Christmas. And Stockholm in My Heart.

Darkness fell early. Around 3 p.m. But it wasn’t really dark. Stockholm, my former home town, was lit up for the holiday season. Chandeliers and Christmas stars lit up almost every window of the respectably old buildings in the city. And the streets were decorated with Christmas lights.

drottingatan X17 UD146The day before Christmas Eve, I decided to take a pre-dinner walk down the memory lane in the historic Old Town. Coming up from the metro station I was happy it wasn’t raining. My puffer jacket proved its worth in the near freezing temperatures and I felt ready for a long urban hike.  A man selling Christmas flowers greeted me from inside his tent.

flower stall X17 UD146I walked the narrow cobble stone alleys admiring the old buildings, a few built as early as the 13th/14th century, most in the 15th to 19th century. All of them modernized for comfortable city living.

Walking on one of the main streets, I made a nostalgic discovery. Our favorite Italian restaurant from the late 70s and 80s, Michel Angelo, was still there.

restaurant Michel Angelo UD146.jpgI walked closer and snapped a picture of a very special table. Husband and I sat there one cold night in February over 30 years ago. And got the fastest service ever. You see, I was expecting our son. And it was obvious he would arrive soon. The waiter politely asked me when the baby was due. I responded truthfully that he was due two days ago. I will never forget the expression on his young face. Needless to say our pizzas arrived in record time. Quattro Stagioni with different toppings for each quarter, like the four seasons.

rest michel angelo table ud146Here I was, so many years later, a reflection in the window of my memories.

I continued my walk trying to find my way to Stortorget, the main town square in Old Town, where the traditional Christmas Market has been held every year since the 1920s.

street in old town 2 X17 UD146My sense of direction has always been poor so I ended up enjoying many an old building on my way. I came to a smaller square, Järntorget, where a big tree lit up the surrounding buildings. And tomtar, reindeers, dala horses and viking helmets filled the shop windows.

jarntorget gamla stan UD146_edited-1

shop window in Old Town UD146I crisscrossed a few more alleys and finally heard the music and saw the familiar sights of the Christmas Market.

xmas market X17 UD146I lingered there between the stalls for quite a while. I was looking for a Yule Goat, just like the one husband had bought over 30 years ago. And found the last remaining one! It is now continuing the tradition in our son’s family glogg UD146_edited-1home. I also found warm glögg and enjoyed a small cup with a ginger bread cookie in the company of visitors from Japan and Poland.

It was all so familiar. Heartwarming. I felt at home right there standing in the crowd sipping my glögg.

Now all warmed up, I continued my journey through the Old Town finding many interesting buildings and churches built starting in the latter part of the middle ages.

And finally arrived at the Royal Palace. It has over 600 rooms, but looking up from the darkened court-yard only a few windows were lit here and there. A soldier stood guard at one of the entrances.

royal palace X17 UD146

Royal palace court yard UD146_edited-4From there I walked down the castle hill and continued towards another island, Riddarholmen, the Island of the Knight. You see, while the earliest findings of human activity in the Stockholm area date back to the stone age, about 6000 B.C., the city of Stockholm was built starting in 1180 and was officially established in 1252 on Stadsholmen, or the Town Island now broadly referred to as the Old Town. The city then gradually expanded onto several other islands connected by bridges.

slottsbacken X17 castle hill UD146From there I could spot Kungsholmen, the King’s Island, were we used to live in our early years in Stockholm. And where we got married at the City Hall seen in the distance.

mot kungsholmen X17 UD146From the bridge to Riddarholmen I also spotted the Royal Opera House lit in changing colors for the festive season.

the royal opera house UD146I then walked over the bridge to the beautifully lit city center…

bridge to old town X17 UD146

sergels torg 2 X17 UD146…and took the metro a couple of stops back to my sister’s home, also located in a century old building in central Stockholm.

gathorna X17 UD146 Once inside, I was wrapped in the warmth of the Christmas spirit…

xmas cheer X17 UD146

xmas star in te window X17 UD146

amaryllis X17 ud146…served delicious traditional meals, loved and hugged by family.

julbord X17 UD146 And I was kissed by a sweet boy. He did a great job in comforting me when I missed Dylan. my sweet boy UD146While being the first without my dad and husband, this Christmas truly nurtured my heart and soul.

