Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. The Winter Solstice is just past and we are in the midst of Hanukkah. This is a good time for me. Odd this year, as the patterns of my life of the last ten years are pretty different which has the effect of having me feel free and untethered in turns.
I have potatoes cooking on the stove, to make lefse. Today for the first time, I will roll it and bake it by myself but make no mistake, I’ll have plenty of memories for company. There is first of all the recipe. Which to use? My mother’s or my Grandma Helen’s? Both are good, their differences are small, but I remember well the discussions between my mom and dad about which recipe to use from year to year. I always end up using the one my mother gave me when I got married. Probably because I miss her the most.
I will use the Bethany griddle she gave me as a gift one year, and the sticks my dad carved and my grandmother’s rolling pin with the sock my mother added. I will hear my Dad’s voice supervising the rolling as he and my Uncle Glen did while sitting back on their stools, sticks in hand, baking the thin sheets my cousin Linda and I handed to them. By now we were in our late forties and accomplished bakers, but they couldn’t resist advising us and mostly we only rolled our eyes at each other.
I remember the last two years, the huge stacks of lefse Carl and I made on the best lefse baking surface since the wood stove, the flat top in the Three Crows kitchen. We turned up the flames under that big plate of steel, mixed up the dough in the big Hobart Mixer and built a stack so high it stuck together from the pressure and heat. Lesson learned. We managed to save just enough for the lutefisk diners, but barely.
There will be time soon, to follow the lead of mother nature and quiet ourselves to prepare for the coming of another season of planting and growing and harvesting, however we find to do that. But for now, I plan to enjoy whatever the season brings my way. Friends, family, gatherings, time alone, the rituals, the cooking, the eating, the lights, the fires, the puzzles! And I imagine I will indulge in a little time wondering how next year will be different, with the arrival of a new grand baby in the Spring. I wonder if she will ever make lefse and think of me.... so the wheel of the year turns.
This is a poem I love about this time of year. Wishing you the best of the season, connections to the past, the present and the future!