Norrland Newbie - 'We can do anything!'
Norrland Newbie - 'We can do anything!'

Norrland Newbie – ’Donald Duck?!’

Our newbie, Tisha Cox, is preparing for winter and the holiday season. But what’s all this about Kalle Anka?

As autumn arrived, our kids were beginning to adjust to their new schools. It’s been awe-inspiring to watch their bravery in this new environment. They are steadily learning more Swedish and often teaching me new words. Their teachers have been helpful and welcoming, which has made the transition smooth. Still, it’s a time of change, and that is a reality – but they are doing great, and we couldn’t ask for more.  

Norrland Newbie - 'Donald Duck?!'
The Yule goat is a Scandinavian Christmas symbol and a popular Christmas ornament often found under the Christmas tree. Photograph by Lieselotte van der Meijs/Imagebank Sweden

Now, winter is on its way, and we’re making attempts to prepare. Where we come from, we’re not strangers to winter, but we’re not fooling ourselves into thinking we’ve experienced anything like a winter in the far north of the world. We’ve started shopping for the necessary gear; normal things, such as snow shovels, heavy-duty coats, gloves, and boots, but then there are things like car heaters, reflectors and headlamps – things we’ve never needed before. The dark time of year that’s coming will be something we have never experienced – and so few get to experience it! I remember reading about it when I was young and wondering what it would be like, but never imagining I would actually get to see a dark winter for myself! I’m looking forward to it and hoping to see the northern lights as well!

During recent days, our minds have been mostly occupied with our roof repairs. Unfortunately, it’s been on our minds more than it’s been actual work we’ve gotten done. The rain has kept us from much of what we’d hoped to have accomplished by this point. We’re just waiting for a stretch of clear weather and hoping to get it finished up before too much cold and snow arrive.

Our first holiday season in Sweden is upon us. For us, as Americans, Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday festivities and has been a family tradition we’ve known all our lives. As my husband and I have learned more about the details of its background over the years, we have some mixed feelings about the holiday, but we do still enjoy having a feast, sharing gratitude, and celebrating the harvest time of year.

Since we’re out of country, we decided to have our feast early this year, while our boys are out of school for höstlov. We’re preparing our customary family dishes – a roast chicken with dressing and cranberries (chicken, instead of the more traditional turkey, this year), mashed potatoes, noodles, an assortment of vegetable dishes, with pumpkin pie and brownies for dessert.

We have a lot to be thankful for as always. This year, I’m especially grateful we have made it through the beginning of this major transition of living in a new country. Each day we get up and go about life as if nothing has happened, but the truth is we are going through a gigantic transition. Changing countries is a very humbling experience. So much of what you thought you knew is lost and you begin all over again. Simple things, like speaking, knowing how to be polite, driving, and grocery shopping become awkward learning experiences. But we are making our way through it all and I know we’ll be better for it in the end.

Christmas will be here soon – Jul, I suppose I should say. It will be a little sad being away from our extended family, but I’m sure many of you reading this are also experiencing that feeling at this time of year. We are lucky enough to live in the age of video chats though, so we’ll make good use of them!

I’m hoping to make our first Swedish Christmas feel special and cozy for our family. We bring our own traditions with us, but we’re also looking forward to adopting some Swedish traditions. Perhaps some Julbock decorations, glögg, gift-giving on the 24th, and apparently, erm, Donald Duck? What’s that all about?

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