Finland, the Day Before Christmas Eve


There’s an expansive view across the lake from our cabin, and more lights on the far shore every time we visit. This time there’s just a cover of snow and for winter, it just about an ideal temperature, hovering around zero Celsius.

Mirja’s father Risto is a tree farmer. He has outfitted the old farmhouse up on the road with a particular Siberian variety of Christmas tree. The cabin has a Finnish pine from the farm. He’s talking about a Christmas tree safari for next year on the family land on the far side of the road.

Mirja is deep into something she always does when we arrive in Finland. She parks by the fireplace, builds a big birchwood fire and listens to Finnish on TV.  It doesn’t really matter what’s on. She’s just re-acclimating to her native language.

Tonight being the 23rd of December, it’s mostly about Joulopukki (Santa Claus – literally the “Christmas goat”).  Well-loved Finnish entertainers are sitting for interviews and performing for Christmas. 

There was a half hour of news: Pictures of destruction in Syria. Extended coverage of the tributes to Vaclav Havel, Czech audio with Finnish subtitles. There was dispensation not to worry about calories over the holiday and there were quick lists of ingredients for traditional holiday dishes. And not a single story from a mall.

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