How lovely are thy branches

My new Christmas tree ornament this year: an teeny mini wooden horse in bright pink!! 💖🦄💖🦄💖🦄💖. I love it! 💖🎄💖☺️

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Fairy Tale Christmas

This is my Advent Calendar for this coming December. It has 24 little doors counting down to Christmas. I absolutely adore it and I can’t wait to see what is behind the doors! 😃☃️🧚🏼‍♀️❄️

The most beautiful Christmas Tree

It was a few days before Christmas and the school holidays had begun. The streets and the trees were covered in snow and the whole world seemed ready for Christmas. In one red and white house two children, a little girl about seven and a boy three years older, were eagerly anticipating Christmas. They were so eagerly anticipating that their father was losing his mind and to get them out of the house he told them that they could go into the forest and find one small Christmas tree each to have in their rooms. The two children were ecstatic! They had never before been allowed to have their own tree! The boy was given a small ax and a saw and was sternly told to be careful. He nodded obediently and took his little sister’s hand and together they disappeared into the white and green forest. They walked for a while hand in hand before the little girl exclaimed: Look! Look, there is the perfect tree right there! She pointed to a tall spruce with dense branches covered in snow. Her brother shook his head. “No, no that is too big.” But the little girl wouldn’t take no for an answer so he gave in like he always did when his sister really wanted something. The tree was heavy to carry, but between them they managed. Now it was the boy’s turn to pick one. He didn’t want to let his sister outcompete him so he chose a tree slightly bigger than hers. This tree was even heavier to carry, and the two little children really struggled to get home. The snow seemed to have gotten even deeper since they left their house and they kicked and breathed hard up the hill to their home.

When they finally made it home their father was waiting for them, but when he saw the trees they were carrying his face changed from anticipation to anger. “ I told you to find a small tree each for your rooms! These trees are even too big to fit in our living room!” he shouted angrily. The children’s faces fell. “ But daddy, these were the best trees in the forest!” said the little girl. But when they tried to fit the trees in their rooms they saw that their father had been right. They were much too big. “ Okay, this is what we will do,” said the father after he had calmed down a bit, “We will cut a bit off the bottom of the smallest tree and keep it in the living room as our family tree, the other one will become firewood.”

The boy hung his head a bit, he was disappointed to see his beautiful tree becoming firewood, but his sister smiled from ear to ear knowing that it was her tree that would adorn the living room on Christmas Eve beautifully decorated for all the guests to see. When Christmas Eve finally came the little girl proudly told her grandparents, her cousins and all her uncles and aunts that it was she who had fetched this year’s tree in the forest. Her father, a bit embarrassed, confirmed her story, and they all agreed that that year’s Christmas tree was the most beautiful tree they had ever seen.

This is a true story about my brother and I and one of our childhood Christmases in Norway.

All the illustrations are by the magical Lisi Martin.

The Littlest Santa Claus

When I was a little girl I firmly believed in Santa Claus, or “Julenissen “ as we call him in Norway. But being a very informed and sensible child with a strong sense of logic, I did not buy into the idea of one man delivering presents to all the children of the world in one night, and in a sleigh pulled by reindeer? No, that was definitely NOT plausible. Besides, most of my presents came from my parents and family, and I also knew for a fact that many kids did not receive gifts for Christmas. Our neighbors were Jehova’s Witnesses, and those children certainly did not get any presents. So how could I believe in Santa then? Well, I had heard the legend of Saint Nicholas who gave presents to all the poor children and how his spirit inspired the idea of Santa Claus. I also knew about the Scandinavian Nisse, the little gnome who lived on farms and demanded porridge every Christmas Eve, otherwise he would not help take care of the animals and the farm and would rather make a ruckus of everything. So I decided that Santa Claus was a spirit, a Christmas spirit, that inspired generosity, kindness and compassion, and that anyone who became bearers of these characteristics could truthfully call themselves Santa Claus, therefore, Santa Claus existed, and anyone adopting the role with a pure heart became Santa. So that is what I did one Christmas Eve. I became Santa Claus.

