The ghosts of Christmas past.

December 13, 2012 § 7 Comments

As a child, I greeted each Christmas season with held breath, waiting, not for the gifts, but for a feeling. I could almost always pinpoint the moment when the ineffable tide of Christmas washed over me.

ake_jelving-christmas_in_swedenThe rituals we enacted were part of what made that feeling come.

Cookies in the apothecary jar.

Mildred’s pound cake.

The annual playing of  a scratchy LP, “Christmas in Sweden.”

No one but my father spoke any Swedish, and his grasp of the language was buried under the drift of years since Swedish was spoken at home.

It seemed that every song on the record contained these words, “Yoopa yoopa yoopa, yoopa yoopa yoopa!” Occasionally thrown in were words like,”Fura luska loota lisa!”

Each Swedish syllable contained an implied exclamation point. Although we had no clue what we were singing, we sang along joyously!!!

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December 17, 2010 § 13 Comments

The traditional Christmas pound cake in my family is called “Mildred’s.”

This simple, bullet-proof recipe came from Mildred Oakes, one of my grandmother’s best friends in Congers, New York.

I have a faint memory of Mrs. Oakes. I am peering through a screen door into a kitchen at a heavy woman with thick ankles and permed brown hair. I can tell the woman seated in a wooden chair has never been young and has always found getting out of a chair to answer the door an effort.

I also know she has been put on earth for a purpose. And that purpose was to create The Recipe.

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