Okay, I promise I won’t start this post with “how has October come and gone already, this year is flying by so fast!” but I guess, by saying I won’t, I allowed myself to do it anyway. October’s been a strange and busy month, with lots of traveling, a lot of assignments and uni work and thankfully, some wonderful moments with good friends. The weather has also made it perfectly clear that we’re reaching the last months of the year now, as the winter coat has been dusted off and there are no valid reasons to not put on mittens and a hat before leaving the house. Secretly, I’m really here for it.
October has brought along:
Two trips back and forth between home-home and uni-home
My mum’s birthday and thus a lot of cake, lovely food and family time
Some wonderful bonding time with my little nephew
Oliver’s baptism – which was a fairytale in itself
A lovely trip to the place my sister’s husband is from and getting to know his family better
Learning a new craft! (It’s called Hardangersøm, a type of traditional Norwegian embroidery, and I love it!)
A lot of beautiful concert experiences at The Church Music Festival in the Cathedral
A lot of studying, assignment work and exam revision
Some very productive study sessions with Trine, plus a lovely weekend with her lovely family
Halloween spent binging Netflix-shows and eating all the sweets that no children came to collect
Her mother threw birthday parties on rationing cards, dressed three children in the living room curtains, and sent them to bed with a kiss on the forehead. Her father lived only in the stories, the captain that went down with his ship, the war hero.
Sixteen years later she stepped ashore where her father set sail, trying steps after crossing the ocean that took him, three dresses and a Bible in a tattered suitcase. Governess by day, she told tales of foreign forests before sending new children off with a forehead kiss, Lady in the evenings, at Dr Flemming’s dinner parties, keeping her kisses to her chest like cards.
When the words for hands and home and country were of no use anymore, they slowly slipped away.
Sixty years later, I get off the plane in the country she no longer remembers. Her memories are smoke signals no one can read, but I look to the sky to try anyway.
When I reach the sea, I put my hand in the water, I feel the cold against my skin, how it circles my fingers, my palm.
In a pocket with fraying edges I’ve still got her rationing card.
The sound of family that haven’t seen each other for too long fills the living room. Bright smiles, Christmas socks and the smell of gingerbread cookies in the oven. Gingerbread dough is snuck into mischievous mouths, tongues stuck out at whoever dares point it out – quick fingers coated in flour and butter, sticky but sweet tasting, just how these December days are supposed to be. It’s the annual family gingerbread day, where we bake enough cookies to carry us through the winter; when the house smells like cinnamon and cloves and ginger and dark, shining syrup; when the stereo churns out Christmas song after Christmas song, every single one linked to a memory, a party, an evening or just a moment.
Worries about presents and that last exam are gone as the third musician of the night sings songs about chestnuts and fires and Jack Frost nipping at noses.
These Christmas traditions are things we all share. The Christmas Crazy that sets in every December 1st and makes young and old suddenly crave satsumas and mulled wine and all the other things you never even think about during the other eleven months of the year. The Christmas Crazy that sometimes leaves you running about endless shopping centres, but just as often reminds you to sit quietly by the window to listen to the whispers of snow gently falling.
Eleven people are gathered around the table, cups of coffee and tea are lining the window sills. The table isn’t for coffee cups, the table is for working. There shouldn’t be enough room for everyone to roll out their dough, to stamp out gingerbread angels and stars, but there always is. Around this table, there is room to grow, there is space for everyone. An evening like this one gathers us all, and around this table there is room for quirks, for habits and traditions, for the weird and for the wonderful, for emotions, for the happy.
We sing along, we dot our noses with flour. We taste the cookie dough and revel in the smell wafting from the oven. Everyone’s hard at work, and like every year, Christmas comes running when we invite it in.
Like every year, the magic of the Ginger Bread ensures that the Christmas fairytale stops by our house too. Like every year, the Christmas Crazy ensures that Christmas hangs up its coat and takes off its shoes, and makes itself proper at home.