December and Christmas itself can be very stressful. The preparations and planning can be particularly challenging if you feel like everything needs to be perfect. At our house we've often gathered most of the family for Christmas Eve – and we have a big family. Having all of us together is incredibly cozy. The farmhouse is buzzing with life and we love the atmosphere of it all. But to be honest, it's tiring as well – probably mostly because I have certain expectations of myself about what our house should like, which food should be served and what decorations need to be made. Because it's customary...
Last year we spent Christmas Eve in our small summerhouse for the first time. It was a very special experience. A lot of things are kind of a given when you celebrate Christmas away from home. Space is a little tight up there so can't fit too many people. There's five of us and then my parents along with my sister and her husband made it a party of nine. That's all we can fit this time of year. I couldn't clean, cook or put up decorations in advance here. We only just got there on December 23. We brought along a single Christmas decoration in the car, a string of lights and a few ornaments, mostly for the tree. We had planned and shopped for a slightly more simplified version of our usual Christmas dinner. Somehow it seemed alright in a different way to have everything be a little more relaxed in these surroundings. We actually ended up spending a lot of the time going for long walks, playing board games with the kids and hanging out in the hot tub. Here we were, out in the woods on the Himmerland peninsula, in 100 °F water under a clear and frosty sky on December 23, Christmas candies and glasses of gløgg in hand. What a life! On the day of Christmas Eve, I couldn't set the table in advance like I usually do. In fact, there was so little room that we couldn't even put the food on the table and we didn't have enough serving plates either so dinner was served buffet style in the kitchen.
We did spend quite a lot of time on one task: finding a tree. We planned to cut down a tree from our own large forest property. "It's full of Christmas trees," Lars said. "It's much cozier to cut down a tree from our own property." Turns out we hadn't really taken a very close look at those trees. They were all warped and crooked. We did finally choose one – which even that same night was named the world's ugliest Christmas tree, its branches long and poky with parts bare and overall very crooked. But it's a tree that we'll never forget and we've had some good laughs about it ever since. Somehow it took on a personality and we had fun with pretending that the tree shouldn't overhear us speaking badly about it or see us laughing at it.
So here's my recommendation to try spending Christmas in a new way. That Christmas was stress-free – it was all cozy family time. This year we're getting the whole family together again for big Christmas Eve. Only this time around, I've lowered my expectations a bit and intend to try to enjoy everything a bit more. I actually think they'll enjoy lending a hand to set the table and cook dinner after we all take a nice, long walk in the woods.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to you! /Vivian