I hope the Holidays were great for everyone. It always feels like there is this huge buildup for them and then they are gone in a second. I spent my first Holiday season away from home and it was not all that bad (still would rather be home).
Greg (American center) and I hopped on a train on the 24th and headed about 30 miles west of Sodertalje to a town called Laggesta. I had met a lady after one of our home games. She has three sons and one of them plays for a younger division associated with the kings program. Her husband is also American so it seemed to be a pretty good fit for us to go partake in a Swedish Christmas (I have mentioned earlier they celebrate Christmas here on the 24th). We arrived at the train station around 1:30 and it was about a 10 minute drive to their house. They lived in this tiny neighborhood way out in the country off a dirt road. It was a nice setting and had a lake right next to there house. The lake was frozen over and the sons were trying to get us to take a winter bath. I guess you sit in the sauna at like 70 degree then go and jump in the frozen lake (We both passed). It is a tradition here to watch an hour of cartoons starting at 3 PM. This was started back when the television was introduced. They play exactly the same cartoons every year until the very last skit and then that one is new (this year was ratatouille).
After the cartoons are over dinner begins, they like to eat food for there holidays as well. We started off with cold appetizers which included salmon, pickled heron, deviled eggs with shrimp, and eel (do not recommend this). Once you had your fill of those the hot meal begins with meatballs, ham, little hotdogs, short ribs, potatoes, and salad. After the dinner the family opens presents. (I was wondering when Santa came for the little kids, and they said when they were little this is when there dad would say he needed to get the paper and come back dressed as Santa).
Greg and I took a short nap on the couch while they finished this part. Once all the presents were done, dessert was then served. This included vanilla ice cream and rice pudding with strawberry sauce to pour over both (I had seconds of this as well). It was a great meal and we were very thankful for the family inviting us. Once again it would not be complete without one slip up. They misread the train schedule going back. We were stuck riding back with the family’s Uncle, Aunt, and pregnant cousin who live in Stockholm. Again this would not be that bad if Europeans did not drive cars that were never meant to hold 6’6” people or taller (especially with me weighing an extra 10 pounds from dinner). We made it back and only had to stretch for about 5 minutes, so I can not complain too much.
New Years Eve was all most a disaster as the shoes Morgan brought were two of the same shoe (that is how the store sold them to her). She had no real shoes to go out in, but she was a trooper and put on her boots. We ended up having a really good time at a small private party with friends from the basketball team. At 12 o’clock they shoot fireworks off here like it is Independence Day at home. Everyone goes downtown by this lake and just cheers and watches the fireworks. It was a nice change up from the pots and pans that people bang. I have not made a New Years resolution. Does anyone really make realistic New Years resolutions? Or even follow through with any of them? I’m not sure I have ever really made one or if I did I do not think I followed up or remembered it long enough to complete it. I’m making that a poll question because I am curious to see if people actually use them or follow them through.
Morgan’s Visit (my girlfriend of five years)
She has been here for about 7 days and has three more days left with me. We have been eating well as we have been switching off on dinner duties. I have not had to cook much before she came because I bring dinner home from the lunch spots, but I still got it. I also have a lot more dishes with another person in the apartment, but we have found a great way to decide who has this duty. UNO solves this, winner watches the loser wash them. I like this way because I’m fairly good at the game. It has been pretty uneventful for her as I have practice twice a day, but that is how vacation is suppose to be anyway just a lot of relaxing.
We did manage to make a trip to Stockholm and she loved the city. I think we went on the coldest day since I have been here. We had to make extra stops in stores just to warm up. We walked around and saw all the unique things and then had lunch at Fridays. This is my favorite restaurant at home so it was nice tasting the Jack Daniels sauce. We also made a stop at a coffee shop to keep the hands warm while walking. I think her favorite part of the day was the last stop in downtown Sodertalje. We stopped at another café for a piece of cake and ran into one of the best chocolate cakes I may have ever had. As she describes it, it was the texture of cookie dough but the taste of brownie batter all wrapped into a delicious slice of chocolate (we won’t be walking by there again).
We took a 5 hour bus ride up to Sundsvall on the 28th to play the third place team in the league. The team lost to them at home before I arrived here. They have an American three man who is a very good player both offensively and defensively. It was going to be a very good game for me to proof myself. Well I did not exactly do that. I got in early foul trouble getting my second foul on a very bad call. I went back in before half and picked up my third. This was my second game here where the refs were horrendous. I believe we had 35 fouls to there 10 or 11. In the game of basketball that honestly is not possible. I did not play much in the second half; coach was trying to protect me a little, but ended up keeping me on the bench to long. I scored 7 quick points at the end of the 3rd quarter, but he kept me on the bench to long in the fourth and it was too late for us to come back. We were up at the end of third but only scored 8 points in the fourth and ended up loosing by 15.
We came back with a strong home performance on Friday. It was a very high scoring game with the final score 119-93 (we were victorious). I had a very solid game scoring 17 (on 7-12 shooting), 6 boards, 3 steals, 2 assists. I’m ninth in the league right now averaging 2 steals a game (Thomas Jackson is first with 3). Greg had a very solid game as well scoring 31 and 11 boards. This was a big game for him as the team was getting a little nervous about his abilty and was thinking about a change if he did not perform this game. I think he got the monkey off of his back and can relax a little.
This is a big stretch of games for us as there are six teams jostling for 4 positions. We really need to go 8-0 or at least 7-1. We have started it off right, now we go on the road for good test.
This is BC gone for now