I hope everyone's Christmas was wonderful, and you all got the little breaks and gifts of course that you deserved this year.
Christmas here went by with the speed of a tornado...which is saying a lot because in Norway there are like 5,784,398,745 different days of Christmas that are all celebrated differently and have different names...ok, there's actually only four, but still, that's twice as many any where else!
I helped in creating all four of the giant multi-course meals the family here had the pleasure of devouring during those Christmases, in which was one of my absolute favorite dishes, holiday or no: stuffing.
Oh glory of glories that is stuffing!
I don't know what it is about that fluffy, steaming dish, but it just melts me every time! Always prepared separately of course, never in the bird, and so delicious. This year was the first that Harald's Mother had seen it stocked in Norwegian grocery stores. She asked me about it, and after what was probably a ten-minute rave on the truly majestic nature of stuffing, brought home two boxes for me.
Now, you might be thinking about now...'really? a whole entry about stuffing?'
Well, no, not quite, I promise I have more to share, but really it was a substantial highlight of my holiday this year, and made me feel really at home...and full...eventually.
In non-stuffing related news: my theory relating to my first Norwegian church experience was unfortunately completely spot on. Fellowship = non-existent. Literally, no one spoke to anyone, even while perpetually shuffling towards the exit for an odd twenty minutes. The turn-out was crazy on Christmas Eve, with literally about two hundred people in attendance. The church was stuffed full of Weegies in their Christmas best...Weegies and their howling, undisciplined children running up and down the center aisle and just being beastly generally speaking, were also out in full force. Regardless of how adorable they were, all blonde-haired and decked out in frills and the occasional bunad too (!), they were all in desperate need of a time-out in this former nanny's opinion. Their parents? In need of some courtesy enough to realize that not everyone wants to be deafened during a church service, so quit looking so uninterested in your banshee of a baby and do us all a favor.
The Lutheran Weegies, clearly, have not discovered the wonder that is a "cry room".
I wanted to introduce myself to the pastor, a younger, very sweet-looking man (also unfortunately soft-spoken for the nature of his audience), but he was mobbed at the end of the service, and I had to stand and wait for twenty minutes just to get out of the building anyway...
Along with all the amazing food that came and went in and out of the kitchen last week, I also got some great little gifts. The best being the presence of those two aforementioned boxes sent from my relatives in the states, but also in the form of a generous gift card that my in-laws gave both Harald and I as our present.
Today Harald, my MIL, SIL, and I all went to the local "mall" to hit up some post-Christmas sales, and do some exchanging for my SIL. Now first, let me make something clear to all you non-Weegies and those NOT living in Scandinavia...during Christmas, so from the afternoon of the 24th, until today, Monday, the 28th everything closes down for a holiday break.
Pretty much everything, people.
Gas-stations, and movie theatres are still open, every other 'Apotek' (drug store) might be open, but literally, that. is. it.
So since no one could get their shop on for the past five odd days, in pretty much any way shape or form...
Everyone's Mom's Brother's cousin Lars was out.
It. Was. Insane.
Many of you know of my anxiousness and general panic that seeps in whilst in the middle of enclosed spaces with many people.
Let's just leave it at that, shall we?
Thankfully, we shopped liked pros, green beret style even: with an in and out type philosophy that left our gift cards hot to the touch, and skid marks behind us as we headed out the door.
Even though Norwegian "sales" pretty much only bring the price to a sensical level to most Americans opinion, you gotta use what you get, right?
And I scored a super cute dress, blouse, tights (2 pairs for 149Kr!), and a dove gray cardigan with princess sleeves.
Since I'm still on my mini-break from schoolwork until the New Year, my plan is just to do my Cinderella gig as usual and tear it up through the remainder of my imported books...
I'm currently trying to decide if a New Year's resolution would be both wise or practical at this point, since they notorious fade out of view around mid-February if not sooner...maybe I'll just pacify myself with a sort of inspirational, motivating list/essay that I can refer to during 2010.
What have you all come up with?
I cleared The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy pretty quickly (about 48 hours). It reminded me a lot of Isabelle Allende's House of the Spirits, and/or Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude in that it was this omniscience narration of a family's journey over a few generations.(Read those books if you haven't, people!) Obviously Marquez and Allende's narratives are of Latin American families and have that great and very personally beloved magical realism style to them. Roy's piece, while still being incredibly individual and fresh, felt like the Indian cousin of this style and these family stories. It's my second foray into modern Indian literature, and it most definitely won't be my last: all in all, a really rewarding and provocative read.
In the last few days I also read The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith. It's Smith's second piece after her much-praised, and rewarded first novel that I've yet to read. I've read a short story collection that she edited and contributed to, and was really impressed. I picked up this piece with all my others, by chance and great circumstance at a used bookstore in Washington because I've been meaning to read more of her for a while now. It did not disappoint either, not in the slightest. Since sophomore work is notoriously scorned and sour, I can't wait to get my hands on her first novel now, after how much I was impressed and enjoyed this story! I'm always impressed and humbled when a writer tackles a main character of the opposite sex of their own, it's really so much harder to move them than a character with your own gender as an author. Smith definitely managed just fine though with this interesting marriage of a young Black, female British writer, with a struggling, Jewish-Chinese man. Also a piece I would totally recommend.
I seem to say that all the time, I realize, but I've been so lucky in 2009, I don't think I've honestly come across a bad book this year!