Myself and my mum, cooking a New Year’s Eve dinner. Ingrid took the photo.

Bruschetta with smashed avocados and cherry tomatoes; spinach and ricotta cannelloni with tomato sauce and bechamel sauce; chocolate and blood orange semifreddo.

He likes the bathing part but not the hair washing, as he reminds me every time.

Ingrid is knitting a scarf and I am making another attempt at the cardigan that failed a few years ago. So Adrian decided to try out knitting as well.

It is hard, because he doesn’t really understand how it works, how the yarn accumulates and makes up the knitting. So he is following rules but doesn’t understand why they work. It’s like when he was learning to tie simple overhand knots – he understood that the ends of the rope must cross each other and then one must come through, but it took him a good while to understand that the ends were not equal, that it mattered which one to bring through – that one makes a knot and the other has no effect.

Ingrid on the other hand actually understands knitting now. She can see if things look right or wrong. She knows which way to continue if she puts her work down in the middle of a row. She can notice a slipped stitch and even pick one up.

The weather outside is dull and gray and so is my mood. So here’s a pretty flower to make everything feel better.

There’s a story attached to this one.

Everybody except Eric got books, bought online like almost all my gifts this year. All packages but one arrived on time, and many of them I didn’t even unpack until the evening before Christmas Eve when it was time to wrap all the gifts. And then I discovered that one of the parcels had the wrong contents. I had received someone else’s order. The name and address on the outside of the parcel were mine, the packing list and the contents were not.

I looked up the guy who was supposed to get those books and he turned out to live in Stockholm. Gave him a call and he came by to pick up the books on Christmas Eve, because they were a Christmas gift of course. He gave me this potted hyacinth as a thank-you.

He said he had gotten books that were supposed to be shipped to Arvika. So I guess there was an off-by-one error somewhere in the packing process at Adlibris: each package got the shipping label of the next package in line. I wonder how long that line was, how many packages ended up in some other corner of the country, before they discovered their error. If they even did that.

Our bird feeder is a great success this year. It’s attracting incredible numbers of goldfinches and redpolls, veritable swarms of them. It gets so crowded that when, all of a sudden, they decide to take flight, there isn’t enough room for all of them and some crash into our kitchen windows. It feels awful to think of their little bodies hitting the glass, but they don’t hit it with much speed and so they all seem to survive it without too much harm. I haven’t even seen any fall on the ground. But they leave blotches of feathers on the window.

I enjoy Christmas less and less as the years go by. You say tradition, I say routine. Almost all of Christmas is “should” rather than “want”.

One of the things about Christmas that I do enjoy is cooking and serving semi-fancy dinners. Linen tablecloth, candles, three-course meals with fancy desserts.

My mum joined us to decorate gingerbread cookies.

Christmas tree needles.

Trying to fit all the gifts under the tree. (Which is already shedding needles like crazy.)

Finished wrapping all the Christmas gifts.