When You visit Santa Claus
Once a year, if you behave yourself, Santa Claus visits you and gives you presents: sweets and chocolate, maybe a pretty doll or a longed-for toy.
Once in a lifetime, if you behave yourself and your desire is strong enough to make dreams come true, you can be lucky enough to visit Santa’s magical world. What you get coming here is incomparably more than the gifts sliding down your chimney back home. “Yes, I know, you get frozen!” you might say, thinking superficially of your cold limbs and reddish nose and not knowing of all the warmth and kindness Finns will give you, not necessarily because you deserve it, this will turn out later, but out of sheer, unconditioned love. You get this love when stepping on Santa’s land but whether you can feel it, share it or benefit from it depends entirely on you.
So, don’t waste time, put on your boots and mittens and go for it! Go out in the snow, cross the frozen River Ii, take a walk in the forest, caress and admire the proud and serene birch trees, listen to their silence and try to understand why they are satisfied in spite of the cold and can patiently wait for their blossom in spring or the wild colours of the Ruska.
Then turn towards the village and take a stroll along the narrow streets bordered by apparently small, hundred year-old, fairy- tale-like red wooden cottages that make you feel warmer only by looking at them, the way they shyly wink from under their snowy roofs. Knock on the door and see who opens: whether it is one of your colleagues from the local grammar school or one of the host families where your students are accommodated or the famous artist who you can proudly call your friend, or simply, somebody you have never met before and most probably will never meet again, no matter who opens, they will let you in, offer you hot tea and local cheese with some berry jam and above all a friendly smile, a nice welcome word. That’s the way it should be, as friendship is immaculate and white as snow, no spots, no stains but open doors, open hearts.
Spend some time looking out of the window of your warm and cosy motel room and while waiting for the sauna to warm up, follow with your eyes the small stream, sign of perpetuity flowing between blocks of ice, amid the whiteness of this peaceful landscape and think of all the beauty you get: do you feel gratitude? If yes, it means you have just got Santa’s most wonderful present and you deserve the love you are given.
If not, (which almost seems impossible), you’d better swap Santa Land for Somewhere Land or Nowhere Land and try again a bit later.
Ii, Finland, 24-02-2010