Friday, December 26, 2008
How do you have a
This Christmas, we were not bombarded with Christmas music everywhere we went, so we played our own. We usually rely on the computer and Pandora radio for holiday music, but we can not get it in Sweden. So we had just one Christmas CD on hand- a mix we have called 'Christmas in Las Vegas' that has songs by Frank Sinatra and the old crooners, which we listened to over and over again.
After listening to the lyrics so many times the Swedegirl was getting to know them well. She does a very fine 'Santa Baby', asking for a 'sable to be slipped under the tree/ for me/ been an awful good girl....Santa Baby') So while listening to "I'll have a Blue Christmas without You" she asked very carefully what exactly is this 'Blue Christmas' and noticed the song was making her feel sad. So we talked about missing people, and not being with loved ones at holidays, and she said she might have a Blue Christmas because she really misses her Nanny and Pa who are in Florida.
She also took in the idea from the old songs about a 'White Christmas', and decided that's what she'd really like. Snow on Christmas. I was wishing hard with her. After the Thanksgiving Turkey, we had a wishbone. When I put it up on the shelf to dry I explained to her how when we break it, whoever gets the big piece can have a wish come true. She told me she was going to wish for a White Christmas, and for whatever I had wished to come true, as well. Pretty darn clever, including getting the other person's wish granted as part of the wish!!! But we both wanted a White Christmas, so we thought it would be easy, since we only had one wish between us. She asked a few times for the wishbone, and the day I went to reach for it it was gone- it had been on a window sill that opens to the outside, and I recently did a big cleaning...Had it fallen out the window? Gotten mixed up in the trash? Composted? I put her off until I could find it.
As Christmas approached, we got weather forecasts that it was going to be 5+ Celsius or so on Christmas, too warm for snow. I began to prepare her that we were not going to have a White Christmas after all. On hearing this news, she blinked, and said in a voice that lets you know the answer will be burned in her heart forever- "Even if we wish on the Chicken Bone?"
I began to explain wishes versus the weather, and how sometimes our wishes don't come true. And I stopped, hoping I stopped in time before too much harm was done. I felt like I was telling her fairies were not real, and felt the crash of little tinker bells falling dead all over the planet.
I started to recall a story from a grandma I met once named Edwene Gaines, who was speaking at new thought Churches around the country on prosperity thinking. She came to Unity in our town, and told some great stories of her grandsons, and how she holds the space for them that their thoughts do create their reality, that we live in a world of infinite possibility, and they can do anything they can dream of.
She told a touching story of how when they were old enough to travel without their mother, she brought both of her grandsons to England, and took them on a tour of the areas mentioned in King Arthur's tales. She took them to a secret waterfall in the woods and held a ceremony to knight them both. She said no matter what happened in this world, they could do anything, absolutely anything. And that she was always there to believe in them. She went on to say how this was challenging to uphold at times, and told a story of a time the belief became really hard for her to stick to for one of the boys.
When one of the boys was about 10, and the Gore/Bush election was closing in on a finish, he decided he wanted to talk to Al Gore and find out if he was the best man for the job. Grandma choked a bit, and was about to talk some sense into him, after all it was nearing election day, and Al Gore was an awfully busy man right then. But she held her tongue, and decided to encourage him. But she had her doubts, but to her grandson, all she offered was hope and encouragement, and her blessings that that sounded like a great idea.
Well, just two days later, the boys mom went for coffee with a study partner from one of her classes from her Atlanta College where she was doing her Master's Degree. They had been meeting all semester, and on this one occasion, the study buddy confided "I feel so behind, I am coordinator for the local Democratic committee, and in in just one week we are hosting Al Gore, and I have no volunteers lined up to help!!" The mother of the boy volunteered to help out, and yet, she was still unaware of the wish her son had expressed to his grandma. The woman volunteered and was given the job to help receive Al Gore and help get things in order for his stay. Well, when grandma heard she was beside herself, and let the mother know of her son's expressed wish. The little ten year old boy helped his mom on the campaign, and in the end he spent 30 minutes touring Al Gore's private jet and interviewing him.
