Lapland: The land of dreams
LITTLE GIRL DREAMS
Santa Claus, snow, reindeer, northern lights, presents, elves, huskies and a divine, far away landscape.
Who is the kid who never dreamed about the home town of Santa Claus?
The first time I heard about Lapland I was probably five, maybe younger. Since I can remember, Christmas represented to me not only Jesus but specially Santa Claus and his magical presence. I was way far from imagining Lapland was in Finland. For a little girl this place was unimaginable and at the same time pure reality. What I imagined was
a land of just snow, bright white light and an army of elves helping
Santa Claus to make sure he wouldn’t forget any kid at Christmas.
But only if they behaved well!
This is not the kind of text where I manifest my opinion about the stories parents tell to kids about Santa, naughty/nice list of kids or the second intentions of parenthood with this strategy. Today I am speaking of
a utopian world that is real for many.
About one year ago I got the amazing news that I was coming to Finland to be a part of this big family of volunteers all over Europe. Inside the whirlwind of feelings, doubts, questions and certainties, this news came at the same time I was starting also to work for Santa Claus. Almost as an elf!
LAPLAND IS IN FINLAND! Or at least Santa Claus village. It was never a dream visiting this place in first thoughts. However, when I realized I was coming to this country this became my most wanted and waited trip, among all the others I had the chance of doing.
NOVEMBER: THE CHOSEN MONTH TO VISIT ROVANIEMI
I was very certain that I would visit Lapland during Christmas fever. November was the month planned right after my arrival in Finland, to visit Rovaniemi. Some people told me it was a good time of the year. Some told me it would be dark and cold. Well, my priority was indeed the Christmas season, so first week of November it was.
A great friend of mine from University times, came to visit me and we went together. We decided to stay in a cottage, in a very central place, to get the most out of the Finnish experience. The house was cozy, typically warm and it had a sauna.
MEETING SANTA CLAUS
The first day was long gone. We spent 5h30 travelling from Seinäjoki to Rovaniemi. Last week the sun was rising at 8h30 and setting at 15h30, that time became shorter and shorter while we were in the North. The second day arrived. We were finally taking the Santa express to the Santa Claus Village. It was during the week so no problems with the crowded area.
Arriving to the place I felt like I was not there. I was in the Arctic Circle, in Lapland, where Santa Claus is and I was just about to meet the ‘real one’. The one my mom always told me about. I knew it was going to be special but while I was in the queue to meet him, a huge feeling of happiness drowned me!
I can confess: I was nervous.
“Hello. Come sit next to me!” he said.
“Where are you from?”
While shaking his hand I answered him.
“Bom dia”, said Santa! He really speaks all the languages,
If I didn’t have the video of meeting him I would probably never remember what we talked about. He said that he has the ability of reading every childrens’ requests with his mind. He also said European kids are more likely to ask for toys and other countries ask more for peace, happiness and good health. As stupid as it might seem, I didn’t ask him anything.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be with him just to ask everything I could! As an adult kid, I just wanted to see him and have some time looking at that very long white beard and such clean and pale face.
I didn’t find a commercial Santa Claus. He wasn’t rushing or speeding our meeting. He was gently interested on us. He was kind and kept the Santa spirit truly alive. I was full of joy!
At last we took a picture! “See you in 45 days” he said.
“Goodbye Santa!” I replied. If the real picture of that moment was captured you would see 5-year-old Inês saying goodbye to him and running to her moms’ arms. He would be there in Christmas to give me all the presents I would have asked for.
The broken hearted kid in me who found out that Santa ‘wasn’t real’ was healed. Santa Claus was born again. And so was I.
Text and pictures: Inês