Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas for 1st, 2nd and 3rd Generation Immigrant Family

"Babes, we're soon going to be the only flat on our block without stars in our windows. This is getting embarrassing." -DD

"Okay, I'll go get the stuff out of storage." -ND

While I was pregnant, I read Manju Kampur's "The Immigrant." The story of two immigrants from India in Canada struck a chord deep inside. My favorite passage described the immigrant experience of seeing double. She walks into an indoor Canadian market and looks around, but the memories of the open air Indian markets are imposed over scene as if she were seeing both at once. Not a week goes by that I do not share in this immigrant experience.

Walking through our neighborhood after dark, I take in the yellow paper stars and electric candles illuminating the windows and the single strands of white LEDs twined around balcony railings. As I walk, the American memories float up onto the street. Low flats, communal green spaces and neighborhood paths are laid over with a memory of brick bungalows with scrappy front yards and cracked sidewalks. Glowing plastic Santas, wooden nativity scenes and ropes upon ropes of bright rainbow lights dance in my mind, not tied to any place or time other than my hometown and my childhood.

All immigrants have a similar choice to make. Do I prop up a glowing Santa in our window? Frame it with rainbow lights, specially ordered from America? Add a nativity scene on the terrace?

"Do we have one of those candelabra thingies to put in the kitchen window? Or do we need to pick one up at ICA?" -DD

"A Luciastake?" -ND

"Is that what it's called? How do you spell that?" -DD

Night Daddy sits down to Google. Despite having grown up in Stockholm, he went to English school. Polish at home and English at school leads to moments just like this.

"No, it's called an adventsljusstake. All one word. And yes, we have one." -ND

Day Daddy sits down to Google.

"According to this the advent one has only four. That sounds right with the advent candle wreaths that I grew up with. What's the pyramidy 7 candle one called that everybody puts in their windows here? Oh. wait. Here's the Wiki entry. Apparently, it's 'julottestakar.' But I've never heard that." -DD

"No. Nobody calls it that. They're just called advent lights. Nobody cares about the number." -ND

"I saw some windows with these round ornament bobbles hanging on fish line. They looked really nice. I could hang some of those too." -DD

"Here's a package of gold ones and blue ones." -ND

"These aren't blue. They're black." -DD

"They're blue." -ND

"No. Look." -DD

"Huh." -ND

"You have black Christmas ornaments? I'm not hanging black ornaments in our window. I don't care how pretty they are. But the gold ones are nice." -DD

"Whatever, Babes. Here's the fishing line. I'm going to figure out the star lampshade thingies. I've never used them before." -ND

We might be Polish and American, but our little Piggelin is Swedish. Her home should reflect that. I hope one day, she will know that we tried.

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