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DOWN & UP
Is anyone else boggled by the fact that tomorrow is the last day of October? Already it feels as dark in the early evenings as if it were January, and we are still 2 months away from the equinox. What an down and up day this was...what down and up WEEK, for that matter.

At the beginning of it, one of my colleagues, another American who is also a friend, sent out an email to all the Americans in our department, asking if we would be interested in helping to organize a Thanksgiving dinner for our entire department. There are 33 people in our department, if you count the 3 who are on parental leave and the 1 who is on sabbatical. Of those, (including one of the ones on leave), SIX of us are American.

Anyway, apparently one or more of the non-Americans had been inquiring about Thanksgiving and it gave her this great idea of all of us Americans cooking up and serving a real Thanksgiving dinner for everyone. I have to admit that my first reaction was dismay. And my second.

We have been hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for our closest friends in Sweden since we moved here, nearly 13 years ago, and the amount of people at the dinner is usually around 14-16 including the kids. I don't cook a darn thing at these dinners. I organize them, clean the house, buy the groceries and drinks, set the table, and clean up afterward. My husband cooks the THREE turkeys it takes to feed that many people and still have leftovers, as well as the stuffing that goes in them, and mashed potatoes. Each couple that comes brings one of the requisite dishes: one brings pumpkin pie(s), one a chocolate dessert, one the green bean casserole. One brings extra stuffing and sometimes someone is delegated to bring black olives and cranberry sauce, or wine, and some years Anders & I provide it. The point being, as I mentioned at the beginning: I DON'T COOK ANYTHING.

Another reason for the dismay: there is so much going on in November and December, both at home and at work, that the idea of adding ANYTHING else to the calendar raises my stress level immediately. It's almost an automatic response; I can't help it. No no no my inner calendar cries out: NO. I don't WANT to add another event, no matter how fun or generous it might be. And with the amount of work we have, constantly, the thought of having to drop what I'm doing at work so that I can spend part of a day helping to cook and prepare the meal and dining experience makes me get the panics.

And the final reason: Thanksgiving is, for me, a FAMILY thing. The people I surround myself with at Thanksgiving, whenever possible, are the people I love most, that mean the most to me, that I am closest to: the friends that might as well be family for me here. Much as I like my colleagues, they aren't the people I want to spend a Thanksgiving celebration with.

So, my response to the inquiry was no. I don't want to help organize it. I don't want to be involved. Then one of the other girls went ahead and sent out the invitation to the entire department and included my name anyway. When I wrote to her in a bit of a huff, saying HEY, I SAID NO, I got a joking response, because of course, I must be kidding, right? Well, no. Actually, I'm not. So far, I've been called lazy and a party-pooper.

***

Despite some cautiously good news about my friend's husband earlier this week, things have been looking pretty grim. The second round of chemo has caused all kinds of complications including the development of gallstones, pneumonia and pancreatitis, along with hallucinations. He's lost 20 kilos and weighs less than he did when he was 18. But in the beginning of the week, his white blood cell count started going up and his infection rate started dropping, which had the doctors looking positive and today they got the results of the second bone marrow test: he's in remission!

My friend was so relieved that she was barely coherent when she called to give me the news today. Remission in this case doesn't mean he's done, however. He's facing gallbladder surgery next week and they have to get the rest of the infections under control as well as the pancreatitis, and after he recovers from the surgery, he'll face at least 3 more rounds of chemo. But it's at least the first really positive news in 2 months, and I'm thrilled.

***

My nephew had his kidney valve correction surgery on Monday and is doing well. He's still in a lot of pain, but my mom is there and between them all it sounds like they are managing to keep him relatively comfortable. He's planning to go trick-or-treating tomorrow in a wagon pulled by the adults, so he won't have to miss out on any of the Halloween festivities.

***

I hadn't realized that Friday was a half day, so was pleasantly surprised a few days ago to find that out. The kids have been on Fall Break all this week which means, since we gave up their after-school daycare spots at the beginning of the year, that they were going to be home alone all week. Anders and I managed to take turns coming home at lunch time each day, and I had been planning to work from home this afternoon, but instead I got to leave at lunchtime as planned and come home while the SUN WAS SHINING and get other things done! BONUS! We ate lunch and then we ran to the grocery store to get Halloween candy for tonight's trick-or-treating and then we went for a walk in the beautiful weather. It's been cold but sunny for several days and perfect walking weather.

Instead of going our usual round, we went up the hill and across the fields, out into the farmland. Most of the fields up there were planted in sugar beets and have already been harvested and plowed under. It felt great to be walking along with the sun beaming down and blue skies all around us. We could see for miles up there. We could see a hot air balloon far away over Lund. We could see deer far away in one of the fields and by one of the lakes a whole flock of resting geese. Karin ran ahead when we got to the section of the road lined with the old twisted-open willow trees, climbing up in them one by one and then dashing on to the next. I sang songs at the top of my lungs while Martin tried frantically to make me stop, despite the fact that there was no one anywhere around for what felt like miles. It was glorious.

