These are busy days here at the Weather Report. The last few days before Christmas and so many little details to take care of.
I’m sure most of you can relate.
I’ve been rather pleased with myself this year at how well organized I am – when you do the same things every year it gets to be a bit of a routine, which is a Good Thing. I know enough now, for instance, to buy the Christmas tree a few days early so we don’t get the absolute dregs, I know to do the major grocery shopping at least 4-5 days before Big Day to avoid Big Rush, I know enough to put the tree up a day before we decorate [i.e. today] so that its branches even out a little bit before we start decorating tomorrow. – Yes that’s right – the tradition here is that the tree goes up on the 22nd or 23rd and stays up for the official duration of Christmas, or until Twelfth Night, which we call þrettándinn [The Thirteenth] because we happen to celebrate our Yule a day earlier than Anglo-Saxon tradition dictates, i.e. on Christmas Eve.
I think all Christmas presents except one are taken care of [I keep racking my brain to see if I’ve missed anything – it seems too good to be true] and most of them are even wrapped as this year I decided it was no fun wrapping the prezzies in a mad haste at 5 pm on the 24th when instead I should be lazily getting out of the shower and into my best clothes for when the church bells “ring in Christmas” at 6 pm. Well, either that or in the kitchen getting dinner ready. This year, like most years, the menu is pretty fixed: shrimp and lobster tartalettes as an appetizer, then hamborgarahryggur [delicious smoked ham – a Danish tradition] with a burnt sugar glaze and all the trimmings, and chocolate mousse for dessert.
Anyway, my impeccable organization got somewhat derailed yesterday when Polly the cockatiel had an accident, i.e. got caught in between the door and the door jamb in a nasty draft [it’s been incredibly windy here, not to mention COLD]. It looked like she’d broken her leg [i.e. couldn’t walk on it, held it all twisted outwards from her body, had to hobble along using her beak for support, POOR THING!] and called for all sorts of emergency measures, as I’m sure you can imagine. Needless to say, that threw all plans out of whack. She went for x-rays today, though, and it turns out that there is no fracture, just very bad bruising [she still can’t use her leg] – phew!
As if that weren’t enough, both my car and EPI’s car decided to give us grief and both needed to be taken in for repairs. EPI’s today, mine tomorrow, which again has called for strategic reorganization.
But even so, I think we’re doing pretty well.
I have to say, though, that I have a general sense that this Christmas is hitting people kind of hard. I think many of us are really feeling the pinch of the kreppa now because not only has everyone’s food bill gone up a lot [I’d say our weekly food bill has almost doubled from what it was two years ago] but all of a sudden we notice just how limited our spending power is. After all, along with all the price hikes [our currency plummeted and most things are imported] many people had to take a reduction in their pay. Last Christmas I suspect stores were selling merchandise that had been ordered before the collapse so prices hadn’t gone up that much; this year it’s really noticeable. Our wages buy a lot less than they did just a year ago – and it’s only going to get worse, because this morning parliament passed legislation allowing for more price and tax hikes, including an increase in the already-hefty 24.5% VAT [sales tax] up to 25.5%.
So that’s how the kreppa is felt – not all at once, but slowly. The clamp is tightened bit by bit. And I don’t have any scientific evidence of this, but my feeling is that many people are struggling, either financially or emotionally, or both.
BUT THE GOOD NEWS IS…
That it is the winter solstice today, and from now on the day will start to grow longer, bit by bit by bit. There is always a shift around here when that starts to happen, so let’s see whether the general mood of the Nicelandic nation doesn’t start to lift soon.The weather has not been very helpful as of late – it has been MISERABLE around here for days, with strong winds or even gales from the north and sub-zero temps, a dry and nasty kind of cold. It looks like we’re having a green Christmas this year [the Icelanders call it red, don’t know why] – whereas large swathes of Europe and the US are submerged in snow. Go figure. Right now temps are -2°C [28F], sunrise was at 11.21 am and sunset at 3.29 pm.