Alternate Title: Why Wasn’t I Born Icelandic
Tonight is Christmas Eve. (This year, it is also the first night of Hanukkah. Chag Sameach to all my Jewish friends!)
I like Christmas Eve because it’s kind of the low-pressure run-up to Christmas in my family, and always has been. Growing up, we spent Christmas Eve with my mom’s side of the family, usually at my Grandma’s house. Grandma Del was a hot sketch who owned a red Firebird, which she drove all over the place with her buddies, dancing at polka fests and powwows. Now, we go Mass on Christmas Eve (Christmas Eve Mass always has the best music, and I love Christmas music) and then to my in-laws’ house, which provides an opportunity to see the cutest, newest members of the family all in one place–cousins’ kids, who are all at adorable toddler stages and quite fun to watch as they gambol around getting more and more punchy as the evening goes on.
Jólabókaflóð, “Yule Blook Flood”
I was quite satisfied with all of my Christmas Eve plans, childhood and current, until I heard about Jólabókaflóð. Jólabókaflóð is an Icelandic tradition that came about because a vast mountain of new books are published every Christmas season, so everyone takes advantage of this bounty and reads on Christmas Eve. They exchange books for gifts and then everyone goes off to some cozy nook with some chocolate and just reads. Which sounds like a holiday tradition I would have invented if it wasn’t already in existence, because it aligns so perfectly with two things that make life worth living during a long, cold winter: books and chocolate. Also because a quiet night of reading and chocolate feels like the perfect way to restore one’s soul after a solid month of shopping, fighting traffic, cooking, working, planning, prepping, and moving that freakin’ elf on the shelf every night.
So this Christmas Eve, if you can’t find me, just check the nearest cozy nook. I’ll be there with a book and some chocolate.
“Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!”