Seeing as we're just about adjusted back to normal life, it's the perfect time for me to remember my holidays, right? Right.
I spent Christmas and New Years in Finland this year for a few firsts- my first white Christmas, my first Christmas spent with my mom's family (or, any extended family, really), and my first New Years Eve in a completely different timezone than anyone else (no idea what it's called.)
Putting this post together, I realize I took so many less photos than last Christmas- which I'm totally ok with. We spent the first half of the trip in North Karelia, in the small town of Nurmes, where my mother was born and raised. That's where the top snowy photos were taken; it was gorgeous and so peaceful. A note on getting to Nurmes from Nashville: I flew to Charlotte, and then New York, and then Helsinki, and then Joensuu, and then drove three hours with a cousin to arrive in Nurmes. So yeah, the journey there was a saga within itself, but I can't complain. And though I was delirious when I arrived, I can't help but think that it's kinda cool that it takes that long to get to where my Mom calls home.
This is where we spent Christmas, with a lot of family time, including loads of extended family that I rarely get to see. It's fascinating to be able to see where these people, and the town of Nurmes, fit into my Mom's life. Spending Christmas with my Mummo and Ukki (my mom's parents) was, for the lack of a better description, something special that I'll never forget.
Unplugging and spending time with family, even if we were sitting around doing nothing- was so perfect. And exactly what I was looking forward to after the go-go-go of how crazy last Fall turned out to be.
We spent the second half of the trip in Helsinki with my uncle and his family. This part was a lot more active- we biked, ice skated, cross-country skied, went to a hockey game, and this culminated in: my cousin Otto taking us to his friend's DJ Khaled themed NYE party (SERIOUSLY.) What a hilarious, unique way to ring in the New Year. I wore sequin pants that I was SO excited about, and was comically overdressed. I'll let you fill in the blanks about how I felt on our trip back to the states on the first, the morning after NYE...
I think that's about it. It's always daunting to try and sum up a trip like this...but overall, it was so good to travel, wonderful and cozy spending time with family (immediate and extended) and really neat to celebrate the holidays in a different country. Finland has some pretty great Christmas traditions going on. In fact, the Helsinki airport is branded as "the official gateway of Santa Claus" - believe it!
You can find some supplementary material for this post under #PappuJoulu2015- our official hashtag for the trip (Joulu being the Finnish word for Christmas. We kept saying "JOU-LU!" [in the spirit of YOLO], which my cousin Otto did not find amusing.)