Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Goodbye Christmas, and Happy New Hip

 We are in transition here. The putting away of Christmas has begun.

The Santas are packed up and the pottery collection is back in place.

All the glitter and bright color is gone from the dining room.

The only things left are the tree and the garlands in the kitchen. They will go tomorrow

Thursday morning I will go see my surgeon. Saturday morning I will get my COVID test. 

Monday I will go to out patient surgery to get my right hip replaced. Monday evening I will come home. Tuesday a physical therapist will make the first of four visits. I have phone numbers to call if we need help. 

Yes, both Tom and I are a little scared, but we are preparing. I got this bed tray for Christmas. 

Amazon has delivered two of these. 

My walker is parked in a spare bedroom. 

My check lists are getting checked.

It's not going to be fun being grounded, but I haven't been able to do much lately anyway, although I still manage to walk 1.25 miles almost every day.

I know recovery will be hard work, and painful.

Come July I'm hoping for hip-hip-hooray!

Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas Day 2020

 So glad that we could be together for dinner on Christmas Eve, we talked and ate and just enjoyed being together.

Of course, after the turkey dinner, when we could eat again, there was the dessert table. 

Jan left early to get back home in daylight and limit exposure. Isaac went to work. Jake stuck around into the evening, and he and Jill tolerated Irene and I as we watched what has become our own little tradition, the classic "Christmas On Sesame Street" We love it. For us it is ageless. As we always do, we turned the lights down and lit the nativity pyramid. 

Oh, and Tom fell asleep on the couch.

Eventually Jake, Jill and Irene left to go to their respective homes and Tom and I found an OK Christmas movie to watch, "Jingle Jangle".

Christmas morning we reconvened at Jill's house, where we opened well filled stockings before having our traditional brunch.

Then we all posed for  2020 group photo to record for posterity. Who knows what this next year will hold for us.

We had a wonderful day full of lively conversation, an abundance of gifts lovingly shared, stories to tell. and more good food to eat. 

After we departed for our own homes later in the afternoon, we met up again with the California Reeders for a Zoom gathering. It was a good conclusion to a full family day.

We feel very fortunate to have been able to share this Christmas with our loved ones. We will feel the warm glow for days to come. 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas!

 Christmas has arrived at the Reeder Homestead.

The table is set.

The turkey is smoking.

We will  be having Christmas dinner early on Christmas Eve so that Isaac can  go to work in the late afternoon and Jan can go home. Unfortunately, Jake will not be joining us. He texted this morning that he is 2 degrees separation from someone who tested positive. He is waiting to see the test results of his contact, and is isolating to keep us all safe. Hopefully he will be safe too.

Christmas morning we will regroup at Jill's house for brunch and gift opening, and later, left overs which we will transport from today. 

In this time when so many are isolated, I feel blessed that I can be with family, and we can have a somewhat normal Christmas. Hopefully we will all be safe.

I want to thank my blogging family for all of the great connections we have made, the companionship that we can share even at a safe distance, and for letting me into your lives.

I wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS. May you experience joy and peace. 


Update: Good news. Jake's contact's test came back negative and Jake was cleared to join us in time to have a warmed up turkey dinner with us while we were still at the dining table. 

Monday, December 21, 2020

The Winter Solstice

 No part of the world appreciated the significance of the winter solstice more than the Nordic countries. Celebrating the solstice predates the celebration of Christmas by thousands of years. 

While I didn't have much Nordic culture in my childhood, I have come to appreciate it in my adult hood, and now I really identify as Nordic. Then my DNA proved that to be the case. My Swedish and Norwegian mix accounts for 95% of my DNA. 

My mother, who was German, made lefse occasionally for my Dad, who was fully Swedish and Norwegian. We would eat it hot off the griddle, slathered with butter. I started making it many years ago.

Tom's mother, who was also Nordic, made a fried dough cookie studded with cardamom called Fatigmand. A while back I started making that too.

