So Christmas for Finland starts on Christmas Eve. Tanja and I when to her Grandmothers with the mother and father for Porridge (which like most Finnish meals comes with a selection of bread, Cheese, Ham and Salad plus this time Smoked Salmon). We then did the normal Finnish thing of visiting the graves of realatives and lighting Candles. For this we went to Ylikiiminki when Tanja's Grandfather is buried, also several other relatives on Tanja's mother's side are buried. After going to two graveyards, placing candles and clearing the graves, we headed to the family home.
At the family home we had Christmas Dinner. The idea in Finland is the big dinner is eaten on Christmas eve, as well as the exchanging of gifts, and Christmas Day and Boxing are left over days. The meal was very filling and I was very stuffed by the end of it. My contribution to the event was making the gravy from the meat juices. The evening was when we went to the local Graveyard where Tanja's father was in charge of the honour guard at the war memorial. Throughtout the day till 8 or so at night, various organisations take it in turns to hold an honour guard for 20 minutes at the memorial. Tanja's father's unit holds two 20 minute guard. We also went to a place where people light candles for relatives whose graves aren't nearby. I lit one for my grandparents. I was surprised to see how busy the place was, rarely are the graves this busy back home even on 'special' days, the closest I saw was in Belfast back in 2004 on Boxing day.
After this it was time to return to the family home for dessert and then go home to retire for bed.
Christmas day saw us sleep in. Tanja was starting to get very unwell with what appeared to be the flu. So I started to cook our Christmas dinner. I had a Turkey and was also planning to make yorkshire puddings, cheesy mash potato, roasted swede and sweet potato and cauliflower cheese. It was a beautiful meal and we were both stuffed so just stayed on the sofa for a while. We finished the evening by watching movies (We got several DVDs out from the rental shop) and eating Cheese with biscuits.
Over the next few days (Boxing Day and beyond), Tanja and I watched the whole of the Harry Potter series. I hadn't watch any past the first two and even then it was ages ago. I had a lot of fun trying to work out the twists and storyline, much to the delight of Tanja. On boxing day we had the delight of warmed sliced turkey on freshly cut bread, real butter and mayo, something you cannot beat.
For New Year we decided to invite some friends over and have a good night. So we had a table full of snack foods, I made sausage rolls, we had all sorts from brownies to sliced cured meat, biscuits & cheese to crisps. At around 8ish we all went to the local sports center where they were letting off fireworks. It was a great display and it seemed the world and his wife had turned up to see it. On the way back, some of the group had become seperated, so Tanja and I waited for some of them. This then turned into having fun in the snow. Now I had done snow angles before but this time I decided to do it face first, much to the amusement of Tanja & Co as well as the numerous random people walking past. Sonja and Päivi then decided it would be fun to do some racing in the almost knee deep snow, on my descision to catch up I made one of the funniest moves in my life. As soon as I started to run from the path to get into the snow my feet started slipping, this then lead to me losing my balance, with arms flailing, feet sliding, I went head first down. Ending completely flat with my head buried about 6 inches in snow. This made Tanja and Tiina (the two witnesses) think this was the most hilarious thing ever and laughed at my misfortune, did they help me up? Of course they didn't. After getting home, the group just played games and chatted. This carried on till about 3 in the morning. Overall this New Year was my best yet, together with friends, having fun.
New Years day was spent with the dynamic duo that is Päivi and Sonja. Unfortunately, the cold was really taking its toll on Tanja (this was the second week of what we thought was Flu) and so she slept till mid afternoon whilst the rest of us played Skip-Bo and watched Friends. When Tanja did get up, we just continued playing games for the rest of the day. The week of New Year saw Tanja visit the doctors where she was given some medication to help with this flu, but we soon found ourselves in Hospital where we spent 6 hours on a Friday/Saturday morning getting tests done. Turns out Tanja has pneumonia, how she got it, we don't know but it was on the line whether she was going to be kept in. Luckily she wasn't and so we got home at nearly 7 in the morning. This was the start of the messed up sleep pattern. We both ended up with weird sleeping patterns, I was being kept up with her coughing, she was being kept up with her coughing, sleeping during the day etc it wasn't good. However after two weeks she is a lot better and now back at work. Still not 100% but about 85% and getting stronger.
Also during this time I went to a job interview at a potato farm. This farm is about 40km away from where I live but luckily another person who is working there is coming from Oulu, so carpooling is the plan. The job is sorting potatoes, making sure the good ones stay and the bad ones are outed. It is only a temporary job, 6-8 weeks but it will get me job experience in Finland and give Tanja and I extra money. The idea is by the end of it, we will hopefully have an idea about the official Finnish School and can join that soon after finishing work. So work starts on Monday at 0700, so an early start but finishes at 1500. Wish me luck.
Well I am off for now, I have some videos of New Years which I will edit and post soon. I also won't leave it as long for my next blog I promise.