I wanted to start this post by making a confession. (and also with a warning that my “m” key is on the fritz, so please forgive typos)
I don’t think I’m qualified to be a blogger. Especially when it comes to things like “insert-holiday-here in Sweden” posts. The first thing is, I’m sort of a weirdo. My holiday traditions are probably at least a little different from normal holiday traditions in the states, considering that I’m not Christian, and my family is really weird. I don’t really identify with a lot of the things that make Americans American. The second thing is also that I’m sort of a weirdo. I tend to like to keep to myself, and my close friends and family (not a lot of whom live nearby) so I haven’t actually had a lot of contact with Swedes in Sweden. So I feel understandably rather ill-equipped to write about the contrasts between American and Sweden society.
So why do I even feel compelled to write those posts? Why don’t I just skip ’em? The truth is, I feel a bit left-out. I’m an American living in a foreign country, and not a whole lot of people understand what that feels like. The ones that do are the other ex-pats, the ones with blogs who also write the words that I feel like I could’ve written, and these other ex-pat bloggers also write funny, insightful posts about how the culture and traditions of their adopted country are different from those of their home country. I want to join in, but feel woefully lacking in my familiary with either of my countries. I sometimes feel much less like an American in Denmark (Sweden still, actually) than I do a Nervous Wreck in Any Old Place.
I think my social-anxiety angst is starting to get away from me a little bit here, so let’s bring it back. I started this blog, determined not to deterine a theme. I knew a lot of it would be about living away from America, but I also love knitting, and baking, and have found an outlet to write about the other occasional things that interest me. I know that when I have kids, it’ll become a mommy blog of sorts, and I know that by being so miscellaneous I might not attract as many readers (what are the chances that any one person is interested in exactly the many things I choose to write about) but in the end, this blog has been for me. I started it knowing that this was going to be a hard transition in my life and I’ve met people and found support through the people reading my blog, and the blogs that I read. So it’s not really an expat blog (though we have a lot of the same issues). It’s just a blog, and when I write about Halloween in Sweden, I don’t really have the expertise to write about how Halloween is celebrated differently here, when it started to become more popular, or exactly how Halloween was celebrated in the states.
All I can tell you is that when I was little, we wore our costumes under our winter coats as our dad drove us around the countryside in the dark where at each house we got a little goodie bag filled with candy because the houses were so few and far between that they could do that. There was that one house that gave out cans of soda and bags of chips, and the one that always gave out full-sized candy bars. We had bins of old dress-up clothes and makeup in the attic, and a week before Halloween (after much begging) our dad would drag the down and we’d spend hours wrecking the living room and patching together costumes out of clothing that was too-big and too-small, clip-on plastic ties shaped like fish, the three wigs–one dark, (known secretly to me as Papa hair), one rainbow, and one plain old “old man,” and the witch’s hat which I was always worried would get ruined before I was big enough to wear it.
That was my childhood Halloween. Now I’ve grown up and moved to Sweden, and while I’m not celebrating perhaps, as the Swedes do, I will still write about our Halloween. The more I think about it, the more I realize that it’s not the very general traditions that make holidays special. It’s the weird ones that are specific to our own celebrations with the ones we love. Going trick-or-treating is all well and good, but what made Halloween special to me was getting home, dumping all of our candy on the kitchen table and sorting it together (into things like “chocolate” “chewy” and “hard”), something that not every family does.
So this Halloween, I decided to bake a Halloween cake! I even made chocolate Halloween-themed decorations! Unfortunately, it’s dark at 5 now, so the cake wasn’t done in time to get any good photos, so I made do!
I surprised Andreas with this when he got home, and we had a super hyggelig evening. We watched The Spiderwick Chronicles (spooky enough!) by candlelight, ate cake and candies, and even had a couple of cute trick-or-treaters for whom we wrangled up a few Werther’s Originals and a roll of Haribo gummies. It was really a perfect night, and considering I’ve been a bit in the dumps lately, it was really refreshing. I’m sure it was a relief for Andreas to see me cheered up a bit, and I’m hoping I can ake the Halloween magic last!