It’s been way too serious around here at She’sWrite lately, and though I’m capable of a thoughtful point or two, no one would ever describe me as “serious.” To lighten the mood, I’m digging into my archives of items that I’ve been meaning to publish.
So, take a walk with me down memory lane and into Santa’s backyard.
Christmas in Norway is very long and I don’t say that because you’re dealing with only about 5 hours of daylight each day. It’s that the holiday celebrations go on and on. The festivities generally start on Dec. 24 and that morning we have the traditional large Norwegian breakfast. It’s like a mini buffet that includes hearty breads, different spreads for the breads that can range from sweet jam to funky caviar to goat cheese. There’s also rice porridge, or risengrynsgrøt. If you find an almond in your porridge, you get a marzipan pig. Some families do this on Dec. 23, but this year we did it on the 24th and wonder upon wonders, all four kids at the table each found an almond in their risengrynsgrøt.
The top three meals to make during the Christmas season are ribbe (pork ribs,) pinnekjøtt (dry-cured ribs of lamb), lutefisk (cod cured in lye.) I’ve had the first two, and they taste pretty good. Salty, but good. The third, lutefisk, I do not plan on tasting. Ever.
We opened all our gifts from family members on Dec. 24, and the kids tore into their packages like a pack of rabid hyenas.
That night, we had ribbe (it reminds me of eating BBQ ribs after you’ve boiled them, but before you’ve slathered them with BBQ sauce and placed them on the grill.) Shortly after dinner, the doorbell rang.
Who could it be? None other than Julenisse, or Nissen for short. Since Nissen lives at the North Pole and that isn’t too far from Norway, he swings by there first before heading out to the rest of the world.
So there stood Nissen, quite cheerily in the vestibule and soon it became clear that he had had too much glogg before stopping at our house.
At first the kids were excited, then they grew confused. Nissen was digging so vigorously in his bag for their gifts that his coat came open revealing not a big ol’ hairy belly, but a natty old pillow.
Us adults were howling with laughter, as Nissen got more flummoxed and began tugging at his beard, which somehow kept creeping up to his eyebrows. Poor Nissen.
Thankfully all the kids got their gift from him and he went home to sleep it off a bit before his long night.
(We also opened gifts and stockings on the morning Dec. 25 that Nissen left behind, in homage to British and American tradition.)
That evening, the 1st Day of Christmas, we hosted another dinner. This was a slightly larger affair, and included the adult children of my mother-in-law’s significant other. The main course was pinnekjøtt and Logan even liked it. I admit I’m not a big lamb fan, but I’ve grown to like pinnekjøtt.
That evening was fun because MIL and her beau went to bed, while us “kids” stayed up late talking, drinking, laughing. I especially love chatting it up with one girl who is an amazing fashion photographer and is charmingly humble about her rockstar life.
And finally came the dinner party to end all dinner parties, on the 3rd Day of Christmas. This is the one where we’re all hands on deck because 20+ people are coming over. It’s time to expand the dining room table, move the furniture around to make room for more tables, bust out the china, good wine glasses and dress nicely.
It’s a team effort and I was chosen to make the Waldorf salad. I’ve never made one of those and the recipe my MIL gave me was in Norwegian. In case you missed it, I don’t speak Norwegian. Long story short, with some translation, the salad was fine.
My British brother-in-law made the turkeys. Yes, turkeys plural. For some reason the turkeys in Norway are scrawny, so for a big meal, you must make two or three because they generally weigh around 10 pounds each. (When my mother-in-law and her sister came over one Thanksgiving, they were astounded at our 20 pound, organic turkey.)
For dessert was kransekake. It’s rings upon rings of a crispy cake donut with streamers and sometimes Norwegian flags for decoration.
The following nights we’d go to different friends’ homes for dinner or late night drinks, until the New Year. That’s when there’s another big celebration and usually I don’t make blanket statements, but trust me when I tell you the Norwegians are INSANE when it comes to the fireworks.
It’s just as festive as our July Fourth, but they do crazy things like hand-hold bottle rockets and roman candles. Hubby’s uncle has these industrial strength ones that are the size of a Samsonite briefcase. He sets them off just to the side of his driveway, while everyone stands a mere 15 feet away, some wearing goggles, you know, for safety…
But it’s fun. A lot of fun. The average Norwegian takes off work from December 20th through early January, so they have more time to really immerse themselves in the important things in life: our family and friends.