Ahhh, traditions. Aren't they a wonderful part of Christmas?
This year I was adamant to create some sort of Christmas tradition including my heritage: Finnish roots!
We already have a little Finnish tradition in our advent celebrations-we open our gifts on Christmas Eve and our stockings on Christmas morning. But I wanted something a little more. I remembered that Pikku Joulaa is celebrated in the first week of advent-so I decided to do a smaller, less elaborate version of Pikku Joulaa.
This was the plan:
Invite Grandma Jill over to join us for a traditional Finnish meal of Mojakka (stew) and rice pudding with prune and raisin soppa (sauce). Make Finnish ice candles and decorate our tree together while singing Christmas carols (all in English because I don't have any Finnish music)
This is what actually happened:
**Jill helped make the rice pudding and soppa as I had to walk Annie's little friend home. Failed to mention that it was brown rice that Jill would have to work with and that she should boil it longer than the recipe suggested. It took over two hours to cook and still had quite a delicate crunch--this was after the attempts of cooking it on the stove top, in the oven and in the microwave.
**We take out the Finnish ice candle from it's mold and with great jubilation dance about rejoicing that it is all in one piece and has not broken. Anne is given the honour of lighting the first candle and we place it outside to send a warm and friendly glow to our neighbours. We also decide to put on our outside lights--which need to be plugged in from the inside since we have no outdoor plug--the door won't shut. This doesn't bode well. We compromise and have the door as shut as it can be and stuff towels around the open orifice trying to squelch any hopes of the cold air coming in.
**I had planned on making fish mojakka but when Peter got home after a full day and saw that he would have to clean the fish (rainbow trout) scales, head and all he opted out of cooking preparations--which left Jill and I to decapitate and de-scale the fish. New solution: Downgrade dinner to a meal of milk potatoes and fresh cut veggies. Is it Finnish? I don't know--both my Finnish grandmothers would make it for me so there's always the possibility
**Jill and I congratulate on how scrumptious the prune and raisin soppa looks and set it to simmer. Put the milk potatoes to boil as it is time to set the tree up!
**Peter wrestles with the tree stand for 10 minutes and abandons hope in search of some hot cider to settle the nerves. Jill decides to tackle the tree and untangles the lights....for ten minutes! Peter and Jill threaten...ahem...agree that my light fetish needs to be scaled back. To quote Jill when I agreed to two strands of lights : "Quick, Peter, take it. You aren't going to get a deal like that again...maybe not for years!"
**Forgot to watch the milk potatoes, milk evaporates into soft curds. With this knowledge Jill whispers to me the cooking secret her mother told her: "What the eyes never see, the heart doesn't grieve over." We decide to keep the disaster to ourselves and add more milk. Set to simmer.
**Jill and Peter join forces and try to set up the tree. They decide that someone needs to invent an Acme tree stand that is in the cartoons-you open the box and it's all set up. The tree finally stands while Anne announces that she has just found a new use for the scissors and Brienda chucks an ornament across the room. It falls and breaks. It's broken pieces lay scattered in Anne's newest creation--her My Little Pony Barber shop! The ponies have just undergone radical hairdo's!
**With the tree half-standing-half being held up by the corner of the wall, we eat our meal of twice cooked milk potatoes. Everyone is ravenously hunger, as the hour is late, and no one notices the milk curds until the end. Time for dessert...thrice cooked rice pudding with--oh no--simmered-too-long soppa sauce. I forgot to turn the sauce off--all evidence of liquid has evaporated leaving a thick mess of prunes and raisins. Oh well, everyone eats up. Peter dodges the crunchy rice, while Jill and I compliment eachother. "Allie, this sauce is delicious and perfectly made."
"Why Jill, this rice has almost a nut-type texture to it. Well done!"
Anne pipes up,"Hey, not bad."
And Brie throws rice across the table.
**Nearing two hours past their bed time and a half-empty box of chocolates eaten the girls start to dance and jump around...and Brie throws an ornament across the room. It's time to put the ornaments on the tree. Anne goes first, followed by Grandma Jill and Brie. Everyone places their favourite ones on and whatever ones they happen to catch as Brie launches them across the room. Grandma Jill places her special ornament on. Then the girls finish trimming the tree with their special daughter and Dad tradition: taping Hershy kisses onto all the branches.
Stepping back, we all wait with baited breath as the tree is lit. It would seem that my light fetish has paid off.
The room twinkles and sparkles as we sit and laugh about best intentions for the evening. We say, "Merry Christmas" and duck as Brienda finds an ornament on a low branch and hurls it across the room.