Aby-a-Day – 12 Januari: A moment in the sun (Swedish Saturday)

These are photos from the backlog, from May 2017.

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Angel loves the balcony and always has. She loves to sit in the sunshine out there.

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And I know Angel doesn’t get as much attention on this blog as the more outgoing Jacoby, the sillier Alfred, the stout Izaak, and the wild free spirited Lorelai…but she’s the oldest member of our cat family, and whilst she may not seek out the spotlight the way the others do…she’s important.

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We love you, Angel!

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“Great. Now can I enjoy my sunshine in peace?”

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 – 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 – 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 – 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…

Aby-a-Day – 3 December: A little holiday cheer (Hipstamatic Monday)

Usually by this time, I have all the Christmas decorations up. But because we have to get some new wiring installed in the wall where the Christmas tree is meant to go, we have only put our Swedish Jul candles in our windows so far.

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Tonight, Jacoby was sitting in the window next to the candles washing his face, and it looked so festive, I thought I’d take some Hipstamatic snaps just for fun.

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Since I always take the Hipstamatic photos on the randomizer (you shake your phone and the app randomly selects the film and lens), there’s always a chance of getting black and white film…which is kind of a downer when you’re trying to get a festive holiday shot.

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But sometimes, it really works.

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Then there are the miraculous happy accidents betwixt film and lens. This one looks like the Northern Lights are shimmering in the night sky outside the window.

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And in this shot, Jake looks like he’s in a snowglobe. Now that’s festive!

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I love this one…not sure why, but I find it entrancing.

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It’s rather magical, some of the things that you capture with Hipstamatic.