Just before the worldwide pandemic enveloped all of us in a bubble of isolation and stillstand, I was able to visit your Christinehof slott myself. I guess you’d be very happy if you could see what excellent condition it is still—or again is. Considering its age of nearly 280 years, you could not be more delighted with what became of it since you could no longer take care of it yourself. Well, you can be sure it is in good hands.
These days, a bunch of friends, your wänners, as they like to call themselves, look after your heritage, a cultural association of enthusiasts from the local area.
I am curious as to why you chose to have it built. You already own far more estates of grand size, such as Krageholms slott or Sturefors Castle. These days, they say it was due to the expansion of your aluminum business, which made you want a residence where you could overlook it from a closer angle. Probably, everyone who was involved in the process of building Christinehof must have thought that your vision was a bit over the top since you were already at the respectable age of 68 when it was finished. Personally, I find it astounding that you would attempt such an adventure at such an advanced stage of your life!
I know a very nice couple from Berlin who have bought a manor house near my hometown, Neubrandenburg. When they purchased it, Castle Wrodow was a ruin in the early nineties. Brigitte, who is one half of the couple, was almost 60 years old when they began renovating it in a do-it-yourself fashion and with the assistance of their friends. They aimed to transform it into a living art project, celebrating theatre and opera there and the wonders of the free spirit in the legacy of Joseph Beuys. They achieved a commendable feat and created a joyful environment for the locals.
They are now in their mid-eighties, and they appear vibrant and cheerful in a way that I have never witnessed before—not even in my generation, but that’s a different chapter. I truly admire everyone who follows their ambitions until their very last breath. I guess there are only two types of people: those who run like clockwork and never stop and those who are more like an hourglass. When the sand has fallen from one side to the other, that’s it. Christina, you surely appeared to have boundless energy, judging by your success as Skanias’s all-around business queen.
Have you ever envisioned yourself as such an influential entrepreneur? Was it your parents’ marriage, both of whom were successful businesspeople, that shaped your view of finding happiness in constant activity? According to historical sources tell us, your parents had an unusual partnership of equality for their time. Besides, it seems highly unusual that your father allowed your mother to have something for herself outside of family matters that did not involve simple pleasures like gardening and bridge club with the girls.
But maybe the secret lies with your grandmother, Sara Nyman, who was born in Dalecarlia. It is known as the province of strong women since, according to tradition, daughters always inherit the farm from their parents. It seems strange these days that such a matriarchal concept existed in Sweden at that time.
There is a hint that you might have inherited your grandmother’s strong spirit, as she was also a daughter of merchants, and there seems to be a long tradition of merchants, both men and women, on either your mother’s or your father’s side.
Your mother, Margareta, seems to have been a very strong woman, running her own business affairs.
Historical sources tell that in 1700, she independently bought the manor Nynäs gård, near Nynäshamn, after already owning two other manors, Djursnäs and Berga. From that point of view, it could have greatly influenced your whole view of partnership between man and woman as a benevolent togetherness filled with inspiring interaction and confidence put into each other.
When I consider my own actions as a self-employed mother, I can relate to you in terms of being eager. I had to adopt the confidence that as long as I have a sharp eye on what is going on in my life, things will keep evolving for good—although I sometimes struggle to decide which turn I should take in order to get further. But how did you know when it was okay to be super risky? Did you have a secret adviser? How could you foresee getting your foot into the alum business—such an alien economic field? In the end, it would be an all-over decision that would turn you into an even richer woman than you already were.
So, I guess it was in your genes and most likely your parents who had formed your conviction that there was more to life than being a mother and a wife. As a woman, you probably had to deal with a lot of prejudices and no matter what you did or do today, there will always be people who are envious of others’ accomplishments, particularly those of a woman.