We Run the Tides: A Novel by Vendela Vida:
We go home and sit in the front room next to all the straw goats that Swedes put out at Christmastime. I don’t really understand this tradition, or the fact that in my opinion the traditional straw figures more closely resemble horses than goats. But now is not the time to ask questions—I’m eager to open the presents under the tree. This takes four minutes because not only do we celebrate Christmas the Swedish way, we celebrate it the stingy way. The gifts are soft so I know before opening them that I’ve gotten socks and underwear. From the fireplace hangs my Christmas stocking, with my name misspelled as “Ulabee.” A family friend gave me the stocking years ago and despite the misspelling, which makes me disappointed in the American educational system, we still use it. The stockings are mostly decorative anyway; tomorrow my stocking will be filled with pencils.
“I have a surprise,” my father says. “It was too big to wrap.” From behind the piano, he slides out a rectangular-shaped object, the size of a painting. He carefully removes the protective cloth and reveals it is a painting. It depicts kids playing at the beach.