Saturday, January 12, 2008

"And the Candle?"

Mum told me a family story I hadn't heard before yesterday... She'd just received the above cartoon from my Uncle Joi (John, to you), that he'd somehow managed to source from the net. This panel was published in Iceland's nations newspaper on February 17th (I think), 1969. It depicts my grandfather (though isn't a likeness of him) and my grandmother and their six youngest kids (so not my mum)... The theatre mask (with a clown expression), hanging off the boats end (stern?, don't know, doesn't matter) is the "tell" that it's about my grandfather in particular as he was a renowned actor and makeup artist in Icelands national theatre at the time...

Why was this cartoon in the paper? Well, because my grandfather had decided to emigrate to Australia with his wife, six youngest kids, and his mother due to a lack of employment opportunities for himself. He had to support his family somehow.

HOWEVER, the Icelandic nation (at the time only 170 000 people strong) were NOT happy! In fact, they got my grandfather on tv and interviewed (or rather interrogated) him about WHY he would even consider removing his POOR children into the UNKNOWN like that. Why was he removing SIX members of the Icelandic nation from their birthplace??? LOL...

The icing on the cake is that someone decided to call in the Icelandic equivalent of DOCS to investigate the matter, eventually it was deemed there was no case to answer.

Why did they pick on my grandfather (he certainly wasn't the only man moving his family overseas, there were a number of other families moving to Canada and Australia at the time)? Well, because he was well known; our family was well known...

As it turned out the trip was postponed till later in the year, and then my mum went with them (so a whole TEN Icelanders emigrated), but by the beginning of 1972, my great grandmother was extremely homesick and wanted to go back home to Iceland and as she was the matriarch, that meant everyone else went back too, except my mum, who was married and had me (only just) by then.

So, our family went on to increase Icelandic nation population by a further 18 members (including my brother and I because we both have dual nationality)...

Another lovely story mum told me that I hadn't been aware of is that every Christmas Eve (when my family celebrates Christmas), after the church bells ring, heralding the start of Christmas at 5pm, after everyone has wished one another a Merry Christmas, my uncle always goes to a little shelf in his study where he has two photos, and lights a candle. The photos are of my brother and I... Awwww, I nearly cried hearing that! And if even a few seconds go by without him going to his study after wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, his son will say to him, "And the candle?", because it's such a well known part of their Christmas ritual!

Family is very important...

2 comments:

HipbubbyMama said...

hahah..that cartoon and story is such a cack! Poor Iceland, losing all 10 of it's citizens..heehe.

How lovely about your uncle and his candle :)

DenimAngel said...

Wow! What a unique piece of heritage you have been passed on there.
Susan

Teenagers and the failing parent...