Wednesday, January 8, 2014

We Carry the Memory

 Our house has had more activity in the last few weeks than it gets any at any other time during the year. There is more action around here in the Summertime, of course, but most of that is outdoors. We had an unusual Christmas celebration in that my parents had all of their children and their families in attendance. 
As we prepared for Christmas, we kept waiting for a phone call from someone, somewhere who would be forced to cancel their plans. This Winter has not cooperated well with travel plans. It seemed inevitable that a flight connection or icy road would keep someone from arriving by Christmas Eve.  Folks began to arrive on Sunday and the gathering continued until all were present.
The outdoor preparation started with a shovel. 
Soon we had a little Christmas magic complete with multicolored lights shining in the cold. Inside we made up every bed in the house and Grandma did the same. We hauled in food and fussed and baked. We were nearly ready for Christmas. As the day drew near, some decorations were hunted down and put in place by those who know where things are kept and remembered where each decoration had been displayed in the past. That is the special part about family.
It was fun to get a glimpse of what others see when they look around here. One observation was about our snow and how it was like being in a vacation destination. The streets are carved out of snow, everything wears pure white frosting.
It made me realize that while many areas receive snow, the pure white, Winter long variety is less common and beautiful in its own way. There is no brown grass peaking through a thin dusting of snow. This is a real Winter complete with plenty of snow.
This cheerful observation boosted my outlook. It made me realize that those who arrived at my door love our weather and this place as much as I do.
The cats were not impressed and since two of our guests were canine, they mostly stayed away. But curiosity is part of being a cat and I spotted one on the deck a few times peeking in the window to watch us.
Church was at 4:30 on Christmas Eve at our little Lutheran Church in town. It was well attended with lots of excited children and adults. Afterward, we ate our traditional supper of lutefisk, spareribs, Salmon with lingonberries, riced potatoes, brussel sprouts, cranberry relish, lefse. All of this is topped with butter, melted or spread, butter is essential on Christmas Eve. 
I had planned to make Christmas Jello, the ribbon salad that my grandma used to serve on a separate plate with a leaf of lettuce, but in the excitement, I forgot. 
Sometime this Winter someone is going to eat Christmas Jello with their meal, because I bought the ingredients. Lots of ingredients.
When supper is over we have a family program. Someone writes it out and we all do as asked. We sing carols and Farmer Fred reads the Christmas Story from Luke. 
Then we pass out presents and everyone opens whatever they are given all at the same time. It was quite a sight this year with so many people opening packages all at once. This is a gift giving family. We make things or buy things and wrap them or bag them. There aren't any rules, mostly it is a mad house. I was carefully gathering torn wrapping paper and tossed-aside boxes into garbage bags and cardboard boxes while the gift giving continued. By doing this, I had an excuse to move around and watch the excitement. 
After the gifts were opened we had cookies, including some Norwegian specialties, candy and hot apple cider.
Santa Claus came. The Farm Inspector wrote a letter to Santa in advance of Christmas and received a reply. That is how we know that his favorite cookies are Oatmeal Chocolate Chip. Santa must have been hungry because he ate cookies, drank milk, and left everyone Duck Commander marshmallow guns or bows. 
Christmas Day involved marshmallow wars. First in the house and then outside and in the machine shed. I am still finding rock hard marshmallows in the corners of the house. It was fun. We feasted and visited, rode snowmobiles and laughed as we exchanged stories. Mom and Dad's children, known as the first five, were especially nostalgic. 
Because this was a real family Christmas and now we carry the memory. 
We have once again been reminded of how blessed we are in GriggsDakota.

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