My family is from Finnish Lapland and I have always thought that's like ultimately lame. I admire these cool mixed families with multiple languages spoken and many cultures forged in together and then there is us... Combining cultures of the rural municipality of Rovaniemi and the city of Rovaniemi. Wuhuuuu. Lame.
Already at 16-years-old I took the first chance to leave my hometown Rovaniemi and moved to southern Finland to a city called Espoo for high school. After that I did an exchange student year in the USA. I returned to Rovaniemi with reluctance to finish the last two years of high school and after graduating I was so eager to get out again... That time in 2015 the destination ended being Berlin. But now, after five years of travelling around the world and also living in Berlin, Helsinki and Valencia - I am back in Rovaniemi. And it feels surprisingly good!
Of course lot of the good feeling is due to the general improvement of my mental health. Can't thank enough yoga and meditation and all lovely personal development books... ♥ Anyways, I also have a good vibe about Rovaniemi as a place to be for me at the moment.
I also have grown a new interest to my roots in general. I want to know more about my family history. This is new for sure!! Like usually I am more fond to run away from my family than actually dig deeper into their history. Maybe this is part of becoming old?! Dunno wassup...
So to fix this educational gap between generations, grandma and I decided to take a little roadtrip to check out all the important places of my father's side of the family. The weather was gorgeous! Apparently the last warm day of the year... With the blue sky and sunshine the scenery looked extra lovely. Ok the pics are taken through the car windows so not the best but trust me, the views were super pretty.
We drove to east to see the important family spots. These include tiny towns of Pirttikoski and Luusua which are part of Rovaniemi county but about 50 kilometers drive from the downtown. Idyllic af, but most definitely dying... Most of the people have moved closer to the downtown, just like my grandparents did back in the 80s. Most of the houses are still standing, even the old homes of my grandma and grandpa, but many of those houses were empty or only used as summer houses. None of these properties are my family's no more - so me the creeper just photographed houses of the strangers... But they were super cute!!!
Grandma told all the interesting stories of her past. Like how they had dances three times a week - amazing!! How did they meet with my grandpa. How she used to ski with wooden skies and take care of the cows and horses. But also about how they needed to be evacuated to Sweden when the war started and had to leave everything behind - and how they returned back to nothing, because the most of the Lapland got burned by the Nazis. The food was often scarce and money even scarcer. And how she worked hard to build the life she now has. They still got a taxi business running with grandpa, and they've built a beautiful house at the perfect spot and grandma is super sporty and has tons of friends.
I feel like listening her stories was very eyeopening for me. Learned a lot. And grandma seemed excited about sharing all her stories once in a while. Dunno is it just me or is it a normal thing for young people to be so into their own lives... Like while I have talked with my older relatives in the past the talks usually revolved around my life and what I have been up to or planning to do. Somehow I easily assumed that the old folks just do the same stuff. Yup, pretty ignorant and selfish... Especially as a teenager i was not interested in my family's life, there was enough drama in my own life haha and since those years I have been mostly away. But I think is better to reconnect now than never.
In general as I get older I feel a bit closer to my family. I guess the fighting for independence has calmed down a bit. By learning the family history, I kinda understood better where my grandparents views are also coming from. The generational gap is huge. The world they were born into 80 years ago is so different from the world now. It's easy to see why they do not always understand my views - and it is okay. There is no need for either of us to change. Just better respect the differences and appreciate the people just the way they are :)
As the roadtrip was so nice we ended up planning a new mission with grandma. This time we went for mushroom picking. I love mushrooms and local food, but you know, some mushrooms are so poisonous and I've been scared to pick them on my own in nature. Well obviously grandma knows better so we went together. Oh and Pyni also came with us!!
Cuties. And good times, we found lots of mushrooms! Okay, according to grandma we found barely anything... But for my first timer like me, we got a huge catch. Made some nushroompasta already, and there are some more mushrooms still waiting in the freezer. Of course the most important thing was the quality time spent together with grandma. Lovely.
My grandparents from mom's side have already passed away. Grandfather already in 1997, and grandmother in August 2019. Even though I lived with my mom's mother for two years back in the days - I feel like I did not really know her that well. She was very sick and had a dementia/alzheimer's which altered her personality. I just remember her being very weak and old always.
Of course that is not true... And now I am staying at grandmother's old apartment in Rovaniemi and while I am cleaning and going through her stuff and finding old pictures it makes me so sad that I never knew grandmother in her good times. She seemed very cool.
From what I've gathered, she was very neat, ambitious and hard-working. She had a great taste and appreciation for the finer things in life. She traveled and ran her own business. And yup, this grandmother also came from a poor farming family in the countryside. Worked her way through and ended up having her own accountant business and traveling around. Naish.
Pretty damn impressive ladies these my grandmamas are and were. These older ladies rocking it even in the not so modern world is so empowering. Humbling. Like I've got such a good start in my life and what I've done with it.... Haha okok everybody finds their own path after all :) But it's inspiring to learn from the older generations about their struggles and successes.
In conclusion I am still enjoying the life in Rovaniemi and excited to rediscover my roots 🖤