Christmas toothbrushes

Holidays spent abroad are always a mixed bag. Sometimes you get lucky, and you find yourself surrounded by a great group of entrepreneurial-minded friends who manage to make pumpkin pie from scratch. Other times, you find yourself in a new apartment with no furniture, no lights and no idea how to oh-so-politely inquire, “Where the *&(#$!* is my internet line?!” in Turkish.

We Svendsens somewhat unwillingly selected the latter option for Christmas 2013. Per tried to make the best of it by saying we’re having a “camping-style” Christmas, which actually sounds quite cozy and romantic in its own sad little way. Of course, anyone who actually knows my Proscesso-adoring husband knows that camping is the least likely activity for him to pursue ever, anywhere….. but still, his intentions were good.

As for me, I was so depressed on Christmas Eve at the sad state of our cheaply-purchased Charlie Brown tree with no legs and plastic needles disintegrating every second, that I very nearly canceled Christmas.

And then a funny thing happened… It all actually turned out okay.

For beginners, the sun set and the tree (similar to a coyote-inspiring hook-up) didn’t look so bad in the dark.

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Per taped the tree’s legs together and hid the worst of its flaws with well-positioned twinkling lights. I must give credit where it’s due – a Christmas miracle was performed on that tree.

We covered our borrowed hotel dining table with red and green wrapping paper to imitate a festive tablecloth.

We lit candles in the room and the windows and played classic Christmas songs on our cell phones.

Per managed to open a bottle of wine with the back end of his toothbrush.

Our new Turkish neighbors, who hardly even know us, stopped by with a lamp. And then a television. And then a television stand. I remained in the kitchen, cooking and marveling at the wondrous nature of Turkish hospitality.

We got to speak with two sets of grandparents, who both have equally charming/disastrous stories of holidays spent eating off the floor of empty apartments in years gone by.

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Our young, mischievous toddler learned the unrealized potential of the phrase “Christmas presents!” (a skill that, I fear, will not be unlearned for quite some time).

Per opened many, many more bottles of wine with the back end of his toothbrush.

We roasted a chicken and vegetables and potatoes and had lots of fresh fruits and salads and even some “pepperkake” (gingerbread cookies) we miraculously found in a nearby shop.

And we exchanged gifts just as we would anywhere else, and we experienced the same sense of satisfaction as parents everywhere when our kid was more mesmerized with the boxes and the wrapping paper than the actual contents.

In the end, it all turned out okay. We missed our family dearly and still at times had to ward off some depressing thoughts about being alone this holiday season. But, as it turns out, this Svendsen family actually does know a bit about camping.

Just as long as there’s a toothbrush around….

Happy 2014 to all our P&P readers!

The Next Chapter

If I wrote a book about the past few years of my life, it would look something like this:

Chapter 1 – Marguerite Meets her Match: A Love Story with Fruit (aka Per) in Azerbaijan

Chapter 2 – Marguerite Gets Schooled: Beer-Stained Spreadsheets in Oxford

Chapter 3 – Marguerite Moves North: Separating “Titte” from “Tisse” in Norway

Chapter 4 – Marguerite Births Fidel: A History in the Making

Chapter 5 – Marguerite Takes a Time-Out: Adjusting to Mommy-hood in Gran Canaria

And now… !

Chapter 6 – Marguerite Gets Her Groove Back: Moving the Family to Istanbul

Yep. Istanbul. Can and get a “WTF?” from my dear readers, please?

It’s hard to even imagine the changes in store for Family Svendsen as we move from relaxing, peaceful Gran Canaria to the buzz and chaos of Istanbul. But I’m somehow irrationally excited about returning to an urban address after two years of beach living. Most people hear the news and think we’re insane, giving up our easy existence here for a big, fat Turkish-speaking question mark. And I get your point, really I do.

But I have this song running on replay in my head these days, courtesy of living with a two-year-old who adores Winnie the Pooh (and Tigger, too)…

Eeyore: Well I’m not sure.
Tigger: Oh stop that gloomy roomynation
All you need is a little bit of Tiggerization
Tigger: Why wait? Don’t you see it’s gonna be great?
It’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be great!

Strike me down! Give me all ya got!
Bounce me! Trounce me! Flounce me! Pounce me!
Do it! Do it! Do it!
It’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be….

I suppose quoting Tigger is perhaps not the most auspicious beginning for this next chapter of the book called My Life. Maybe my senses are dulled by the fumes of moving boxes already filling the house, or the weariness of researching Istanbul’s numerous neighborhoods online in an effort to focus our impending house hut.

Surely the fact that I’m writing this at 4:36am has nothing to do with it.

But the wheels are set in motion and momentum is building. Over the next month, I’ll be dis-assembling the house we spent two years putting together (which, let’s be honest, mostly involves negotiating with my husband on whether we really need to take that unused cord plug or unwatched DVD with us). And I’ll be emptying the freezer of our totally unnecessary stockpile of food, trying to assure my family that we can live on frozen chicken, peas and beer for a few weeks (plus about 24 bottles of duty-free Prosecco our friends just delivered, but nobody’s complaining about that one.)

And I’ll slowly be saying good-bye to Gran Canaria, a place that looks amazingly attractive now that we’re leaving.

But hey –

It’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be great, it’s gonna be great!