Last week, the Pitea Chamber Choir from Sweden visited Middletown (where I work) to host a joint concert with the Wesleyan University chorus. The performance started with a traditional Lucia processional, and it brought tears to my eyes because it was so beautiful (and yes, it made me a little homesick).
The director of the Swedish chorus, Erik Westberg, has been teaching at Wesleyan University this semester as part of a grant and exchange program. This concert, and another one by just the Swedish chorus the following day, were the culmination of his time in the United States.
He stopped by my office a couple of weeks ago and we chatted about the differences between Americans and Swedes (Americans work harder and longer) and about what the appropriate answer is to "How are you doing?" in different situations (When a friend asks: "Good, how are you?"; When asked at a restaurant: "Fine thank you.")
Now, he gets to go back to Sweden to celebrate Christmas, while I am stuck here to celebrate it "the American way."