Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Christmas in Värmland

This past Christmas, I spent an entire week visiting my parents and my sister and her family in Glava in the Swedish country-side in the province of Värmland. My parents' house is located by the beautiful lake Glafsfjorden. It hasn't been such a warm winter in decades and my father still had his boat in the lake!

The great thing about going home is that there is absolutely
NOTHING to do except taking it easy and contemplating life in

Apart from eating my mother's home-cooked Christmas food, I did as little as humanly possible. I was sleeping, sleeping, sleeping to regain some energy after a hectic work fall. Naturally Mom prepared "Jansson's Temptation" (a kind of potato gratin with anchovy), Swedish meat-balls, traditional sausages, herring, omelette with stewed mushrooms etc to feast on. I played "fetch" with Mom's dog Wilma, ate some more and read the Swedish comic strip book "91:an" about a soldier in the Swedish army. It's not Christmas for me without reading this comic strip - I've done it every Christmas since I was a kid, for some reason, and there is always a Christmas edition of the publication which is extra long... I had coffee with my parents, played card games with my Dad, took a nap on the kitchen sofa, ate some more, had coffee again, played fetch, ate...! Well, you get the picture!

My sister's kids got new mobile phones for Christmas - don't know what they had done with their old ones, see photo below, but it looked like they had played soccer with them on the school-yard or something and my Sony Ericsson heart almost broke when I saw them in pieces. The phones were (barely) held together by - you won't believe it! - brown duck tape!

Well, with the new phones, they got totally absorbed by the new features, playing games for hours (no "game-snack" there!), listening to music in the Walkman player, recording their own "Pop Idol" show with friends using the built-in camera etc.

On Boxing Day, my two nieces participated in a horse-jumping competition in town (Arvika) so my sister and mother and I went to watch. My eldest niece who is now 14 has competed every Boxing Day for several years, but it was the first time for my youngest niece who is 12 so she was rather nervous. They both did very well and the eldest won a ribbon.

My nephew who is 10 years old played an ice-hockey cup and had scored a number of goals that day. I found it quite cute and laughed when I was told the kids play "hoot hockey" up until they are 12 years old, meaning that both teams have to change all players on the ice every time they play a hooting sound in the loud-speakers, which happens every 2.5 minutes - this to make it fair so that all kids get to play. Perhaps it was not such a bad idea, for by the time my nephew's team reached the finals, the whole team was so tired they could hardly skate at all. They won silver medals but this could not make up for their extreme disappointment over the loss to another hockey team from Värmland.

Arvika Hockey

Jonathan 10 years old

My sister is running a shop in Arvika selling furnishings, some furniture, candles and such, and just recently moved to a more central location right by the town square. One of her sales aids called in sick the day before Christmas, so I had to rush in to help out.

A couple of days after Christmas, the outdoor temperature finally dropped below freezing point and I could take a walk and try to catch the beautiful ice crystals on camera. Results displayed below. Two hours after my photo excursion, it was raining again... Looking forward to my ski trip to Engelberg in February!

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