I grew up in Sweden, in a place where Christmas is celebrated at the darkest time of the year.
The days are short, light is sparse and the snow is numbingly cold. We snuggle up with mittens, woolly socks and when the sun sets at 3:00pm, the Christmas lights glimmer through the windows in our neighbourhood. It’s a time when you love getting comfortable under a warm blanket, sipping a cup of hot chocolate and munching on saffron buns. You might read a book or as we do in my family, maybe build a puzzle?
In my family, there will always be a jigsaw puzzle under the Christmas tree. After all the celebrations are over we empty the dining table of all the Christmas food and start assembling it. We work on it for weeks (which usually means that dinner will be served on any other clear surface that isn’t the dining table). Me and dad usually get up early during the holidays and will build parts of the puzzle while we have breakfast. Mum might get up a bit later and give it a shot while she sips a cup of steaming fruit tea. At some point in the afternoon, my brother will help complete a section of it. And so it goes, until one day you walk in and there are no more pieces left to assemble. The puzzle is complete and the holidays are almost over.
Where my husband Isaac grew up Christmas looks completely different.
Isaac is from Australia and December is usually a scorching month with grass that withers and dies due to the heat. You wake up in the morning to a cacophony of bird calls and singing magpies (yes, they sing in Australia!). Appropriate clothing would be a dress, shorts, or anything that would keep you cool. People gather around pools, the beach and barbecues. Cold drinks and lots of ice is the way to go! We are celebrating our third Christmas together as a married couple.
So, how do we combine these very different versions of Christmas together?
Well, we have kept some traditions from both our families and have also added some of our own traditions together! We currently live in Townsville this Christmas, which means mango season is back. Mangoes in December is something new to us both but we can definitely get used to that! And although I don’t feel like snuggling up under a blanket the air conditioning makes it comfortable enough to sit and build a Christmas puzzle together.
When we got married, Isaac’s aunt gave us a great gift for our first Christmas together, considering the fact that we’ve moved about every six months since we got married. It’s a simple Christmas ornament but it has lots of room to write on. She simply explained to us,
“since you never know where you will be next year for Christmas, there’s no point in buying lots of expensive Christmas decorations that you then need to get rid of when you move. So, have this one and every year, write where you celebrate Christmas!”
So, that’s just what we’ve done.
Christmas will be Christmas no matter where in the world we are and it will probably look different many times during our lifetime. As for this year we have a mango ripening in our room, summer clothes, a puzzle that is nearly finished (we started early) and a Sharpie ready to fill in Christmas location 2017 😊
Emilie is 26 years old from Sweden and has been on staff with us for a little over a year now with her husband Isaac. She enjoys reading books, going hiking and learning new languages. A fun fact about Emilie is that as a child she didn’t like going to the beach and then she spent 5 years of her life studying marine biology!