From Christmas markets twinkling with fairy lights to the bucket list experience of meeting Santa and his reindeers in Lapland, Europe-based Aussie FLIP BYRNES reveals the best ways to enjoy the festive season across the continent with kids
Christmas adventures in Lapland
Deep in the forest in Lapland, a little red log cabin appears between snow laden trees. As we arrive by skidoo in the polar twilight, we see curl of smoke rising from the chimney. A faint light glows warmly in the window as our Elf (yes, Elf) turns to us and whispers: “I think he’s home. But we must call for him.” He cups his hands and calls, “Santa, are you here?”
This is the first time our elf ‘Poco’ has displayed any sanity. In the past hour, he has used one daughter as a human guitar while making gingerbread cookies, fallen asleep mid-marshmallow toasting as my eldest told a seemingly endless story, and at one point thrown himself against the window of the covered sleigh, sliding down in slow motion. But as he enlists the girls to lure Santa out, he’s feeling the gravitas of the moment.
Sounds are muffled by the blanket of snow, and Poco requests the help of my six- and seven-year-old daughters. “Santa!” they squeal enthusiastically. “Are you home?” There’s a moment of silence, the creak of a door and in the hazy gloom a figure shuffles out sporting an unmistakable red coat and long white beard. He pauses before announcing, “Lotte, Leni, finally, we meet.” He stretches out his arms in welcome, and following a moment of pure shock, stunned that they are finally meeting the one and only Santa Claus in his (almost) North Pole home, my girls run in for an embrace.
At least, that’s what happens on the video. Overexcited, I slip on ice and fall face first, but in ultimate parent commitment never stop filming for family members. So this meeting takes place upside down, yet the poignancy of the moment remains unfiltered.