Spare Change


If you haven’t thrown out your Christmas Tree yet, then you still have time to enact one of Sweden’s oldest and most well-known Christmas traditions, Plundering the Tree, Julgransplundring. Think of it as a Viking raid on your Christmas Tree, only with candy. Yeah okay, I’ll explain. Just so you know, it’s about the most fun you can have in a night, aside from Christmas, (which is tough to beat). Here’s what… Read More

FIVE. That’s how many hours, according to reports, we had of sunlight during the ENTIRE month of November. And it’s not looking much brighter for December. It’s dark. And it’s dreary. And I’m taking Vitamin D, holding out for “ski week” in February when you can betcha bottom dollar I won’t be skiing, but going someplace warm with sunshine. Hallelujah. But I still love Sweden and the coziness of winter, (most days)…. Read More

Your Christmas cards aren’t mailed yet? Mine aren’t either, at least not all of them, and I’ll be lucky if they’re postmarked before 2014. I’m not feeling too bad. A friend of mine didn’t mail hers until after Easter one year. Personally, I think Christmas and Easter go fine together. But in case you don’t get yours, here’s what we all look like (on our better days).Of course it’s not like I… Read More

I’ve been told the Ulriksdal Wardhus Julboard is on a list of things you should do before you die. I understand why now. It could just be the only time in my life I get to see a real pig’s head decorated with icing. Or eat this…pickled herring. At least I’m pretty sure that’s what this was. The platters ran the length of a banquet table. There were so many courses. The… Read More

Living in Sweden is the best of both worlds, the American holidays plus the Swedish traditions. There’s Halloween, uniquely American, which we celebrated by trick or treating around the offices of the American Embassy. Then Thanksgiving, a feast we celebrated with friends, a day focused on food and gratitude (what could be better?). And now Julbord, the Swedish Christmas table, from now until the end of Christmas. Julbord is the feasting season, a… Read More

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… Read More

Today is the darkest day of the year, December 21st. The sun went down hours ago, around 2:40, but then…I don’t remember it ever coming up. The sky is a cast iron grey and outside it’s minus 4, but in the distance, from my window, I can see lights glowing all along the waterfront. The ice and snow are glittering, penetrating the night. It’s what the Swedes promised would happen in the… Read More

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… Read More