Getting ready for Christmas

Eight-year-old Arn got the tree in

Christmas tree

Photo: Ingerid Jordal
This one was the best, according Arn Skorve Kindem, age 8. But it certainly wasn’t the smallest.

INGERID JORDAL
Voss, Norway

The fog hangs heavy over the hill. Above an icy forest road in Tøn, one can hear the sound of children shouting. In between the trees, little nisser are sneaking about, playing hide-and-seek or tag.

“Here, they can shout as much they like, and there are no leash laws,” laughs Anne Jorunn Nestås Tøn. She is the landowner and thinks it’s great that people want to play in her woods. And chop them down. For the little nisser aren’t just there to play. They are on the hunt for a Christmas tree. Each year, Jon Gjerde organizes a choose-and-cut Christmas tree farm at Tøn, raising proceeds for Amnesty International. Young and old arrive—with saws, axes, and mandarin oranges—to find and create a little Christmas spirit.

“But I think this is the first time we have­n’t had snow,” says Anne Jorunn.

Christmas tree farm

Photo: Ingerid Jordal
Anne Jorunn Nestås Tøn offers up her forest each year for the Amnesty International fundraiser. “It’s so wonderful to have children playing around here!”

Eight-year-old Arn Skorve Kindem has already begun to make a plan.

“I have picked out a tree that I think Mom will like,” he says. With his little sister, Vilja, and his mother, Hilde, in tow, he heads into the forest. They don’t go too far.

“There!” Arn stops in front of a tree three times as tall and five times as wide as he is.

“Isn’t it a little big?” I ask.

“No!”

Arn starts chopping at the tree. About halfway in, his little sister wants to give it a try. But it’s not all that easy, and soon she gets a pine needle stuck in her finger.

“You have to do it,” she says to her big brother. He doesn’t need to be asked twice, and he lets loose on the trunk until the tree falls. But then comes the most difficult part: getting the tree in the car. For when the tree is big and you are little, it takes quite a bit of willpower to haul it through the forest. But Arn doesn’t give up, and after a whole lot of effort, the tree is finally in place.

“We’re going to take it home and decorate it with Christmas balls and stars and put presents underneath.”

“Oh? What time will you decorate the tree?” I wonder.

“I think … tonight?” He looks up at his mother.

“No, not today. But on Little Christmas Eve!”

“Oh yeah.”

“What if you didn’t have a Christmas tree?” I ask.

“No tree? We would probably have a worse Christmas Eve,” Arn says. There would be no place to put the presents, after all. “But then we could hang them from the ceiling.”

Christmas tree

Photo: Ingerid Jordal
Styrk and Trym Strømmen Een found several trees with their mother, Rønnaug Een. The family kept some of the trees for themselves, and others went to relatives.

Christmas tree first-timers

A married couple, Georgios Micholopoulos from Greece and Halina Sokolova from Ukraine, are celebrating their first Christmas in Norway. They will be working at Voss resort, but while they wait for the snow, they’re helping friends cut their trees.

“In Greece, we just have fake trees made of plastic,” Georgios explains.

For their part, they found a tiny little tree, since they don’t have very much space in their apartment. Halina is beaming and holds up the little tree. In Ukraine, they’re used  to decorating trees.

“Hooray!”

“My first real Christmas tree,” Georgios says with a smile.

Reprinted with permission from Avisa Hordaland, Voss, Norway. Translated by Andy Meyer.

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 13, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

Ingerid Jordal

Ingerid Jordal is a photojournalist based in western Norway, with a great passion for the deep north and stories of belonging. She is scared of flying, but not scared of driving backward on a highway in Seattle. Learn more at www.ingeridjordal.no.

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