Aside: When I arrived in Finland, almost four years ago, I remember suddenly being terrified in a corner as I awaited my first “white Christmas” and was making the rounds with the fiancé’s relatives who warmly grunted something between approval and tolerance in a way of a cheerful Christmas greeting.
This very tall Viking looking man with squared off shoulders approached me, and, (here’s where the terrifying part starts) he clears his throat, and harrumphs, saying, “You Americans.”
I start batting my eyelashes as my face and chest flush, (which he immediately notices), and I begin thinking of excuses and other heritage 300 years back that I can claim, and think, “Oh God, what have we done now.”
“You know, YOU are getting into lot of trouble in international community. This Guantanamo, this TORTURE. It is big problem.”
He points his finger in my face for emphasis, and maybe notices me squirming by now.
I start thinking of ways to apologize for my countries’ war crimes and abysmal human rights violations that are in the press.
“You force these people to eat pork? You force them to drink alcohol? And you force them to have sexual relations? This is horrible.”
He puffs out his chest a bit more and cracks his knuckles. Now, he pulls his shoulders back, now showing me his full height.
“Here in Finland, we do not call this torture. This is called, Little Christmas, it is THE Pikku Joulu!!!” he claps my back, harrumphing, laughing, and choking on his glögi almond all in one go.
Now I can laugh about it. Then, I think I was close to having a heart attack. But there is something revealing there in that joke that Jari told me so long ago. I have since experienced a few very hedonistic Pikku Joulus myself, and my parents worry that I’m living in a Godless, pagan country when I have tried explaining the concept behind these “parties” that I’ve attended. (For work teambuilding purposes of course.)
As the holiday season approaches, all women between the ages of 18 and 84, beware the wandering “pikku joulu hands” that get a little too friendly with the holiday spirit. They don’t belong to Santa’s helpers, but possibly alcoholic versions of Santa himself, minus the long white beard and the suit of red.
I have a new boss this year, and am not so sure how loose we are really going to let loose next Thursday. I am still not used to the common and completely normal sight of possibly seeing someone who you usually see in a suit in a strictly professional capacity possibly dancing on a conference table with plastic boob earmuffs on his head. We’ll see how it goes, and I’ll keep you posted. Plastic boob earmuffs and all.