Christmas as Usual

Så var det jul igjen: not exactly …


Image courtesy of Netflix
What happens when two young people from two different cultures meet in L.A? They fall in love!

John Smistad
Olympia, Wash.


Thea is returning to her rural roots to celebrate a classic Norwegian Christmas with her family. However, this year she’s coming home accompanied by Jashan, her Indian fiance. Generations of preconceived beliefs and traditions are about to be turned on their heads.

My review:

The culture and heritage of Norway are distinctive. Likewise, the culture and heritage of India are also distinctive. On its face, the two countries share little in terms of common characteristics. Little, that is, except that one key connection carrying the eternal power to unify humankind: love.

Native Norwegian Thea (actor/singer Ida Ursin-Holm) has fallen hard for India born and bred Jashan (comedian Kanan Gill). The two lovebirds live as one in a Los Angeles apartment. He proposes, and she accepts, in a clunky but cute offer to be his bride-to-be. But before the couple can amble down the aisle to wedded bliss, she insists on a Christmas vacation to Norway to break the nuptial news to her family.

Bliss—more like blitz.

Back home in Norway, Thea’s kin constantly call Jashan “Shazam.” As a guy who, over the course of life, has been called everything from Smithstead to Smysestaid to Sniffwistead (yes, really), I feel your pain, brother.  Still, it is meant to be laughed with, not at. And we do. A lot.

Even so, the recurring gaffe serves as ongoing indication of just how unenthused Thea’s family is to welcome this “foreigner” into their midst, particularly during such a uniquely special season for this close-knit clan.

Shaz…er…Jashan curries curry to his potential future in-laws as part of a homeland-inspired holiday feast. They are instantly irked. His Norwegian hosts counter by serving up a supper of—in Jashan’s unsparing categorization—fat with fat sauce. Needless to say, this surprise visitor is not a big fan of Norwegian festive fare.

In the end, and seeing how this Netflix production is characterized as a Christmas rom-com, we all know where this is going to eventually wind up. But the journey to get from here to there in Christmas as Usual is an uncommonly sweet, funny, and touching expedition.

And, perhaps most poignantly, there is affirmation that the enduring Norwegian quality of acceptance of all is alive and well.

May the holiday spirit bring you good cheer throughout the entire year!

Christmas as Usual streams on Netflix.

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John Smistad

John Smistad is a published author of short stories, poems, essays, and movie reviews. He lives and loves with his family and cat in the Puget Sound area of Washington state. He is the fiercely proud son of a native Norwegian dad. (He loves his mom, too.) You can follow him as on his blog at