Thank you for being here, and for all your encouragement throughout 2017. I wish you all good health, renewed joy, love and peace. May your light burn bright in 2018.

fire X17 UD146_edited-1

83 thoughts on “Christmas. And Stockholm in My Heart.”

  1. Thank you for the wonderful tour of Stockholm Helen. And more importantly, thanks for sharing your heart. I’m glad you found solace and comfort this holiday season. May 2018 be a year of blessings.

    1. Thank you, Brad, for your good wishes. It was heartwarming to be able to go back and spend Christmas with my sister and her family. Met some good friends too. It was all very healing.

  2. Beautiful post! Thank you for taking us along on your memorable trip. May you be blessed this coming year in all that you do. I am looking forward to seeing you and Dylan again soon at the dog park =)

    1. Thanks Kathy! Happy you enjoyed the trip. Dylan and I were at the park tonight but Dylan had to run all alone. I hope the weather warms up just a bit soon so that we both can see our friends there again 🙂

  3. What a lovely tour of a historic city, and I had to smile at the pizza story. So glad you found comfort with family and a darling little dog too. Beautiful! Wishing you many blessings in the New Year.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the walk in the Old Town, Meg. I love that place. The old buildings have so much character and the atmosphere is always so warm, regardless of the temperature 🙂 Many blessings to you as well in 2018.

  4. Helen, I really enjoyed wandering with you through favourite memories of Stockholm. What an incredibly beautiful city it is! Thanks for the Italian restaurant smiles. That pizza must have tasted so good. How lovely your sister’s Christmas decorations are; it looks so warm and cosy in her apartment. Wishing you and Dylan a very happy 2018. xx

    1. Happy you came along on my walk down the memory lane, Sylvia. You are right, that pizza was so delicious 🙂 Our son arrived about 36 hours later. I thoroughly enjoyed the warm Christmas cheer in my sister’s home…including the live tree that we girls (sister, niece and I) carried home from a block away. I wish you & family a wonderful 2018 with good health and lots of happiness. XXX

    1. I thoroughly enjoyed the warmth of family and old friends, all the surroundings and the mix of old and new memories. Thank you for coming along, Nancy.

  5. So glad you were loved and hugged, Helen. And found and re-found sense of joy in this beautiful city. Many thanks for the guided tour, and all the very best to you for 2018.

  6. What a delight to walk with you as your revisited so many special places. The story of the speedy pizza delivery had me in giggles. Fabulous that a Yule goat was found and the last one at that . Lovely to hear you felt surrounded by love during the holidays. Sending a virtual hug across the miles. Xo

    1. It is funny how some memories just stay so vividly with us, like the pizza story. I even remember what I was wearing 🙂 The new Yule Goat was exactly the same size, but with a modern “bearded” design suitable for the young family. All in all a wonderful, healing trip. Thank you for coming along, Sue. Many hugs to you as well with wishes for great adventures in 2018.

  7. Thank you for letting us walk here with you Helen – Stockholm looks so magical with all the Christmas lights! So glad you had a wonderful time with your sister and we wish you a beautiful and blessed 2018 :o) xxx

    1. Thank you Xenia. The Christmas lighting was truly magical and took away the darkness otherwise present in the north this time of the year. Thank you for taking the walk with me. Many blessings for 2018. XXX

  8. Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories and the gorgeous city of Stockholm. I feel like I was right there with you. Hope your trip was both healing and happy. Glad you could be with your sister and her dog. Pepper and I have missed you and Dylan.

