough space on the member form to write everyone’s names.
Morbybad has swim areas for children and adults, a small water slide, and loads of floating shapes to climb on. It’s amazing. I think our boys spent most of their time climbing the six-foot high inflatable Killer Whale in the center of the pool while Maggie dove for rings. After a while though, we all wanted to warm up in the hot tub, (a Bubble Pool), but we learned, after getting kicked out, you must pay and reserve a time to use it.
So we paid, reserved our time and presented the pool authority with tickets for all six of us. We were enough people as it was to fill the tub entirely, but then another man showed up with his ticket and a woman with her ticket and two kids and soon I was holding Maggie on my lap watching the water rise higher. (I’m still not sure whose legs I was touching.) But what better lesson for our kids on cultural-spatial boundaries then a European hot tub? And of course the education continues in the locker room and sauna, where it’s standard for everyone to shower and dress in the same room (much to Jonah’s chagrin).
The nice part of our tight-knit circle in the bubble pool, was that conversation was mandatory, which as it turned out was enlightening. Getting to see the world first hand through another person’s eyes is what expands our own vision, and sometimes, if we’re lucky, teaches us something too.
I learned a lot this Christmas sharing our home with six Mormon missionaries we recently met–five from America and one from Finland. Included in the group was a Senior couple that had left their lovely home, six married children and lots of grandchildren, to come to Sweden (paying their own way) to serve in the mission office. Their job…to help with the day-to-day logistics of transporting, housing, getting Visa’s for and organizing 62+ Elders and Sisters, (which will soon be doubling to 121 now that the Church has lowered the missionary age to 18 for men and 19 for women). Prior to this the Senior Sister worked at a medical office and her husband was a partner at Deloitte and Touche, but none of that seemed to matter to them now, they were just here to serve…not to get, but to give.
I think that’s why Christmas felt so meaningful this year…the people we shared it with were so appreciative. They kept thanking me again and again (and again!) for ham that all I had to do was reheat. I sat by one of the Elders at dinner from California; he’d been out for over a year and was excited to Skype home that evening to talk to his family. It was going to be the second call he’d made home in a year (the other call being on Mother’s day). He expressed his heartfelt gratitude for a mom that stayed home to take care of him and his three younger siblings. Wow, I wish she could’ve been in the room to hear, but I suspect she knows. I took his simple words as a gift, as a reminder that the small things we do really don’t go unnoticed. They’re cumulative. The effort we put into our kids will come back.
It was a lovely evening. The fact that none of us had our families in Sweden to celebrate was enough to bring us together, but the real take away was learning from their examples. Their positive attitudes were contagious, each of them happy (if not thrilled) to have given up two years of their lives, paying their own way to go where ever they were called, learning a foreign language, leaving friends/girlfriends/family behind…that’s a Christmas lesson I won’t soon forget.