By: Michael Strom

The clock struck 11.30 as the first guests started to arrive at the hotel, which was flying the Swedish flag in honor of the day. A dreary outside and a Union Square beset by eager Christmas shoppers were starkly contrasted by the luncheon’s venue: the golden Alexandra room on the 32nd level with floor to ceiling French pane windows from where, on a clear day, the entire San Francisco peninsula is visible.

As people passed the room’s reception area, they came upon a table full of trays of Swedish candy, gingerbread cookies and glögg (mulled wine), all traditional treats for a Swedish Christmas. This year, the traditional menu of cured Salmon, herring and beet salad from Chef Pelle and, among other things, Swedish meatballs, Jansson’s Temptation and mustard glazed ham was done buffet-style as a classic Christmas table (Julbord) to the slight confusion of anyone not acquainted with the ins and outs of a Swedish Christmas menu.

Spaten Beers, Absolut Vodka and Midsummer Cellars—the event sponsors for the luncheon—made sure not one moment passed without people having a jolly good time and spontaneous outbursts of singing could be heard from various tables during the lunch.

Spurred on by the chamber, the entire room chimed in with the traditional “Helan Går” and songs like “Aquavit i Glasen”, “Nu Har Vi Sprit” and the more orthodox “Jingle Bells”. Chairman of the Board Nils Welin also made a speech in which he addressed the challenges and successes of the past year, particularly emphasizing how the organization has grown and speaking about some of this year’s successful events such as The Swedish Bay Area Achievement Awards. Mr. Welin took time to thank each sponsor for their support of the event.

Mr. Welin also presented The Member of the Year-Award to Julie King, citing her unflinching dedication to the chamber’s work and her crucial assistance during some of the events earlier in the year.

Toward the end of a high-spirited luncheon filled with songs and smiles, the chamber did its own interpretation of what a Lucia procession should look like, much to the joy of everyone attending. Russ Whitehead, one of the attendees: “You know what, that was really nice, I really appreciated that.”