The Child in Me (JB)


julianabjornsdottir_dlChristmas is the time we lay aside our worries and let routine slip away from us as we let the child within escape at last.

The holidays are a very special time to children. It is not only the presents and the decorations, but the effort families make to be together, to have a moment of complete serenity and have an enjoyable evening together regardless of the reason they celebrate.

As a child I could relate to the endless wait for the holiday season to arrive.

With summers shorter than a school semester, the year was divided into phases: January to March, April (my birthday month) to August, September to November, and at last, December.

In my memory, the most memorable winter of my childhood was the winter of 1988-1989. It was a wonderful year to be an eight-year-old girl.

My mother had recently gone back to work full-time and every day after school I’d come home and have toast with butter and mysingur (a caramel-tasting cheese spread) and chocolate milk. Afterwards, I’d do my homework, call on my best friend Hrönn down the road, or just read a book from my Enid Blyton collection.

After a sunny September, cold weather arrivedand the streets of my coastal town shimmered in the dark of night. Soon enough, it started to snow, continuing for the rest of the month.

November was no different and by the time December arrived, I’d built a home under a pile of snow with my dad and my sister, as well as dug tunnels from one end of the pile to the other. All we could see was the edge of the fence line and the tree tops.

Oh, how the lights glowed in the dark. Under the starlit sky and northern lights, I’d drag my dad to the nearby playground to slide down the man-made hills constructed just for our pleasure.

After the Christmas festivities on the last day of the semester, I really looked forwardto Christmas Eve. To children in Iceland, Christmas Eve is usually the highlight of the season.

On a cold December 23, my parents took my sisters and me to the center of our little town for hot chocolate and waffles with sweet berry jam and thick cream.

After helping my dad pick out the present for mom (usually a book) we’d walk home, pull out the Christmas tree from the garden and put it up in the living room. We always bought a life Christmas tree in those days, a tradition I continue to uphold in my adult years, and at home we’d decorate it with Christmas movies blasting from the screen in the lounge. We’d eat chocolates and drink more hot chocolate a-la my mom.

Around midnight we were sent off to bed to be asleep in time for the last Icelandic Santa Claus to come to town baring his last gift.

On Christmas Eve morning, I’d wake up at 8 am to watch ALL the Christmas cartoons on the television. It was the first year we had cable and I was feeling happier than usual about my added bonus.

I had Cocoa Puffs for breakfast, something different from my usual bowl of Cheerios and chocolate milk (my family loves chocolate milk from Nesquik).

At about 2 am my dad and I went out to deliver the Christmas cards to local relatives, after which we’d pick up my mom, and all of us would go to my grandmother’s place for her delicious hot chocolate, a recipe that died with her, and pancakes. Then came Christmas Eve and even though I never got expensive gifts this was the year I got a real sleigh (with a steering wheel!) to ride down the local slopes.

As you can imagine, the rest of the winter was the best in my memory. The snow only started to melt in the March of that year, 1989. On Christmas Day it was so bad we got our Dodgestation wagon stuck in a pile of snow on our way home from Christmas party number two!

These days, I still love Christmas. The holiday spirit embraces me and fills me with joy and love each year. It’s the end of the dark season, and in the months to come we start to count down to the only other season that counts: summer.

I always look to retrieve my childish love for the holiday season. It’s special to me no matter what. It brings out the best in me; for example, I try to support various charities. This year the women’s shelter (to which I donate ISK 1,500 per month) for battered women and their children received over ISK 20 million (USD 156,000, EUR 119,000) to purchase a better home for their facilities. Those who donated the amountwere a couple that gave away their inheritance.

To me, they are the heroes of the season.

The season also makes me cherish the people I love the most because without them the holidays mean very little.

Our loved ones are never loved more than during the holiday season.

This is the time to be merry and now that we know the world didn’t come to an end last Friday, we should embrace life like never before.

Let’s celebrate life and make a firm promise to be happy and loving people.

Let’s make a silent wish happiness will come to the people we love the most.

Let’s actually hope for peace on earth…

I wish you all a Merry Christmas!

Júlíana Björnsdóttir –

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