The darkness seeps into your life here no matter how hard you try to keep it out. You can light candles and appreciate the Christmas lights and have the big sun lamp shining the whole day, but it is still dark by mid-afternoon. I notice it as I walk from the subway to my kids’ preschool, suddenly stressed that I am late, that it is night and they are waiting. It is not true, of course, but I feel it. Of course, there is a flip side. When you take your kids out on the new sled on a Sunday afternoon, and it is like the deepest night, that is cool, to be playing in the snow under the lights, sliding down hills and building snow sculptures.
Anyway, I am always disappointed in how much Swedes seem to dislike the winter. I want them to be cheery and positive and embrace it. But they don’t, in general. I have a theory too. They have been ruined by air travel. Back in the day, they knew nothing else of winter. Today, literally, my kids have two classmates and a teacher on vacation in Thailand. And this is weeks before the big rush to the sun starts.
Long ago, meaning 2004, my wife and I spent six weeks in Thailand in November and December. We returned to a Stockholm sublet that was being renovated, meaning we lived with little heat, much dust and shared a bathroom in the cleaning closet with an old junkie. We both got the flu for almost a month, and the winter was a hard and cold one.
Better to illustrate it – to see why a Swedish winter might be such a shock.
And returned to this (first pic aside, I only have access to my more picturesque shots of that Stockholm winter, but you get the idea).
This all said, I wouldn't trade our upcoming sojourn in the sun for all the cheery ski and sledding and cozy candlelit afternoons in the world …