Then several years ago we started having our grand kids work with us on making these two Nordic treats. Today, on Solstice, we went a little Nordic. 

This is what the finished Fatigmand looks like coated in powdered sugar.

The dough is very stretchy and takes work to roll it out thin. I cut the strips and the slots.

Irene ties the knots.
Isaac fries them, happy to hide behind his hair. 

Then we moved on to the lefse. I made a LOT of buttery, creamy mashed potatoes the day before. Today I mixed in just enough flour to make it into a soft dough. 

You need to use lots of flour to keep them from sticking as you roll them out very thin.

Irene used the special stick to put the rounds on the griddle.

Eventually I got tired of my job and asked Irene if she was ready to try it. She was. It takes a very light touch, and re-flouring everything constantly, but she did a very good job. Isaac took over the griddle, and I just watched and listened. 

After we finally got through all of those potato dough balls, Tom cleaned up and we prepared some lefse for a late lunch: Still warm from the griddle, slather with melted butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, roll and eat. 

Mmmmm, so good. 

So was the Fatigmand, and there is still plenty for Christmas.

After the kids went on their way, Tom and I prepared some goodie tins to take to the members of our breakfast/Zoom group who live alone or in assisted living. We wanted to spread a little joy and love. 

The darkest day of the year was living up to its title as we set out in a rain storm about 3:00.

We made five stops, and in each case,  we felt our hearts growing as we spread a little love, some at-distance hugs, and some Christmas goodies, including some very fresh lefse and Fatigmand. 

It was a very good Solstice celebration. 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Memories: Holiday Baking

 Baking cookies for Christmas is my heritage. My mother, even with seven kids, baked cookies, and they were a main feature at the Christmas Eve big family dinner at my grandparents house on their farm. I'm sure my grandmother baked them too. When I came home from college for the holidays, Mom turned the cookie baking over to me because she was working as a cafeteria cook in our high school.

When I was married and set up my own household, an early Christmas present from Tom was a Kitchen Aid mixer. With it I could throw in cold butter and have it creamed in no time, the basis for almost all cookie making. 

I collected recipes from family, cookbooks, and especially December editions of magazines. I became the family cookie baker and supplier for all of our family gatherings. At the height of my baking days I made 12 different kinds, all packed away in the freezer awaiting each event. That all started 50 years ago.

While I kept that up for many years, gradually the cookie list shortened, even as the events and size of gathering diminished. This year, with no parties, I asked the family which cookies were essential. We were down to six kinds plus other special things. We eliminated one kind.

This photos, taken last year on Christmas Eve, shows what I am making now, minus the Cherry Twinkles, which we all decided were expendable. 

For years Tom has been my helper in making those hand shaped cookies lined up on the tray. We are a team.

There are no double batches this year, so half as many Cranberry Swirls. I have been giving away a lot of cookies in other years, and still hope to deliver a few to some special people.

This cookbook came from my mother, who bought it from one of our schools. 
Some pages are well used, like this one with the "Sand Dabs" recipe, which we call Russian Tea Cakes. 

I make fruit cake right after Thanksgiving, wrap it in brandy soaked cheese cloth, seal it up in a plastic bag, and let it age. The five kinds of fancy cookies are done and in the freezer before the kids, now grand kids, come to make the sugar cookies and the gingerbread. We did that this week on Wednesday, when the kids have no online classes.

We started this tradition when the grands were very young and still living in Colorado. Have cookie cutters, will travel.

Can you tell that organization and systems are a common trait? Lay out the cutters for the least amount of scrap, quite different from the first time, when Irene was two. 
While the gingerbread cookies are cooling, they make the sugar cookies, decorating then ornately with sprinkles. 

My job now is to make the cookie doughs, and icing, and monitor the oven. Sitting on a kitchen stool, watching and listening, was a treat and a relief this year.

We all have a hand in decorating the gingerbread.