    1. I was great and very healing to be with my sister & her family, including Pebbe, the poodle 🙂 Dylan and I have missed you too…I hope the weather warms up soon and the dog park will be lively again 🙂

  9. Thank you so much for sharing not only your Stockholm but the wonderful memories you have of the city Helen. Your captures were glorious, whilst your pizza story still has me smiling. Happy New Year❣️

    1. Glad you came along on my little late afternoon walk, Joanne. I remember craving pizza that night so long ago. The restaurant was packed and we must have gotten the highest priority in terms of quick service 🙂 The little (now big) man arrived only 36 hours later. Happy 2018!

  10. I love that you are sharing such special memories with us. Your stories touch my heart! And I’m glad to hear you were able to get that last Yule Goat for your son’s home! I have been told that my grandmother’s and grandfather’s families (my father’s side) were originally from Sweden, so your photos and descriptions of Stockholm are really special to me. Wishing you much joy in 2018!

    1. I am happy this post was a little bit special to you, Cyndi. It was a wonderful and healing trip for me. I love the city, and even now when there was no snow (some snow outside the city though) and it was the darkest time of the year, it was charming and warm. I hope you can visit…summer is so beautiful with all the water, islands and greenery everywhere. Happy 2018 to you and yours too!

  11. A wonderful tribute to Stockholm and Swedish Christmas traditions. You make me homesick.:) your stories connecting your walk around Stockholm are both entertaining, informative and so sweet.
    Thank you
    miriam

    1. Thank you Miriam. I am happy you liked this small “home town tour”. I hope you too get an opportunity to visit Sweden at times. I loved the warmth of the holiday season there…with all the cheerfully lit windows 🙂 Happy New Year to you, may it bring lots of love and joy.

  12. A beautiful heart warming post, bravely bringing back memories of the past. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Your sister’s flat was beautifully decorated and must have been a perfect place to spend your first Christmas without your loved ones.

    1. Had I stayed at home, this Christmas would have been very difficult for me, but the warmth and caring of my sister and her family was so healing. Their home was indeed beautifully decorated, including the live Christmas tree, which we “girls” carried home and decorated (mostly my niece). Thank you for coming along to Stockholm, Susan.

    1. It was, indeed, wonderful and so healing for me to spend Christmas with my sister and her family. And I love my old home town…will need to go back next summer 🙂 Thanks for joining me for this little winter walk, Amy.

  13. Yes, Helen, you were certainly right when you mentioned I’d love Stockholm; there are so many reminders of that beautiful city, Copenhagen.
    So pleased you found a Yule Goat; your son must be ever so pleased to continue such a sweet tradition. So many sweet memories for you there!
    A lovely post; sad, yet lovingly constructed. What a wonderful way to have spent the Festive Season.
    Lots of Love to you
    xoxoxo

    1. Yes, you would love Stockholm too, Carolyn. I hope you will get an opportunity to visit, summer time recommended! The walk in the Old Town brought back sweet memories and you should have seen me when I spotted the last Yule Goat. There was a line at the stall selling crafts and I had to snap the goat from the counter to safeguard it until it was my turn 😀 This was such a warm and healing trip for me and I feel grateful I was able to go. Lots of love to you too, my friend. XOXO

    1. Thank you for coming along on my walk down the memory lane, Karen. It was very healing to be able to go back and spend Christmas with my dear sister and her family. I wish you and your family a wonderful 2018 ❤

  14. I so loved following you and your heart on your Christmas journey through your hometown, with an ending of love and warmth. What precious memories. Best wishes for a wonderful 2018, full of love, happiness & peace, Helen.

    1. Thank you so much, Donna, for your good wises and for coming along on my Christmas walk. What a beautiful and healing trip that was. May the new year bring you lots of happiness…and many new birding adventures!

    1. It was indeed a lovely and healing trip for me. Thank you for coming along on the short winter walk in this beautiful city. The Old Town looks pretty much the same it always did…for 100s of years. A few buildings are a bit taller now, but the upper floors have been built with the same style preserving the original character. I wish you a very happy 2018.

  15. What a beautiful city Stockholm is Tiny!, your photos showcased it so well. A beautiful festive table ans home. So glad Christmas was a special time for you with your family in Sweden, it was a good place to mark the new beginning for this year, tracing back the memories and moving forward to create new ones in 2018. Richest blessings dear friend!

