Every year since 1952 the city of Oslo has sent Reykjavík a beautiful Norwegian Christmas tree. The glorious evergreen, usually at least ten meters tall, is placed lovingly in our city-center park, Austurvöllur, and ceremoniously lit in early December to start off the holidays in style.
The sight of such a large piece of forest in the middle of town is both inspirational and intimidating. It is a reminder that we have close cousins just over there to the east a bit, and that they are thinking of us, but also that these same generous frændfólk used to own us back in the old days and would unfortunately forget to send supplies to us all too often, setting off decades of famine and trauma. The tree is like a guilt offering, given that during those destitude centuries our forfathers and mothers were forced to decimate all of Iceland's once-thriving forests just to survive. It is a beautiful tree, but there's a hint of gloat or pity about it. It would take hundreds of years of dedicated arboreal TLC plus global warming to ever grow a tree this large on our now-barren little island. It's like giving a girl a precious silver-backed antique brush and mirror set when you've just shaved off her hair.
But of course it's the thought that counts.Takk, Oslo!! This tree is, after all is said and done, a bright and festive part of our Reykjavik Christmas cheer.
By the way, Hotel Borg in the backround is the place to stay while here. Ask Viggo Mortensen, Kevin Costner, Coldplay, etc. (here's where my Icelandic star-watching buddies can add some names of other known folk who've done Borg.......