To be honest, I think that Christmas Day is the worst part of the season. At least it always was when we lived in the United States. There’s too much wrapped up in materialism. Katie and I both grew up with way too much judgment about how we were living our lives landing on us. Both of us are happy that Christmas Day 2018 here in Finland is so much different.
Merry Conspicuous Consumption
For me, there was always guilt that I didn’t spend enough money. I was never able to shower people with the lavish gifts that I wanted to give them. Sometimes that stemmed from genuine affection — I love this person, and want to get them the things they need and want. Most of the time, it was simply the element of competition. When people around you are spending more money, and you’re not at least matching that, you know you’re being judged.
The same extends to decorating, inside and out. How many lights do you have on your house? How big is your tree? What sorts of ornaments did you hang on it? Then there are parties, and meals. How many cookies did you bake? What varieties of cookies did you bake — only three kinds? Tsk. How big is your turkey, or your ham, and what do you mean you’re not serving turkey and ham?
Christmas Day 2018
Katie and I don’t exchange gifts. We decide on something that we want for the household, that we can enjoy together. One year we got a Netflix subscription. This year we’re getting a new duvet for the bed. It’s not even an economic thing. It’s a pressure thing. Our gift to each other is to lift that expectation and eliminate the stress of picking something out. I know, a lot of people don’t get it. We do, and that’s all that matters.
For breakfast we’ll have Weihnachtsstollen and coffee, and some scrambled eggs on the side. We’ve been finding old Christmas specials on YouTube — the 1963 Judy Garland show, a 1966 Andy Williams special, a 1968 Dean Martin Christmas, and more — and we’ll watch some of those. Like the people in those show, we’ll try to overlook what’s going on in the world and just have a nice day. We’ll look past the fact that Judy was probably drunk or high at the time. Dean’s drinking and womanizing, while played for laughs, is something we can try to ignore. We’re certainly going to forget that Andy Williams’ wife shot and killed a guy a few years later.
It’s almost 2019. Even our nostalgia is problematic.
It’s Always About Food
In the United States we used to go out for Chinese on Christmas Day. Nothing is open in Finland, at least not where we live, and the buses aren’t running. Who makes people work on Christmas? I think for our first year here I made Chinese food for dinner, but since then we’ve embraced a lot of Nordic traditions. It’s all about ham and good chocolate. I’ve got a 3.6 kilo (almost 8 pound) ham. We have enough high-quality chocolates to fill a 4-liter mixing bowl. I’ll also be making Janssons frestelse, Jansson’s Temptation, which Swedish, not Finnish, but is absolutely amazing.
Yes, we’ll be eating ham and chocolate for the rest of the winter.
Most of the day will probably be spend the same way we’ll fill the rest of the week. There will be Christmas music playing in the background while we work. I’ll be reading or writing. Katie will be making art. We’ll periodically come together to eat, have a coffee, or watch a holiday movie.
Here’s wishing you and yours a peaceful and drama-free day. Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy yourself.