Thursday, December 31, 2015

Winter solstice and christmas time

It has been a weird solstice/christmas period this year.
Apart from crazy warm and windy weather (of course the weather turned these last few days) our personal lives have also been turned upside down once more. We indeed received the gift/support we were nominated for and that helped us right through the december month without a single Swedish kron to spare.
That meant no big presents, but a few small ones and good food on the table.

I planned on doing something for the wintersolstice. We have this spruce treestump in the garden, which is quite ugly and in the way and I planned to drill a hole into it from the top all the way down and from the side, using one of the augers I got during an auction. Turned out the auger's too small, rusted and blunt and the stump too weathered and hard. It would've made a great rocketstove like candle.... Too bad really.

And as I have mentioned I got a job as well! It triggered a mental landslide...
I help refugee teenage boys, who came here all alone, finding their way in Swedish society and try to give them something like a home here, And I must say they keep on amazing me! Their attitude, their drive and their mentality. Most of them have not been here long. They never saw Swedish winter and in fact some of them have only been here for a few weeks.
These are kids.... between 15 and 18.... and I am humbled by them. They travelled 1000's of miles from deserts to the dark forests here with only the clothes they wear. They tell me stories...about sleeping in the desert dust in freezing temperatures. The recordholder so far has travelled through 13 countries and is just a little older than my son. I imagine Sven being forced to undertake such an endeavour and my stomach tightens up ... And yet they are mostly friendly and kind, often smile and laugh, but when you look into their eyes...... They saw things no one should need to see.
They are so driven to learn the language and make a future, but the most amazing feature is the way they take care of each other. They are all complete strangers, but when a new guy comes, he is welcomed and taken in immediately. Yet they also correct each other and address each other's inappropriate behaviour.
I am already getting more personally involved with some of them. It is near to impossible to not like them. I have dinner with them, we clean together and play pool. I accompany them to the dentist and the sportsfacilities. I sit down with them and help them with their lectures and I teach them the Swedish language. The want to know about me and I tell them my story. And their eyes get big.... and yet it is they who just had an ordeal.
One amazing occasion was when I was tasked to decorate a christmastree and see to it that 4 outdoor shoebrushes, similar like the one shown, had to be assembled. I asked some of them if they'd like to help and did they! For a few hours we were busy and I was surrounded by Afghan chatter and laughter. I was surrounded by muslim boys, who had no idea about christmas and christmas trees and they loved it! I tried to explain the meaning behind it all and when we were done, they posed before they tree and took pictures of it and each other. Marvellous!
Last night, after only working there for three weeks, I got the most wonderful compliment I could get. I told them that I had worked my last shift for this year and that I would be back after a week. I was told I would be missed. When I asked why, the answer was that it was so calm and relaxed when I was around.

This job is also quite demanding, since not all is rosy. For instance we also watch movies, preferably Swedish, but last night we, the staff and a large part of the Afghan boys, watched a movie,  called The kite runner. It is set in Afghanistan, focussed on 2 boys from different social classes. Yet I could not bear to watch it all. I could see their faces and feel the emotions raging deep within them.
These boys need us and have to place their trust in us. Some of them find that hard. And it is great when they open up to you, despite their experiences.

I worked quite a lot; about 10% over the hours of a fulltime job, but I really do not mind. It is a very giving job and the paychecks will enable me to purchase material needed for all the projects I had to put on hold. I work long days 12, 14 or 22 hours, but that means a good deal of days off, so if things keep going the way they are 2016 will see our plans being propelled forward at a fast pace.

So once again the holiday season was one of giving and receiving and I have to say it was and still is a grand experience.
I feel that I make a difference, that I matter to others, that I do something meaningful outside my family and house. Above all I feel blessed with what I have and with what I can give and that is the biggest gift of all.

Christmas to many, if not most, is about giving (preferably receiving it often feels like) physical presents. We kept it quite moderate, as I said earlier, yet I'd like to mention the thing I got and that will hopefully be yet another skill or at least a more in depth introduction to it; blacksmithing. Fooled around with that before, but I will be doing a short course with a black smith in april. That was what I got for christmas.....

As for me 2015 has been a good year. We made it, are in good health, well fed, with a larger circle of friends and contacts then at the beginning whilst thriving, with glad, healthy kids and a happy dog.... and by looking at the current state of affairs 2016 promises to be even better.

Bless you all, do not wait with changes or resolutions for the next year. make them now, make them any day and make the best with who you have and with what you have.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. You are embodying the spirit of Christmas all by yourself! This is an amazing story what these boys have to tell us and show us of the will to survive. Doesn't this tell us something about the human race? How adversity will make us rise to our best? I fear for all the people of the world who have it too easy for they lose their edge and become physically and spiritually vulnerable. As they say in Australia, Good On Ya Mate!