Saudade describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. It often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing will never return. It’s related to the feelings of longing, yearning.
As I was the only daughter in our family, I was the one to wear the crown of candles (when we used live ones, we would place a wet rag on our head inside the crown- the crown being made of lingonberry bush or pine branches).
I had an electric candle crown and I remember the weight of it so well. I was always so excited to get up early and dress in a white gown, with a red ribbon round my waist. My mom would prepare me. I would then carry a tray with coffee and gingerbread cookies to my dad.
At school, one girl would be chosen as Queen Lucia and other girls and boys were her entourage. We would get saffron buns, rice pudding and lingon drink.
Here is a beautiful painting by Swedish artist, Carl Larsson, of his family celebrating Lucia day:
Christmas is here- magical time of year. One of my favorite and one of the hardest. So true for many of us. It’s a time of joy and connection, of reminders of loss and longing, of financial hardship and worry, a time of creating and sharing and giving…
I love surrounding myself with old Christmas trinkets and treasures and the past…
… a reminder of (and gratitude for) my childhood filled with joy and belief in magic. A time of magical thinking.
I love all our collected Christmas treasures. I’ll spend time simply looking at them, touching them. They are magic to me.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the draw of magical thinking and the need to find connections and signs, to fall back into trust.
What would happen if I simply met all my worries with love?
With a don’t-know mind?
Simply allow the magic?
… you are wired to find meaning in the world, a predisposition that leaves you with less control over your beliefs than you may think. Even if you’re a hard-core atheist who walks under ladders and pronounces “new age” like “sewage,” you believe in magic.
Magical thinking springs up everywhere. Some irrational beliefs (Santa Claus?) are passed on to us. But others we find on our own. Survival requires recognizing patterns—night follows day, berries that color will make you ill. And because missing the obvious often hurts more than seeing the imaginary, our skills at inferring connections are overtuned… We look for patterns because we hate surprises and because we love being in control. Emotional stress and events of personal significance push us strongly toward magical meaning-making.
Unless artists can remember what it was to be a little girl, they are only half complete as artist and women. – T.M.
A few years back, I translated my little Holly Hobby Diary (Jan-Dec 1977) from Swedish to English for my brother as a birthday treat. It was also an exercise for me to look back and at myself (my terrified, pubescent self) objectively and with a hint of forgiveness. It is a hilarious read.
The pages show an innocence and longing that borders on a personality disorder, I swear. They record an epic year in a young life. It starts in Sweden and ends in Canada. Throughout the pages one can gleam signs of development, torment, birth, death, family and health issues, anxiety, longing, leaving, movement, goodbyes, dreams fulfilled and lost, friendship, romance, love… And ballet, ballet, ballet. But there is a strange detachment on the part of my adolescent self- an innocence that shocks me now. Perhaps the self-indulgent tunnel vision and inappropriate affectation I exhibited in those pages protected me from the growing pains of change.
There is a need to revisit the past. To re-look. To analyze. Who was I then? And why did I not know that all would eventually be OK? Why was I so naïve, berating myself with bitter self-judgments and debilitating existential anxiety? But truly, I was just developing. I can forgive this young diary writer. I can. And I thank her for her recordings. It is cathartic to revisit the past from the safe house of adulthood.
The color of my 1977- PINK- Halfway between the white innocence of a child and the red worldliness of a woman. No… not halfway quite yet. Revision: the color of my 1977- PALE PINK. Quite pale.