Jultomten is a glorious man. Kind of skinny (depending on the weight of your respective father I suppose), kind of scary, but always there on Christmas Eve with some presents to hand out. Despite our age and our geographical location, Jultomten still finds his way to Colorado. Strangely enough, the old man hasn’t seen him in all the years we’ve lived in Colorado. We always run out of milk on Christmas Eve. A damn shame really. Poor planning.
My Jultomten tends to make a damn lot of noise. Banging on the side of the house, announcing his arrival to everyone inside. He makes his way to the back door and bangs on the door. Loud. Loud enough that there is always a bit of fear that Jultomten might put his hand through the glass. Which might put a damper on the whole spirit. Anyway, my mom always lets him in. There might be something going on between the two, I’m not entirely sure. Since my dad is never around it is highly suspicious.
Jultomten comes in, scares the hell out of every dog we have ever had, complains about how far he has come, how cold it is, and tends to stumble around a bit as if he didn’t have his glasses on. Finally, he sits himself down and asks “Finns det några snälla barn här?” Are there any nice children here? We always answered yes. Regardless of what may have happened in the past year. A head going through the basement wall for example. I mean, come on, there’s no way Jultomten can be checking up on us all year all the way from Sweden right?
So the answer is yes. Which seems to placate Jultomten a bit and he starts digging in his bag. He pulls out a gift, shakes it around a bit, holds it at arms length from his face and tries to read the name. Like I said, Jultomten seems to have misplaced his glasses, so what ends up happening is my mom takes over and reads it for him. And the first present is handed out. This is repeated for each child in the house. Usually the dog, who tends to either be cowering in a corner, or barking hysterically, also gets a present. Then Jultomten takes his leave. He’s got a long way back to Sweden. And it is cold outside.
And away he goes. And it never fails, just a few minutes later, in walks my dad. Having just missed Jultomten for the 24th year in a row. And usually without the milk we so desperately needed. It must be hell getting old. Wandering around town trying to remember what he went out to get while another man is handing out presents to his kids and sharing knowing glances with his wife all while dressed in a big goofy red suit.
Which is the way it goes at my house. But a couple of years ago, when I started having girlfriends that hung around for a while, my old man let me in on a little secret. He wasn’t necessarily going out for milk every Christmas Eve. He was Jultomten! My childhood was built like a house of cards, and this revelation was the annoying little brother who comes by and huffs and puffs and blows the house down.
After the initial shock, my father (Christmas) went on to, basically, threaten me. He told me that if I ever brought a girl home for Christmas that I had to be Jultomten. Either to test her or scare her away. I’m not really sure. Anyway, no girl has been brought home for Christmas. But that doesn’t change the fact that this year I dressed up as Jultomten. Because this year I got roped into helping out with some sort of Swedish-American society.
So I dressed up in the red suit with the white beard, scared a few little kids when I bellowed out “Finns det några snälla barn här?” and handed out presents. I rambled on in Swedish, basically reciting all the same lines that my old man has been reciting for years. All the while, the little ‘uns stared at me with a mixture of confusion, horror, and excitement. They didn’t speak Swedish. Clearly I was speaking some sort of foreign North Pole language. But they didn’t run in terror. Despite a near beard mishap when a little girl hugged me and the beard nearly came off revealing my secret to the world. But I have sneaky fast hands, kept the beard in place and Christmas was saved.
All in all quite the experience. And good practice I suppose. Because a Swedish Christmas celebration is something that everyone can appreciate.
Welcome to the US, and a Swedish Christmas.