Where can an Estonian in America go, when Christmas means lots of stuff wrapped in boxes and piparkooki is a foreign afterthought? IKEA, of course.
Last night, with minu kallis naine Epp in the humdrums over the lack of genuine Christmas cheer in our lives, hungry for gingerbread and glögi and all the stuff an Estonian can comfortably buy in their neighborhood shop, we searched for an answer that could provide some measure of kodumaa to drive away her Yultide blues.
The answer came in the Swedish royal colors of blue and yellow -- IKEA, located on Route 107 in Hicksville on Long Island. Surely Ingvar Kamprad and Anders Dahlvig, the blue-eyed Rootslased that run IKEA must feel for their northern European compatriots abroad and would have made sure that every Icelander, Norwegian, Swede, Finn, Dane, Estonian, and whoever else drinks glögi at Christmas, had access to much needed gingerbread and mulled wine at this time of year.
And so we went to IKEA, in search of Estonian Christmas spirit. "Yes!" I thought. "We'll go to IKEA and there will be rosy-cheeked Scandinavians willing to indulge us in affordable Jõulu products!" But when I got there and asked for glögi, the Mexican guy behind the counter pointed to a case of sparkling pear wines. And when I went hunting for old-fashioned piparkook, all I could find was a box of capuccino-flavored Anna's gingerbread thins. All the while, a sign in the store market encouraged us to "take a taste of Sweden home." Yeah, right.
Cutting our losses, we decided that we'll make glögi on our own and we took a box of capuccino-flavored Anna's piparkooki thins, because piparkooki is piparkooki, even if tastes like Italian coffee. We also managed to buy several jars of Lingonberry jam, which was interestingly titled "Lingon sylt" and Epp also found cloudberry jam or "Hjoltron sylt" --something that Estonians know well, but that is unknown here in New York.
So although it didn't all work out as planned, we didn't go home empty handed. And at least we had some "sylt" in our basket.