I cannot believe that it’s Christmas on Saturday! I know it sounds like such a cliché, but this year has really gone by so fast. I feel like it was only a few weeks ago I moved back to Stockholm, not almost nine months. 2016 is almost over and I don’t even feel like it ever really began.
I guess part of the reason why the year feels like it’s gone by so fast is because since April the weeks have only been the transport route to the weekends, when I get to see S. I haven’t been doing much during the weeks (mainly work and gym) so leaving home just before 8 am and returning around 8-9 pm 2-4 days a week kind of turns it all into a blur.
But now I’m looking forward to a few days off. S is coming here on Friday and then we’ve got all the days between Christmas and New Year’s off. We’ll be doing Christmas at home (so for the next few days I’ll be really busy with food prep for Saturday) and for NYE his family is coming over – so I’ll be cooking a NYE feast.
I’m planning on doing a lot of good stuff for Christmas and NYE, so there should be some good recipes coming up here in the New Year. For Christmas there’s going to be gravad lax (Swedish cured salmon), Christmas ham, meatballs, mini sausages, potatoes, cheese and bread, English rice pudding, as well as gingerbread, saffron buns, knäck (Swedish almond toffee), Rocky Road, and maybe some other chocolates. I won’t make everything myself though, but the ones I do I’ll post about. For NYE I’m thinking some sort of beef wrapped in Parma ham served with a potato gratin of sorts and then a take on Eton mess for dessert. Pleasing the in-laws in the food department isn’t always easy, but a nice piece of meat with potatoes and an English dessert should do it!
What’s really disappointing though is that it’s not looking like we’re going to get a white Christmas. The snow chaos in the beginning of November was getting my hopes up for a white Christmas, but after the initial chaos and some one-day followers, the temperature has steadily risen above freezing and none of the (sporadic) snow has stuck. Today is due to be 8 degrees and Saturday 5 degrees. So not looking hopeful there.
I’m still excited about my first Christmas really being at home again though. No feeling like you have to cram so much in because it’s the longest consecutive period you’ll be home all year. Not sleeping on a blow-up mattress in my mum’s living room/kitchen. Not living out of a suitcase. And being able to decorate our home the way we want. Having our own Christmas tree, advent stars and advent candlesticks in the windows, and the four advent candles present in many a Swedish home at this time of year.
I’ve always liked Christmas. Going down to my grandparents’ (though we’re not doing that this Christmas Eve), sticking to the tradition and always having the same food and watching Donald Duck, year after year, even though we’re all adults now. I think I must have got the whole Christmas gene in my family because my brother couldn’t really care less (he’s been working on Christmas Eve the past few years – great overtime pay) and for my mum it’s been kind of a case where the older we get the less traditional she is. She definitely used to go all out when we were little, even when we were teenagers, but when we started getting older and more independent she started scaling it down. S doesn’t really feel the same way about Christmas as I do either, so three out of five years we’ve spent Christmas at my grandparents’. (The first year together we spent Christmas apart – had only been together about two months – one year my mum and brother came over to London, and last year we stayed in London because he wasn’t allowed to fly.) This year we wanted to be at home though, seeing as it’s the first time we have our own place, so we’ll go down and see my family in the days after Christmas instead.
Which means I have to cook. I’m looking forward to it though. I’m going to make my own gravlax (not very difficult, just time consuming) and I’m going to make a Christmas ham for the first time, using my brand new slow cooker I got as a Christmas present from the MIL. (I got it early because it had to be delivered to my house.) The ham needs to boil for 9 hours in the slow cooker and then go in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, so I’m planning on boiling it overnight. Then I’m also attempting to make an English rice pudding rather than the traditional Swedish risgrynsgröt (rice porridge) on S’s request. Though I think they’re very similar – the rice pudding is thicker due to being made with cream instead of milk and baked instead of boiled – he doesn’t like the Swedish version very much, so I promised I’d give it a try. Can’t be that difficult, can it.
It’ll only be a small gathering and we’ll end up having leftovers for weeks, but I’m really looking forward to it. To use the favourite word of the Swedish nation, I think it will be cozy.