Homesick for the Holidays

“You know you’ve been in Norway too long when…A stranger on the street smiles at you and you assume that he is: a) drunk b) insane c) American d) all of the above…”

Just a little something I’ve read many places on the internet about different Scandinavian countries.

These are not happy-go-lucky times in Norway. It’s dark, it’s wet, it’s dark and it’s dark. Yesterday outside the window at work, I watched the streetlamp turn off at 10am and turn back on around 3pm. No wonder people don’t smile up here! Unless your teeth glow in the dark, it just ain’t gonna matter. No one will see your fine attempts at being personable anyway.

Thanksgiving was a particularly dark day. I tried to make it special, I really did. I brought in sweet potato pie cookies for work, made plans for the weekend, many colleagues said Happy Thanksgiving to me….but there’s something to be said about sharing a special day with those who understand its importance. During my time here, I have shamefully made ZERO American friends. My reasoning? I already know plenty of Americans.

Yes, I realized this was a silly way to think as I desperately made my last attempts at finding pumpkin ANYTHING at the new (and only) Starbucks in Bergen.

Me: “Do you have a Pumpkin Spice Latte?”

Barista: “No, only Christmas drinks.”

Me: “But it’s Thanksgiving (and this is an American company for Pete’s sake)!”

Barista: Just a polite smile. And a heart on my cup. Norwegians are so nice.

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I had visited 5 or 6 stores the weekend before. No canned pumpkin. No actual pumpkin. I didn’t even think to save a full pumpkin from Halloween as canned pumpkin is such a staple in America. Growing up, we always had at least one can in our pantry at all times.

While Thanksgiving was quite the dud of a day, Friendsgiving was amazing. Many of my new European friends came to support me in making and eating my traditional feast the Sunday following Thanksgiving. We gobbled up some Norwegian meatballs, homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, tyttebær (lingonberry) jam, peas, a homemade Oreo cake and a sweet potato pie. Had to have an orange pie in there somewhere!1471833_10201830595800131_1579466332_n

I suddenly felt silly for being so glum on Thanksgiving when I had so many new friends to be thankful for! They have taught me so much and are always so patient when I am just NOT understanding why some things are the way they are here. I’m living in a beautiful country with such kindhearted people. This is bar-none the best experience I’ve had in my life and I am so thankful to all of you who helped make this happen.

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Since Europe doesn’t have Thanksgiving to separate Halloween from Christmas, as soon as those spooky ghosts come down the Christmas trees go up! I was celebrating Lysfesten (The Festival of the Lights) before a single bite of stuffing hit my mouth! The festival was complete with friends, carols, fireworks, and torches. Not candles. Torches. Along with umbrellas of course. Velkommen til Bergen. The city where you need to take your umbrella to go see the fireworks. Despite the pouring down rain, a truly festive feeling of Christmas filled Bergen.

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It was already beginning to look like Christmas, but then a snow storm rolled in last weekend and with it, a little piece of Lombard. Stephanie, my friend teaching English in Spain, arrived despite the many cancelled flights. Unfortunately, her bag did not. I do have to think it’s a conspiracy, because in that bag there was canned pumpkin with my name on it. It’s not like hundreds of people were missing their luggage last Friday night…..

In spite of the lost luggage woes, we had a fantastic time. We walked in a winter wonderland, trudged up a mountain, hung out with some trolls, saw some plundering, chilled in a cave and snacked on some typical Norwegian food…kebabs. We made friends with a cat and a dog, on different occasions of course, and saw a boat house…not a house where you would keep boat stuff… but a house, shaped like a boat.DSCN0524ImageImageDSCN1764

It was a short weekend trip with Steph and I was sad to see her go. But lucky for me! I get to see her again soon as I take my next adventure to Spain. It will be a Feliz Navidad for sure.

God Jul to you all.

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