Aby-a-Day – 24 December: Julafton and Kalle Anka

It’s hard to describe how important watching Kalle Anka (Donald Duck) at 3pm on Christmas Eve is in Sweden.

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Jacoby…seriously. It’s a big deal. Go sit down and watch.

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That’s better.

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Having experienced four Swedish Julaftons now, I can attest. Donald Duck and Christmas are a thing.

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The annual broadcast, shown in Sweden since 1959 consists of Jiminy Cricket presenting about a dozen Disney cartoons from the 1930s to the 1960s, only a couple of which have anything to do with Christmas. There are “Silly Symphonies” shorts and clips from films like Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and The Jungle Book. The special is pretty much the same every year, except for the live introduction by a Swedish host and the addition of one new snippet from the latest Disney-produced movie (This year, it was a scene from Wreck-It Ralph Breaks the Internet and a scene from The Incredibles II).

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The first year we lived here, we went to Jönköping and watched it at Björn’s mom’s house. We have done that every year…until this year. In a manner of speaking, Jake spent Christmas at Björn’s mom’s house before he even lived here.

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This year, we had Julafton and watched Kalle Anka at home in Skövde.

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But it was hard to not think of the Juls we had spent at Björn’s mom’s house. That defined Christmas in Sweden to me…and Christmas in general to Björn.

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We did miss Björn’s mom’s Christmas tree, decorated with hand-cut paper hearts.

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And also the weird straw pig that lived underneath the tree.

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Björn’s mom also had this display of her collection of Dala horses. Jake tried to fit in.

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“Ugh…these guys are a bunch of stiffs!”

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Like his mini-me, Jake posed with the row of Tomten, too.

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This Julafton was wonderful…but I miss the holiday in Jönköping.

Aby-a-Day – 23 December: “Momma, don’t make me wear that old thing again…I got them ugly sweater blues” (Silly Sunday)

If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you know that one of our holiday traditions is dressing up the cats. This year is no different. Especially since I have this little red dress with a plaid skirt that I knew would be just perfect for Lorelai.

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And I was right. She rocked it.

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…And then she went off to fight with Izaak, still wearing the dress…like the tomboy she is (She won, too).

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Jacoby, of course, put on his Santa sweater and Mistletoe Hat like the pro that he is.

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He gave me all his best poses.

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I love him so much. Good old stable, reliable Jake.

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What would I do without him?

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Angel, too, is no stranger to the annual holiday dress-up routine.

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She’s not quite the show-off Jake is, but she knows how to pose. Her ears aren’t really mad, though. That’s just the elastic on the hat.

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She also knows that if she gives me a few good poses, I’ll take off the stuff and let her go.

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Alfred didn’t get dressed up last year, so this was his first experience with our tradition.

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It took him a second to really get the hang of it.

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But he soon realised it really wasn’t all that bad. In fact, it was kind of fun!

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“Freddy the Elf…what’s your favourite colour?”

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Zak got to wear the infamous Christmas Tree Costume.

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He…was less than thrilled.

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He decided he wanted to leave.

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I tried to tell him that trees have roots and can’t move, but he wasn’t having any of it.

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Logan also wore the tree costume last year.

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Who do you think wore it better?

Aby-a-Day – 22 December: Julljusstaken (Swedish Saturday)

A huge holiday tradition in Sweden is putting up Julljusstaker in every window.

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Jacoby, unsurprisingly, is a master at posing with the Jul candles.

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He’s got the contemplative gaze and the slight smile down pat.

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Somewhat more surprisingly, Angel is pretty good at it, too.

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I mean, who knew, right?

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“What? Don’t look so surprised…I AM an Abyssinian, you know!”

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Alfred is also pretty good at it…

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…when he can keep his focus and not get distracted.

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I wasn’t sure how well Lorelai would pose with the candles (she flitters about almost as quickly as her caffeinated namesake), but she did really well.

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She’s a natural!

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For about a minute. Then she gets bored and goes off to do something else.

