Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Easter-instead-of-Christmas Greeting

[I've sent this letter out to my friends and family as one would at Christmastime, but one of my friends, a blogger friend, too, requested I put it here for the whole world to see. Yipes! ]

February 29, 2008

Dear Friends and Family, near and far,

No doubt you wonder where we are. Not Hayden or Idaho or even The States, we tell you now, a few months late, but to Sweden, southwestward, near a point in a straight. We call Hull-vee-kin (spelled Höllviken) our home, though Phil works in Malmö, as a call from overseas launched Phil’s consulting business right-then-and-there-o.

No sooner had we landed in Copenhagen and crossed the big bridge, than we played house and worked and missed home, just a smidge, (believe that, and I’ll sell you a fine flying ‘fridge), than we were whisked over Germany, Austria and the heart of the world (or maybe the edge?) to Israel where tropics and sunshine, conflict and Biblical history converge. (Phil worked long days with a company called Crow, while Hunter and I played in sand as white as your snow.)

The first day in Sweden we attended a church, sang songs in our language and found friends, end of church-search. We now have friends from Ghana, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast and Brazil, from Kansas and Sweden and Denmark, it’s swell! Hunter’s friend, David, dark as he is light, two years older, knowing wrong from right, helped ease the change from home to the land of extreme light.

Hunter was three when we took flight, but turned four in Stockholm, to his delight. He had marzipan cake, in his fav’d color, green, and spetkaka of Skåne, neither of which tasted quite right to a boy who’s more fond of the cakes in The States.

It was there, in Stockholm, three days after our tour of Jerusalem, we met up with friends who call Finland their home. They arrived via ferry, having crossed the Baltic sea, and walked us down streets where to find wieners, hand-crafts and candy, where museums boasted the ages-- so much to see: sunken ships of determined kings, Pippi, Pettson, Jonathan, Karlsson, Emil and other nonsensical things. Hours before our friends had to go, they invited us to spend Christmas in Turku. They stood in short lines for a very long time, making arrangements for us and our car to take Silja Lines for a fraction the cost of Scandinavian Airlines.

From there we said good-bye, hejdåg, see you soon, and spent a cold, rainy day in the beautiful city of Stockholm ‘til noon, when it was time to take subways, busses and planes back to Copenhagen and the train back to Malmö again. A bus took us back home where Juliene felt fever pain. It was then Juliene realized she was sicker than sick with a flu of a kind that happened to stick and Phil lamented bringing his wife and son (also grown sick) to a place where he wanted to work and have fun.

Two weeks Phil worked, coming home every night to his family, who coughed non-stop from dawn through the night, and each day grew darker, only a few hours of light, until the shortest day when he packed the family up to drive north to Stockholm, again, and to the ferry that would carry us seven to seven, from Sweden to Finland. Hunter enjoyed the children’s play floor, while his parents were wowed by the Swedish archipelago, thousands of small islands with lit up homes, only one or more. Just how did those residents go to the store?

Christmas was grand because we had friends who warmed our hearts with new traditions and generous love, with an artsy apartment, food in the fridge, presents under the tree and chocolate galore, the chance to cut a tree at their cottage and so much more.

Things have been much better, as you can see from my blog (, since we have met more friends and neighbors, walked the beaches and traveled a lot. What do we do with the money Phil earns? We scrimp and we save, eat the food and fill the car (where the money quickly burns), so we can take off on Fridays, after Phil is off work, and see something more of places where windmills and wind turbines turn.

Because of all this, travel and illness, I write this letter not at Christmas but today, on leap day, in two thousand and eight, in anticipation of the earliest Easter to appear on this date before two thousand, two hundred twenty eight, when at last it will happen again, fifty-five leap years from now; what a wait! In Sweden, Easter is about springtime and art, of stones, of Vikings, of wars of the heart, herring, amber, Sámi and ice, of peace and taxes, where do I start? It is to you I wish an Easter in Christ, because of whom so many still fight, and who does not lay long buried under for so many thousands of years, but who is risen, that’s right!, and lives in our hearts to give us new life!

I’m off to get Hunter from preschool and Phil from his work, so we can rush off to old places where secrets lurk and clerks are open to tell us each quirk.

Happy Leap Year, Easter and more years to come, from our home to your home, may we see each other soon!


Phil the Humble Genius, Juliene the Adventurous and Hunter the Humorous

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