Due to circumstances rather than design, my husband and I have spent the last seven Christmases away from our families. At first, this was because we had moved to the U.S. (I’m from Sweden, he’s from England) and couldn’t justify the expense. Then it was because I was pregnant and didn’t want to travel…then because we had a 6-month-old…and finally because of, you know, a global pandemic.
But at last, this holiday season, with two kids in tow, we will be visiting my father in Stockholm. And, well, a lot has changed in the last seven years. My dad may be surprised to learn that I will not be having the beer and julmust (a Swedish cola-like drink) with my Christmas lunch this year—beer just doesn’t sit well with me these days. Or that we no longer enjoy rice pudding for dessert on Christmas Eve, but rather make this our sweet treat the day before so that we can fry up the leftovers for breakfast. But the biggest difference of all? I’m a mom now.
As a parent, not only have I adopted new holiday customs (like splitting up the gifts over a two-day period because we just know our kids won’t be able to handle it all in one day), but I’ve also merged some of my own traditions with those of my husband. (Boxing Day—a British holiday that occurs on December 26—is sacred!)
Bringing these new traditions into my dad’s home gives me mixed feelings. On the one hand, I’m thrilled that he gets to experience Christmas again with my children, which is just about as heartwarming and magical as Hallmark movies would suggest. But I’m also nervous about what he’ll think about some of our new habits, like going out for a long winter walk after breakfast or making a Yule Log for dessert, things I never did growing up. (Not to mention how he’ll react to having two—it has to be said—very shouty kids around the house.)