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!

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Glory days

I have no words to describe the complete and utter beauty of a true Norwegian summer. Long, sunny days spent lounging around the various lawns of our friends and family, followed by equally long, cozy evenings spent sitting around the picnic tables and feeding troughs of the same.

Such idyllic summers don’t happen every year in Norway, but when they do decide to make an appearance…

YES. A thousand times… YES.

Enjoy!

No fence is tall enough to keep this boy from his ice cream.

No fence is tall enough to keep this boy from his ice cream.

Per Christian gets his first guitar from Uncle C.

Per Christian gets his first guitar from Uncle C.

The downside of simultaneously having a 2-year-old in the house and train tracks nearby.

The downside of simultaneously having a 2-year-old in the house and train tracks nearby.

Boys... rocks... enough said.

Boys… rocks… enough said.

No, Tante Eline, you press THIS one!

Nei, Tante Eline, you press THIS one!

Farfar introduced his plane-crazy grandson to the world of Merlins (which he lived to regret at 7am every morning)

Farfar introduced his plane-crazy grandson to the world of Merlins (something he came to regret at approximately 7am every morning).

Nothing beats a snooze in the fresh sea air.

Nothing beats a snooze in the fresh sea air.

More boat time with the two uncles.

Norwegian-style driving lessons with the two uncles.

A wonderful day with the animals and rides at Dyrparken, just outside Kristiansand.

We spent a wonderful day with the animals and rides at Dyrparken, just outside Kristiansand.

Look, Momma... I'm adorable!

Look, Momma… I’m adorable! (And no, I do NOT need a hair cut!)

Cheeky bugger learned early how to cut the line for train rides.

Cheeky bugger learned early how to cut the line for train rides.

TRAIN! TRAIN! TRAIN! (Seriously, how can a little person physically generate so much noise?!)

TRAIN! TRAIN! TRAIN! (Seriously, how can a little person physically generate so much noise?!)

Tractor rides came in a close second to train rides.

Tractor rides come in a close second place to train rides (especially if Oliver is on board).

Fevik beach, where we spent our early mornings while the rest of the house was still sleeping

Fevik beach, where Momma and her Noise Machine spent some early mornings.

Cool enough for a long shirt in the morning...

Cool enough for a long shirt at first…

... but quickly warm enough for bathing suits

… but quickly warm enough for bathing suits!

The lovely Norwegian coastline and quiet beach

The lovely Norwegian coastline and quiet local beach.

Typical summer day in Fevik...

Just a typical summer day with our Fevik family…

... and typical Fevik-style entertainment.

… and typical Fevik-style entertainment.

Per Christian continues his auspicious musical education.

Per Christian continues his auspicious musical education.

The annual Fevik White Party begins!

The annual Fevik White Party begins!

The much-adored Uncle Per Fredrik.

The much-adored Uncle Per Fredrik.

Quick! Take a picture while his clothes are still white!

Quick! Snap a picture while his clothes are still white!

Ooops! Too late.

Ooops! Too late.

Thank you to all the friends, family, grandparents, chaperones, drivers and fellow revelers who made this summer holiday so wonderful. We’ve been incredibly blessed to take a slice of Norwegian summer back with us to Gran Canaria… until next year!