There is a beautiful tradition in Norway and other Scandinavian countries regarding Advent Calendar. It is about watch one episode of Christmas series starting from 1st December and every day follow the Christmas story until 24th. Most if not all the children watch this,some do with parents who by chance remind themselves of their childhood as this custom is quite old.
It is a wonderful time for family I think and I was no less excited than my kids were for this December in order to watch Advent series. This year we watched Snøfall - a story about an 11 years old girl Selma, whose parents died 6 years ago. She lives temporarily with Ruth and waiting for a foster home to be found for her. Why Ruth became her carrier is a mystery for me, as even temporary she is not able to show any emotion to so hungry for feelings Selma. Ruth is strict, cold and socially awkward, yet she had been trusted a girl to look after. But then one day Selma gets via magic portal to the reality of Snøfall, where Santa Claus lives together with some folks who love eating cardamon rolls. There is always dark there, but all residents are happy and children can escape darkness by entering the secret garden where for changed is all the time warm and daylight. There is a school for children and Santa teaches kids some things, but most of all whole Snøfall’s life is about having joy and helping Santa for the biggest day of the year. Soon after Selma realises that the reason why she was able to get to the Snøfall is because Santa is her real grandfather - her father left Snøfall and went to World Outside where he met her mum Liv and they had Selma. That means that Snøfall is actually her real home, she has a family over there and for the first time in her life, she has friends too. There is also a mystery to solve in Snøfall and Selma as Santa’s granddaughter can find out what happened to Santa. In the meantime, Ruth begins realizing that actually, she has feelings too. She misses Selma and even comes to her room to sit on her bed, which is pathetic as she never showed any emotion to the girl before. She explains that it is because she is not Selma’s family but true to be told she does not like children. Together they need to wait and be ready for a foster family to take her one day.
The story could be beautiful and for sure observing Santa Claus loving kids and reading letters for him from all the world was joyful but I couldn’t stop being sad from the very beginning of watching Snøfall. Seeing Selma so lonely, so desperately longing for family, getting cuddles and someone who would talk to her and smile to her was unbearable. So her happiness when she finds family, friends and people who care for her was enormous, but then as you can guess in parallel world Ruth changes too, no much, still is awkward but begins to show feelings which prompts her also to write a letter to Santa. She asks for family and she dreams about having Selma back. In penultimate episode Selma reads the letter from Ruth and her grandfather tells her that she needs to choose either she goes back to the World Outside or stays in Snøfall.
I wouldn’t write about this series and wouldn’t felt so shaken that much if Selma would have stayed with those who love her, those who were her family. But because this series is Norwegian and the national principle in this country is Children’s best which means that country - national organizations can provide for the child equally if no better than own parents, then you know the answer. Selma chooses Ruth, her sleazy room and kids at school who laughs from her than staying in the world full of warm and friendly people around. She picks something against all the odds but this is what Norwegian child protection service called Barnevernet stands for.
This way of thinking is spread on all levels and even children are exposed to it in a rather sophisticated manner by watching suppose innocent Advent film. In all the world children’s psychologist say and everyone know that parents and close family are the best for children - this is a core and safety in building children’s emotional security. Children need love, cuddles and warm and Selma choosing going back to emotion freak Ruth is incomprehensible but as I said this is what Barnevernet is designed for. Children thrive with family and siblings and the worst what can happen to them is taking them from parents and separate from siblings. The trauma is enormous and things are undoable.
Selma a lonely 11 years old girl who was given all the joy every child should have - yet she chooses to come back to her caretaker and wait for a foster home. I want to believe that she came back to Ruth only because she missed her dog Casper, which gave her happiness and joy which Ruth could never bring herself to do. I wish Selma could return to Snøfall with Casper - the place she was loved, the place where her family was.