The amazing thing, the grandma noted, was at the time of the seemingly impossible wish, all the pieces were already in place, but no one knew. Something magic happened when he made his wish, and without effort, without knowledge, those pieces and possibilities fell into place for him. She still works to hold the space of the possible for each one of her grandson's impossible dreams.
This is what I was thinking when my girl asked if there would be no White Christmas "Even if I wish on a Chicken bone?" Well I never found the turkey bone. My husband brought it up that she had asked for it and become distressed over it Christmas Eve day, and he had dismissed it saying we will get another one out of the turkey tomorrow. I explained its importance to him, that it was her last sure fire chance to make a wish for a White Christmas before the big day. I felt awful sad we had not made our wish sooner. But we had wished together, none the less. That had to be worth something, 'chicken bone' or not.
Well, the day after Christmas, we woke to this wonderful icy frost. It may not have been snow, but it was the best the world could give, and it did seem like an awfully White Christmas to us. (Thanks to my husband who took these great pictures, as he knew I was not likely to get out of PJs all day long that day...)
So it was a bit of a White Christmas, a Blue Christmas, and a wish-come-True-Christmas after all...I hope this Christmas you have someone who believes in you and your dreams, and that they all come true one way or another. The possibilities are infinite, and the pieces may already be in place. All you have to do is make a wish, chicken bone or not.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
The tree with all the goods Santa left
Santa ate the cookies and the reindeer ate the carrots we left them...
Santa Came! The Stocking.... She may be the only kid on earth who loves a stocking full of tea and bandaids. And of course all the stuff her Nan (I mean Santa) sent, her, as well!!!
Thanks Uncle E!!! The Best Surprise, The Most Original Gift Prize goes to Uncle D and Aunt J, who made the great collage of my family of origin, in "A Yellow Submarine!"Awesome. Thanks Aunt J!!!!
And the most thoughtful and Christmas Spirited gift from Farfar and A, the Heiffer International Gift and World Wild Life calendar. She actually knows about Heiffer, thanks to the cool book we have called "Faith The Cow" about how it started. We were trying to talk about the meaning of Christmas, which is slightly harder to do in Sweden, where every one's needs are met. There are no concert fund raisers to pay for medicine for kids with leukemia, or soup kitchens (since everyone gets food), no homeless people (housing is a human right), and no toy drives for the poor kids because no one is that bad off. So we had been talking about poverty and Heiffer to try to talk about how lucky we are....A Big Thanks for making it a part of the Holiday!! The post-gift wrapping paper melee
The Family Christmas Dinner- Roasted Turkey with sausage and cornbread stuffing, broccoli cheese casserole, sweet potato casserole, masked potatoes, gravy, and pecan chocolate chip pie. And The Swedes!
BIL saying Cheese for the camera.... Gifts were appreciated by all...
SIL and BIL
The Swede Lil' Cousin and his Pappa
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I liked the Pickled Herring
So Christmas Eve, the Swedish Christmas big day, was celebrated with dinner at SIL's house with a Swedish 'Jul bord'. Daytime was calm, less festive, but eventful none the less.
I missed Kalle Anka- the big Disney/ Donald Duck show everyone in Sweden watches thanks to my car over heating when I made a quick trip to the store to find something that would suffice for southern style sausage for a cornbread- sausage stuffing recipe for our Christmas Day American style holiday meal . I could not complain too much as at least I got the store and bought the extra food BEFORE the car overheated, and since I ran out the door with out socks, a coat, or a cell phone (or the ability to recall accurately my husbands cell or my own home phone number) at the exact time there are no cars on the road in Sweden, as everyone is glued to the TV watching Kalle Anka, I was lucky to be able use the grocery store facilities to make my call for help. So it was a Christmas Miracle, if nothing else, that it was an easy to handle break down.
