Thursday, December 24, 2009

Viking Christmas in the Real Stormpeaks

Today it's December 24, Christmas Eve. You who have been following the PPI for a year or more know what Larísa will be up to, not in Azeroth, but in real life. This is THE day for Christmas celebrations in Sweden. Christmas Day is... well, if not a day of hangover, at least quite dampened. The most fun part is already over.

Last Christmas I described some rather geeky Swedish traditions. The short version is that everyone and his uncle on a set time, 3 pm, will assemble in front of the TV to watch a one hour show consisting of selected Walt Disney cartoons. (True!)

The ritual also consists of drinking huge amounts of "glögg", a spicy wine drink, which is served hot. If you haven't fell into coma, you're there after invited to open the Christmas gifts. A couple of hours later it's time for Christmas dinner. Or maybe I should rather call it "blot". (If you have no idea of what a blot is, check here).

You can't exactly say that our eating habits are sophisticated (a French girl I know insists that the natural dinner at Christmas should be oysters and champagne, that's what I would call classy!). No, Swedish Christmas dinners consists of meat in all forms you can think of, mostly pork, some salmon dishes. And - unless you're a dedicated vegetarian - hardly a single vegetable on the table.

This year we'll feel more like our Viking ancestors than ever, thanks to the cold and snowfall we've experienced the last couple of weeks. I live in Uppsala, which is the fourth largest city in Sweden, but I assure you, when I look out of my window it looks more like Stormpeaks than anything else. Before writing this I just came back from a one hour cross-country skiing tour, starting right outside of my door, going over fields and through a forest which looked exactly like the one appearing in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

Blizzard's gifts
Being a mother of two I have a lot of family obligations these days - which of course aren't just obligations, but something I thoroughly enjoy. If you have teenagers you know how it is. You see each other at dinner - at the most. And it won't be many years before they've moved on somewhere else, so I'd better spend some time with them while they're still around.

And as if this wasn't enough, there is this magic winter landscape calling on me, and no matter how much I appreciate Winterspring, I have to admit it's nowhere close to the real stuff.

Does this mean that Larísa will shut down the inn and pull the plug to the PC, having a seasonal break from WoW?

Nope. Not quite so. You see, Blizzard gave us some really sweet gifts right before the holidays this year. The new Random Dungeon feature is one. Even though I'll rarely be able to squeeze in gaming sessions lasting for hours these days, it's quite possible to find a 30 minute slot between different RL arrangements, where I can quickly slip into Azeroth and run one of those fast, silent pug runs. I know I will appreciate it more now than normall, as it will give a brief break from the sometimes rather intense socializing that comes with the season.

I don't expect my realm to be anything but very quiet, but since they pool the available players from a number of realms, I'm pretty certain I'll be able to find people to play with, no matter what time of the day it is. This tool is awesome - especially for holidays. Thank you Blizzard!

The other sweet gift was of course the new content that came with 3.3. I'm SO looking forward to run the new five man instances again - so far I've only been able to run them once. I've seen the basics - the secound time around I hope I can look more into the details. I definitely think those instances will hold for several runs before they start to feel too familiar and predictible.

All in all, we've never had a Christmas before with so much fun, interesting and - above all - flexible content in WoW to enjoy. There's something for everyone - low level, endgamer, topgeared or ungeared, casual or hardcore....

Or... oh well, maybe not so much the hardcore. The bleeding-edge guys have run head-first into the gate and will have to wait another couple of months for the hardmodes. Poor guys. Perhaps another mug of glögg will cheer you up?

Merry... something
So how do I end a rambling post like this? I'd rather like to wish you a Merry Christmas, but to my surprise this apparently is a bit controversial in some countries, at least if I read Ysharrros at Stylish Corpse. She called her Christmas post "Merry Kwanmasanukkah", just to be safe.

Rathernotsay has another expression: "bah-fucking-hum-bah", as a reaction to the goblin side of the Christmas. "People do not appreciate the season for a time being with the ones you have warm fuzzy feelings for".

It's easy to agree and get disgusted at the yearly overconsumption of what is actually 90 percent stupid crap and gold sinks. However, I beg to differ.

In spite of the wicked commercialism, in spite of the family bonds that sometimes are more of a pain than enjoyment, there will also be brief moments during those holidays which will make my eyes sparkle. Looking at the clear, starry sky, reflected in the snow field surrounded by crystallized trees. Listening to O Holy Night, sung in the mighty Cathedral of my city, thousands and thousands of candles burning in the middle night binding peple from different times and places together. Peace in my mind, if so just for the fragment of a second. Beauty. Light. Hope.

Call it whatever you want to - blot, Christmas or simply Winter Veil. I wish you all the best. I wish you delicious meals, I wish you love and friendship, I wish you tranquility. And last but not the least - I wish you some REALLY epic fat imba loot in Icecrown Citadel or elsewhere.

Cheers from your innkeeper!


Josh said...

Happy/merry/festive Chrismahannukwanzica to you too, Larisa!

Klepsacovic said...

I say Merry Christmas to you too!

Ixobelle said...

merry xmas you

RatherNotSay said...

Enjoy the holidays! Even this grumpy guy is going to be off having some fun!

Sephrenia said...

Have a peaceful, enjoyable Christmas. all the best to you and yours, Seph xx

Anonymous said...

God Jul och Gott Nytt År från Uppsala :)

Gevlon said...

Happy Christmas! It must be great to live in a real Stormpeaks.

Your post revitalized my old childhood dream: when I'll get big and rich, I'll buy a weekend house to stay there whole summer. No, not in some oceanic paradise like Hawaii or Tahiti. Sweden or New Zealand where it's not that hot. Maybe that's a dream that I'll make come true one day.

G-Rebel said...

I live in a desert now, but I used to live in Argentina where, on Christmas, they would also eat a thousand types of meats at a midnight feast while everyone shot fireworks into the sky. Good times.

Merry Christmas!

Eus said...

Merry Christmas! Stay safe and Enjoy family and friends!

Llyrra said...

Live, love, enjoy and share! Merry, Merry Larisa!

Btw, my swedish boss (and friend) made some glögg this year... I remember feeling all warm inside and, well, I don't remember much after that. /salute