Claiming My “Finndependence”

As you all know, I dread Finnish Independence Day, although now I hate it a lot less now that I’ve started calling it Finnish Independence Day instead of Diane Syrcle‘s birthday. I know next to nothing about Finland, am hard-pressed to name TWO Finnish composers (because there’s Sibelius, and……….) suomen_lippu_valokuvaand though I am very adventurous in the kitchen, of the Finnish recipes I’ve read I can pronounce maybe a sixteenth of the ingredients. Pretty much the only thing I have in common with the Finnish people is our shared love of avoiding others.

Finnish Independence Day is celebrated on 6 December because it’s when the official Declaration of Independence from Russia was adopted by Parliament after having been written by the Senate two days earlier.

I didn’t write my own line in the sand on today’s date, but it helps to think that someone else did. This is because on holidays, I still get rattled. 25 years is a long time to celebrate something and then just…. not.

I’ve told this story before, but I’m going to tell it again.

When Diane turned 24, I enlisted my mother’s help. I got her to call a florist so that I could get her a present delivered at school (Diane was a middle school choir teacher then). My mom asked me what I wanted, and I said, “one rosebud.” My mom said, “that’s it? You don’t want to get her some balloons or something to make her room look pretty?” “No,” I replied. “I have this joke I’m going to do and it’ll all make sense.” So my mom orders said rosebud and calls me over to the phone when the florist is ready to take the message for the card. I say, “for all you do… this bud’s for you.” My mom rolled her eyes and paid.

I am sure that there are many more gift stories, but the only other one I really remember is that I got her a GORGEOUS turquoise bracelet at Saturday Market on Festival of the Last Minute. She opened it on Christmas Eve and her joy was palpable. I said, “I figured I owed it to you after totally punking you on your birthday.” What did I get her for her birthday?

Well, first of all you have to know that when people know you like something, they’ll get you anything and everything having to do with it. For instance, my mother liked white geese. I don’t think she got a present for six years after she told people she liked them that didn’t have a white goose on it. Diane was complaining that now that people knew she liked dragonflies, it didn’t matter what the thing looked like, if it had dragonflies on it, people would buy it for her… that the overall aesthetic could be hideous, but if it had a dragonfly on it, it wouldn’t matter.

After (over)hearing this conversation, we were shopping and I found the ugliest “embroidered” dragonfly toilet seat the world has ever seen. Dana and I looked at each other, then wordlessly put it in our cart. We each knew, without saying anything, that this was a legendary find.

Good memories duke it out with bad on holidays, wrestling each other without keeping score. However, I have to remember that just like Finland, I have written my own Declaration of Independence, and the Parliament in my head has adopted it. When I feel sad at what I’ve lost, I simply look at the blue and white flag, and know what I have gained.




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