Finnish Christmas was awesome. Our good friend Elina and her family did us the honor of inviting us to their house for Christmas Dinner (which in Finland traditionally takes place on Christmas Eve, as does the opening of presents). We felt very lucky and happy to be there, since usually it's a family-only affair.
Dinner was two courses. First was a fish course, featuring approximately every single type of fish ever. There was cold smoked fish, hot smoked fish, raw fish, horseradish fish, cinnamon and tomato fish, lemon fish, cream cheese and dill fish, and probably several other kinds of fish that I'm either forgetting or got lost in the shuffle. There was even fish that was not yet fish, in the form of salmon roe that you eat mixed up with sour cream, diced onions, and dill. They pop when you chew them. It's amazing. The main course was turkey and ham along with several casseroles made from root vegetables. I wish I had taken notes because I'm having a hard time remembering what exactly was in the casseroles.
This may be partially due to the fact that at no point in the night was I allowed to see the bottom of a glass. There was red wine, white wine, beer, whiskey, brandy, mintuu, and homemade spicy mango vodka. Mintuu is an amazing liquor that manages to be 40% alcohol while tasting like a candy cane. At night it's the best thing ever; in the morning it's the worst thing ever.
And the presents! We were completely surprised to be presented with gifts from the family that were either homemade or that had very clearly been carefully thought out and were pretty much perfect bulls-eyes. I won't bother to list them all but they included a pair of knitted socks with the Finnish flag on the foot, handwarmers for Lyndsey made from baby alpaca wool, and an awesome old-school Batman t-shirt for me.
We had been talking about how it didn't really feel like Christmas, but being with the Kosonens on Christmas Eve is pretty much as close as you can get to a perfect Christmas without being with your own family. They should open a business providing the Christmas experience to foreigners. This being Helsinki, they could charge an arm and a leg. Unlike a lot of expensive stuff, this would totally be worth it.