Karen Koren: For me, the best way is Norway at Christmas

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My daughter Katy has arrived home for Christmas and we have had a big family gathering and lots of crackers, silly jokes, good food and too much prosecco and other forms of alcohol!

Finished off my Christmas shopping and am very pleased with myself that I don’t have that to think about – now I have just got to cook it. I always forget to buy some essential ingredient and have to ask my ever reliable brother, Rolf, to go to the supermarket on his way in to town to pick it up for me.

This year is no different, I have forgotten the red cabbage to go with the roast pork. Tonight is our big night, we celebrate in Norwegian style, Christmas Eve. My close family gather, this year there will be twelve of us. We have champagne around four in the afternoon and dinner around five. Then, the grandchildren sing carols and Christmas songs – always good fun, as they prepare in advance.

The Christmas tree is pulled into the middle of the room and presents are put all around the tree, some up against the wall there are so many 
of them. We dance around the tree – I know it sounds very corny, but most Scandinavian families do it and we have done it all my life and I could not imagine it any other way. After exhausting singing and dancing, I read the Christmas story in Norwegian and my brother follows by reading the story in English.

This makes the children understand why we celebrate Christmas. We are not religious in any way, however, I think it is important to remember why we celebrate, otherwise it is just about the presents.

The story is the boring part for the children, as they all have to keep quiet and listen and all the time they are looking at the parcels under the tree and hoping that they get more than anyone else, or that the biggest one is for them.

Once the story is over we then give out the gifts, one by one and we all have to see what each other gets.

Then the grandchildren go home and the fun really begins.