Paula Dubbink ponders about Christmas. Unavoidably, in this merry month.
On Monday November 2nd, I entered the kitchen of my student house to get breakfast and walked straight into a glitter curtain that had been put up in the door opening.
Advent candles were put on the table, and Maria Carey’s voice came from the speakers. “This corridor loves Christmas”, the whiteboard proudly proclaimed.
A typical student house joke and, just as typically, nobody took the effort to remove the decorations the next day. They stayed until Christmas really approached four weeks later.
This could be the start of a rant about how Christmas seems to come earlier every year in this Christmas-crazy country.
How summer hardly seems over and the shelves are filled with julmust. How the stores start selling decorations in October and the advertisements for cheap presents appear six weeks before Santa actually has to deliver them.
But it won’t be that.
I need to write about this month as a phenomenon. When Advent finally really is here, I walk from one julfest into another avslutning and I smell saffron in every corner.
I wonder: why have we collectively decided to jam in so many traditions, delicacies and gatherings in just one month?
Regardless of whether you are believing or secular, a student or an older person, December is filled with activities of coziness and closing off.
It seems that in December, we sense the collective need to keep ourselves busy with rituals that confirm love, community and abundance – which is probably understandable.
While I observe myself and others enjoying all the festivities, I also feel the pressure to simply manage with everything. To go to all the Christmas concerts, while buying the perfect vintage ecologically friendly Christmas gifts and baking my own papperkakor.
It’s like the cover of a food magazine I saw, on which an older man was quoted: “Christmas was always magical, when I was a child.”
Indeed, I thought. As a child Christmas was always magical. And now…it’s just nice. Very nice even, at times.
But it isn’t as perfect as twenty years ago, when I didn’t have any obligations – lots of work to finish before heading off – or expectations – will my knack turn out fine? – and just could let myself be surprised and amazed by everything.
Then I shamefully realized that it actually is a big privilege to have something “magical” to look back upon. For many people, that isn’t the case and for many children, this Christmas will have nothing even slightly magical.
To be slightly stressed about all fun Christmas activities means that we are blessed with much more than the average.
For that reason, I have decided that store-bought pepparkakor will more than do. Because I think that I speak for many when I say that I, after a long and eventful term, am longing for a time of “comfort and joy”. Just a time of unwinding, a time of unconditionally being off.
Comfort and joy – I gladly wish it to my readers as well.