December, that is. When all the magic is created in anticipation of the peek of the year, Christmas, that leads to boredom, emptiness and apathy in the months of January and February…
But lets not run ahead. December is here and we rejoice 🙂
The weather, here in Denmark, decided to make this December even more magical, and the snow arrived precisely on the 1st of the month. Also, the Christmas celebration has officially started all over the country last Friday, when Santa visited all the towns, and lit the holiday lights on the walking streets and on the huge Christmas trees towns have erected. He must have been very busy last Friday 😉 He arrived to Hammel, to “our big city” of few thousands people, only a few kilometers away from our tiny village, at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, in total darkness, and in a fire engine. He was raised high up, so everyone could see him, then turned on the lights of the 15-meters-high Christmas tree. After that a little procession started on the walking street, following a band, dressed up as elves (nisse in Danish), playing Christmas songs. My kids were flabbergasted by the events 🙂
Naturally we also made our little preparations for advent. Saturday evening we all sat around our kitchen table full of all the supplies we could possibly need:
With the help (or in spite of the help 🙂 ) of a 3 and a half-year old, and a 20-month-old, we created our advent wreath, some other christmasy decorations…
and some wreaths to hang on the front door and on the staircase:
And don’t forget the scented candles and Christmas lights, to complete the atmosphere.
So came the morning of the first Sunday of the Advent. My husband went out to shovel some snow, while I was making our usual Sunday-morning treat, heart shaped waffles, this time with a dash of cinnamon in the dough.
This Sunday was not only special because of the advent, it was also special, because we went out to chop our Christmas tree! Yes, that is the Danish country-side way 🙂 Growing up in Budapest, the capital of Hungary, for me picking up the Christmas tree actually meant picking it up with my parents at the market place, trying to pick the most symmetric one (or the least crocked one) from the selection. For my husband, who grew up on a farm, in the middle of a forest, picking up the Christmas tree meant that my father-in-law took him and his sister by the hand, walked into their forest, chose a pine tree, chopped it, and dragged it home. I think we can all feel the difference in the degree of romance and magic of these two kind of traditions 🙂 We would like to give our kids the most magic possible this time of the year, so, just like last year, we decided to chop our own tree. Obviously, since we don’t own a forest, we cannot just walk in one of them and chop someone else’s tree. But luckily there are many pine tree plantations around, where you can just walk in, they provide you with a saw, show you which trees you can choose from, you pick your own, chop it, pay for it (some ridiculously cheap price) and leave.
So we found one of these plantations nearby, and drove in. The owner was not at home when we arrived, but there was a note on the door, and we followed its instructions, grabbed the saw, walked up to the plantation, found the area where you can pick your own tree, and walked around for long minutes in the freezing cold, because Cherry was not very satisfied with the trees. She kept saying that we need to find a girl tree to chop, we cannot choose a boy tree… Anyway, we managed to convince her that we have just found a looot of girl trees, aren’t they beautiful (and they were, haven’t seen so many beautiful, dense, symmetric trees in my life), then we picked one we thought we can fit in the car and our living room, then my husband chopped it and dragged it back to the car. We measured the tree ourselves, left the appropriate amount of money in the postbox, and proudly drove home with our prey 🙂
There are a lot of differences between the Danish and Hungarian Christmas traditions. I might write about them later, but one of them is the time of setting up and decorating the Christmas trees. In Hungary we leave it to the very last moment, it is usually decorated on the 24th, some families, like mine, do it together for the fun, in other families the parents decorate it secretly, while the kids are asleep, saying that the tree itself is a magical gift.
In Denmark Christmas trees are usually set up somewhat earlier. And since we are not going to spend Christmas itself in our own home, we are going to visit both grandparents, we decided to put it up on the first Sunday of the Advent, so we can enjoy the sight of it long enough.
So we rearranged the furniture a little bit in our sitting room, put the tree in the corner, I brought out the decorations, and we all took part in the process. For me a real Christmas tree is completely eclectic, it doesn’t follow any trends or colour schemes, my ideal Christmas tree has all kinds of colours and all kinds of textures on it. You can find crystal or golden designer pieces on it (usually hanging somewhere near to the top, far away from the reach of curious dog noses and sticky baby fingers), but also creasy, messy paper decorations, made by our children. And everything in between 🙂 My husband’s ideal Christmas tree is just like the one Mickey Mouse has in a Disney movie 🙂 So we have about the same concept of it, luckily 🙂 And the kids are just amazed by it, no matter what 🙂 They were also a big help in decorating. Cherry mainly concentrated on the horse shaped decorations, and she made sure they all hang close to each other, since they are close family. Originally she wanted to hang them all on the very same branch, but the poor branch started to fold downwards, and I managed to persuade her to distribute the horses on different branches. However, two of them had to stay together, because they were mum and baby, apparently… 🙂 Paddington instantly found all the car and train shaped decorations, and was happy for the rest of the day, pushing them around the couch, the carpet, and the tree, enthusiastically wrumm-wrumming, while doing so.
So, here it is, our corner before and after the tree:
The tree is standing and is beautiful, we showed it off to all the grandparents (thanks to Skype), and our biggest challenge is to prevent the kids from hurting it or hurting themselves with it. Also, the first dog vs. tree meeting was very exciting too… let me just say this: No-one under the height of 1 meter is allowed to be in the same room as the tree, without adult supervision 🙂
There is nothing left for this post than to welcome you all to our advent, and wish you a very nice, stress-free preparation for Christmas! ‘Cause remember: it is all about coziness now!