Friday, December 9, 2011

Gleδileg Jól

As promised at Thanksgiving, I had a few Christmas reposts I was planning on sending your way.  Sure, I could try to convince you that, if you've never read it, it's new to you.  After all, Merry Christmas Charlie Brown! has been on television every year since the Vietnam War.  To a 5 year-old watching it today, it's as brand new as a Kardashian marriage (ooh, bad example).  But, I won't lie.  A repost gives me a chance to give you something without having to do much.  Except find a few new pictures.  And, of course, write this.

    For those of you who haven’t paid attention (or who’ve visited Penwasser Place solely for the kick-ass pictures), my family and I lived at the U.S. Navy air station in Keflavik, Iceland from 2003-2004.
"This whole pillaging Europe thing has gotten boring. Whaddya say we go over to what'll be called Canada and kick some Indian ass? Plus, it'll really piss off those Columbus groupies."
    The base, opened during World War II, has since shut down and returned to the Icelandic government.  I suppose it was felt the money to keep it operating could be better spent elsewhere.  After all, the threat of Viking raids has pretty much petered out. 
Permits!?  Permits are for pussies.
And Americans.
    During the short time we were there, we experienced a rich culture.  From ogling New Year’s fireworks displays which were truly “shock and awe” to lolling about geothermal spas in sub-freezing temperatures, we immersed ourselves in all that was Icelandic.
    Except for that holiday where they ate rotted sheep heads.  We gave that one a pass.
Sorta makes you wish you
kept that fruitcake now, huh?
    One of our favorite traditions happened at Christmas.  Readily acknowledging Santa Claus as the favorite of children worldwide, Icelanders add their own unique way of celebrating the run-up to December 25th.  For the thirteen nights prior to Christmas morning, legend has it that homes are visited by the mischievous gnomes known as the Yule Lads.
Hopes to try out again
for that Butt Sniffer gig
    From Sheep Worrier to Candle Beggar, each Lad has his own specific identity (luckily, Butt Sniffer didn’t pass the audition).  Never malicious or harboring ill-intent, they play tricks on each household, whether by drinking all the milk or rearranging the furniture.  Revealing their softer sides, they also leave presents in children’s shoes, unless they’d been naughty that year.  In that case, they leave potatoes.
Seriously, if I was that sheep,
I'd be worried, too.
    Enchanted by this charming bit of folklore, my wife and I played up the fable of the Yule Lads to our two children.  As December 12th approached, we told them that Stekkjarstaur, the Sheep Worrier, would surely pay a visit that night.  To be ready, they needed to place one of their shoes on their windowsills so that he could leave them a present.
    Or a potato, I kidded my son.
    Several hours after the sun went down (at 3:30-this was Iceland, after all) and the kids had gone to bed, my wife and I set the stage for the first of the Yule Lads’ visits.  Since the military didn’t allow us to transfer our sheep from the States, we opted for the modern tradition of placing empty milk cartons in the fridge.
    Certain the kids were asleep, we stole into their rooms to place small presents in their shoes.

To be continued...
(Seriously, what'd you expect?)

Next:  A Yule Lad Cometh (NOTE: Not as dirty as it sounds)


  1. I'd heard Columbus had groupies. Those Puritan women had a reputation for being skanks. I'm fron Ireland and we thought only Wales had sheep shaggers. The more you know...

  2. Revealing their softer sides, they (Yule Lads)also leave presents in children’s shoes
    Nothing says Christmas to a small child than having their shoes filled to the brim with Yule lad diarrhoea.....

  3. Never knew there were such devious gnomes and poor poor butt sniffer. I bet you had tons of fun with the gnomes...haha

    But what if the 5 year old saw Charlie Brown when they were 4? Then it wouldn't be new.

  4. "..Except for that holiday where they ate rotted sheep heads. We gave that one a pass."


    This one is new to me, and as the Queen of re-posts, I say anything worth posting once.. I don't know whether I should be looking forward to or dreading reading the conclusion to this tale? (Snicker)

  5. awwwwwwwwww. . .I wanna hear the rest!

