The Littlest Santa Claus

When I was a little girl I firmly believed in Santa Claus, or “Julenissen “ as we call him in Norway. But being a very informed and sensible child with a strong sense of logic, I did not buy into the idea of one man delivering presents to all the children of the world in one night, and in a sleigh pulled by reindeer? No, that was definitely NOT plausible. Besides, most of my presents came from my parents and family, and I also knew for a fact that many kids did not receive gifts for Christmas. Our neighbors were Jehova’s Witnesses, and those children certainly did not get any presents. So how could I believe in Santa then? Well, I had heard the legend of Saint Nicholas who gave presents to all the poor children and how his spirit inspired the idea of Santa Claus. I also knew about the Scandinavian Nisse, the little gnome who lived on farms and demanded porridge every Christmas Eve, otherwise he would not help take care of the animals and the farm and would rather make a ruckus of everything. So I decided that Santa Claus was a spirit, a Christmas spirit, that inspired generosity, kindness and compassion, and that anyone who became bearers of these characteristics could truthfully call themselves Santa Claus, therefore, Santa Claus existed, and anyone adopting the role with a pure heart became Santa. So that is what I did one Christmas Eve. I became Santa Claus.

I was probably about 8-9 years old and was the middle child in the flock of cousins. I had one older cousin plus my older brother and three younger cousins, and I was particularly fond of the two youngest boys who were just 3 and 5 years old. I had pleaded with my mother to let me be Santa Claus on Christmas Eve the whole month of December, and she had finally given in, saying it would be the littlest Santa anyone had ever seen. But that did not stop her from going all out buying me a red furry coat, a red top hat, fake beard and glasses ( I had never liked those horrible plastic masks). On Christmas Eve, right after dinner while the men were having coffee and cognac and the women were doing the dishes, I excused myself saying I had to use the bathroom, and snuck down in the basement where my costume was hidden. I was giggling the whole time, I was so excited to try out my long practiced North Pole accent, and to see the faces of the little kids as I asked them if they had been good that year. I stuffed my Santa suit full of pillows, tucked the beard into my red top hat and tried out my Ho! Ho! Ho! one last time before ascending the staircase with my huge old sack filled with presents. I felt…magical! In that moment I really was Santa Claus! I checked myself before firmly knocking on the living room door while asking with my deep and heavily accented voice: «Er det noen snille barn her?» Which means: Are there any good children here? As soon as I entered, the adults started chuckling quietly, and the little kids looked at me very suspiciously, but my older cousins played along and convinced the little ones that it really was Santa visiting. I handed out the presents while putting on quite the show, telling stories from the North Pole and doing my belly laugh every time someone accepted a present. When my sack was empty I wished them all a very merry Christmas and told them I had to get back to my reindeer waiting in the forest (I knew the little kids would check the roof through the ceiling window if I said they were on the roof) before I hunched down under the weight of my five pillows and exited the living room, waving and Ho! Ho! Ho’ing! the whole time. I climbed down the stairs and headed out in the snow through the front door while chiming a cow bell my mother had given me. The kids were watching me through the window as I disappeared into the dark snowy forest. I am not sure the grown-ups were quite aware of this part of the performance, but they didn’t stop me. I waited five minutes before I headed back to the house. As soon as I came into the living room I exclaimed disappointedly: Has Santa already been here? The small boys nodded and handed me my present from Santa. “oh, darn,” I said “Typical I had to go to the bathroom and miss the whole thing!” I heard lot of subdued laughter from the adults, but they all played along telling me I had missed a great show! I smiled to myself and thought happily: I knew it, anyone can be Santa Claus, even a quite small girl with fake beard and five pillows stuffed under her sweater!

* The beautiful artwork above is done by the magical Lisi Martin.

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Pettersson und Findus – Das schönste weihnachten überhaupt (Pettersson and Findus)

“Pettersson and Findus” is a German Christmas film from 2016 based on the Picture book series “Pettson and Findus” by the beloved Swedish author Sven Nordqvist.
This lovely little film is a combination of live action and animation done so beautifully that even the adults will for a second forget that it is not really real. The movie, despite being German, has that beautiful Scandinavian old-fashioned charm with shabby wooden furniture painted blue, wool and felt clothing, home-weaved rugs, and of course the typical red and evergreen Christmas.

Pettersson and Findus is definitely a film for the smallest children, but adults can enjoy the little details the kids won’t pick up, like the atmospheric sceneries, the vintage interior decor and the overall sweet and cozy charm. This movie is, to me, the very definition of the Scandinavian concept of Hygge.

The story is about farmer Pettersson who lives alone with his cat Findus in a little cottage in the Swedish countryside. It is the day before Christmas and Findus has decided that this is going to be the best Christmas ever. It is up to Pettersson to make this wish come true. But Pettersson has one problem, he is not very good at accepting help, so when he falls and sprains his foot, it is looking rather bleak for Findus and his dream Christmas. Will Findus be able to convince Pettersson to accept the help he needs or will he have to come to terms with the fact that this Christmas might not become everything he has dreamed it to be.

