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Júlíana Björnsdóttir's picture

Christmas in Iceland is a family holiday. It is the time when families come together, children and their parents, grandparents, in-laws, cousins, all join the festivities, and for a few days it’s all about the family and close friends.

The theme of the holiday season is togetherness: to share the feast and love of generosity in each others’ company. For many, being away from the family is unthinkable.

Unfortunately, being together is not always possible and it’s a heartbreaking thought to be spending Christmas alone, especially when you are far away from the family for the first time.

Icelandair’s new advertisement is reaching out to these very emotions, featuring a young medical student in residency passing her Christmas in solitude, far away from her family at home in Iceland.

A few days before Christmas Eve—the day Christmas is celebrated with the family over a stunning meal and the true magic of Christmas lingers heavily in the air—she drops off her coupling friends at the airport and returns to her flat. She is scheduled to work on Christmas Eve and as she gets into her car, an Icelandair plane is seen going past in the background.

After work on Christmas Eve, she has nothing better to do than to catch the train home and cook her own Christmas dinner in a flat that has a lovely view of the city. The play on loneliness is no doubt meant to have us shed a tear or two, and to the emotional writer, it’s hard work to keep them contained.

Then, out of nowhere her family appears at her door, parents and sibling and, thanks to Icelandair, Christmas has arrived. The bottom line is that Christmas Eve without your loved ones is no Christmas at all.

There was a time when I found myself working on Christmas Eve. I too had to work on the 24th of December until 3 pm.

Admittedly, I was less emotional about the solitude, contemplating whether to go to a party at a friend’s place or organize a hangout at my place or somewhere in the city with a few friends. This was not my first Christmas away and I had traveled plenty on my own, so solitude was not of great concern to me.

But like everyone, I was going to miss my family. I have a wonderful family so they make it hard not to miss them. 

Unlike the young medical student, a few days before Christmas Eve, my parents called me out of nowhere and told me they had booked a flight with Icelandair to come and spend the holidays with me. They did not want me spending the holidays alone. My high for the next few days was that of great anticipation and excitement.

Theirs was a different kind of Christmas to what they knew from home. We made our own rules. They stayed at my place in London’s North Finchley. We had dinner at a local Italian family restaurant on Christmas Eve and then returned to my place and opened our presents.

It was not the lively Christmas feast that they knew, or I for that matter. But it was lovely, and I am so grateful to have had that holiday with my mom and dad in my home.

On Christmas Day, we took a walk around my lovely city and enjoyed the sights. It was a cold but lovely day that ended with us sitting in a favorite pub in Bayswater drinking a pint of beer each and eating pub food.

On Boxing Day I took them around my borough, showing them the borough I called home. It was a lovely day until a call came from home with bad news. My niece had been hospitalized and we were all concerned about her. However, this was our last day so we tried to make the best of it and enjoy our time together.

The next day they left with an Icelandair flight back home.

It was all-in-all a lovely holiday that we spent together. We always remember our time together in ‘my’ London.

Despite the emotional commercialism, Icelandair’s advertisement is heartwarming, and as far as I know, the first of its kind in this market. The concept is beautiful and the genuinely thoughtful.

I myself am quite curious to see if this advertisement will change the trend for the holiday season. Who knows, maybe next year’s holiday advertisement will be about the adventures that are to be had over Christmas in the outside world...

For eager travelers, a change in the holiday plans is never out of the question.

In my mind, Christmas is the time to celebrate life.

Júlíana Björnsdóttir – julianabjornsdottir@gmail.com

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Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.