Monday, December 17, 2012

Merry Christmas-Iceland Stye

Sorry, it's another tiresome rerun.  Even though my part in the kitchen renovation is complete and-thank the Lord!-people who know what they're doing are putting it all back together, I'm feeling under the weather and not up to writing much.  Pretty ironic when you stop to consider that I called in sick to work.  Karma's a bitch.  And so was Mrs. Penwasser #1.

    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 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 appreciate
fruitcake a little more, 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 they are visited by the Yule Lads.
Disappointed he didn't get
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, they play tricks on each household, whether by drinking all the milk, or rearranging the furniture.  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 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 (really, what did you expect?  This has gone on long enough)...

23 comments:

  1. Well that's my plans for the day sorted. I'll not be able to stop wondering about what happens next. Unless I dig up this post from last time and look at what came next.

    Dear God I'm too lazy, I mean, TIRED, to do that.

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  2. Remember this post, always kept it in the back of my mind to use too one day, would be fun.

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    1. When all is said, I will be very glad that Iived in Iceland. And never ate the rotted sheep (or shark) heads.

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  4. I hear greenland and (I think) iceland doesn't even have a military. They are protected by an agreement of other countries (I think Norway is the biggest helper), but who would seriously want to attack either country? Is there big money in fish or ice?

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    1. Iceland does not have a military. The best they have is a coast guard. We provided a BIG chunk of their defense and actually built the main airport, ostensibly for them (yeah, who are we kidding? It helped NATO, too). The reason it was strategically important during WWII is that it sat smack dab in the middle of supply lines to the Soviets. Can't get into specifics why it's continued to be important during modern times. Let's put it this way, though: it's a real shame the base is closed.

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  5. Lucky! You were stationed in Iceland? How awesome is that and to have the family with you? Nice! I'll bet it was beautiful. I know this has nothing to do with the Christmas story but, like a puppy, I'm easily distracted.

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    1. It is a truly breathtaking country with a stark beauty that can actually kill you.
      Didn't need the sunblock, though.

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    2. Oh, one thing I forgot to mention...they party like Klingons after midnight, too.

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  6. I remember reading this before and finding it incredible interesting Al, it sounds like quite the experience although that food does look dodgy on it haha, I'll keep my Christmas dinner.

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    1. Cranberry sauce is much more appetizing. Or even figgy pudding.
      Whatever that is.

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    1. I know. It's flippin' amazing. I think that since the holiday takes place in the winter-and it's dark-they can't see what they're eating.

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  8. I'm not sure why - perhaps because your timing's impeccable - but your last sentence of the intro had me dropping my spoon (I was licking peanut butter off of it) due to laughter. Oh well, I'm glad I wasn't eating rotted sheep heads or fruitcake.

    xoRobyn

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  9. What an interesting experience. I'll also pass on the rotted sheep head.

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    1. They also do the same with shark heads sometime in February. Hardy lot. If by "hardy," I mean "gross."

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  10. Come here, Penwasser. I have something to put in YOUR shoes . . .

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  11. This reminds me of the "Elf on the Shelf" thing that the kids I nannied had in their house. That thing looks like a serial rapist, it was terrifying.

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    1. I was going to write a post about that creepy little thing, but I ran out of time. There's always next year.
      Especially since we don't have to worry about those Mayan pains in the ass anymore.

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  12. I will never complain about fruitcake again.

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    1. And, what's more, the Icelanders have a holiday in late January/early February (I can't exactly remember when) when they eat rotted SHARK heads.
      I guess cold and darkness does that to you.

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