    I really enjoy reading you & appreciate your comments when you read me! I am WAY behind on my comments, but I am reading!

    Hei Skol. (not sure the language, but when I went to UW, it was a common toast. Swedish? I duuno)

  6. What in God's name is on that plate of "food"???? As for asking permission, I'd much rather ask for forgiveness. Actually that works pretty well for me. I was once pulled over for doing 60 in a 45 mile zone, and when the cop reached my car, I stuck out my wrists and said, "I did it! Cuff me!" He started laughing and let me go with a warning.

    Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. I replied, incidentally.

  7. al, even i didn't read this story last year. i like the idea of wacky elves. i can get in to some stupid pretending stuff that's veiled as being "for the kids." well, except santa, i don't do that at all.
    now i want do some elfy shenanigans.

  8. This is actually an amazing read man, it's actually so cool that you got to live in Iceland for a while even though the weather would do my head in, I'd never have guessed you'd even been to live in Iceland!

  9. I want to go to Iceland. Excellent post, Al. Permits are for pussies and Americans. Hahahahahah! But you're right. ;-)

  10. Rotten sheep heads? Really? Blech!! But I do so want to visit those thermal baths! And yeah, I live in Seattle, do 3:30 sounds about right for sunset in December.

  11. @Nancy: And rotten shark heads, too. No kidding. The holiday is sometime in February, I'm almost positive (Sign of Modern Times: When we're too lazy to even frikkin' GOOGLE something). Speaking of Google....Google the Blue Lagoon. It is wonderful! And was about 20 minutes from the base. Sun goes down at about 3:30, comes up at about 11:00 or so. Pretty much daylight all summer, though. Gets to be "twilighty" (NOT a real word) at 3:30 am in the summer.
    @Amber: It really is a beautiful country. You'd be amazed at the crap the Icelanders get away with (meaning they have common sense). In the States, we'd need permit forms in triplicate, the fire department, OSHA, FEMA, Bayada Nurses, Sons of Anarchy, Jesse Jackson, the USPS, the Salvation Army, etc. to even roast a hot dog. At one of the falls in Iceland (Skogarfoss), all they had was a clothesline to prevent you from falling in.
    @Yeamie: I have always wanted to go to Ireland, but haven't made it. I've been to England and drank with some Scottish aviators (who party like rock stars), but I want to go.
    @Sherilin: I'm glad you came back to re-read. When I post these, I think of you ("Oh my God, that Penwasser freak is making me suffer through a rerun again!"). I do re-read it myself to see if I can "yuck" it up a little more and, I hope you notice, I include different pictures.
    @Judie: A rotted sheep's head. I think I'll try your trick the next time I get pulled over. I may flash my man boobs, too. Which could work with a gay cop.
    @Mary: Tomorrow is Part 2. Swedish sounds good. I think "Skol" means "cheers". Or "smokeless tobacco." One of those things.
    @Shrinky: Part 2 is really short and I could have included it here. But, that would mean I'd have to write something else for tomorrow. I kinda liked how it turned out. We still talk about it.
    @Pat: We sure did have a blast. Maybe I'll include the whole list of who they were....? Yep, I will. I'll just go edit the post for tomorrow (which I have in the queue right now).
    @BL: 'Tis truly a Christmas miracle!!
    @Anne: Yeah, don't let those black outfits put you off. Those Puritan gals had it goin' on. Shepherds get their sheep all liquored up on Woolite, sneak up behind them and, bang! Iceland DOES have a long winter, though, and the Vikings didn't have cable TV, so.....

  12. Husband spent a year in Greenland.

  13. Is there one who moves the corners of the walls directly into the path of my pinky toe?

  14. @Eva: It's all relative, but Iceland IS green (kinda) and Greenland IS icy. Was he at Thule AB?
    @Bushman: That would be Frikkinfrakkensunuvadammit.

  15. Oh man, I'm in stitches here. Those other countries have such fun traditions.

  16. Ok, I'm behind and apparently I read this is the wrong order. Ah, well.
    The Yule Lads thing sounds fun.
    Could you eat Lutefisk instead of rotted sheep head?