I love the humble lessons in this film, how we must learn to not just help others, but also accept help ourselves sometimes. And how the biggest magic is often not the kind you can buy for money, but is rather found in the wonders and splendor of nature and in the love of friend.

This magical film is, as mentioned before, best suited the smallest children, but adults with a special love for Christmas, vintage and nostalgia will definitely love it too. To me, this film is a breath of fresh air in an industry dominated by commercialism and sameness. If you want to watch something different than your regular Christmas blockbusters I definitely recommend this gem of a film.

Of course, five out of five stars! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

P.S This movie is available on Netflix 🎅🏼❤️🎅🏼❤️🎅🏼❤️

A Child’s Life at Sea Part 3

‘Did the soldiers really hide in here, daddy?’ ‘Sure did, honey. They used these tunnels to move unseen underground when there was an attack. If you follow the tunnel to the end you will find a lookout post with a canon pointed to the horizon.’ ‘Did they really shoot the bad guys, daddy.’ ‘They had to, honey, there was a war and if they didn’t protect our country, innocent people would die.’ I stare at my father. ‘Did you fight in the war, daddy?’ My father laughs. ‘No, sweetie, the war was long before I was born.’ I feel a little disappointed, I really wanted my dad to be a hero. ‘Come on!’ complains my brother, ‘let’s go inside!’

We are on a small island on the south coast, known to be one of the many military bases during the Second World War. Our boat is docked by the stone pier, and my father has taken me and my brother up to see the tunnels carved deep into the mountain. They go on for kilometers and have no natural, or any other form, of light. But my father has brought a flashlight. My brother is already on his way into the pitch black tunnel. I take my father’s hand and we follow him.

There is water dripping from the ceiling of the tunnel and it makes an eerie drip-drop sound that echoes far into the deep. My father switches on the flashlight, but all we can see is black wet slippery stone walls, uneven and bumpy. The ground is also wet. Our plip-plop footsteps bounce off the wall and disappear into the deep, only to return as a hollow mimic of themselves ten seconds later. The sound makes me think of ghosts dragging their skeleton feet on the ground. My brother seems to think the same because he whispers in my ear: ‘I bet it’s haunted! Soldiers must have died in here, you know.’ I shiver and all of a sudden I feel very cold. I grip my father’s hand tighter. We walk further and further in.

‘If the tunnel collapses now, we’ll be dead,’ whispers my brother. And even though I am sure my father can’t hear him, he just adds to the horror be saying out loud: ‘well kids, we have reached the point of no return. We are further from the entrance than we are from the exist.’ I swallow hard. The flashlight flashes a couple of times, and both my brother and I jump. ‘Hold on, let me just…’ My father lets go off my hand to adjust the batteries in the flashlight. Then all of a sudden it goes completely dark. I want to scream, but for some reason I seem to have lost my voice. My brother on the other hand has not. He lets out a roar, fit for a lion. ‘Daaaaaaaad, what’s going on?’ There is no answer. I desperately reach out for my father’s hand, but it is not there. He is gone. My father is gone, and with him: the flashlight.

To be continued…

A Child’s Life at Sea – Part 1

My brother bangs the side of his cot as a huge wave crashes into the wooden side of the boat and soon after my little round-shaped window is submerged in water. The boat, in which we are sleeping, or are supposed to be sleeping in, topples over and my brother holds on for dear life as he is pushed by the mere force of the ocean towards the edge of his cot. We both laugh out loud and I shout in excitement: It’s like being rocked in a huge cradle! ‘ Yeah, ‘ adds my brother, ‘ or a hammock!’ We both giggle at that, and soon it is my turn to be hurled over sideways by King Neptune. But it is then that I feel it. It sneaks up on me like a mischievous current, but when it starts pushing its way through there is no going back. I cringe. But I have to go, it’s impossible to pretend my way out of it. ‘ Daaaaaaad!! I have to pee!’ I shout. My father soon appears in the tiny wooden door separating our sleeping quarters from the deck. ‘ You really really have to?’ My father sighs. I nod my head apologetically. ‘ Okay, but you can’t go to the bathroom in this weather. To sea is too rough.’ The bathroom is all the way on the other side of the boat. ‘ But I HAVE to go!’ I insist. My father looks thoughtful, but then he smiles and disappears. He is, however, soon back. With a bucket. He places the bucket on the floor next to my cot. ‘ If you can’t go to the toilet, I bring the toilet to you,’ he says and smiles. I giggle as I worm my way out of my sleeping bag and slowly climb down from the cot. ‘ Incoming!!’ Shouts my brother, and I brace myself. Luckily the floor is not much larger than the bucket so it still remains standing up when the wave hits. I can’t stop giggling as I squat over the bucket. When I am done my father collects the bucket. ‘ Are you gonna throw the pee in the sea?’ Teases my brother. My father ignores him. Relived I climb back into my cot, still giggling a bit. ‘ My sister peed in a bucket! My sister peed in a bucket!’ My brother makes his voice into a sing-song rhyme, and I stick my tongue out at him. But I am giggling too much to make an angry face. And soon we are back playing our wave-game again. It is a seven hour crossing. I can hear my mother complaining to my father on the deck : ‘can’t they just go to sleep.’

