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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas to Me and Ted

One of the nice things about Christmas in Helsinki is that, even though the decorations are fairly mellow even by my standards (and I have fairly mellow tastes by the standards of LOTS of my fellow countrymen!), decorations pop up in the most unexpected places.  One day, as I was weaving my way through a maze of buildings to my office (the lazy person's way of getting there), I noticed that they'd put a full-sized, completely decorated Christmas tree in one of the departments.  While I realize that this could be a drag (to put it mildly) if you didn't celebrate Christmas, for me it was just lovely.  (Sorry about the glare.  I don't have a pass key to that office so I took the picture through the glass.)

As for my place, I'd set the trees up several weeks ago, but by Christmas Day itself, things had gotten nice and festive on the window ledges.  I especially liked having the cards and packages up there, even though I didn't actually open the packages until late on the 26th.  Don't get me wrong--the presents are nice--but what I really like is the look with all the different types of wrapping paper and possibilities.

Here are some close-ups of each side.  The little gingerbread house was given to me by one of my colleagues here, and Debbie supplied the larger wrapped packages.  Marcia sent the Christmas card and enclosed was one of the funnier Christmas presents I've ever gotten because it so neatly combined perceived necessities for Finland with Southern culture: genuuuiiine possum-fur nipple warmers!  I opened that package and just howled with laughter.  It got even funnier, too, when I was talking to my neighbors John and Betsy at Christmas--thank you so much for calling and sharing your Christmas party with me!--and found out that Marcia had found these months ago and her husband, Paul, had told John all about them.  What lovely, devious friends I have! :-)

Here's the other side complete with more packages (Marcia's gift is the bright one on the right), Ted's toy pre-demo, and a lovely card from some of my Washington nieces and nephews.

The actual day was pretty mellow, although I was grateful that there were about 25 other people in the building with me; I'd had this image of me, Ted, and an empty 11-story building.  Just a little too much like "The Shining" for me.  In any case, I took Ted for a walk through the rain and mud--it has yet to snow here, which makes this the warmest winter in decades!--made my traditional Christmas tacos, and had a festival of bizarre Christmas movies like "Die Hard" and "Die Hard 2."  Then yesterday evening my dad's ex-student who lives in the building next door (a true "small world" experience) invited me over to his house for glögi (Finnish mulled wine) and cake, a traditional way Finns celebrate during the Christmas season.  It was lovely to be back in a real apartment and his family were very nice and fun.  A great way to end this part of the Christmas season.

I hope all of you had a lovely holiday, too!

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