(I know it's an easy one, but it was Christmas and I was feeling Charitable)
[Throughout this post, please enjoy a classy selection of Christmas Cracker Jokes, compliments of the chef]
December 24th, 2017. Apparently Christmas Eve and the real deal all mixed into one here in Denmark. Since I was up until hella late, I actually only woke up at around 9:30- Normally an astronomical feat for Christmas day. I did ask Helene what time Christmas started the night before however, and she reminded me that A- my younger siblings are far. far away and unable of waking me at the crack of dawn, and B- Christmas is apparently an all day event here, instead of being essentially all over by the end of lunch.
When I strolled out of my room, clad in the eye-wateringly bright yellow Pluto onesie you may remember from my flight over (It's a Christmas tradition, I wasn't about to stop it just because I'm on the other side of the world) The first thing I spied at the table was this kinder santa, and two wrapped gifts sitting at my spot at the table, courtesy of the Elf.
Inside the gifts was an outfit for me to wear that evening (The elf is brilliant at guessing my sizes) since a part of their traditions are to dress up fancy for the dinner and gift opening sections of the evening.
Brekkie included fancy bread rolls, homemade apple juice and dippy eggs. However, I was feeling so deprived that I had to crack into my emergency stash of Vegemite and have it on my roll.
After breakfast, Nina's Mum arrived to celebrate the day with us. This signalled the true start to the festivities- We could finally put up and decorate the tree.
As it would turn out, the tree was significantly too tall and required a quick trim before it fit in the living room.
We then got to decorate the tree. Nina said their policy is the kids get to decorate, meaning everything is thrown on with limited precision, just like my tree at home. We then added the massive pile of gifts under the tree.
At this point it felt like the right time to bring out my gift for the family/ tree. Two Aussie themed tin ornaments: A rusty Holden Ute (which bore more significance than I'd expected- You'll find out later) and an adorable little Koala holding a Christmas pudding.
I guess you could say I wanted them to have some Koala-ty gifts. (bud um tss!)
Christmas tree decorated, (and after a quick outfit change from the Pluto Onesie) we all sat down to lunch.
Unlike in Australia, Christmas Lunch is not the main meal, and such was relatively simple. That said, it did manage to be one of the only things that I really did not want to try. The meal's special dish was eel, topped with scrambled eggs. I can deal with eating most things- heck, I've eaten Skippy the Bush Kangaroo's lesser known cousin, Jerry- but eel was cutting it mighty fine to the line that can never be crossed.
Let me explain why. I don't particularly like snakes, but if they're over there and not bothering me, I don't mind them. I hate maggots- wiggly little things that send shivers of horror down my spine. Worms are a big no- slimy, wiggly and disgusting. But nothing compares to the horror I get at eels. Look at this face-
My experiences with Eels consist of these demonic creatures of the deep lurching out at me while I try to feed guppies in ponds and lakes. The god-awful eyes, the creepy unhinging jaw, and the intense dread I get from seeing them appear out of nowhere to come and steal my soul is enough to make me fear eels above all other creatures. I honestly would prefer to do a swimming with crocodiles tour than have to swim in the same water as an eel.
I have literally feared these horrible things since I first watched the Little Mermaid- do you remember how creepy those things were? They got the characterisation spot on- Satanic demon worms with eyes that will stare into your soul.
I was sitting at the table, and resisting attempts to get me to try it, until Nina's mum said something in Danish that sounded a hell of a lot like a remark about me being bratty for not wanting to eat the food made for me (To be fair, she was speaking Danish, and as such could have made a scathing remark about the weather for all I know). At the same time I was messaging my friend Patty, who was also peer pressuring me into trying the angel of darkness' pet.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a very spiteful person- if I'm told I can't do something, I feel the need to prove them wrong. Even if it's to my own detriment. It was this character trait that lead me to eating a small piece of the horrible fish, on the verge of tears. It was served cold, which apparently is rectified by eating it with the warm scrambled egg on top. I did not. I have mostly loved everything I have tried since being here (Apart from the worst lolly in the world I mentioned in a previous post), but this was one of the worst things that have ever put in my face. It probably doesn't help that I'm not a huge fan of fish,and this salty, hella fishy tasting thing with a really strange texture had me gagging. I did wonder at the time how much of my reaction was purely psychological, but I later found out that Helene hates it too.
