The small elf or gnome we call Tomtenisse in Sweden is a part of the rich Swedish folktale tradition that includes trolls, elves, giants, fairies, witches and the little tomte who often lived in the barn and was thought to be benevolent, looking after the farmer, his family and animals. As you can see, he bears little resemblance to the big and burly Santa of today.
I treasure this little plate, a gift from my cousin, Anders. Anders and I share an interest in Old Town, Gamla Stan, the oldest part of Stockholm. We love the jazz clubs in the ancient cellars, the magic of the narrow alleys and crooked medieval buildings. When I'm in Stockholm, Anders always treats me to a nice dinner in one of the many restaurants there. The plate is made by Arabia, Finland. Every Christmas I look at it and remember many good dinners and conversations with my cousin in Gamla Stan.
It seems like this little tomte has always been with me. Maybe he is keeping an eye on things around this place.