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FA LA LA!
What a long day this has been! In fact, what a long weekend! I'm really looking forward to vacation now. 5 more days! 5 more days!

3 more choir Christmas concerts today for a total of 7 (I missed 3 others which were during work hours or it would have been 10 total) and now I'm free from choir until the end of January. The 3 performances today were at 2 different elderly care homes in Malmö; the second one we sang in 2 different departments. It's kind of funny, the reactions we get from the people living there. Some of them obviously have no clue about what is going on or why they are being forced to sit there. Others obviously enjoy every minute, singing along with the songs they know and clapping enthusiastically.

At the first place today, the group of people seemed to have been shanghaied into listening, as they were still eating their fika when we filed in, and expressions ranged from dour to downright dismal. I always try to make eye contact with people as I'm singing and to smile as much as possible without overdoing it, and also to glance at the music as little as possible, which isn't always easy with all the new songs we had this season and all the Swedish verses to songs I'm used to singing in English. At one point, I snuck a sideways peek at the other ladies of the choir and was a bit exasperated to see that no one else was smiling at all. Very seriously singing along but no other real expression. I don't know...is that an American thing? Mia? Maybe you know. Maybe it's just my choir. Maybe it's just me.

I've heard comments before about my tendency and the tendency of other Americans, for example, to automatically smile big when a camera is aimed at us (as if that is a bad thing or a weird one), so maybe it it's a cultural thing: the urge to put on a performance face. But I think it must be nicer for the audience to feel as if the people performing for them SEE them, care about them as an audience and are engaged enough to want to make some kind of contact with them, rather than simply getting through the set and moving on.

None of the songs we sang today, except for one swingy arrangement of Rudolf (in Swedish) were songs that I'm particularly partial to. The set we use at the elderly care homes is much more traditional than what we did in our big Christmas concert, for example, and to my mind, more boring. The thinking seems to be that old people just want to hear the songs they're used to, their traditional favorites and that's it, so we only sang one song in English and nothing really modern or different at all.

These concerts always make me think about what living in one of these homes will be like by the time my generation is moving in. Most of them are so soulless and dull, full of institutional furniture and obviously second-hand stuff. In another 40-50 years they're going to be needing broadband and wireless connections in all the rooms, at least! A crappy old TV in the common room just ain't gonna cut it.

Anyway, both trees are up and decorated, the house is full of the smell of pine and cinnamon. Anders and Karin baked lussekatter sans raisins today. And I forced the kids to sit down and watch Rudolf with me this evening and then I read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to them before bedtime. I know quite a bit of it by heart, and suspect most Americans can rattle off at least the first couple of verses. When I checked The Christmas Treasury book we have in the stack of Christmas books, I was surprised to find it wasn't included, so we had to google it, since I couldn't remember the next line after springing up from bed to see what was the matter.

5 more days! 5 more days!

Decorated Deck the Hally Birthday Wishes to cap_killer!
 accomplished
mood: accomplished
music: The Cranberries—Just My Imagination


Comments
(Anonymous)

The old songs/music are what we remember when the rest of the brain disappears into the fog. Somehow the music finds a connection back to remembering so it really is the best to do at those concerts. I agree that you need to be smiling, and tell the rest of that dour choir! If they are not enjoying, how can they expect the audience to react?
Yeah for 5 days to vacation! Love, Lizardmom

I don't WANT my brain to disappear into fog! (or my brian!)

Maybe the old favorites will bring brian out of the fog.

When I sang in a choir we were always, always told to smile and look at the audience as much as possible. So I guess it's a people thing rather than a cultural thing.
People tend to get serious-faced when they're nervous and if you're not told again and again to smile when singing it's easy to slip back into the dour-face.

We got our tree today but it's still in the shed. No decorating of the tree until the 23rd in my family.

And I hear you on the 5 days! Just 5 days! Yay!

4 more days! 4 more days! :D

"I'm free from choir until the end of January."

Perhaps the other members depend more on the choir so in their minds they are a bit sad you have a break for holidays, thus not smiling when singing? ;-)

Well, since we are ALL on break until the end of January, I'm not sure that theory holds water.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear.......Your Christmas card, yesterday. Thanks Liz. Mine will be late because it it sitting on my beside table. The line at the post office was toooooooo long the other day to wait for overseas stamps, or anything for that matter, and oh my, I haven't finished most my cards. It is one of those years.

Some years they're New Year's cards :)

And this would be one of those years!


"In another 40-50 years they're going to be needing broadband and wireless connections in all the rooms, at least!"

