Thursday, December 8
Christmas in Iceland
I don't know if I've mentioned this, but I was a child of the Navy. And in the late sixties, when I was seven, my family was stationed in Keflavik, Iceland.
Now, from my experience the best thing about being abroad in the service during the holidays is that you get to celebrate American holidays and the tradition of your host country.
And when you're seven, Christmas in Iceland is awesome.
We had our traditional red-suited fat guy and the Icelandic people had their yule lads.
What? You've never heard of these little guys? There are thirteen of them. That's thirteen times as many santas as I was used to. Score!
The yule lads are descended from trolls. The story I heard as a child was that one came each night for nine nights before Christmas. We put a shoe in the window--mine was gold elf-toed slipper--and if we were good we were left a present--a dime, a piece of peppermint or a chocolate coin. If we were bad, our shoes were knocked out of the window.
Their names described their behavior, like Door Slammer, Meat Thief, Sausage Begger, Skyr Lover, and in our home, the dreaded Window Peeker. Window Peeker could be lurking about at any moment, looking in the windows making sure we were on our best behavior. And my mom, she drew his name like a gun to keep us in line during December. She'd always pretend not to know who was coming, saying it could be Window Peeker's night.
The only night we were sure about was Christmas Eve because that's the night Candle Begger arrived. On that night we left a candle in our shoe and in exchange, Candle Begger left presents under the tree. The Yule Lads use the candles collected on that night to light their cave for the next year.
Yeah, Christmas in Iceland was the best. Plus, we were almost guaranteed a White Christmas, which is an anomaly here in the Pacific Northwest, where we moved two years later after my dad retired.