Roald Dahl and me

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Roald Dahl is one of those authors who is so beloved that we quarrel over his Nationality. The British will claim he is theirs as he was born in Wales, whereas Norwegians will say he belongs to them since his parents were both from Norway. His name is certainly Norwegian (he was named after the Norwegian explorer Roald Ammundsen), and we know that he spent most of his childhood summers in Tjøme, Norway, with his extended family who lived there. This is where most of his stories in his autobiographical book “Boy” takes place.

When I was very small my parents used to read to me. All kind of books really, but I especially loved Fairy stories, and stories of a more fantastical character. I loved stories so much that I wanted to read them all the time, so by the time I was four years old, I taught myself to read. After that there was no stopping me. I skipped the picture books and I dived into the whole bibliography of Roald Dahl.

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In one year I read most of his children’s books. My favorites were “Matilda” ( Well, it was about a four year old girl who teaches herself to read and then discovers she has magical abilities!), “Charlie and the Chocolate factory”, “The BFG” and the “Witches”. “Matilda” got me interested in classics, like Charles Dickens, and I started reading the abridged children’s versions of “Oliver Twist” and “David Copperfield”.

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A couple of years later, when I was maybe 6 or 7, I watched the film “The Witches” based on Roald Dahl’s book. I watched it at my granny’s house with my cousins and we were all frightened to death by those super scary witches! To this day, I still feel that it is the scariest movie I’ve ever seen ( and I saw the “Jaws” movies around the same time!).

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My cousins and I were so inspired by the film, that we enacted many of the scenes in our make-believe games, and made up our own stories about witches, often featuring the local elderly ladies, and the ancient paintings my granny had of farms and farmer’s wives. We were just convinced we saw the ladies in those paintings move!

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When I was seven and started school I believed wholeheartedly that I could move things with my eyes, like Matilda in Roald Dahl’s “Matilda”, and I was so ready for a Trunchbull to overcome!
That year I also started writing my own stories, and many of them were inspired by characters, ideas and plots from Roald Dahl’s magical books.

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Most of the kids in school read Roald Dahl’s books, not because we had to, but because we wanted to. We discussed his books during recess and swapped books if someone had a book someone else hadn’t read. I remember my best friends favorite book was “George’s marvelous medicine”.

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Roald Dahl and his magical universe is still inspiring me and my writing today. I have re-read “Matilda” many times, and I continue to take great pleasure in his wonderful books and his marvelous imagination. He is one of my childhood heroes, whose stories I have brought with me into adulthood and into my own stories.

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Image credit: All the art work is by the wonderful Quentin Blake. The stills are from the movie “The Witches”. The other pictures are from Wikimedia.

Creating your own Troll forest

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Real trolls are hard to come by, doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but they are shy things preferring to stay out of sight and far away from humans.

So what do you do then when you want a proper Troll forest, perhaps for a photo shoot or for a Safari for your friends, or just for plain fun! You make your own!

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I did exactly that! I might even use these photos to illustrate a book or a story!

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It’s pretty simple to do, you just find some figurines or toys in your attic or someone in your family’s or friends’ attic, then you go on an excursion to search for the perfect forest!

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Try to find a forest with lots of little holes or caves in it, somewhere with dense tree population and lots of shrubs and bushes. That’s a perfect place for trolls to live!

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Then you just position them where you want them to, and click away! It’s fun for younger kids to go on a safari and try to spot the trolls!

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And to all you teachers out there, this is such a fun school project! The kids get to go outside and use their creativity and imagination! Especially for younger kids, this will be such a fun thing to do! Perhaps they can even write a story about the troll(s) afterwards!

Have fun! 😊

Making your own Miniature Fairy Garden

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Have you ever seen those gorgeous miniature fairy gardens on blogs or YouTube, and thought to yourself: Oh, I wish I could do that too!

I have too, but then, when I saw how much I needed of material and figurines to do it, and how much they cost, I sighed and put the whole project on ice.

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But then one day, my cousin Cecily and I were sitting chatting in our granny’s garden, when Cecily came up with the brilliant idea: Let’s use granny’s display figurines and stuff from the old toy box. I’m sure there must be something we can use there!

So we went through granny’s whole house with gusto and childlike enthusiasm, and boy did we find a lot of stuff!

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These are old furniture from a doll’s house. Doesn’t it just look like the perfect setup for a fairy tea party?

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These beautiful figurines are actually cake decoration! But to us, they looked like perfect ballerina fairies. And oh, do you see the boy lurking at them? He is a cake decoration item too!

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This is my brother’s old tin soldier. Does this scene remind you of a certain fairy tale?

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This is my cousin’s old Barbie doll baby, but doesn’t he just make the perfect flower baby?

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This is granny’s homemade Christmas Angel, but we thought she looked like a lovely fairy godmother! Oh, and do you spot the gold slipper next to her? It’s an old Barbie shoe!

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This is perhaps my favorite scene of all! A beautiful delicate tiny fairy dancing in the purple flowers!

I hope this has inspired you to create your own miniature fairy garden! As you can see, it doesn’t have to cost a thing! And finding the items to use is just so much fun!

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Have fun!