Interesting to ponder aging and where "we"/"I" may be in more like 30 years. I was just having this conversation yesterday on the phone with my friend Joa who is in Florida visiting with her eighty something Mom. J's Dad passed less than a year ago. Joa has been back there a few times since and she mentioned that she could see a downhill slide type difference in her Mom just in the last three months when she was last there for a visit. We discussed the lives of the folks in the retirement condos there and thought about what we should be doing NOW so that we will be better equipped THEN ourselves.
Yes, we will need our internet hook-ups, but hopefully we will also have mobility of some sort habituated and a way or place to BE MOBILE. At least a good place to walk. And friends to walk with.
Ick. This is unpleasant stuff to ponder. How to stay happy healthy and active; how to age gracefully and stay whole while approaching one's own demise and watching friends approach theirs.
Life's an adventure of all sorts.

Only a couple of the places we went to are in a park setting and have any sort of garden space. Most of them are in the middle of very urban environments and it's definitely a factor that adds to the soulless feeling. I agree with you that it's not pleasant stuff to think about. :(

Blah. Something should be done about this situation. But what? And by who?
We have forgotten how to respect, revere, and comfort our elders.

I can tell that you are not counting down the days till the holidays. Hee,hee

I also think that the "Kodak-moment smiling" is a cultural thing and something that even in Australia we react to as being "very American" (meaning that in a negative way). I think it makes us suspicious if it's that bright, Sesame Street smile. We tend to associate it with used car salesmen, so we immediately think you might want something from us. It's like the automatic McDonalds "Have a nice day!" greeting which we know is insincere. Somehow it all gets bundled up into the same mix and we are left with the impression that the smiles are not genuinely meant. Which they aren't in a lot lot cases - it's just a learned response. Not that I think you were being shallow or fake.

What a pity the choir experience wasn't more uplifting for you as performers. There must have been moments when you were wondering why you were bothering, which is not how a Christmas concert should feel.

Like you, I worry about ending my days in a soulless place like the one you visited. My MIL refused point blank to consider it, despite a great deal of pressure from the kommun after Edvin died. But she was not about to be rail-roaded into anything by the social workers do-gooders and stayed in her home until the end.

Yay for Christmas trees and warm saffron buns to brighten you day. I hope there will be a photo forthcoming.....

It's really nice to know that staying in your home until the end is an option here in Sweden. I honestly can't imagine, unless I was REALLY incapacitated, thinking it was better to live in a place like that. Of all the homes we have sung in, only ONE of them seems at all cozy and welcoming and home-like. I think that's sad. They should ALL be cozy and welcoming and home-like.

They should ALL be cozy and welcoming, why else be there? Can you imagine just waiting your life away in one of those uncozy places?

(Anonymous)

Oh I don't know... I think we are taught to smile on photos too. And at least in our choir (which admittedly is far far far from being traditional! LOL!) our crazy choir teacher Caroline constantly tells us to smile or show attitude when we sing.

The wonderful thing though is, that during "rehearsals", you smile because she tells you to so to speak. But once you sing at "concerts" - the smile comes automatically. We couldn't stop smiling even if she told us not to, because it's so much fun! :)

All things aside - I think perhaps it's not so much culture as character. I think the Swedish character in general is more reserved than the in many ways very outgoing American one. From my perspective, both ways of being are ok. :)

/Mia

http://mias.blogg.se

Interesting! I wonder how much of it is just because of our choir leader. I think our choir was much more dynamic with our old leader. Our new one has a very different style. Not bad, necessarily, just really different.

(Anonymous)

I guess it could be at least some part of it? We all have so much fun at our choir nights and concerts, and much of it is thanks to Caroline. Because SHE is anything but reserved! She is the kind of person who is herself 100% - totally careless of what other people think of her. To the general public I think she has a "weird" image, but once you know her you realise that behind the "weird" she is a normal fun person, just totally inhibition free. LOL!!

She is my complete opposite!

/Mia

http://mias.blogg.se

I realized recently that I can immediately spot Americans in a crowd here because of their (um, *our*) smiles and laughter. It is sometimes aggravating when Americans joke around even during serious conversations, but life sure seems more enjoyable! That said, I agree that there might be some truth to that idea that easy smiles can be cultural. I'm sure your happy face brightened someone's day though!

I can always spot them (us) by the shoes. Or at least I used to be able to. It's probably not so easy now.

The joking around is definitely a cultural thing. Although some of mine, at least, is a learned defense mechanism. :)

By the shoes??

Yep! Americans always had expensive, trendy shoes (especially sports shoes).

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