That felt like enough, and I hastily brushed my teeth and put my Invisaline back in.
After that ordeal, Mathilde, Uve and I headed to the local Lutheran Church for the Christmas Service, stopping on the way to pick up Uve's Sister and Mother.
The church service itself was quite unique, as they spent a great deal of time singing traditional Danish Christmas carols accompanied by the unique tones of the Church organ. I did find myself falling asleep throughout, much to my dismay, but apparently most of our little crew was feeling the effects of the calmingly repetitive hymns.
Leaving only after the priest had squeezed the heck out of my injured hand (Boy did that man have a grip), we headed home and watched the christmas programs on the tv for the rest of the afternoon, including classic disney cartoons including mickey mouse and the whole crew. We watched Michael Bublé sing a strange duet of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with Miss Piggy of the Muppets, which was one of the weirdest things I've seen in awhile.
I then had a shower and got changed into the dress Hele-I mean, the Elf got me. I then raided Helene's shoe collection for a pair of heels to wear with it, apologizing profusely for the state of my legs that have not been shaved in the entire time I've been here- let's just say rudolf wasn't the only one with fur on his legs that day.
Dinner time was declared and we all sat down at the fancy table in the dining room that is apparently only used for special occasions such as Christmas and New Years.
The meal consisted of 3 of their own ducks, honey glazed potatoes and the"Purple stuff"
On the table was also a large bowl of original chips, which apparently is a part of the main meal here. I was challenged to dip them in the gravy, which I believe was supposed to be a strange task, but I took that opportunity to inform them that many Aussies dip their Macca's chips into their ice creams, meaning gravy on plain chips was simple as. Everything was hella delicious, and I had a small portion of seconds, as Mathilde warned me in advance that we had dessert.
Speaking there of, dessert provided entertainment in of itself. The special rice pudding was self served, as hidden in the pudding was 3 whole almonds hidden amongst numerous roughly chopped ones. The pretence of the game was if you found an almond, you were to hide it in your cheek and not reveal it until everyone finished. Those who received an almond, in this case Helene, Mathilde and Nina's Mum, each receive a prize.
Next we had to go upstairs while Uve lit the candles on the tree (I kid you not, I was terrified I was going to walk down stairs to a house fire. More like Merry Crispmas (That one was for you, Joel)) When we were allowed back down, I was wearily dazzled by the flickering candles on the tree.
The first order of business was to dance around the tree holding hands and sing Christmas Carols. They were in Danish, so my participation was limited, until fresh from Oz Helene demanded we sing the Aussie Jingle Bells, which made the Rusty Holden Ute ornament all the more fitting. The absurdity of it all was hilarious, especially as the family stumbled over the pronunciation of "Beaut", "Scorching" and "Barbeque".
After a few more, shall we say traditional? carols, we then undertook one of the strangest Traditions i've ever had the pleasure in taking part in. This involved creating a human chain and running around every single room in the house and sing-chanting a song that when translated to English really doesn't work:
”Now, it’s Christmas again / and now it’s Christmas again / and Christmas lasts until Easter / no, it’s not true / no it’s not true / because in between comes Lent.”
The short song is repeated again and again while running around the Christmas tree. After a couple of rounds, Freddy broke the circle of hands and took the lead in a tour of the house. It looked a lot like this-
Let me tell you, this game is hard in heels. Mathilde did warn me, but I miscalculated the difficulty of running down the incredibly steep steps while holding onto Freddy and Helene. Don't panic, guys. I made it down without breaking my neck. Just.
Once the tour was over, we did one more run around the tree to finish up. Then it was finally presents time (I'm not usually an impatient person, but after years of opening gifts at the crack of dawn, 9 at night took an eternity to arrive). And what a gift opening it was- The whole process took just over 2 hours. This may have been the rather inefficient manner in which they were distributed- Each of the four "Children" of the family (including myself), took turns (starting from youngest to oldest) in picking up a random gift, reading the label and delivering it to whomever it was destined for. The entire family then watched the gift be opened and got to appreciate each and every thing received.
