Twas the Week Before Christmas…

And through the house we creep…and hear way too much coughing and nights without sleep.

We are hoping that the worst is behind us.  Both of the girls have had long-lasting colds, which turned into high fevers.  We had our first experience with the Danish medical system last week.  It was interesting.  I don’t have enough experience with it to make a generalization, but I feel like it will take some getting used to.  Riding my sick child to the doctor’s office, in a bicycle was a new experience…but honestly, this biking thing is beginning to feel like second nature, and I really don’t mind it.  Actually, it might be one of my favorite things about living in Denmark. 

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However, if I may vent, for just a moment, about the language barrier…

I have mentioned before that speaking English in Denmark is not a problem.  It is comforting to know that in almost any face-to-face situation, there will be someone there who understands you.  It is impressive and honorable that Danes have kept such a strong hold on their language and also speak such good English.  But is it too much to ask, for a doctor’s office to have an option for hearing an answering machine message in English?  Denmark is a tiny country and it’s no secret that Danish is a very difficult language, so why put us through that when we are calling a doctor’s office regarding a child with a 105 degree fever?  Thankfully, between the two of us, Brett and I were able to decipher the message (after playing it about 12 times).  We are making a valiant effort to learn this language and I’m happy to try and use it when ordering lunch in a restaurant or buying a pair of shoes, but if Denmark wants to be as foreigner-friendly as they claim, something needs to give.  We tend to have the same trouble with important websites and package instructions. 

I have been attending Danish classes for 9 hours a week, for the past 2 months.  Last Friday, I passed my exam for Module 1 (out of 6, that are offered for free to foreigners).  Brett is on the same track, but at a bit slower pace, with evening classes twice a week.  Danish grammar is fairly straightforward.  The pronunciation is the killer.  I think understanding is equally as challenging.  I might be bilingual, but I’ve come to realize that I’ve never really “learned” another language.  I was born with Spanish in my brain.  So this is a new experience for me.  I can’t decide whether it’s really cool to be learning a language that so few people in the world speak, or if it’s just sort of pointless.  Maybe it is bit of both, but I can finally go through a store purchase without having to ask to be spoken to in English, so we’re getting somewhere!

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Moving on to a more festive topic…

Last weekend (before the fevers) we joined friends to see the Nutcracker at the Royal Danish Theater.  It was a spectacular venue and a wonderful show.  We sat up high, with a great view of the orchestra, which was almost as much fun to watch, as the dancers.  We have a couple of friends who dance for the Royal Danish Ballet and the girls had great fun clapping for them and calling their names.

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sankta lucia

Sankta Lucia: Observed on December 13, Sankta Lucia is one of the few saint days in Scandinavia.  Usually there is a ceremony at a church (also in schools) where one girl is elected to be Lucia.  She wears a white gown with a red sash and a crown of candles on her head, she walks at the head of a procession of women, each holding a candle as they sing a beautiful song.  I was extremely unprepared that day and did not have my video camera, but Click here to listen to an example of the song.  Being true to the international aspect at the girls’ school, they not only did a Sancta Lucia ceremony, but also a short play about Vikings, sang traditional American Christmas carols and performed a Bollywood dance.  Hilarious…and so fun.

Rolling into the merriest week on the calendar, we are hoping for some fun family time, accompanied by better sleep at night and a lot more smiles, like these.

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As much as I don’t like them being sick, I have had some adorable little companions around the house and together we have been feeding the swans, baking Danish Christmas treats and making Danish Christmas decorations.  We had a few snowflakes fall this weekend, but they didn’t stick around for long.  I might have to flock my tree to get a white Christmas this year.  We can’t complain about mild temperatures though.  I can’t imagine it feels very good to have snowflakes hitting your face while riding a bike.

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Less than a week to go!  We are are trying to immerse ourselves in a truly Danish Christmas.  Brett made a grocery list a mile long and we have ordered a duck for Christmas eve. We are playing Christmassy tunes every evening (in Danish and English) and have put a sizable dent in our tub of hot cocoa powder.  It is definitely a bit strange not to be surrounded by extended family during the holiday season, but there is also something special about being just 4 of us this year. We are looking forward to relaxing, seeing friends and creating some lasting memories as we reflect on closing out another blessed year.

God Jul everyone.

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5 responses to “Twas the Week Before Christmas…

  1. So impressed with how much Danish you are already learning. If in fact it is a pointless endeavor, you will have a good head start on other languages over there, which is sooooooo great. Danish being one of the hardest to learn, maybe it will make something like Dutch or German much easier? You can be tri-lingual….or quad-lingual (if such a term exists!)…
    xx.

  2. Ah, Mandy, I totally empathize. Living in Turkey was often like that for me…and being alone a good portion of the time made it all the harder! But you are kickin’ it, lady, you’ll be speaking well a year from now, I believe it. Hope the girls are better, and I wish you all the very best for the season.

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