Posts Tagged With: Christmas

Our Christmas “Tree”

So I’m a little late with this post.  Whatever!  As I mentioned before, we didn’t decorate for Christmas last year, and I thought that was one of the reasons Christmas didn’t feel “quite right.”  I was determined this year to put up some decorations and get a small tree – maybe a rosemary bush or something to hang some ornaments and lights on.

I had planned on buying a bunch of stuff at Ikea, but the day we went down to Turku I was suffering from day two of a vicious pregnancy migraine, and after dealing with the mall and the hardware store, I knew I couldn’t suffer through a trip to Ikea.  So we stopped at Hong Kong (kind of like our local Big Lots) and I picked up a bunch of things there.  Rather than a tree, I bought a green garden trellis and some garland, thinking I could wrap the garland around and hang it on the wall.  Sounds crazy, I know, but you know what?  I LOVED the end result!

alternative Christmas tree

Our “tree” – a garden trellis wrapped in garland and hung on the wall.

Seriously, I kept looking at it during the weeks it was up and smiling.  Stephen will probably kill me, but I fully intend to keep this thing and put it up every year, along with a “normal” tree once we get home.  It just made me happy.

A strand of lights and some ornaments completed my little tree.  Most of the ornaments were cheap store-bought ones, but I did have a couple of special ones on there:

Hyvaa Joulua - "Merry Christmas" in Finnish (actually I think it's more "Happy Christmas")

Hyvaa Joulua – “Merry Christmas” in Finnish (actually I think it’s more “Happy Christmas”)


I picked this up at the Market in Helsinki - a little pine cone made of pieces of tree bark (I think maple?)

I picked this up at the Market in Helsinki – a little pine cone made of pieces of tree bark (I think maple?)

I had a couple of these on the tree.  Stephen thought I was crazy - "What do mushrooms have to do with Christmas?"  But they were so cute - and mine wasn't the only tree I saw mushroom ornaments on!  (Blurry photo, I know, sorry!)

I had a couple of these on the tree. Stephen thought I was crazy – “What do mushrooms have to do with Christmas?” But they were so cute – and mine wasn’t the only tree I saw mushroom ornaments on! (Blurry photo, I know, sorry!)

I’ll be honest – Christmas still didn’t feel quite right.  Not being close to family and friends, not having presents under the tree and opening them Christmas morning, not seeing the joy on loved ones faces as they opened their gifts – those things mean more than I realized. That, combined with the fact that we’ll have a baby around next Christmas, has made me determined to go home for Christmas this year.  We’ll see if we can make it happen.

Oh, and I picked up a bunch of ornaments at the Christmas markets in Vienna and Prague.  I can’t wait to put them on the tree next year!




Categories: Finland, Random | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Homemade eggnog – a forgotten Personal Kitchen Challenge!

Homemade Eggnog

Homemade Eggnog

Oh my gosh, you guys, I completely forgot I did this challenge!  At Christmas, I had a real hankering for eggnog.  For whatever reason, I thought we couldn’t get it here…I didn’t even bother to look.  Instead, I decided to make my own!

Most recipes for eggnog call for raw eggs, which I don’t really have a problem with.  However, I was planning on serving it to others, and the last thing I wanted to do was chance getting other people sick from raw eggs!  So I followed this recipe from Epicurean Mom, which calls for the eggs to be par-cooked.

You guys, this eggnog was so freaking good!  I just wanted to drink all of it myself and not share.  But I was good, and filled a 2 liter Coke bottle (cleaned, I swear) to take to Christmas dinner with friends, and kept the rest for us.  Everyone loved it!

As it turns out,  they do apparently sell eggnog here in Finland, as someone said they saw it at the grocery store.  But I don’t care – I’ll be making another batch (or two!) of homemade eggnog this year.

Categories: Personal Kitchen Challenge | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Christmas wasn’t quite right


Once, 9 or 10 years ago, I spent Christmas alone.  I was alone in a new town, 1500 miles away from my family and friends, and couldn’t get time off from my new job.   I figured it would be no big deal, it was just another day.   Boy, was I wrong.  I swore I would never spend Christmas alone again.  Of course, I wasn’t planning on moving to a foreign country…

Luckily, we went home earlier this month, and we had an early Christmas with our families.   It was nice to see everyone and open gifts, and see genuine joy when someone opened a gift I had picked out just for them.  But at that time, I hadn’t really gotten into the “Christmas spirit,” so it wasn’t quite right.

We didn’t do any decorating for Christmas in the apartment – we didn’t bring any decorations, and I didn’t want to buy anything just for our time here.  It seemed kind of a waste.  The town put up a couple of big trees, and the streets were lit with lights, but not many homes had visible decorations – no driving around and looking at Christmas lights this year!

Christmas decoration in Old Town Rauma

Christmas decoration in Old Town Rauma

Most of our friends were traveling for the holidays, but there were three of us American couples still here.  We decided to have a big Christmas Eve dinner.  There’s a tradition in Finland to light candles in the cemetery and put them by the headstones, so before dinner we took a walk to the local cemetery to check it out.  It was very beautiful and peaceful, all the candles lit and illuminating those who are gone.

Lit candles by a headstone

Lit candles by a headstone


Cemetery illuminated by candlelight

Cemetery illuminated by candlelight

Christmas morning, Stephen had some gifts to unwrap, but I had gotten my gifts when we were with family earlier this month, so I didn’t have anything.  That didn’t bother me though – what truly bothered me was not seeing loved one’s faces light up on Christmas morning as they opened a gift that made me think specifically of them.  Sure, I had seen that earlier this month, but it didn’t coincide with Christmas Day.  It’s silly that that little thing makes a difference, but it does.

I think I’ll go ahead and do some shopping now for Christmas next year, so I can decorate.  Maybe that will make it feel more festive.  And next year, we need to skype while our families open gifts, so I can see the joy on their faces.

Categories: Finland | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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