So the Jul Bord- smorgas means sandwich in Swedish, so this was it- the Jul Bord is the original smorgasbord, fellow English speakers. There is a tradition of eating seven courses at the Jul Bord, that progress from cold fish to dessert. I think I made three trips- cold fish and warm food, a tad more cold fish and tad more warm food, followed by a heap of Jansen' fresetelse/ gratin potatoes to cure the lingering salty taste lingering after all the salty food! Then there were chocolates, and the relatives said for some reason they always, always have a box of Maribou chocolate's with a little map of what is what- the type of Chocolates we give for Valentine's Day. Later we had ris a al malta, or rice pudding in whipped cream with jam for dessert. We also drank JulMust....
The ham, with sesame paste and little cloves stuck in it ala the SwedeAunt...
The Ris a la Malta eaten topped with Hjörtron jam, lingon, or fresh clementines. You should have seen the quantity of whipped cream that goes into this- it is half whipped cream and half rice pudding. No wonder the SwedeDaddy thinks whipped cream is a food group!
The teenage cousins, almost 13 almost 16....
The Tree at the SwedeSister's
Here is the recipe I used from eggnogrecipe.net. Again, who knew there even was such a site?? But it is there is you too ever need it- I am so grateful for the internet.
12 egg yolks
In a saucepan over low heat, blend the milk, cinnamon, cloves and half a teaspoon of the vanilla essence.Keep stirring while mixture heats, and remove from heat just before boiling point.In a bowl, mix together the sugar with all those egg yolks.Make sure you whisk them well so that they're light and fluffy.Gently and a little at a time, pour in the milk mixture while continuing to whisk.Transfer mixture back into your saucepan over a medium heat while continuing to stir.Keep stirring until your eggnog mixture starts to resemble custard.Never let the mixture to reach boiling point!!Pour and strain the mixture into a jug, making sure to remove the cloves.Stand jug in the fridge for an hour or two.Gently stir in the cream, light rum, remaining vanilla and ground nutmeg.Put back into the fridge overnight.Serve in cups with a little extra ground nutmeg, cinnamon or baking cocoa sprinkled lightly on top.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Since I can not invite you over, dear far away friends and family, I thought I would show you how things look this season in the new house. We got decorations up the 13th, 14th, and 15th.
It's nearly Christmas Eve, which in Sweden is the day Christmas is observed. I can report more clearly on the sequence of events after we have participated, but it involves a Donald Duck show the whole nation watches at 3pm, Santa coming during the day while everyone watches this show, then eating lots of pickled fish. More to come on that. We plan to spend the day with the SwedeSister's family for a Swedish Christmas observation, then have our own American style celebration on Christmas Day.
I kinda like the old school 70's gnomes...
On Selecting a Christmas Tree
Our motto when our daughter was young was "Listen to the Baby". We found that when you routinely meet a child's needs, they stay adept at concisely expressing them, and we found her requests overall very reasonable- calls for comfort, nourishment, etc. As she grew older, she maintained the ability to express pretty clearly what needed to happen, or what was the truth of what was going on. She was a trust worthy communicator from the start.
We were reminded of our old mantra when it came time to get our Christmas tree this year. It was a snowy weekend and we had fantasies of taking her out in a sled and selecting a tree from a nearby tree farm, cutting it down ourselves, and joyfully hauling it back home... and then decorating it, and perhaps making a few cookies by the wood burning stove.
But still, in our time optimism, we were driving towards the forest and describing going in and cutting down our own tree to our daughter, which sounded like lots of fun to us, and it became remarkable that no matter how much enthusiasm we couched this plan in, she always responded "No, lets BUY a tree this year, and go cut one down NEXT year!" For a three year old, I was simply impressed with the fact that she was able to make plans for the coming Christmas, already internalizing the flow of annual holidays. But after several discussions to this effect, and her persistent request to BUY a TREE from a STORE, both the SwedeDaddy and I began to listen to her, and were finding it spooky she was so insistent. We were both reminded of the old mantra- 'listen to the baby'. It began to seem she was channeling some good advice...So we cut the trip short and headed to a tree lot we saw in town.
We bought our tree at a lot down near the local grocery store. Our purchase supported our local rotary club, or Lion's club, or whatever. Swedish trees are generally smaller, and there were a lot of "Charlie Brown' style tree's- short and sparse. But still, we found one just right for us:
It was the day we had celebrated Lucia, so she was still wearing her outfit. She loves her tree!