Christmas Eve

Ice Ring and Palm Trees

Today is the day our family is accustomed to celebrating the Christmas holiday. Our Swedish traditions were built around the process leading up to the candlelight service at church. Dopp i grytan was the first of the rituals. We’d dip homemade Swedish rye bread in the broth in which the Christmas ham was cooked. (Or, if we were having something other than ham, mom would heat up some chicken broth for dipping.) Later we’d have a full blown smorgasbord, eaten with gusto as we hurried to be ready for, umm, church—yeah, that’s why we were eager. When we were young, mom and dad let us open one gift before church as a way of holding us over. When we came home we’d open our gifts and then hop in bed to be ready for Christmas porridge in the morning.

I drove over to the Nordic House yesterday to pick up a couple items for tonight’s smorgasbord. The location, Telegraph at 34th is also the site of Neldham’s Danish bakery. I have vivid memories of shopping at the Nordic House with my folks. The owners of Oakland’s premier scandinavian deli used to send out invitations for an open house they held every year on the day after Thanksgiving. (I don’t know if they still do that.) If memory serves, my sister, Krista worked at the Nordic House for a short while. And of course the Nordic House figures prominently in our memory as the site where Mom and Karla were robbed at gun point in the 1980s.

A couple of days ago Anna and I had to run an errand over in San Francisco. We decided to hop into the casual carpool line, and within about 20 minutes of leaving our apartment we were smack in the middle of downtown. After meeting Nate for a quick cup of coffee, we strolled through Embarcadero Center towards the Ferry Building. (Where I tasted my first shot of Blue Bottle espresso. More on that another day.) As we walked out of Embarcadero Center One we encountered the ice skating rink set up for the holidays. As a recently arrived “midwesterner” I chuckled when I saw the ice rink with Palm trees in the background.

Thursday December 24, 2009 — Mark —