Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Yule Dad Cometh

WARNING:  The following is a repost of a repost of a repost.  But, since at least one of you does not know anything about the Yule Lads and is planning a trip to Iceland (thankfully, in late summer, not winter), I thought it would be useful to inflict yet annother rerun upon you poor blighters.
If nothing else, it saves me the trouble of writing anything new.
Thank you in advance for your understanding....

Too bad the Navy didn't ship my pants.
Or my hair.

    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.

    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. 

    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
With enough ketchup, not so bad.
rotted sheep heads.  We gave that one a pass.

    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 homes are visited by the mischievous gnomes known as the Yule Lads.

"Hey, aren't there supposed to be 13 of us?"
"The others are inside getting warm."
"What? Why?"
"Iceland.  In December.  Hello?"
    From Sheep Worrier to Candle Beggar, each Lad has his own specific identity.  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.

    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 tol
Upset when his audition for
Barneyfranksson the Butt Sniffer
didn't pan out.
d 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.

    Our daughter was snoring away-no doubt dreaming of what kind of “loot” she’d get from the little troll that night (and I don’t mean me).  A precocious fourth-grader, she made sure to tell us at dinner that she’d been a great girl that year.  Hopefully, Stekkjarstaur would be able to fit a puppy in her sneaker.

    One child down, I told my wife I’d place
a “Family Size” Snickers in my son’s shoe.

    The base’s apartments weren’t like the typical ones back in America.  Everything was so small, I didn’t have room to walk around his bed.  This being the case, I had to stretch clear across where he slept just to reach the windowsill.          

    As I neared his shoe, I heard a voice from out of the darkness, “That’s okay, Dad.  You can turn on the light if you can’t see.”

    Busted, I quickly dropped the candy into his shoe and departed without a word.

    The next morning at breakfast, I asked my eleven year old about the night before.

    “Oh, that,” he said with a wave of his hand, “I’m too old for that stuff anymore.  I’ll tell you what, just save yourself the trouble and give me my present before I go to bed.”

    Mildly depressed that my little boy was growing up, I said nothing as he headed off to school.

    Before he walked through the door, he called over his shoulder, “Oh, hey, I left something for you and Mom on your nightstand.  See you this afternoon.”

    Shaking off my gloominess, I shuffled into my dollhouse bedroom and saw a piece of paper next to the alarm clock.  It was my son’s Christmas list.

    Starting off with “Dear Santa,” it went on to list, by color, size, and memory storage, everything he wanted to see under the tree come Christmas morning.

    At the bottom, he closed with, “Oh, yeah, just in case, Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad.”

    Or, as they say in Iceland, “Gleδileg Jól.”

"Okay, iPod I got.  And a Powerpuff Girls DVD for his sister. 
But, the kid's old man wants a pair of pants?"


  1. The little trolls sure are a grand idea. Maybe you just needed a bigger shoe to get some pants.

  2. There was a WW2 song.... "Shoo, shoo, shoo baby." Oh maybe that's the
    wrong kind of shoe.

  3. Ah, the time when they stop believing...

  4. Happy Hanukah, my goy mensch friend.
    And put some pants on, would ya? It's Chanukah! Jews like pants.

    1. Oh please, just check out those legs!

  5. I had the same trouble with Santa. Never did figure out how a fat man came through an non-existant chimney.

  6. I can't remember if I read this before but I can tell you it made me wonder about things like why a rotten sheep head talk about gross

  7. I doubt ketchup would make a rotting sheep head any more palatable.

  8. What a great experience for them and for all of you. One of those tales you get to tell over and over again and laugh about with each other. Priceless!

    Have a beachy week!

  9. This is an awesome post for me. My grandfather was Icelandic and my mother was Jewish. I win!

  10. Awww. Yule Lads so cute. Can’t wait to go to Iceland this year. Thanks AP