So it's Christmas! It's a bit surreal that I'm celebrating out here, of all places, but it's a nice break from the norm. The festivities have been pretty quiet for the most part, and like other Finns I did most of the celebrating yesterday.
I went over to Renja's place in the evening for their Christmas fiesta. Renja prefers a quieter Christmas, so it was only the five of us - her and Benkku, their daughter Helmi, and Benkku's mother Arla. Nevertheless, we had enough food to feed a small village. The traditional Finnish Christmas starts with a cold course of smoked/preserved fish, pickles and salad followed by the main course that involves the usual suspects of turkey and ham, as well as baked and mashed swedes (lanttulaatikko), potatoes and other root vegetables. To drink there was vodka-spiked glögg, straight up vodka and beer, so by the end of it all I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and overfed.
Dessert was provided by yours truly, even though dessert would usually be the last thing I'd volunteer to take care of. It was my first time making an apple pie from scratch - pastry and all - and I was pretty pleased with the end product! The only downside was that it was a bit hard to truly enjoy said pie when we were already so full of food at that point.
Given all that wintery darkness, it's also commonplace in Finland to honour departed loved ones by visiting cemeteries and lighting candles to honour the dead. On the way home we stopped by the church cemetery in Korpo and Renja gave me a candle for Yi Po as well as Charlie. It felt good to honour them in this small way and make sure they weren't forgotten.