In Scandinavian countries, the big feast was on Christmas Eve.
Christmas Day was a day for going to church and relaxing
at home. It's a custom we still observe in the same way
my mother did. It was a plain meal and until grown children
began changing it with likes and dislikes of their own,
it was the same every year.
Flaky boiled potatoes; lutefisk piled high on a white platter;
potato sausage piled even higher on a smaller platter;
milk gravy plain and milk gravy with homemade mustard;
I'm sure there was a vegetable but I have no memory of it-
my plate was already filled; white buns and rye bread with
raisins; jellies and pickles and homemade root beer.
And for dessert, always rice pudding with raisins and one
single almond. Whoever got the almond in his serving
would be the next to marry.
Now, two and even three generations removed from that
household, it's still the same. Never are the dishes done so
quickly and the last of the leftovers whisked away so quickly
as on Christmas Eve! For it was time to go into the parlor,
one of the few times in winter that the room was opened
and the radiator turned on. One by one, the tongues of flame
danced on the candles as they leaned out on the tips of
each bough. And one by one the presents under the tree
were passed around.