The gifts I gave the family seemed to go down very well, including the personalised jar of Vegemite I gave Mathilde with her name on, despite her general distaste of it at the moment (I plan to fix that, don't worry).
I received some really thoughtful gifts from the family, who had to think carefully about weight limit for my next flight. This includes but is not limited to:
- A crazy long santa hat that is very common here in Denmark
-An awesome mess kit (plates, cups, utensils etc) that is completely collapsible (I'mma kill at DragonSkin next year)
-A string of crystals that catch the light and reflect rainbows
-A Danish Scout scarf (HELL YES to this one, because Queensland, unlike NSW has only one, hella boring scarf)
And best of all:
-A ribbon splitter. I'm not sure if I've ranted about the brilliance of this device yet, so here it is. This is the most fabulous addition to the gift wrapping business since someone thought to use scissors to curl ribbon. It makes every gift look hella professional, and trust me, next year my gifts are going to be the best you've ever seen.
After all the gifts were finally unwrapped, Christmas was officially over for the Frank-Jessen Family. Not for me, however. Christmas morning was just warming up (pun intended) in sunny Queensland. I planned to Facetime my family just after they woke up, however I was hit with a road block straight away. My parents, having only got back from the Midnight church service at 1 in the morning, proceeded to spend the next 3 hours gift wrapping, since they'd not gotten round to it yet (I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that lateness must be hereditary, therefore it's not my fault Freddy/ Mathilde) This meant that when I attempted to contact them at the very reasonable time of 8:30, they were still dead to the world.
This is where that impatience comes back in, because I was not waiting around for somebody to answer, so I took a few minutes calling each of my parents before I turned to calling big bro Lachie. This was the second snag. My lovely brother had neglected to accept my friend request that I had sent months earlier, the mongrel. At this point I turned to whinging about the situation to his brilliant girlfriend Jayda, who hacked into his account and kindly accepted on his behalf. This allowed me to video call him. When I did so, Freddy sitting next to me, he helpfully answered while on the Loo. So yeah, my family came across hella classy to poor Freddy, who saw my idiot brother while he was on the can, was threatened by my Dad and got a lovely view of him blowing his nose.
I got hella excited when they showed me my dog, and may or may not have squealed excitedly at my screen and prompted some grumpy shushing from Nina, as I had in my excitement woken everyone up. At this point I retreated to my room and continued the call, managing to watch my family open their presents, which took a significant amount of time. I double checked that Santa had filled my stocking (CHECK) and that I had gifts waiting for me when I get home (also CHECK), before I finally wound up the call at just past 2 in the morning.
What do you get if Santa goes down the chimney when a fire is lit? Krisp Kringle!
This late night resulted in me waking up at a leisurely 11am. At this point Nina told me that we would be going for "a walk" after lunch, so after I ate and got changed, Uve, Nina and I were on our way to the spot we would be looking at.
When we arrived I was amazed by the large amount of cars at the carpark, especially as it was very overcast and sprinkling occasionally. I asked Uve if there was some event on, but apparently it's just a really nice place to go for a walk.
The place is called "Frederikshåb plantage" which is a nature reserve about half an hour from Kolding. If you ever find yourself randomly in the area (unlikely but still possible) I highly recommend it. I absolutely loved it- the nature was so pretty, and it was insanely peaceful. The highest point in the area is found there, in the form of a large(ish) sandhill held together by tundra and other small shrubs (I mentioned my love of biology earlier, did I not?)
From this leverage point, I became aware of a large sand hill that was steeper than myers prices. Nina challenged me to roll down it, and because their last SISEP kid had done it, it became a challenge.
I was taking photos the whole time, since I was absolutely loving it, and I also made a promise to get inspiration for next years Artworks from my time in Denmark.
Everything was so pretty, almost fake looking because it was so nice. As we were walking I couldn't help but think that if I had to die, there would be a nice place to go. (I'm so Holly Jolly lol)
We wrapped up the walk and headed home, and I had a great nap since I was still hella tired from late night gift opening viewing.
