It's been quite a little while since the last post, at least in comparison to normally one or two posts a week. I'll use the holiday season as an excuse. =)
Where did I leave off? Experiencing Christmas in Sweden, I will say, was quite a treat. I always thought America went pretty crazy about Christmas, but Sweden has its own way, too. Whereas in America you get tons of neighborhoods being lit up at night from lights decorating the outsides of houses, in Sweden you get an all over decoration. People only generally put candles in their windows, but they decorate their public spaces a ton. They also (from an American's eyes) get a little over anxious by celebrating Christmas not on Christmas Day, but Christmas Eve.
J and I went to his parents' house on December 23rd to decorate their tree. I will admit, Sweden has very different pine trees than America's. This one (sadly or not?) reminded me a lot of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Not in that it was sad, their trees here are simply much more bare. I've shown J some American pine trees, and he calls them "bushes," since they're so solid (and not see through, ahem). J's parents' tree still turned out to be charming the way all Christmas trees are; here's the only shot I got of it.
On Christmas Eve we arrived at J's parents' house around 9am, and ended up staying all day until around 10pm. It's quite a family affair. In the morning we had a (what I consider) heavy breakfast. One special thing about Christmas in Sweden is the julbord. There are several traditional dishes that always make an appearance: pickled herring, ham, Janssons frestelse, prinskorv, and rice porridge, all for example.
So the day was full of food and family. Santa (or Tomte, in Swedish) made an appearance in between breakfast and lunch. I really enjoy J's family, and find myself often thankful for it. I couldn't imagine moving to a new country and starting a new life and finding out that my only support system would be the one person I moved across the world to be with. It's comforting to know I feel quite welcomed and part of my Swedish family. J's parents' live farther out into the country, and the snow is even more impressive and beautiful out there.
Christmas Day J and I hosted a party for many of our friends. We had our own julbord and spent the rest of the evening in good company. Christmas Day, apparently, here in Sweden is a huge day for people to "go out," ie. to the bars and clubs to celebrate. I've been told often to be able to get into a place on Christmas Day you have to book tickets in advance. Talk about serious party-ers!
The following week for New Years Eve J and I played hosts again for a New Years Eve party. This time we had help from another couple, who were our co-hosts here at our apartment. We decided to prepare a nice pork, potatoes and salad dinner. It was a hit also! I really have enjoyed being a hostess for parties. Back in the states I never much enjoyed entertaining guests in my own home. I don't know what about Sweden might have made me change those feelings, other than maybe our apartment here is much better at hosting than my tiny apartment I had at home! J and I have both agreed, though, that we're done hosting parties for quite some time. It can be pretty taxing.
On a different note, yesterday I had a meeting with my caseworker at Arbetsförmedlingen. I just had some questions about different programs I had come across for newly arrived immigrants looking for work, etc. He basically told me what I already decided I should be doing, but it was nice to get some confirmation from (or what should be) a more knowledgeable and authoritative source. He said his plan was to take SFI (I begin January 24th), and look for jobs on my own time. I seriously will start thinking/poking about getting a part time job (as I will be taking Swedish lessons, I don't think I want to work full time, not at least right away). A start is a start.
J has been sick the past couple days. He hasn't been in to work, his throat is bothering him quite a lot and he's been feeling pretty weak. Let's hope he can get to feeling better soon, no one likes to feel poorly! It seems as if we're taking turns on the sickness wagon. Since arriving, every few weeks it's been one of us who's had something. Any well wishings are appreciated!