Aby-a-Day – 25 December: The sole of Christmas (Cartoon Tuesday)

In Sweden, the main Christmas celebrating is done on 24 December. After the ritual of Donald Duck, the presents are opened and then dinner is eaten.

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The traditional Julbord, which Björn’s mother orchestrated every year to perfection, consists of pickled herring, smoked salmon, hard-boiled eggs with kaviar,

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the Julskinka (ham with mustard), boiled potatoes, Janssons Frestelse (a sort of potato casserole with anchovies), cabbage rolls (which I can totally get behind because they’re also a Russian thing), handmade köttbullar (meatballs – ours were moose, lamb and wild boar),

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Prinskorv (sort of like hot dogs, but better), a ball of cheese and bread, and a cheesecake.

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This was our first year assembling the feast ourselves, and the first we have done at home instead of going to Jönköping. Beer, wine and shots of aquavit are usually drunk before, during, and after the meal, but this year we also added my kickass eggnog with rum, tequila, whiskey and hazelnut liqueur. Because, hey, let’s start our own traditions! (I also introduced the hanging and filling of stockings, which we open on Christmas day, because that was MY tradition. I still have the stocking I was given on my very first Christmas, when I was six months old.

The one Swedish Jul tradition I am not completely onboard with is the Christmas Day dinner of lutfisk served with potatoes and peas. Not that lutfisk is bad…it’s just bland. It’s basically like eating hard-boiled egg whites. Which is great, I love hard-boiled eggs. Just not necessarily for Christmas dinner. And I don’t really like peas all that much, either. We would always eat it at Björn’s mom’s house…but this year, we are having goose and starting our own tradition (which also includes the oranges my mom always used to put in our stockings).

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The first Christmas I spent in Sweden, I drew this silly little drawing of a “lute fisk” as a joke for Björn’s brother…and today I got the idea to update it a bit with Abys. And a Singapura. Just a sketch for now, but…Happy Christmas, everyone!

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 – 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…

Aby-a-Day – 4 December: Falukorv (Cartoon Tuesday)

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about how, when Logan was the same age as Izaak, he was acting more like a tomcat – peeing, yowling, pacing – whereas all Izaak has done is just gotten tomcatly bulk. I also mentioned that I call him “my little sausage”.

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Specifically, a Falukorv, a Swedish sausage made of pork and either beef or veal, with potato starch and spices which originated in Falun, about 330km North-Northeast from Skövde.

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Relax, Zak…It’s kind of like baloney. Different, but…that sort of taste.

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But as he’s been bulking up, I’ve been calling him my Falukorv more and more. And today, I did a little sketch…

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…Which turned a little whimsical. I may need to finish this one up.

Aby-a-Day – 2 December: Cat up a tree (Silly Singapura Cat Show Sunday)

One of the fun things about having a cat show in a pet store is, there’s plenty of cat trees to play with.

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There was one right in front of Izaak’s cage.

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He loved them and how tall they were…but he also really loved this little cubby.

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The instructions were folded up inside, but that didn’t stop him from playing in there.

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If anything, it gave Zak something to play with whilst he was in there.

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I don’t exactly know what he was doing in there…chasing his tail, just spinning around…but he seemed to be having fun.

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And then, after a round of spinning and rolling about…

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…it was time to attack the post.

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Zak loved it in there.

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But eventually he started to look around at the rest of the cat tree.

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Both Björn and I were taking photos of his adventures.

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Zak seemed to notice that high shelf, and he started to get ambitious.

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Zak’s not much of a climber at home – much less so than Logan was – but at DjurMagazinet he was fearless.

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He even branched out onto the grey tree next to his brown one.

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But he soon jumped back to his brown one.

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But what was really funny was, after Zak was done playing, the little Neva Masquarade in the cage next to ours went out to explore the cat tree…and was very interested in the smells Zak left behind.

Aby-a-Day – 10 November: “I haven’t taken my Christmas lights down. They look so nice on the pumpkin” (Silly Saturday)

In Sweden, Winter time starts a week before Daylight Savings ends in the States. Additionally, not having a late November holiday like Thanksgiving to mark the beginning of the “Holiday season,” Swedes tend to start thinking about Jul lights as soon as it starts getting dark early.

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To that end, Björn found some pretty coloured ball lights on sale last month.

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Izaak was born on 26 January, and so has never seen Christmas lights before…

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…And he was fascinated by them.

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Just mesmerised.

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It was so cute the way he played with them.

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Alfred, of course, has celebrated one Christmas already, but he was curious about the lights, too.

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Somehow, he managed to get sort of entangled in them.

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Only Freddy…

Aby-a-Day- 4 November: The Ministry of Silly Runs (Silly Swedish Sunday)

Izaak is so much fun to watch outside.

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He loves to run so much…but he looks so goofy doing it.

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He’s maturing – he’s just turned nine months old – but he has not yet shown any signs of being an entire male cat except one: he’s getting all burly and jowly. But that’s it. There’s no inappropriate play-mounting, no parading around the house, and, best of all: NO SPRAYING OR RANDOM PEEING! Even his proper litterbox pee doesn’t smell like a tomcat.

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Oh, don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. Mostly I am just waiting for penny to finally drop, so to speak. After all, Alfred was neutered when he was seven months old, and Logan was in diapers because he was peeing in odd places when he was about this same age. So let’s just say we’re on high alert but enjoying every pee-free day.

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He has a funny bouncy run, though, and it really is amusing.

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I hope he never outgrows it.

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Awww…Zakky! Don’t look at me like that! We love you and your silly running. We giggle because you’re so adorable when you do it.