My husband and I always have a very busy holiday season because, given that both of our parents split up, we have many family groups we want to celebrate with. This year, we had four Christmases (down from five last year) and we thoroughly enjoyed them all.
Through all the hustle and bustle, I barely got my Christmas cards out in time. I have been sending long-distance Christmas cards since I studied abroad in college and this year I felt like I fell short. My handwriting practice has continued and I was pleased with how they turned out, but I didn’t get them in the mail on the day before Christmas Eve, soooooo…
For some reason, the theme of this year’s Christmas celebrations was my husband dressed as Santa Claus. I cannot rightly determine the precise reason but I think that it was due in large part to the hilarity of him having two beards simultaneously.
On Christmas Day,
Santa my husband and I drove through sleet and snow to Duluth to spend the day with my grandmother and extended family. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and wonderful company, followed by a relaxed evening at home watching Project Runway (it’s been a long time since I’ve watched that show!). As we sat, I asked my grandmother some questions about Christmas when she was growing up, looking as always for some insights into the lives of my great grandmothers. Here is some of what she had to say:
“Every kid got one present and the stockings had nuts, or orange or apples. We never went to see Santa Claus or anything. There’s a picture of Ruth (her sister) with Santa and a reindeer. Our stockings were probably old men’s socks or something. We put up a real tree every year – I don’t know where they (her parents) got it from. We would go to my father’s parents’ for Christmas Eve and always got dressed up.
“I believed in Santa and thought for a while that if I didn’t believe, I wouldn’t get anything. Once, Ruth and I figured out where my mother hid the presents in the upstairs bedroom. We’d go up there and cut the tape to see what the gift was, and then real carefully tape it up again.
“On the Loney side, they had a pretty nice house. Living room dining room together with a big, sliding wooden pocket door. A library. My grandpa would want us all to stand up and ‘say a piece’ or sing a song. We hated that. We went over there for dinner every Sunday. My grandpa would wear a suit every time and carve the roast. He walked around with his cane – he didn’t need it – it was just for fashion, you know? He was a proud Englishman…
“When my kids were young, I said, ‘I wanna go down and get a tree.’ There was a gas station selling trees. I wanted them to pull it home like on Christmas cards and that. They pulled it up the hill! Golly.”
-Grandma Betty Christmas Memories (12-25-2016)
When we got back home, I made Swedish pancakes again, this time armed with my dad’s cousin Coralee’s family recipe. This is the recipe Coralee remembers growing up and there is a strong likelihood that this is the general recipe that the elusive GG Olson used. Included is delightful tips and commentary, as with all great family recipes:
“Our simplest and best recipe for Swedish pancakes is as follows:
Use 1 egg for each person
For each egg ad 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup milk
Melt real butter in skillet, use more than you need and pour off excess into batter
The batter will be rather thin making thin pancakes. Cook on one side until edges look dry, flip I like to make larger pancakes so there is plenty of room to add lingonberries to center and roll up! You can also eat it with syrup and powdered sugar if desired ( I think that is overkill).”
-Cousin Coralee Swedish Pancake Recipe (12-17-2016)
We made them on the griddle this time but I think I didn’t use enough of the secret ingredient (a metric s***-ton of butter!) so they weren’t as thin as the last ones. Next time, we’re making whipped cream and topping them with LINGONBERRIES!!! Can’t wait.