Sunday 23 December
As each day passes in Oslo, I start to feel more and more at home, both with the family and with myself. Christmas in Norway is truly a special time which I’ll attempt to describe in due course.
The morning started off with a Norwegian style breakfast, where you choose different types of bread (slices, oven rolls or lefse) and add whichever ingredients are available. This can range from thinly sliced meats, including ox, lamb and ham, to spreads such as brunost, homemade raspberry or apple jam.
It wasn’t until later that evening that we were on the move again. This time, I had been invited to a birthday party! It was a very casual and light hearted event, with beers and pizza served around a table with some extended family members. There were a few Danish people as well and everyone was all very welcoming and happy to get to know me a little. It was really fun seeing the sorts of presents the host received, hopefully I get that little bit of edge in figuring out what to get my friends for future birthday or Christmas events.
The dining table was then moved to the side of the room and the typical Norwegian Christmas tree (recall: vertical tinsel and Norwegian flags) was centred to the middle. There I managed to experience something every Norwegian kid gets to do around Christmas time: sing around and dance around the tree! We sang songs like så går vi rundt om en enebærbusk, jeg gikk meg over sjø og land, Jingle Bells, Silent Night and a few other songs which I was less familiar with. Despite knowing fewer lyrics to the English carols than the Norwegian ones, it was a whole lot of fun!
After all the dancing, laughter and smiles, we sat back down and dessert was served. There was a very delicious orange chocolate cake served along with various cookies and bits of chocolate. Drinks included aquavit, whisky and of course, black coffee. The newest food to make an appearance was the klementin, or mandarin in English. They’re light, easy to eat and work well as a social food, on top of being good for you!
After saying our thanks and goodbyes, it was time to head to our next Christmas event. The snowfall during the drive back to the other side of the Oslo was heaviest I’ve ever seen, and I would probably be too scared to even think about taking the wheel myself. We passed a few huge snow plough trucks which scraped snow off the lanes of the highway every once in a while, and the lines on the road were impossible to see but every car seemed to know their place. Apparently it’s just a matter of experience, but snow to me is still something I’m getting used to.
My friend and I then made ourselves present at the last few hours of a huge family Christmas extravaganza. There were well over sixty or so guests who had come along to share dinner, stories and good company. Ribbe had been served (I shall explain what this dish is tomorrow), and dessert and black coffee had already been passed around. I had the opportunity to speak with a few of the adults who approached me, a little curious as to whom I was. They were all very attentive to hearing out my story and why I had decided to come to Norway. Everybody I spoke to was as usual, warm and welcoming and they all made me feel “in place”.
Time flew and by the end of the night, there was hardly anybody remaining. It was time to call it a night! Since the family friend’s house was close to home, we just walked back. Although it was snowing, it was really fun for me to wade through the ankle high powder while talking about everything and nothing with my friend. Along the way, he shared some interesting stories about the area (for example, he explained why the area Lillestrøm in which I was staying was named as it was).
We finally arrived home and shared a cup of tea with the father. There he presented us some early Norwegian presents inside a stocking. Of course, we weren’t allowed to look until the following morning. My friend, whose stocking had his name patched on the bottom, still had the same one since childhood. The father said he wanted to place my presents in the one he had since childhood, which I thought was a really thoughtful thing to say. Without looking, I brought the big red sock and hung it on the door to my room until the very next morning…