May all your Christmases be white

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©Mia Salminen, Christmas 2006

Day 10 on Writing 101 brings back those childhood memories around Christmas. Those were the best Christmases I remember. My sister and both of my grandmothers were still around. We always celebrated within the family. I don’t really remember those Christmas dinners with my sister but I do remember when we looked through the oven window where the ham was getting ready. I remember it was at night but maybe it was late evening. We thought it was so exciting. Christmas itself was fun when you’re a child.

My mother made all the meals herself from scratch. We also made gingerbread cookies. In the Finnish traditions, the Christmas dinner is a big part of the celebrations. It’s on Christmas Eve. It’s a way to get the whole family around the dinner table to eat various Christmas cuisines. Before dinner we had glogg (glögi in Finnish) with almonds and raisins. Some adults put some alcohol in it too. It was usually drank after going to the cemetery to put candles on the grave. It was cold outside so it was always nice to drink something hot afterwards.

The table was always nicely set. With two plates, one small and one a little bigger. One fork and knife each. Crystal glasses and napkins nicely folded. We also had real candles on the table. We always had ham. A turkey wasn’t very common at the time. First we ate cold food like freshly salted salmon and pickled herring with boiled potatoes. It was too salty to eat without. Then it was time for the warm food. The ham was the only cold one. There were carrot casserole, liver casserole (that I didn’t like) and rutabaga casserole. With that there was rosolli, a Finnish dish. It contains boiled beetroots, carrots, potatoes, pickled cucumber. Some people might put apples and/or Baltic herring in it too.

When the dinner was over it was time to move to the living room. As a child this was the best moment, presents and maybe Santa. Before that we would eat dessert. Sometimes we had cake bought from the store or we had Prune jam pastries (Joulutorttu) and ginger bread cookies.

The people around the dinner table has since then decreased. But that’s the way it goes. Those dinners were the best I have ever had.

IBQ Writing Prompt: What is Happiness?

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Happy- Pharrell Williams

Niles Crane asked his brother Frasier Crane on season 1, episode 24  “Are you happy? If someone asked me the same, I would have to think a while like Frasier did.

What is happiness anyway?
Last time I was truly happy was a long time ago. I would say I had a happy childhood. Minus my sister’s death of course. Before that my life was happy. I had loving parents and my sister adored me. Both of my grandmothers were still alive. My mother told me once that when I was born my sister was really excited. She loved having a little sister. Even if our time together was short, it was still the best time of my life. All those Lapland trips, birthdays and Christmases. Those I would call happiness. A loving family is everyone’s wish. In that way I was lucky.

I’ve had more downsides than upsides in my life. I don’t dream big because of that. I’ve learned to enjoy the small things. A bike ride, watching my favorite movies or TV shows, listening to music of all kind. Watching comedy really lifts my spirit. Also writing makes me happy. Mostly fan fiction. When I get an idea, I can’t stop writing. Sometimes it can take hours. I can write and write but if someone interrupts my train of thought, I can get quite irritated. I will probably never publish them but writing them is good therapy. For me happiness is also just walking alone with my camera and take photos of nature. There would be no one around.

I was happy in 2011 before my mother became sick. We went to Lapland. To the same place we went almost every year. We slalom skied for a week. That also made me happy, skiing. It was a time things were good for a while.

If I’m happy now? No, no one is happy if you have no job and your life is going in around in circles. Also when you lost someone close to you not so long ago. Happiness is the last thing on your mind.