Behind My Red Door

Friday, December 19, 2008

Traditions, Exceptions and the Aftermath

I am reposting this so as to not confuse everyone. As of 6:45 my parents once again have their power on.

I chose these 2 pictures because the red candle holder is an antique from Sweden and though it looks bright red in one picture, it is really a nice dark red with a great patina. It belonged to David's family and I love displaying it at Christmas. It looks perfect in my colonial prim home and I am proud to be able to carry on the tradition.
Yesterday DH and I got to enjoy a shortened version of one of our Christmas traditions. DH's parents are Swedish so we celebrate Swedish Christmas Eve with his family. Our menu is a shortened version of what it was when his Grandmother's were alive, but we still enjoy some speciality foods that we only get at this time of year. About a week before Christmas, the two of us head out for three stops. The first one is Helen's Bakery where we usually have breakfast - this year we skipped that. There we get our Swedish Christmas bread which is a rye loaf with dried fruit. We have to get a few loaves to freeze. DH loves to make it into toast. I get two Swedish coffee cakes, one for now and one to freeze for Christmas morning. This year DH suggested I get some Spritz cookies since I am running out of time to make cookies. They are homemade - just not by me. So we grabbed a tin of those as well. Some years we get some other goodies and this year it was a few fig squares since my folks love them. It was their mid afternoon treat yesterday.
Then we headed to the
Gift Chalet, a Scandinavian Shop where we get our different Swedish Cheeses - Farmer's Cheese and Bond Ost. Both are round wheels of cheese.

We use special cheese slicers that shave the cheese in very thin slices that we place on our hard tack or rye crisp. Sometimes we get some Medvusrt which is sort of like salami and we get that sliced just as thin. We always get both meat sausage and potato sausage and I usually get some Pepparkakor - a very thin and crispy spicy ginger cookie that DH's family loves. Sometimes I sneak a Swedish Almond cake into the shopping basket or some specialty napkins, but this year I was good!

At lastly we went to the grocery store to get many of the groceries we need for Christmas Eve and Day and we speak to the butcher and place our order for our 2 roasts. My family has had prime rib roast on Christmas ever since I started hosting it years ago and the butcher has come to remember our order every year. After all the upheaval of the past week, it was good to get to do those errands and keep our tradition alive. As we were waiting at the counter at the bakery, we talked about someday when we will take our grandchildren with us and let them pick out some of the special cookies they offer. I am already betting the Santa and Snowmen top the list.


By now most of you know I am not into glitzy sparkly decor. I enjoy glitz and sparkle on my fingers and wrists and ears and around my neck and in your lovely homes, I just don't want it as decor Behind My Red Door. That holds true with my Christmas decor and ornaments as well. But as with most things, there are exceptions. Back in 1975, when we got married, my mom and I made my dress. We hand sewed the lace and there were pieces we didn't use - heavy leaf like shapes. That Christmas my mom presented me with about 8 of them - complete with green glitter. Normally I would see something like this and think - TACKY - but not these. They are special and will always hang on my tree.
And David's Nana made ornaments out of things like egg shells, wishbones and those little containers that hold jelly in the diners. a few of those will always go on my tree - complete with glitter. Here is a wishbone.

I also have the thumbprint ornaments my kids made in preschool - the school I later taught at and then was the Director of. I have some Swedish Balsa wood ornaments from the gift chalet, and a few ornaments that were mine when I was growing up as well as few from our early marriage. Many of our original ornaments actually belonged to Jay and Jen. They got them every year from us and other relatives. They both have an extensive collection. When they moved out, they took them for their own trees. That left me with a lot of freedom to go in a more prim direction while still using my special ornaments. For me it is the best of both worlds!


The aftermath - part one...

These are just a few of the hundred or more of piles of trees and limbs in our neighborhood waiting to be cleared away.(They are NOW covered with a few inches of snow!) I took these on Thursday after DH and I did some morning errands. In places, the sidewalks are piled 6-8 feet high the full length of the person's front yard. It looks like someone let a few million beavers loose in the neighborhood. My mom's town just 30 minutes north of us looks 10 times worse. We took a trip to my folks house yesterday afternoon to clean out the refrigerator and deep freeze of all the melted and spoiled food left behind. (PEEE-UUU! ) I am so glad we got that job done when we did! It's a wonder the crews made any progress restoring power - but indeed they did! As of last night around 10 PM, they got power back. A neighbor was kind enough to call just as I got out of the shower. Immediately DH and I bundled up and made the drive to my folks house to turn on the furnace, run the water and make sure everything would warm up so my folks could get home this morning before the storm. I was so torn about them going, but they won't be alone. My younger sister Chris, her husband Bruce, and daughters Rachel 11, and Hannah13, live less than a mile from our parents. They are still without power. Originally, they all went to a resort hotel in CT last Friday when the power went out, but the last few days they have been staying closer to home with Bruce's mom. My brother Allan and his wife Cindy who live about an hour from us, kindly offered to host Rachel and Hannah for a few days because their school is closed until January. They headed there yesterday and are having fun with my brother's granddaughter Gracie. I am relieved that this weekend my sister Chris will stay with our parents and be there during the storm in case anything happens to the power again. It started snowing about 3 hours ago and already they have plowed our hill twice. It is coming down at the rate of 1-2 inches an hour and 12-14 inches is expected. I had a 1:30 appointment to see why I still am having dental discomfort and pain but I was able to postpone it until noon tomorrow - when the streets will be passable - I hope! We are still expecting 6 more inches on Sunday. And it is not even Winter yet.
By the time DH and I got home from my folks last night, they had already packed up all their belongings here so they could get going early today. They were so excited!! I sent them home with a bunch of food and clean laundry so they should be all set for a few days. My mom said her cat would not leave her lap. Last night when I was there, I held him and wrapped him up in the blanket (he felt so warm!) and I told him the heat would be on soon and his mommy would be home in the morning and he started to purr. I am so happy my folks are in the comfort of their own home. But there are still thousands living with family and friends, in hotels and shelters and with these back to back storms, it REALLY complicates repair work. Please keep all those folks in your prayers. Some may not even get home until January we are told.
EDIT: just as I published this, the networknews in Boston said that 25% of the folks in the town where my parents live still don't have power and won't until at least Monday.
I still have not had a chance to bake the shortbread cookies that I told you about
here, so for those of you waiting for the instructions, here they are: After the dough has chilled for several hours, take small handfuls and roll into logs about 1/2 -3/4 inches in diameter. (the length is not important) Then roll all those logs in sugar - white or colored. Chill the rolls again and take them out one at a time and slice into coin shapes about 1/4 inch thick. Yes - they are tiny cookies. Lay slices on cookie sheet - allow a little bit of room for expansion and bake at 350 for about 12 minutes. You don't want the bottom too brown - just golden. I transfer to flattened paper bags for cooling. Store in airtight containers. They freeze well. They also pop into your mouth very easily - too easily. Sometimes I think I should just stick them to my hips and tummy! LOL- I'll share pics when I do bake them.
I wanted to send a big CONGRATULATIONS to Robin over at The Robin's Nest on the birth of her new grand daughter Noel Grace. Noel is a true Christmas miracle! Robin, I pray the roads are soon passable so you can be with your sweet grand daughter!!
Thank you for all the kind words this past week. I so appreciate all the kindness and support.
Until next time please stay safe if you are experiencing a late fall blast of ice or snow.
Until next time - hugs, Linda