Sunday, December 14
We got up early and had breakfast in the car as we drove to Sundö. The roads were slippery and mostly deserted. We arrived in time for the 9:15 ferry.
There was no snow in Sundö at all, although Borgå had very covered in it. We set up Irma’s stall and collected a few things from the house, including a mattress we need in Helsinki. At 11:00 I donned a new Santa Claus outfit and started my three hour patrol of the farm as Julgubbe. The new outfit is much better. I had a hood and a much more luxurious beard that stayed on better.
The julmarknad was well attended, and there were lots of children wanting lots of candy from Santa. At 13:05 the crowd suddenly thinned, presumably because a number of people raced for the next ferry. By 13:45 it was almost all over. I went and took my outfit off and started eating sausages and pies and drinking glögg. Now I am looking at the sheep who are in a pen so that children can see them.
We will move them back to the barn in a minute and then we will sit in Mika and Camilla’s eating elk soup and chatting. The weather has been fine all day, neither cold nor wet, but as soon as we leave for the ferry it will start to pour down with rain.
Everyone will feel very low in the evening because, in differing ways, everyone felt Auo’s absence very keenly. These were the events where she always made sure she was in the front-line doing things. Every other year that I have been Julgubbe she has raced up several times to take pictures or tell me news, or to stand and talk because she has nothing to do for ten minutes.
We are all feeling this a lot at the moment. Christmas seems to have an obvious hole in it and Friday’s lunch seemed entirely appropriate. It felt like a hollow re-enactment of a party which, in turn, felt entirely fitting.
Irma, I know, is having a very hard time, and I feel that it is difficult to keep saying the only way is up without starting to get serious doubts.