I was probably about 8-9 years old and was the middle child in the flock of cousins. I had one older cousin plus my older brother and three younger cousins, and I was particularly fond of the two youngest boys who were just 3 and 5 years old. I had pleaded with my mother to let me be Santa Claus on Christmas Eve the whole month of December, and she had finally given in, saying it would be the littlest Santa anyone had ever seen. But that did not stop her from going all out buying me a red furry coat, a red top hat, fake beard and glasses ( I had never liked those horrible plastic masks). On Christmas Eve, right after dinner while the men were having coffee and cognac and the women were doing the dishes, I excused myself saying I had to use the bathroom, and snuck down in the basement where my costume was hidden. I was giggling the whole time, I was so excited to try out my long practiced North Pole accent, and to see the faces of the little kids as I asked them if they had been good that year. I stuffed my Santa suit full of pillows, tucked the beard into my red top hat and tried out my Ho! Ho! Ho! one last time before ascending the staircase with my huge old sack filled with presents. I felt…magical! In that moment I really was Santa Claus! I checked myself before firmly knocking on the living room door while asking with my deep and heavily accented voice: «Er det noen snille barn her?» Which means: Are there any good children here? As soon as I entered, the adults started chuckling quietly, and the little kids looked at me very suspiciously, but my older cousins played along and convinced the little ones that it really was Santa visiting. I handed out the presents while putting on quite the show, telling stories from the North Pole and doing my belly laugh every time someone accepted a present. When my sack was empty I wished them all a very merry Christmas and told them I had to get back to my reindeer waiting in the forest (I knew the little kids would check the roof through the ceiling window if I said they were on the roof) before I hunched down under the weight of my five pillows and exited the living room, waving and Ho! Ho! Ho’ing! the whole time. I climbed down the stairs and headed out in the snow through the front door while chiming a cow bell my mother had given me. The kids were watching me through the window as I disappeared into the dark snowy forest. I am not sure the grown-ups were quite aware of this part of the performance, but they didn’t stop me. I waited five minutes before I headed back to the house. As soon as I came into the living room I exclaimed disappointedly: Has Santa already been here? The small boys nodded and handed me my present from Santa. “oh, darn,” I said “Typical I had to go to the bathroom and miss the whole thing!” I heard lot of subdued laughter from the adults, but they all played along telling me I had missed a great show! I smiled to myself and thought happily: I knew it, anyone can be Santa Claus, even a quite small girl with fake beard and five pillows stuffed under her sweater!

* The beautiful artwork above is done by the magical Lisi Martin.

Pettersson und Findus – Das schönste weihnachten überhaupt (Pettersson and Findus)

“Pettersson and Findus” is a German Christmas film from 2016 based on the Picture book series “Pettson and Findus” by the beloved Swedish author Sven Nordqvist.
This lovely little film is a combination of live action and animation done so beautifully that even the adults will for a second forget that it is not really real. The movie, despite being German, has that beautiful Scandinavian old-fashioned charm with shabby wooden furniture painted blue, wool and felt clothing, home-weaved rugs, and of course the typical red and evergreen Christmas.

Pettersson and Findus is definitely a film for the smallest children, but adults can enjoy the little details the kids won’t pick up, like the atmospheric sceneries, the vintage interior decor and the overall sweet and cozy charm. This movie is, to me, the very definition of the Scandinavian concept of Hygge.

The story is about farmer Pettersson who lives alone with his cat Findus in a little cottage in the Swedish countryside. It is the day before Christmas and Findus has decided that this is going to be the best Christmas ever. It is up to Pettersson to make this wish come true. But Pettersson has one problem, he is not very good at accepting help, so when he falls and sprains his foot, it is looking rather bleak for Findus and his dream Christmas. Will Findus be able to convince Pettersson to accept the help he needs or will he have to come to terms with the fact that this Christmas might not become everything he has dreamed it to be.

I love the humble lessons in this film, how we must learn to not just help others, but also accept help ourselves sometimes. And how the biggest magic is often not the kind you can buy for money, but is rather found in the wonders and splendor of nature and in the love of friend.

This magical film is, as mentioned before, best suited the smallest children, but adults with a special love for Christmas, vintage and nostalgia will definitely love it too. To me, this film is a breath of fresh air in an industry dominated by commercialism and sameness. If you want to watch something different than your regular Christmas blockbusters I definitely recommend this gem of a film.

