Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Widow's Christmas

Christmas used to be very Swedish for me--Swedish food and decorations as started by my 100 % Swedish mother. Dad was 1/2 Swedish and 1/2 Norwegian so we could expect things like Potatiskorv (potato sausage) that Mom would get from a delicatessen in California. Pepparkakor cookies were always a delight at Christmas. There were other things that my brothers and I sort of were forced to eat, but didn't like.

However, the Swedish decorations I grew up with were important. If I were decorating for Christmas as I did last year while my husband was alive, there would be plenty of Swedish. And after all, there are plenty of evidences of Sweden in my family room and in my kitchen throughout the year.  Some of the Swedish items are mainly displayed in the pictured corner cabinet. I do not have a husband now to decorate for and I am out of town. (There are a few wreaths on the front windows, however.)

The year after my mother passed away, my father was in the hospital at Christmas. I went to the hospital cafeteria and got my lunch and brought it to my Dad's room and we both cried because Mom was gone. That ideal Swedish Christmas was forever gone when my mother passed away. Usually every year I try to have a Swedish Christmas, more or less.

My first husband was in a Miami hospital one Christmas following surgery. On December 26 I called his hospital room and he was out of breath; I called the hospital and rushed there. I was not allowed in his room while a team was trying to revive him. But he died of a heart attack--the day after Christmas. They say your "firsts", your first holiday, after your loved one dies will be hard. I know this, so this year I am at my brother's home because . . .

Fortunately I have wonderful, welcoming family in Huntsville, Alabama and have spent maybe a dozen Christmases with my brother's family over the years. My niece and nephew have their own families now and I love seeing their children that live nearby.

I have asked my family what they want if I pass away.

"We want the Swedish decorations," they say. 

I am happy to pass these on. I realize that I have had more Swedish Christmas traditions than the average home in the actual country of Sweden. 

Jessica Lidh writes:HERE
For decades, my family has celebrated Christmas the same way, every year. I grew up listening to my grandmother tell me, “This is how the Swedes do it, how your relatives did it. So this is how we do it.” It didn’t really matter to me that my grandmother is actually a second-generation Swedish-American and not truly Swedish. (In fact, my closest relative to celebrate a legitimate Swedish Christmas would be my great-great-grandparents, who came to America in the late 1800s.) What mattered was the fact that we were replicating the traditions and customs of my ancestors, my roots, my people. 
This is how my family celebrates Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we have dinner, complete with Swedish meatballs, lingonberry preserves, ham and Swedish prayer followed by an evening service at my grandparents’ Lutheran church. On Christmas morning we open presents from Santa, and eat a Swedish brunch of potatiskorv (potato sausage) and äggröra (egg gravy). 
We saw the new movie "Annie" here in Huntsville and I cried at the end. I do not know why I cried:  is because I am a widow that I cried, or if it is because I was happy that Annie found a new home? Tears of a widow are complicated. I think of the Christmas song, I'll Be Home for Christmas, and I guess home for me might be  Huntsville, Alabama--not Plant City, Florida. I expect I will move to Huntsville sooner or later.

I prepared for this Christmas. I sent out greetings early. I mailed gifts early and even mailed some of my clothes there so I didn't have to pay for extra luggage on the flight. But it's not just one day, Christmas, but every day I am glad that I have a Christian faith. 


Hugs and Merry Christmas,


  1. Actually I have been doing fairly well with this Christmas, other than crying at the movie "Annie". Have anxiety about all that is involved in selling my home and moving. I am praying about moving before I finish my dissertation. A move can help me financially and also it will be great to be by family where I am this Christmas. Stay tuned. Have a blessed holiday!

  2. Carol, I think it is neat that the family would want the Swedish decorations after you pass instead of not wanting to keep them and perhaps the traditions of them. It sounds like it was special times with Christmas when you were growing up and how your mom celebrated the holiday!

    I am glad you are enjoying your time with your family; something so special to be around them any time of the year, but especially at holidays and especially this year for you with the loss of your husband.

    I hope your Christmas is a good one tomorrow!

    Merry Christimas!


    1. Betty, you are my first Christmas morning contact! Thanks so much for the greeting from California to Alabama by magic of the Internet. I love your blog and thank God I have met you.

      I am enjoying being at the home of my brother and his wife, where I have been over the years. In my heart now I want to simplify and move here and yet I do not know what the future holds. I do know WHO holds my future.

      "Teach me to do your will,
      for you are my God.
      May your gracious Spirit lead me forward
      on a firm footing."
      Psalm 143:10 New Living Translation

      Merry Christmas to you and your husband! Praying for your upcoming move.