Tomorrow is the giant AWC Halloween bash at a playplace in Malmö. There are 158 people signed up as definite and another 20+ as maybes. Should be a fun time. :)

What was up about your week? And if you're going to dress up, what are you going to be for Halloween?

Bat Wing & Black Cat Belated Birthday Wishes to 1222!
 mellow
mood: mellow
music: Black Eyed Peas—I Gotta Feeling


Comments

Ugh. I would have said no too. I can't believe they still put your name on it. Organizing one dinner is enough. The Swedes would appreciate it, but not in the same way that your American friends and family appreciate it. I agree that Thanksgiving is a family time and energy should be focused there.

(Anonymous)
Joy waves hello!

My week? Well, last Sunday I was sick, sick, sick! Went to the health clinic and my sore throat turned into a respiratory infection. Had to stay away from work and class (started Graduate program, did I tell you, can't remember...) for 48 hours.

The main reason I went to the doctor so quick on Monday was because of my Graduate Assistantship at the Child Care center. Even when I went back, I was coughing, running out of the room. So, long story short (too late-well, it could be longer...!) my week went from bad to better and now it's the weekend and STUDY time. So that is now to even better, right? ;-)

Joy

well, you ARE our new found ambassador of strange american customs. who else would we turn to? :)

(Anonymous)
From Megsie

I would have wanted to say no to the new party for Thanksgiving, but I probably would have caved. I am impressed and hope you stick to your guns. Thanksgiving is supposed to be the lesser of the stressful holidays. And, yes, for family.
That is such wonderful news about your friend's husband, and your nephew! Yay!

I wish we would see the sun soon. The whole RAIN and DREARY weather is taking it's toll on us. I just hope it doesn't rain today (HALLOWEEN!) Trick or Treating will be cold as it is (47, F) rain would be making it a very short trip around the neighborhood. Last year it was 62~oh, those were the days!

Happy Haunting!

How rude to get called lazy and a party pooper. I just detest it when people are coercive and manipulative to get what they want. Obviously you made the right choice, if these are folks who try to get others (you) to do things they don't want to do in this type of manner. This besides whatever your own personal reasons.
I too hope that you stick with your original decision and don't let folks like this think that they can do such a thing again to you or someone else.

I would choose a mantra to repeat to them, like, "I am already overbooked at this time of year and can not add this event," rather than trying to get them to understand. They seem like folks who wouldn't listen anyway.

You must have struck a cord with me here.

Glad to hear that things are going well(ish) with your friend's husband and your nephew.

What was my week about? Well, after a very active weekend and then a fairly normally over active first couple of days of the week, I took Thursday as a jammy and dvd day. I stayed in my pajamas ALL day and I watched nearly all of season six of Westwing. I dunno when I will have the time to finish the last couple of episodes though.

Happy Halloween. I know yours is over, but I just woke up to mine. Timezones....

i hope you dont feel guilty about saying no to another event! too bad some people are taking it so personally that YOU have too much on your plate and just dont want to do it. but alas, people love to do the whole guilt trip thing for some reason. you're definitely not lazy or a party pooper so they dont know what theyre talking about!

(Anonymous)

Hi!! I just got up! :) Your nephew had his surgery last Friday not Monday, :) but either way he seemed to be improving until late on Thursday. Then it started to go downhill, the pain increased and we have had two trips to the ER in the last 14 hours. He is going to be fine but had developed an infection post surgery and now has (we hope) the proper antibiotic.

That is great news about you friend's husband, he is still on my prayer and healing list. :)

And I would say no to the Thanksgiving Dinner at work too. Although, since you look like you are roped into it anyway, offer to bring the black olives and the cranberry sauce. Then you would not have to cook!

Love Ya,
Seester.

haaa! Yeah, maybe I should offer with the black olives and cranberries, that might be a workable compromise.

Good for you saying no to the Thanksgiving organization; I think high stress would pretty much counteract the whole thanksgiving spirit, wouldn't you? So... what were you for Halloween this year?

I found a sun mask at the costume party place in town and wore a bright green shirt, to which I clipped big flowers in pink and white. I was a Sunny Day in the Garden, of course!

(Anonymous)

Halloween- the first one I've actually celebrated in a long time- and not by choice, but for where I live! What fun to see all the excitement and little kids again- and a couple great haunted houses - the outside decorations that is! My costume.....I was a DOG WALKER!! :0 Love, Lizardmom

With Sarah's dog? hahaaa!

What cheeky workmates you have? Will the Swedes be cooking a smörgåsbord for the Americans on Midsummer's Eve? I think not...
My Thanksgiving got hijacked too, by my MIL. I'm in a bit of shock, so I still don't know how I feel about it. I think I'll go with ambiguous... I don't have to cook, but I like my own turkey better than hers. And it's MY tradition, that I invite MY friends to, dangit!

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