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.
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.
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!