The day after Thanksgiving is not known for shopping here at the farm. For us, it is the first day of the Christmas season. Arliss and Travis help get the Christmas boxes up from the cellar and we begin to put up the tree. Every year we make sure the lights go on first, then the wooden beads that look like cranberries. The next big decision is which ornaments will be used this year. I have ornaments given to me from friends and family; enough to fill three trees.
|Arliss pressing sugar cookies|
Once the tree is up we begin the baking. I make sure I have Great-Grandma Ellen's cardamom coffee cake, a staple on my mom's side of the family. From my dad's side we have to make Gram's ginger snaps and sugar cookies. This year Travis made Gram's ginger snaps and Arliss made the sugar cookies. I took on the cardamom bread, a braided sweet bread.
|Travis dipping the dough balls in sugar|
Over the years the cardamom bread was made by my Great-Grandma, then my grandma, my mom, and finally me. I took over the bread making when I got married. The first year, my husband and I lived in an apartment with an electric oven. I had grown up with a gas range. My first attempts were not the most palatable. We have a convection option on the oven here at the farm and it makes the best bread ever!
|Great-Grandma's Cardamom Bread|
Travis loves this bread and will do almost anything to get it. Today he tried to hide an entire loaf from me, hoping I would forget how many I made.
My childhood family would spend Christmas Eve with my mom's folks. My grandfather would greet us by saying "Gud Jul," which was Swedish for Merry Christmas. His mother had made the cardamom bread.
My uncle would read the Christmas story from the big King James Bible before dinner. We would open the presents after dinner and then attend the candlelight midnight service. I remember waking up one Christmas morning full of excitement, only to remember that we'd opened all the presents the night before.
On Christmas Day we would go to my grandparents' farm. My aunt, uncle, and cousins would be at the farm when we got there. My cousin, Cindy, and I would go upstairs and catch up on what was going on with us.
Gram would have Cindy and I set the table with her wedding china and the other special dishes from the china cabinet. Sometimes, Gram would find a prayer written in the newspaper. She would cut it out and set it next to my place; it was my duty to lead the family in saying grace.
When it was time to open the presents we would gather in the living room. The pine scent from the blue spruce filled the air, mingling with warmth of the fire. The presents under the tree seemed to overflow. Of course with five grandchildren and six adults, the tree was pretty full.
Gram and Gramps are gone now. Their farm is but a memory. Every year as the boys and I make cookies, and breads I am filled with memories of all of the laughter, fun, and family time we shared.
And now for another piece of cardamom bread before Travis eats it all.