What's worse than Rudolph with a runny nose? Frosty the snowman with a hot flush!
December 26th, also known to me as "Not-Boxing Day" here started out pretty well. I was up by ten and with the family members already coming up the long driveway, I possibly broke the world record for the quickest outfit change of all time. I shook the hand of everyone, which was a lot of people considering that this was the table set up to house everyone-
I spent the day eating, playing beyblades with the youngest children (who'da thunk it, beyblades are apparently still a thing, despite my assumptions that they had long since perished from the minds of today's youth along with
tech-decks and tamagotchis) and in moments of boredom, stacking all the cans from the table.
(^Look, They're colour coordinated)
We played a fun game after lunch was done, known as the gift raffle. The rules are as follows:
Each player brings a certain amount of small cheap presents and all go in the middle of a table
Two cups with one dice in each is passed around and each player gets one turn before passing the cup on
In the first round you are allowed to grab a present if you get a 6
After all presents are taken form the table it is time for next round
A selected person sets a timer without telling anyone when it will go off.
After the timer has started, the second round begins and now a 6 allows you to steal a present from someone else
When the timer goes off the game is over and everyone can open the present(s) they won
This turned out to be hilarious, causing more than one bitter struggle to retain a single gift. While we were playing, I decided I liked the look of one gift that was wrapped in really pretty aqua paper, and made up my mind that I wanted that gift. Unfortunately, several others picked up on this after I grabbed it off Mathilde while laughing maniacally. This lead to multiple family members engaging in an intense game of cat and mouse as we each struggled to retain the gift. I was holding strong until the last second, when it was stolen by one of their family friends. I ended up with two gifts, that consisted of an handmade ashtray (I'm thinking I may have to repurpose it as a left over tea bag bowl)and some novelty christmas photobooth props. The gifts were really not the main focus of the game, as it was the process that made this entertaining.
This gifts for this game almost mirrored my own family's "Crap-tacular" tradition, with some truly wacky gifts involved. Nina's contributions to the game included several sets of fanny packs, oven mitts, and a random but cute penguin decoration. As it would turn out, the gift we were all fighting over was actually a container of bungee cords for securing loads (possibly for the best that I didn't end up with that one)
The evening ended with an intense Nerf war (courtesy of Freddy, who brought down an impressive stash of his from the attic). As it would turn out, the picking up all the bullets afterwards aspect still sucks, even after all this time.
After everyone had left and we'd finished dinner, Mathilde and I decided to crack out the "Monopoly: Australia Edition" that had taken up all the room and weight allowance in my luggage.
(Note the Roo, Surfer, Servo Meat Pie, Barbie, 5AM Wake Up Call Bird and the Cricket Bat player tokens)
As we set up the game, I was feeling pretty confident. This was Aussie Monopoly; I was the only confirmed Aussie within a 30km radius. There was no way I could lose.
Right off the bat things were looking up, and I had possession of two thirds of the board, including all of QLD, ACT and WA. I discovered my mistake however, as I allowed Mathilde to buy both of the Utilities, meaning the first time I landed on the Power company, I had to pay her 10 times the number on the dice. I have no excuses, I'm in Math B, and so have been doing high level maths for years now, but when Mathilde told me that when I rolled a 12 I owed her $1200, I didn't even bat an eyelid. Died a little internally, yes, but never did I think of checking the maths. After mortgaging the vast majority of my extensive property portfolio to try and pay the woman, I admitted defeat. No Monopoly boards were flipped, which I think signals a successful game, and the friendship between Miss Can't Math and myself remains intact, which is quite the feat. I was slightly salty for a few days after my supposed defeat, but that's only reasonable. It's like the Girl Guides taking out a place in the Top 10 at Operation NightHawk- Just a little gross.
Anyway, That was Christmas everyone, my very first in Europe (Not white, but it was pretty nippy out)
Hope you all had a fantastic Christmas at Home in Oz, and as always,
Why is everyone so thirsty at the north pole? No well, no well!