Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve morning

It is all quiet and dark when I wake up, no sound apart from Zoe's calm breath next to me. I am in my teenage room, the room my parents have converted into guest room and let me and Zoe stay in when we visit. It is full of book cases along each wall, storing my dad's inherited book collection. Each time I am there I discover a new book that I have never seen before and contemplate reading it. I rarely get to read anything here though because Zoe wants my attention 24/7 and because I enjoy my family's company very much; our evenings with coffee and knitting, chocolate and interior magazines and conversations about our lives. I turn to the chair doubling as a side table next to the bed and pick up my phone, hoping not to wake Zoe with the light. It is 6:30 and I see text messages from last night when I went to bed early. Facebook notifications. Nothing important. "I'm on this number" I reply quickly and turn to Zoe. She will sleep for another couple of hours, her 'schedule' is much later when we are here, which I like, I enjoy having her up with us in the evenings although she sometimes gets overtired. I get up, dress quickly into comfortable but warm clothes and go into the living room where a half-decorated Christmas tree is waiting for presents and more decoration. It looks almost pathetic with one side bare and another side of sporadic glass figurines. I start picking out more decoration from the boxes and put them on, poking my fingers on the needles. I remember Zoe's surprised annoyance when she realized that pine trees hurt. She had quickly lost interest in putting any ornaments on the tree after she got poked the third time.

I give up quickly too and take the long walk through the hallway back to the kitchen. My parents' apartment is one of the 1890s upper class European apartments with all the period features intact: The kitchen in the way back, the maid's room behind the kitchen, the dining room with an oval wall and a bathroom that has been renovated because all it was initially built with was a narrow wash room with a sink and a tub. Toilets were downstairs in the back yard. Even the little buttons in each room for calling the maid are still there although the only one that is still working is the front door. I make myself a cup of coffee, the nutty one, with their nespresso machine. I still cannot use the large restaurant-grade Italian espresso maker that my mom has, or perhaps I just know that my coffee would never live up to her creations.

I take the coffee back to the sitting room, another room from the living room, one next to my dad's office which was originally the "gentleman's room". It is 7 am now. Still pitch black outside and no sound from anywhere. This is my Christmas eve morning. To a Scandinavian this is the same a Christmas morning is to the rest of the (Christian) world. We celebrate the evening of the 24th and today is the magic day. Presents have been wrapped, food prepared. I am not sure how much Zoe understands yet but this will probably be her first 'real' Christmas. Her vocabulary has expanded rapidly the past week: juletrae (Christmas tree), rensdyr (reindeer), julemanden (Santa Claus), julepynt (christmas decoration), just to mention a few. I suspect she knows the words in English too but haven't checked not to confuse her.

In an hour or so I will go and wake her up. We have so many things to do. We have to wrap the last present, put them all under the Christmas tree. We have to make 'konfekt', the marzipan and chocolate pieces that are an integrated part of Danish Christmas. We will watch the Disney show on television, the very same show they broadcast each year on this day. And tonight we will eat duck, potatoes and cranberry sauce, the latter being an inspiration from my many years in the US, no Dane would know what that is. We will light the candles on the Christmas tree and sing songs before handing out presents. I am so happy that I get to spend this day with Zoe and I get teary eyed when I think about how she is sorely missed somewhere else. I cannot even begin to think about next year. I promise myself to take one day at a time. Just like Zoe does.

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