Phew, it has been a while.
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind – fitting in last minute Christmas activities and saying goodbye to my DIS friends and host family, traveling to Amsterdam and then Lisbon, having a delayed flight home and having to stay overnight in an airport hotel, and finally seeing my family for the first time in 4 months. Needless to say, I’ve been taking it easy since the plane touched down in Washington.
I’m in this surreal state of mind where I’m back in what should be the most familiar place in the world – my childhood home – and I can’t remember where any of the dishes go. The smallest changes threw me off – the dollar store moved to another location, a new Chick-fil-a opened up, my dog got a new leash, etc. I’m learninng how to live in America again, and I’ve definitely experienced a bit of reverse culture shock! As much as I love driving, it’s weird to not be able to bike everywhere or take public transportation now. I went out with a bunch of friends from high school and we all realized this was our first time being together when we were all 21 and could go to bars. It took me a minute to figure out how to get home from the bar without public transportation. I haven’t had to arrange to get a ride from someone in a while! We had a LOT of fun, and it was really nice to make new memories with such old friends.
Christmas Hygge in America
The past few days have been filled with lots of hyggelige Christmas activities. I can’t help but think that I’ll be unable to come up with a better adjective for this time of year now that I’ve been introduced to the concept of “hygge.” Shoutout to my Aunt Laura, whose Christmas gift came in the mail today in the form of a super cute shirt defining “hygge” and inspired me to write this post! My family members are all fascinated with it (mostly with the pronunciation) and I’ve definitely been feeling it since coming home. Tonight’s activities have consisted of baking Christmas cookies (I know we’re a little late, jet lag is a real thing), listening to Christmas music, and giving lots of love and cuddles to our favorite pup, Okie. ❤
Now that I’m finally adjusted and settled back at home, I wanted to share some great zero-waste moments from my Christmas with you all. My parents have been super supportive of my efforts to reduce my waste, and I am so proud of what they managed to find in bulk in our little town! Traditionally my Christmas stocking would be full of chocolate and various candies, but this year it was mostly empty. Unfortunately, mason jars don’t exactly fit in a stocking! The stocking held a few small, meaningful things – including a glass jar of deodorant and a beautiful necklace cut from a Danish 5 kroner coin! In addition to this, they found lots of sweet treats at a local candy shop and had them weigh our mason jars and fill them with chocolate truffles, jelly beans, chocolate covered pretzels, and a surprising amount of other things. I had no idea we had so many options for bulk snacks so close to home! Of course, this wasn’t normal protocol for the shop, but I’m very proud of my parents for going out of their way to accommodate me, and maybe the shop will remember them and start thinking more about how they package their (delicious) goods!
The Wrapping Paper Conundrum
I was a little nervous about how to go about wrapping gifts this year. We always go all out with wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows, and half the joy of presents is opening them. I didn’t want to resort to gift bags, because that’s kind of lame, so I wrapped my gifts in old newspapers and stuck a bow on top. As long as I can remember, we’ve been saving bows at Christmas and reusing them, so I didn’t feel any remorse about that. We also always reuse gift tags, and my mom even has a hole punch that creates tags out of old greeting cards. We’ve been doing this for many years now, and it helps breathe a little more life into the paper greeting cards before they hit the recycling bin. Plus the tags are super cute! This year, the paper my parents used to wrap the gifts was saved and neatly folded up to be shredded and used as gift bag stuffing next year. This is something we can reuse every year as well, until it gets worn down and needs to be recycled. I’m really proud of my family this year – our only trash from Christmas day was a few ribbons, whatever plastic may have been wrapped around the gifts when they were mailed, and some pieces of tape from the bows! My mom remarked that on trash day, every other house on our block had multiple trash bags sitting out while we still had our normal little can. It’s amazing how much trash you can avoid with a little planning and creative reuse. I’m so happy to be a part of a thrifty family that has always cared about our consumption and found creative ways to reuse things at Christmas time.
I’ll forever be so grateful to my host family for sharing their Christmas traditions with me while I was in Denmark. I brought a few Christmas stars home with me (2 out of 3 made it un-squished!) and am looking forward to showing my family how they’re made. I’ve got the recipe for frikadeller, and my parents and I now have matching Christmas ornaments from Tivoli, so there will always be a little piece of Denmark on the tree. ❤ And of course, now every time I light a candle I’ll be thinking of my second home. I am so lucky to have had the chance to live in Denmark for 4 months, but I’m even luckier to have met so many amazing people along the way.
Vi ses senere, København. ❤