    1. Stockholm is, indeed, a very beautiful city. So much of the original character has been preserved everywhere in the “inner city” as they call it, including of course in the Old Town. This was a wonderful, healing trip for me – relived some old memories and made new ones. So grateful for the opportunity to go there. Thank you for coming along, my friend, and Happy New Year!

  16. Tiny, such a wonderful and tender post. Whilst sharing the magic of Stockholm you bring the past alive … your touching memories feeling vibrant and immediate. I can see how being home and close to your family has helped your spirits. On a personal level, I loved the Gamlastan photos as I went there on my honeymoon – my husband and I stayed at the Lady Hamilton hotel and could see the palace from our room. We loved wandering the streets, looking in the shops, eating in various restaurants. Wishing you a peaceful year ahead filled with adventures. hugs xxx

    1. How wonderful you went to Stockholm’s Gamlastan on your honeymoon! It is a magical place. We spent lots of time there while living in the city (Kungsholmen, Hagersten and then in Vasastan, where my sister & family now live)…always something to do/see there. I wish you and your family all the best in 2018!

  17. Your post is truly heart-warming Helen. Good for you for revisiting memory lane (esp the story about the baby’s due date!!). Your photos are truly fabulous – I enjoyed every single one. Here’s to a better 2018

    1. I am glad you came along on this walk down the memory lane, Tina. It’s funny how some memories feel so vivid even after such a long time. I remember the “special treatment” on that restaurant visit like it was yesterday 🙂 Happy 2018!

    1. Happy to hear you liked the walk, David. I have always liked to stroll those narrow cobble stone alleys…and the character of the very old buildings throughout the Old Town.

  18. Such incredible warmth emanating from your photos of this incredible city in the midst of the frigid winter. The Christmas Markets just make me fill with joy and hope and your photos brought the feeling of them back to me. Thank you. Your photos are delicious. Your sister’s home so inviting and your memories give me goosebumps. What a beautiful life ❤
    I am so very sorry for your multiple losses and so impressed by your ability to find the beauty around and inside you while feeling such sadness. Sending you warmth, light and friendship for 2018~

    1. Thank you, my dear friend, for your wonderful comment. This was a warm and wonderful holiday for me surrounded by love of my family and old friends with whom I reconnected. In the midst of my grief a few things became clear to me. Life does not stop for anything or anyone and it is my choice either to let it flow by feeling sorry for myself or to accept life as it is and participate actively in each moment. That realization has helped me tremendously. I can now see forward to new adventures while cherishing the memories. I wish that 2018 will be filled with love, peace and wonderful discoveries for you. Thank you for your friendship, Cindy.

  19. Oh Helen, I found this such an enchanting and spirited post, thank you. The walk through Stockholm that you took us on was absolutely beautiful–frigid, but warm with lights, festivity, and sweet memories. Your recollections, during this tender first Christmas without your husband and father, were bravely recalled and beautifully written. Your love of life shines through and I can see carries you through this difficult time, and it fills me with gladness. I know that your new year ahead will have special moments too, my best to you.

    1. Thank you, Jet, for your wonderful and very special comment. So happy you came along for this walk in Stockholm. It was cold weather-wise, but very warm and comforting at the same time. I was left with the desire to go back there with more time in the summer. Thank you for your beautiful wishes. I trust that 2018 will give me special moments. I wish you and yours a year with returning stability and renewed joy. Much love ❤

  20. What a charming city to celebrate the holidays Helen. Often wondered
    what life is like there, now I have more information and great photos to
    give me a fuller picture of it. It sounds lovely!
    Happy 2018 to you dear friend.

    1. I am happy you came along on my walk, dear Eddie. Stockholm is an enchanting city – very lush and beautiful in the summer time – with lots of water around the city, but even in the winter there is lots to enjoy! Happy 2018 to you too, my friend!

    1. Happy you got a “sneak peek” into this fascinating city, Elena! Summer is a great time to visit. I wish you too all the best in 2018…and lots of creativity.

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