Yesterday I baked the Swedish Cardamom Wreath bread. When it comes out of the freezer for Christmas morning we will heat it up, frost it, and decorate it with candied cherries. One other pan will probably be served up at Christmas Eve dinner, and one will be a treat to discover in the freezer this winter. 

Next Monday the grands and Tom and I have a date to make Fatigmand and lefse. You betcha! Those traditions are somewhat new for us, but Tom's mother always made Fatigmand, and I have made lefse for years. Now we are teaching the kids.

My memories become their memories. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Memories: Elves and Toads and Hearts and More.

 For years now, when Jill arrives during the Christmas season, whether it's from college or Colorado, or across town, she needs to know where the MistleToad is. Lately he has been hanging in the same place, but he must always be somewhere.

None of us remember exactly where he came from, many years ago, perhaps from a student, but he is a required fixture.

So is this original Elf on the shelf, this little guy that came attached to a Whitman's Sampler box of chocolates, also many years ago. 

He is not the only elf keeping watch, but these are all newer. 

The dining room is one of my favorite places to decorate. 

It's here that I go all Nordic, reflecting the heritage of both Tom and me. 
Straw is very significant in Nordic tradition. So is wheat. The bouquet of wheat represents the last harvest and the seed saved for the spring planting. The straw pig represents prosperity and the straw goat  represents the Yule goat that pulled the sleigh.  
Hearts are also very common decorations for Nordic Christmas. These heart fabric trees and bells were made for me by my mother-in-law also many years ago, and I treasure them. 

In the powder room is a collection of Snowmen that were given to me as gifts over the years. 

Jill gave me this one a while back, along with the book that this character comes from.

There's one last fabric piece I should mention. This is a poignant memory.

When my brother and his family were stationed with the US Army in Hawaii many years ago, my sister-in-law, Maggie, made this gecko as a gift. Geckos are good luck symbols. 

Unfortunately for Maggie, she did not have good luck. She died after a terrible battle with breast cancer when her children were still quite young. The Christmas Gecko comes out at the holiday in memory of Maggie.

When you get old, as I am, you accumulate a lot of stuff, and a lot of memories. Fortunately, as long as we are alive and kicking we can still add more. 

I hope you are making some memories this holiday season. 

Friday, December 11, 2020

Memories: The Tree

 I'm sure I post about our Christmas tree every year. I think this is the first time we have not added any ornaments to it, since there were no Christmas shop visits this year. But it's groaning already, hung heavy with ornaments collected over many years. 

We start with the pre-lighted tree, only our second artificial tree in the last 30 years. This one is a lot easier to put up than the first one. 

We add the garlands and the crocheted snowflakes, which we have had for at least 45 years. 

Then we start unpacking the ornaments. I unwrap all of the fragile ones that have been wrapped in tissue paper and stored in shoe boxes. 

We have a lot of birds.

And fruits and vegetables. And bacon.  All of these glass ornaments are the most recent additions. After the kids left home, we started going on Christmas field trips with teacher friends, and I could not resist collecting from the gift shops. 
The pigs and horses were collected by our kids when they were in elementary school, so maybe 35 to 40 years ago. Jake collected pigs and Jill collected horses. These are just some of the ornaments. The collections, with stuffed animals and all kinds of other collectables,  are still in our attic.
There are felt ornaments I made long ago when our kids were babies. There are Santa ornaments, of course.

There are peacocks for granddaughter Irene. 
Birds everywhere. 

There are ornaments that reflect our hobbies. You will find garden tools and bees and bugs too.
These are survivors of long ago when our kids were in pre-school. 

Lucia and a pony. 

And there is Krampus. But nobody here is bad enough to worry about him bringing us sticks. 

That's just a taste of what's here. We have fun unpacking all of the memories and loading them on the tree. 
And then The Winnie the Pooh characters go under the tree. Tom's mother made them long ago for her grandchildren. I received the first one, Piglet, when I was pregnant with Jill the Christmas of 1972. 
Oh, so many years, and so many memories.