Each Christmas I think about holidays of the past, especially those when I was young.
There were certain traditions that my family always had, such as Christmas Eve, which was always spent at my Grandma L’s house. There was the traditional Norwegian supper with Lutefisk and lefsa. I remember the riced potatoes and scalloped corn that my cousins loved, as well as the counter filled with sweet pickles, rosettes and sweet treats that my Grandma had made.
There was always the “kids” table that you never seemed to graduate from because there was never room at the “big” table. That dining room wasn’t very big at all, but it always seemed to expand to fit however many people were in it at the time, and I estimate it was well over 20 people.
We always had the singing around the piano as the women of the family cleared the table and washed the dishes. The sons would always serenade their mother with a Norwegian song, and she would sing along, seeming lost in memories she never revealed.
In the middle of opening all of the gifts, which was done one person at a time so Grandma could watch and collect all of the wrapping that we had to gently peel back from our gifts so that it could be used next year, the familiar jingle of bells would be heard outside the front door that meant Santa had just dropped off a sack of goodies for everyone.
Aunts and Uncles and cousins would continue to arrive at the house well into the night. A special toast was served after everyone had finally arrived, with a tiny glass of wine for the adults and grape juice for the young ones. It would be well past Midnight before we would pack up our presents and head home, where Mom would tell us to hurry and get to sleep so Santa could come.
I remember lots of little details that are so much a part of that night that if they didn’t happen, it just wouldn’t be the same: the short needle Christmas Tree with candles on it; the movie “Yours, Mine and Ours” on TV in another part of the house; ice skating on the frozen river; waiting for my Uncle to come in from milking the cows so we could eat; seeing how many people we could hide under the pile of coats on Grandma’s bed; which cousin would make the first funny comment about the Lutefisk.
This tradition may be gone, but my Dad has kept another one going all these years: the Christmas lefsa.
As I’ve grown older and moved farther away from my hometown, Dad has always made it a point to ship me some lefsa. There are a few women in my hometown that still practice the art of turning potatoes into a Norwegian flatbread (as I’ve heard it referred as) that will melt in your mouth.
Slather that stuff with butter and brown sugar and it is the best thing in the world to eat!
This year, however, Dad outdid himself with his gift. Not only did he add Christine and Nichole to the list of receivers, but he included a pound of butter to the package!
Opening that present put a big smile on my face.
Grandma would be proud, Dad.