The Goreys: A Halloween Vlog

Ahh, I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while, I’ve been busy studying hard for my math term test tomorrow! For those who are interested, I’ve finally learnt how to do fractional exponents without a calculator. And I’ve finally grasped all the log and ln rules… I didn’t even know what “ln” was till about a week ago.

Aaaanyways since I don’t have time for a proper post, here is a YouTube channel I found called “The Goreys” doing a video a day for the month of October! It seems pretty interesting. I’ve embedded the first one talking about Halloween lore, and a brilliant one about jack-o’-lanterns. I promise once I’ve finished passed my term test, I shall actually write a proper post. Until then, enjoy the videos :)

-Alex

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Home is Never Just One Place

Yesterday, I posted half of a collaboration with Kendra Thornton, about her family’s traditions at Christmastime. She spoke of how much she loved being at her own home, compared to all the other places she’s travelled for the holidays. I’m much the same–I love staying at home. Except that I love it because to me, home isn’t just one place.

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Christmas in my household is synonymous with family. It starts on Christmas Eve, when family on my mom’s and dad’s side packs into my house for lots of hearty food and a late-night party. Then, on Christmas Day, it’s a whirlwind of visits as we spend time with the family on my dad’s side, then on my mom’s, exchanging gifts all around. It’s a time of noise, lights, presents, and laughter. That’s always been the meaning of Christmas for me. Warmth and family, all bundled into one happy package.

I have a few special places in my life where I feel at home, one of them being my own house, and two others being my grandparents’ houses. It makes sense. I have childhood memories in those houses and they’re places I’ve visited often enough to feel comfortable.

So at Christmas time, even though I’m travelling from house to house, it never feels like I leave home. I’m with people I love in places that fill me with solace. I couldn’t imagine spending Christmas any other way.

But within the colour and the noise, the family and the food, I find my own secret space of depth and character, where tales unravel and worlds unwind.

I have one special memory, I think of last year’s Christmas, or perhaps the year before, of sitting in my favourite spot on the couch, my legs tucked up and a pen in my hand and a notebook nearby. The light of the lamps and the Christmas tree were warm and yellow, like firelight, and the conversation all around me was friendly, pleasant, and full of laughter. And my mind was soaring, delving, and exploring grand places, with the limitless spirit it only has at Christmastime.

When I think of Christmas, I never think of brightness. I think of darkness and rich shadows, illumination coming only from dim sources, like the lights of a Christmas tree or a fireplace. I think of it as the last source of warmth and light before winter closes in with its gloom and chill. It’s that sense of impending shivers that makes my mind come alive in the last echoes of Christmas.

I begin to dream, to take the misery and despair of the long harshness of winter and make it into something I can view as beautiful. That icy blast of wind that hits me right in the face is like the relentless mountain gale that my desert elf character had to combat as he crossed the mountains to see the world. And the crisp bite of the night air on my face is the same crisp bite my knight character would feel walking home from the night patrol. It’s like I’m a part of their lives, of their stories, and that hope and delight is enough to keep me optimistic. Haha, I hate January. I can use all the optimism I can get.

I enjoy our Christmastime traditions, of gathering the family all together in places of warmth and joy, because it gives me that hopeful and emboldening spirit of imagination and adventure. I travel from house to house, never leaving home, but as I do so, I’m also stepping foot in a hundred other places, in other worlds full of magic and heroes. For an adventurer like me, that’s the best Christmas tradition I could imagine.

Where is home to you?

May your Christmastime be bright and warm, and offer comfort and adventure, wherever you call home.

-Alex

There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays

 

Kendra Thornton Picture

I was recently requested via email to do a collaborative Christmas post on Valourbörn. The request was from a fellow adventurer, Kendra Thornton, who has travelled many places and written all about her experiences. This particular Christmas story is about her family’s traditions and the joy she finds at home.

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Silver Bells! This time of year is always a winter wonderland here in Chicago as people light up with joy amid the holiday decorations and the shopping and fun times such as ice-skating and indulging in yet another mug of hot chocolate. Everyone is bustling about, shopping and planning, music and excitement filling the air! In my Norwegian family, we have a ton of rousing traditions that include lots of good, traditional food and drinks.

Shouts of ‘Skol’! –the Norwegian version of ‘Cheers’!—go up time and again from our outrageously wonderful family crowd as we gather together to make family recipes such as kringla and lefse and indulge in lots of laughter and good-natured fun. Christmas Eve traditions are special ones to this family, filled with memories and love. One of those treasured yet laughable traditions is an oyster shoot—where we literally swallow raw oysters all at the same time! The celebration is continued with a warm, yummy bowl of our homemade oyster stew followed by another family toast, using our strong Scandinavian spirit, Akvavit—which brings many a tear to our eyes as it burns fiercely all the way down! Skol!

Family traditions such as ice-skating, cookie baking and enjoying hot cocoa are always a part of our Christmas celebration, year in and year out. We set up our Christmas tree in the big bay window at home and load it up with bright lights and our family collection of special ornaments. Each and every ornament is attached to a special memory. Our decorating party is always followed by cozying up with hot cocoa and enjoying some of the freshly baked and decorated cookies—we make sure to leave some of those cookies out on Christmas Eve! Another fun family tradition is the reindeer dust—which is sprinkled outside the kids’ windows so the reindeer can find their way to us on this Eve of Christmas! Our children adore this tradition and are so excited every year.

In all of my years and all of my global-wide travels, I have seen Christmas in both cold and warmer climates. I read an article on Gogobot’s blog about warm vs. cold Christmas’s and there is definitely something to be said for being home for the holidays in Chicago! I treasure Christmas at home with my family amid the cold and the snow, my favorite season for holiday celebrations! Palm trees and rollerblades just cannot compete with snow-capped evergreen trees and hours spent ice-skating followed by even more hot cocoa, in my opinion! What kind of weather defines Christmas for you and your family?

Kendra Xmas Kids

The Thornton family loves our cold, crisp weather at Christmastime! We are embracing all of our traditions as well as enjoying new activities and making memories all the way! We are so excited to be staying home and hosting our family for the holiday again. We had such a blast at Thanksgiving! I wish for you and your family a wonderful holiday season filled with love and laughter, family and friends, wonderful food and memories to last a lifetime! Happiest of Holidays to you and your family from the Thornton Family!

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Kendra has asked to hear my own Christmas traditions, so tomorrow I’ll put up a post of what makes Christmas special for me. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you!

What Christmas traditions are dear to you?

May your holiday traditions be simple in their act, but yet enormous in their meaning.

-Alex