When I returned it was December; I'd forgotten how beautiful Lund is when Christmas takes over and there are gingerbread decorations and electric candles everywhere. Walking around town feels like you're living in "It's a Wonderful Life" as the decorations hanging over the cobblestone streets are likely the same as they were 75 years ago.
After last year's snow storms, our boys have been disappointed with just a few "dustings" this year. The minute it started snowing, Lucas ran to get his sled. He didn't like hearing that he'd have to wait until there was more.
Candles, candles, and more candles. In the dark of December, light is very important. There are electric candles in almost all windows which gives a cozy feel as you walk around all bundled up. Each morning we would light the advent candles, which is just a part of December here. Along with practically every other Swede, my boys would watch the (non-religious) advent program on TV every morning or evening, and then open the accompanying calendar window. The kids would talk about it at school, and the adults would discuss whether or not this year's program is a good one. (It was.)
St. Lucia is celebrated on December 13th, and both boys' schools had celebrations where the kids dress up and sing Lucia and Christmas songs. (And then afterwards we all eat saffron buns, gingerbread cookies, clementine oranges, and drink hot cocoa, coffee and Swedish glögg.) Both boys chose to dress as gingerbread men.
Christmas is celebrated on the 24th, as it is in most of Europe, and Mats and I made our first turkey. Santa even visited, but the boys said, "That was Papa!"
For dessert, it was the traditional devouring of the gingerbread houses. (Hernik's was a home-made gluten-free gingerbread "present" as he'd requested.)
Each day it was important to get outside for some fresh air and to greet the sun (and a funny tree.)
And now it's January. The electric lights start to disappear from the windows, but the sunlight hours are longer. Today was the boys' first day back to school. I usually don't love January, but this year I look forward to my goals for the year, and greet 2012 with optimism.