Of course, five out of five stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

P.S This movie is available on Netflix 🎅🏼❤️🎅🏼❤️🎅🏼❤️

A Child’s Life at Sea Part 3

‘Did the soldiers really hide in here, daddy?’ ‘Sure did, honey. They used these tunnels to move unseen underground when there was an attack. If you follow the tunnel to the end you will find a lookout post with a canon pointed to the horizon.’ ‘Did they really shoot the bad guys, daddy.’ ‘They had to, honey, there was a war and if they didn’t protect our country, innocent people would die.’ I stare at my father. ‘Did you fight in the war, daddy?’ My father laughs. ‘No, sweetie, the war was long before I was born.’ I feel a little disappointed, I really wanted my dad to be a hero. ‘Come on!’ complains my brother, ‘let’s go inside!’

We are on a small island on the south coast, known to be one of the many military bases during the Second World War. Our boat is docked by the stone pier, and my father has taken me and my brother up to see the tunnels carved deep into the mountain. They go on for kilometers and have no natural, or any other form, of light. But my father has brought a flashlight. My brother is already on his way into the pitch black tunnel. I take my father’s hand and we follow him.

There is water dripping from the ceiling of the tunnel and it makes an eerie drip-drop sound that echoes far into the deep. My father switches on the flashlight, but all we can see is black wet slippery stone walls, uneven and bumpy. The ground is also wet. Our plip-plop footsteps bounce off the wall and disappear into the deep, only to return as a hollow mimic of themselves ten seconds later. The sound makes me think of ghosts dragging their skeleton feet on the ground. My brother seems to think the same because he whispers in my ear: ‘I bet it’s haunted! Soldiers must have died in here, you know.’ I shiver and all of a sudden I feel very cold. I grip my father’s hand tighter. We walk further and further in.

‘If the tunnel collapses now, we’ll be dead,’ whispers my brother. And even though I am sure my father can’t hear him, he just adds to the horror be saying out loud: ‘well kids, we have reached the point of no return. We are further from the entrance than we are from the exist.’ I swallow hard. The flashlight flashes a couple of times, and both my brother and I jump. ‘Hold on, let me just…’ My father lets go off my hand to adjust the batteries in the flashlight. Then all of a sudden it goes completely dark. I want to scream, but for some reason I seem to have lost my voice. My brother on the other hand has not. He lets out a roar, fit for a lion. ‘Daaaaaaaad, what’s going on?’ There is no answer. I desperately reach out for my father’s hand, but it is not there. He is gone. My father is gone, and with him: the flashlight.

To be continued…

A Child’s Life at Sea – Part 1

My brother bangs the side of his cot as a huge wave crashes into the wooden side of the boat and soon after my little round-shaped window is submerged in water. The boat, in which we are sleeping, or are supposed to be sleeping in, topples over and my brother holds on for dear life as he is pushed by the mere force of the ocean towards the edge of his cot. We both laugh out loud and I shout in excitement: It’s like being rocked in a huge cradle! ‘ Yeah, ‘ adds my brother, ‘ or a hammock!’ We both giggle at that, and soon it is my turn to be hurled over sideways by King Neptune. But it is then that I feel it. It sneaks up on me like a mischievous current, but when it starts pushing its way through there is no going back. I cringe. But I have to go, it’s impossible to pretend my way out of it. ‘ Daaaaaaad!! I have to pee!’ I shout. My father soon appears in the tiny wooden door separating our sleeping quarters from the deck. ‘ You really really have to?’ My father sighs. I nod my head apologetically. ‘ Okay, but you can’t go to the bathroom in this weather. To sea is too rough.’ The bathroom is all the way on the other side of the boat. ‘ But I HAVE to go!’ I insist. My father looks thoughtful, but then he smiles and disappears. He is, however, soon back. With a bucket. He places the bucket on the floor next to my cot. ‘ If you can’t go to the toilet, I bring the toilet to you,’ he says and smiles. I giggle as I worm my way out of my sleeping bag and slowly climb down from the cot. ‘ Incoming!!’ Shouts my brother, and I brace myself. Luckily the floor is not much larger than the bucket so it still remains standing up when the wave hits. I can’t stop giggling as I squat over the bucket. When I am done my father collects the bucket. ‘ Are you gonna throw the pee in the sea?’ Teases my brother. My father ignores him. Relived I climb back into my cot, still giggling a bit. ‘ My sister peed in a bucket! My sister peed in a bucket!’ My brother makes his voice into a sing-song rhyme, and I stick my tongue out at him. But I am giggling too much to make an angry face. And soon we are back playing our wave-game again. It is a seven hour crossing. I can hear my mother complaining to my father on the deck : ‘can’t they just go to sleep.’