Boston Blatte

Raised in Boston, remade in Sweden

Archive for December, 2010

Christmas in Sälen: White, cold, Zlatan & Tomten

Friday, December 24th, 2010

We’re the Griswoldsson’s Family Christmas ski package in the Swedish Alps (no, they don’t really have alps, but the mountain range between Sweden and Norway is the best they got and not too shabby for some family skiing.) This is the first year our collective family (we’re not that big a bunch has decided to try outsourcing the julafton smörgåsbord (Christmas Eve buffet) and make it a ski holiday.

The snow gods have granted every man,woman and child’s wish to make this Christmas white, but it has come at a hidden price probably demanded by the lesser revered cold gods. The thermometer reads -25C, that’s -13F to you all on the Fahrenheit . It’s the coldest I’ve yet experienced in Sweden and to my own surprise, we’re surviving it nicely. Bundle yourself and kids up in enough layers and it’s pleasant enough. Snow-covered fir trees and golden hues from sun barely cresting the hills makes a most beautiful backdrop.

Today ’tis the night before Christmas, also known as Julafton. Today’s THE day of Christmas in Sweden. Tomorrow, the 25th, Juldagen, is merely a day in the aftermath and the first day of the post-Christmas sale day. Or for most of us at the foot of a ski slope, a longer ski day (today all the lifts closed at 1pm).

Without our knowing about it, friends of the family told us that we’d be celebrating with one of Sweden’s biggest soccer/football heros, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. I want to find an equally enormous Boston sports hero to paint a picture of how popular he is, but to my own embarrassment I am not current on today’s Boston sports heroes. Perhaps someone can give a suggestion.

Anyway, Zlatan is at our hotel with his family. zlatan

I had a sighting yesterday morning. What I love about Sweden, (and I’m sure most Swedish celebrities would agree,) is that people respect the privacy of Sweden’s famous for the most part. While there were a few gawkers (yes, me among them) no one approached him. The one “paparazzi” shot I found when doing a google search was from a rather respectable distance.zlatan.

One celebrity who won’t be left alone today is Jultomten. tomten

God Jul till er alla. And a Merry Christmas tomorrow Boston!

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Christmas cookie cutting IKEA: Christoph Niemann’s “Let it Dough”

Monday, December 20th, 2010

IKEA is the product of Sweden arguably best known and most associated with all things Swedish, well, these days in any case.
So it is isn’t very wondrous that Christoph Niemann, a well-known (OK, I had never heard of him before but I don’t regularly read the publications –albeit those publications are very well-known to me–he has been featured in) artist and illustrator, includes a little mention (or rather, more of a dig) to the flat-packing furniture and furnishings global mammoth in a cute blog entry he published in the NY Times a few days ago (and was republished and posted on Facebook by 3 friends today.)

Take a peek. The cookie image piece has nothing else to do with Sweden. But it does spread a humorous and tasty spirit of Christmas.

And it mentions IKEA.

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Donating Blood in Sweden: A bloody difficult task

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

The Swedish Blood Center finally took my blood, or more specifically, collected 470cl of it; more fondly and nostalgically known as a pint.

blood drop

Third time is a charm (from the Swedish expression, Tredje gången gilt) This was my third attempt to donate after I “qualified”. Sweden is self-sufficient for its blood supply so I guess as they are most often “bathing in blood” they can afford to be picky. According to their own site, in brilliant English I might add, states, “To become a blood donor in Sweden you must speak and understand Swedish, have a Swedish identity number and be a healthy person between the ages of 18-60.” The argument to support this screening process involves a prudent requirement for the donor to understand all the questions and the consequences. And certainly all of this could be provided in English, but Swedes are equal opportunity –and if they can’t translate it into all languages of potential non-Swedish-speaking donors, they shouldn’t favor one over the other. Or something like that.

Being gay is no longer a deal breaker for donating blood. Apparently if you are a gay man and can establish (or maybe if you just swear) that you haven’t had sex in over a year, you can donate blood. I can’t imagine there are many men who are so utterly devoted to the opportunity to donate.

I don’t really fully appreciate why they make it so hard to donate blood. They can turn you down if you have backache (which was one reason they rejected me on a previous try) because apparently you need your blood more than they do. A woman sitting beside me today was turned away for this reason. She didn’t take it well (and I empathized) because it was the 2nd time she was refused. I never knew that aches and pains were so blood-thirsty.

Today, donating felt more like I was sneaking around or getting away with something. I didn’t dare answer any questions which could raise a flag. I wasn’t admitting to any sniffs or sneezes let alone a fictitious secret fantasy to test out the life of a sexually active gay man.

One box of chocolates (A Christmas treat), one losing Triss Lott and two Festis boxes later I descended the Blood Bus triumphant. A Swedish blood donor.

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