Six Sense: An annual trek for the taste of Sweden

Photo Courtesy of IKEA's Facebook

By Chris Six

Somewhere along the line, it became an annual tradition. Perhaps it is a remedy for the “Post-Christmas Blues,” maybe it is the result of cabin fever, or simply because we finally have the time on a weekend, but January always includes a trip to IKEA.

If you don’t have one near you, IKEA is a European company that specializes in ready-to-assemble furniture. Yet, calling IKEA simply a furniture company is like saying a Ferrari is simply a car. IKEA is an experience.

One of the primary draws is the food. Dreams have been built around the taste of the Swedish meatballs, and if you are lucky enough to be close to one, it’s a good meal at a great price. Plus, all of it can come home with you at the end of the day when you shop the market, along with such delicacies as roe paste and pickled herring.

Don’t worry, all the food isn’t foreign to the palate – there are plenty of goodies for all tastes.

Then, there is the store itself. To give you an idea of scale, the average store is 300,000 square feet. So, there are plenty of idea-inspiring rooms to walk through filled with furniture and home goods to fill your home. Even when you go in with a plan to buy nothing, you’ll come out having spent more than you expected.

It is more than a shopping trip, and because the nearest store are at least an hour and a half from our house, it has become an experience – as I say, a tradition.

In previous years, it was to look for furniture and accents for our home, but now, having been here for seven years and with our home on the market, I’m sure our real estate agent’s head might pop to see us drag in a new piece of furniture.

With a kid preparing to head to college, however, the trip took on new meaning. Where, in the past, we might have been looking for a bed or TV stand for her room, dragging her through the store when she reached the point where she had enough, this time we were spectators as a young adult shopped for her dorm room.

It was a striking reminder as to how quickly time passes. Some moments in life can seem to drag on forever, yet 10 years can pass in a blink of an eye. Watching that remarkable young woman about to start a new chapter in her life while remembering the young girl who amused herself creating slow-motion videos of me eating meatballs in the cafeteria is such moment.

Of course, it is a new chapter in our lives, as well. My life has pretty much been evenly split between the Philadelphia and Washington D.C. regions. That’s a lot of ground, a lot of life and a lot of memories for a sentimental fool.

The next chapter will mean new traditions, new friends and new places to explore. There’s plenty of excitement in that, of course, and just a little bit of trepidation.

I’m not a huge Rush fan, but with the recent passing of band member Neil Peart, all of this reminded of a lyric an old friend once related: “Changes aren’t permanent, but change is.”