Stockholm is full of quaint little cafés. I go to none of these. For coffee, I go to the big coffeehouse chain that seems to be opening a new store on every corner. I go there because it's roomy. I like space. And I go there because they have comfy furniture. I like a good chair. I'm not especially proud that I go to the most aggressively commercial coffee shop in town. But in my neighborhood there aren't any Starbucks.
It's Father's Day in Sweden today. An upside for me in our Swedish-American household is two Father's Days each year. The U.S. one in June and today. The downside: having to remember two Mother's Days.
Halloween is awakening in Sweden. A decade ago you were hard-pressed to notice it was Halloween at all. This year it was everywhere. There were events around town, our daycare had a costume party, and out driving this weekend I saw the big globe-shaped arena in Stockholm with its facade lit up like a scary jack-o'-lantern. (I wasn't scared).
But there's one vital detail to be sorted: the night for trick-or-treating. Trick-or-treating is the main Halloween event folks, and we're flubbing it.
Until recently, any trick-or-treating typically happened the Saturday after Halloween, when Sweden observes All Saints Day. So you had to wait until the weekend for candy. This is like giving presents on Christmas but waiting until New Years to open. Tough love.
I think some now realize trick-or-treating should happen on Halloween, the 31st. But lack of consensus is diluting the movement. This weekend no kids knocked on our door for free treats. Neither Friday nor Saturday.
Make no mistake: this is a crisis. Halloween is foremost about candy. Decorations, costumes - it's all build-up to the main event. No trick-or-treating on Halloween is like no Superbowl on Superbowl Sunday. False advertising and un-American.
Let's settle this right here and now Sweden. If we're going to do Halloween, trick-or-treating needs to happen. And it needs to happen on Halloween.
A world with no trick-or-treating? Now that's scary.
I got a bonus check in the mail yesterday. The 1% cash back on our credit card. When I get this, I don't at all think about the 100% I spent. That was then. The bonus check is now. It feels like free money.
But the check reminds me about credit cards in Sweden. My sense is they aren't as big here as in the US? Or that they're used more as payment cards where the balance is paid in full each month, as we do. Racking up huge credit card debt - I haven't heard this happen much here. Even when everything is so expensive.
When I moved to Sweden, I brought credit card balances with me. I was in my mid-twenties. It's maybe a sign of how Swedish I've become that credit cards and credit card debt for someone in his early and mid-twenties now sounds crazy.
A friend of mine said credit cards are a sign of American optimism. A belief that tomorrow will be better than today. I can buy into that. As long as I get cash back.
I try very hard not to talk about the weather. This has come after a decade of discussing it deeply here in Sweden. The weather is like the George W. Bush administration. There's no need to go over it anymore. I've accepted there are things in life I'll never understand. I'm trying to move on.
But I use the weather to my advantage. To deal with weather you need good gear, and I love buying gear. My latest winter gear necessity is a new camera. I've been blogging and vlogging for about six months. The sunny half of the year. In that kind of natural light, the camera on my phone worked good enough. But we're heading into darker months. I'm now telling myself I must have a new high-powered camera for photos and video in low light.
So this post is about the darkness, not the weather. I've moved on from weather.
Few watch baseball in Sweden. This is excellent when your team loses badly. Nobody knows you should be embarrassed about what’s recently happened in the US. Or more embarrassed than normally.
Baseball here is like an imaginary friend. It’s real and important to me, but others are unaware. If I talk about it at the office, people look at me and wonder if something's wrong. But if I explain how I wake up in the middle of the night to watch, that being a fan is gut-wrenching, and that just hours after the marathon season ended I started prepping for spring training - then people get it. They know for sure something’s wrong.
The battle to be a baseball fan in Sweden: