Well another busy year is behind us and Christmas has once again landed upon us, weeks before we are ready for it…. After the enticing prospect of a White Christmas following some heavy autumn snowfalls we find ourselves with the streets unfortunately devoid of snow, oh well, lets hope the New Year will bring with it this winter’s white cloak.
For Jimmy and I, it will be our first true solo Christmas as the only family we have with us on this side of the world (my youngest brother and his wife) have returned home to celebrate a summer Christmas for their honeymoon. It seems a bit surreal having come from a family that has always valued the family aspect of Christmas to be facing the prospect of a Christmas for just the two of us with my daughter half a world away as well. Luckily a 300 Euro gift card I won at a recent Architect’s Christmas Lunch here in Helsinki allowed me to indulge a little in the Stockmann delicatessen and pick up a few treats including a New Zealand lamb rack (unfortunately they were out of Reindeer…) to cook up on Christmas Day.
As Christmas here is actually celebrated on Christmas Eve, with Joulupukki (Santa Claus) traditionally arriving at the family home that evening to distribute presents to all the kids on the “nice” list, we have decided that for kids of different nationalities he probably still delivers his presents in the same manner he does in their homeland so for us he will be delivering overnight….
It is hard to believe that this is our 5th Northern Hemisphere Christmas, having already experienced London / Moscow 2012, Tokyo 2013 & 2014 and Helsinki 2015, and that they never seem to loose their magic. There is nothing quite like being able to enjoy the Christmas lights at their best from about 3:00pm onwards when darkness falls here in Helsinki, unlike having to wait till 9:30pm or later at night in New Zealand to take the kids out to see them. Also adding to the atmosphere is the ability to wander around the Christmas Markets, rugged up against the cold and enjoying a warming cup of Gloggi. This year I also had the pleasure of watching my partner enjoy her first true western Christmas experience, visiting the markets, sampling the Finnish Christmas food and listening to western style Christmas carols, it was like watching a kid visiting a candy shop for the first time….
The beer is out along with some Chocolates, the stocking is by the tree and Jimmy is trying to get to sleep in bed, tomorrow we will just spend the day chilling out together enjoying some of the treats I have stocked up on and Skyping our family back home as they wind up their day. Hopefully the weather might allow us to at least go for a wander and try out the new GoPro type camera I have got him. Finland is still a very religious country and from around 2:00pm today most shops except the small R-Kioskis won’t open till Boxing Day (or St Stephen’s Day as they call it here) and all public transport stops around 5:00pm tomorrow also I understand so there won’t be much to do anyway.
The past year has been a busy one, with my office working on a major Finnish hospital project (In Finnish) , my cricket team winning the inaugural Finnish National Indoor Cricket Championship in February (watch video below), a large number of my family including Molly coming to Finland for my youngest brother’s wedding to a local Finnish girl in July, a visit from an old friend I haven’t seen in 25 years, Jimmy starting a new school in our own neighbourhood, but undoubtedly the highlight would have to be our trip to Paris in November for Jimmy’s birthday.
We will kick 2017 off with a New Year visit from Svetlana (my partner) and her kids and then move apartments in mid-January as unfortunately our landlords are returning home early from their own sojourn in Egypt. Luckily we have found somewhere close by so don’t have the hassle of finding yet another school for Jimmy. There is also the work in getting junior cricket established in Finland and another sports related project I hope to have released by the end of January, so I am sure 2017 is going to be an equally busy year.
To all of my readers where ever you are in the world, thank you for following my blog and I hope you have a truly wonderful Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2017.