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Izaak did pretty well, too, for his first time.

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He’s got the “looking into the candles thoughtfully” thing down cold, for sure.

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Until he, like Rory, gets bored. Kittens these days…no attention span whatsoever!

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Even Pyret was pretty good at the candle-posing thing!

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I never did get a photo of Logan with the Jul candles…but I did get one of him with this Jul Äppel!

Aby-a-Day – 21 December: A festive trip to the vet (Fashion Friday)

Wednesday, Izaak got his Suprelorin implant.

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It was chilly, so I dressed him in Jacoby’s red fleece snowflake hoodie and his festive red flannel diapers

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He knew he looked festive and he owned it.

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He also posed with the Jul decorations in the cat waiting room…like the Jul Goat.

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He was also very interested in my tea.

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Zak had a good time exploring the waiting room.

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At last, it was time for Zak to go in and get his implant.

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Unlike Logan, Zak had no problem with the lidocain, and he didn’t react at all to the actual injection. Even the vet commented on how great Zak accepted his implant compared to the way Logan accepted it. Zak is completely fine, two days later, and he doesn’t seem to need the diapers anymore, either. I think he’s already happier now that he’s on Suprelorin.

Aby-a-Day – 20 December: Kittens’ first snow (Thursday Things)

As you saw in yesterday’s post, we got our first real snow in Skövde on Monday. Tuesday, I took Izaak and Lorelai out to see their first snow. Jacoby and Alfred, always ready for a little outdoor adventure, wanted to come along as well.

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Rory absolutely LOVED it.

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She and Jake were the first to run out into the snow.

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Freddy, on the other hand…

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…was a bit more tentative about the cold, wet, white stuff.

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He did say hello to the neighbour girls out sledding, though.

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Meanwhile, Rory ran out to see Bruno.

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Zak was not impressed with the snow at all. I had to take him out in it, or he would have just sat on the pavement where the snow had either melted or been shovelled.

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And as quickly as he could, he went right back there.

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But Rory…she took off, running everywhere she could.

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The cold didn’t seem to bother her one bit. Neither did the wetness.

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She even ran all the way to the sandy place she and Zak played in last summer.

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Even though it was buried under the snow, she seemed to know it was the same place.

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You may have wondered, whilst looking at all the photos of Rory running everywhere, what the boys were doing. This. They were doing this. Sitting on the non-snowy pavement next to the building, watching her run about like a mad thing.

Aby-a-Day – 19 December: Wordless Wednesday (Running in a Winter Wonderland)

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Aby-a-Day – 18 December: Luciatåg (Cartoon Tuesday)

Last Thursday was St Lucia’s Day here in Sweden (Luciatåg), and it is another religious day turned into a secular celebration. December 13, under the old Julian calendar, was the date of the Winter Solstice, an important event in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries because the sun is only up for a few hours, and the nights are extremely long. After the Winter Solstice the sun returns and days get longer. The name Lucia actually derives from the Latin word for “light” (lux), so Swedes took Lucia’s saint’s day and turned it into a non-religious celebration of the lengthening of days and the return of light from the darkness of winter. Luciatåg becomes a part of the larger Jul celebration which officially starts on the first Sunday of December (although decorations start going up after Halloween) and continues through Christmas to Twelfth Night. By “tjugondag Knut” (20 days after Christmas), the decorations are taken down and the Christmas tree thrown out (if it’s a real tree), traditionally with a party but that custom has begun to disappear.

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Lucia is celebrated by girls dressed as St. Lucia (being chosen to portray Lucia is quite an honour) and Lucia’s handmaidens (“tärnor”) and boys dressed as star boys (“stjärngossar”), gnomes (“tomtar”) and gingerbread men (“pepparkaksgubbar”) who sing Natten går tunga fjät (“Night Walks with a Heavy Step”) and other songs celebrating light.

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So, naturally I had to draw Lorelai as Lucia and Izaak as a star boy…