Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Celebrating Christmas Day! - Countdown to Christmas - Day 25

This is the final day of the Countdown to Christmas as we celebrate Christmas Day.


The day started with letting the dogs outside and feeding them.

Cooper with a beard full of snow.

I noticed that the home was feeling rather chilly. Checked the thermostat. What should have been 68 degrees in the house...was only 61 degrees. Thought maybe it was just because it was cold and windy outside.

Went upstairs and read for a bit until Olivia got up. First thing she did was check the roof to see if there were any carrots and oats left. Nope...they were gone. That was a good sign to her.

As we do each year, she and I opened our Christmas stockings together.

Olivia opening one of the gifts that was in her stocking.

Santa tends to put things in his sock that I normally do not buy the girls, but that they enjoy: root beer and spam. He also puts practical things in the stockings (e.g., toothbrush, toothpaste).

Sophia with something she enjoys eating - Spam.
Only Santa would bring her something like this.

Olivia took a look at the tree and presents as well as the stockings on the glass table and piano.

Lucy in front of the tree - 
ready to open some presents.

By 7:30 a.m., the temperature was still cool in the house and not rising. Put on the electric heater. Cut up two onions to make a sausages. Put the stove burner on. Very little flames were coming out what would normally be much higher flames.

At that point, I knew the propane was out. It was operating on fumes. To make a long story short, this year we haven't started burning wood in the wood stove. So, the calculations for the automatic refill program are not accurate. Because we have always been on automatic refill, I never have gone out to check on the tank to see how much propane in it.

So, the propane delivery man, Kevin, said that he could make a delivery around 10:00 a.m. In the meantime, there was no heat in the house, no stove or oven use, or hot water.

The house was at 61 degrees for most of Christmas morning.
A bit chilly for our liking.

So, the girls read their responses from Santa. This year, he wrote in red and green marker right on the letters they left.

Santa wrote back to the girls on the letters that they wrote to him.

We sat by tree and wrapped ourselves in blankets to stay warm.

Olivia wrapped in a blanket to stay warm.

We opened the gifts that Santa left for the pets. They are rather practical gifts: new litter boxes for the cats; cat, dog, and horse treats; and a new igloo for the hedgehog since he has outgrown his old one.

The pets' stockings with gifts either in or below them.

The dogs liked their new toys and treats. Cooper also got a new collar since the one he had was getting a bit too small for him. He also got a harness so he doesn't pull as much on walks. It also will relieve some of the pressure on his neck.

Montague with his new toy.
Cooper also got one...but has his eye on that orange pretzel.

I had made three-chocolate fudge and sugar cookies on Christmas Eve. This morning, I added the antlers, eyes, and noses. They didn't turn out as perfect as the pin I saw on Pinterest, but they were good cookies.

Reindeer cookies that I made.

Once the propane was delivered and the appliances checked for leaks, it was time to head over to my Mom's home...even though she was in the hospital. Since I didn't have time to cook anything for breakfast because of no propane to the stove or oven, we stopped at Kwik Trip.

Needless to say, this was a memorable holiday meal. It was quite different than anticipated.

Some food for Christmas breakfast. 
Without propane at home, the cooking options were very limited.

I dropped off the gifts at my Mom's home while everyone else stayed to spend time with their cousins, uncle, and aunt. They went ahead and opened stockings and gifts as well as had their Christmas dinner while my brother (Jim) and I went to visit my Mom in the hospital.

Mom with presents on her bed at the hospital.

She is doing so much better than she was on Friday when Olivia and I saw her, and she had just had the severe allergic reaction to a medication. Despite the swelling go down a lot on her throat, tongue, mouth, and lips...she still has some recovery that she needs to do in terms of strength-building in her legs.

She also had a serious drop in her blood sugar in the morning - down to only 44. The lowest she has ever been was 39 and that was near-death.

Mom opening a present.

We spent about an hour with her while she ate some lunch and opened some presents we brought for her. By that time, she was getting tired and needed to rest.

She is scheduled for both occupational therapy and physical therapy tomorrow morning before she is transported to the nursing home in the afternoon for transitional care. Most likely, OT and PT will want to see her as well in the afternoon at the nursing home, so she'll have a full and exhausting day.

After getting some things for my Mom to bring to the nursing home, it was time for us to head back home.

In some ways, this reminds me of Christmas 2011 when my Dad was in the nursing home. It was a rather disjointed holiday then...and it certainly felt this way again for me this year. The girls, though, were having a lot of fun playing with their cousins and certainly could have spent much more time there had we not had to get back for the dogs.

Sophia opening one of her presents.

When we returned home, we all rested a bit in the afternoon before opening the rest of the presents that were from one another as well as Santa.

We had a light snack before we relaxed in the evening. All in all, it was a very nice Christmas. We have many wonderful (and interesting) memories to look back upon not only today, but during the entire month of December as we counted down to this special day.


Christmas Joke 

What is the purpose of reindeer?

Lots of Flowers
Wild irises growing among the grass in the pasture.

(It makes the grass grow, sweetie.)


Christmas Fact

We learned what Christmas would have been like for pioneers in Minnesota. Where we live, the area was founded by Swedish immigrants. So, I found some information about early pioneer life around Christmas on Nordsjernan:

Girls by Immigrant Hus at Gammelgarden
Girls by Immigrant Hus at Gammelgarden on April 30, 2008.

"The Swedish pioneers gave up their language and culture, and their feeling of belonging in order to enjoy the social mobility, political freedom and prosperity of America. But they missed their homeland and its many happy traditions.

"The longing for everything they had left behind was particularly intense at Christmas; after all, it's the senses of smell and taste that have the strongest emotional grip on memories: They ached for cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, pine, ham and candles. But in every wound there is a healing, and in the Swedish-American church, the pioneers were both Swedish and American, speaking their language, singing their hymns, and celebrating a traditional Christmas.

Lucia Buns for St. Lucia Day
Lucia Buns we made in 2011. They are flavored with cardamom.

"Stella Halsten Hohncke describes Christmas in their home on the banks of the Maple River:
'Another Old Country custom was the ringing of the church bell at 5 o’clock on Christmas Eve. That started Christmas. The people listened to hear it ... and they pause to hear in their memory the sound of the Christmas bell ... Christmas Eve was a very special time.

'Lutefisk was not on the market as a commercial product. In those days a fish was purchased at the store. Then a washtub was filled with water; ashes from the stove were added. This created a lye and the fish was soaked in this solution for three weeks. This involved frequent changes of water and ashes.

Antique Play Stove
Antique Play Stove at Gammelgarden.

'The menu on Christmas Eve also included meatballs plus mashed potatoes, vegetables of some kind and boiled rice. There would also be a treat, a glass of homemade wine made from the juice of wild grapes that grew in the woods ... Then Father would bring out his book of sermons and we would sit and listen to a sermon which did seem so long. But eventually, we could light the candles on the Christmas tree and there might even be a gift. The candles were real ones and no one thought about any danger from fire.'

"The heart of the Christmas celebration in the Swedish settlements was the Julotta service early on Christmas Day. Many Swedish pioneers scattered across the forests and plains of Minnesota and North Dakota made great sacrifices to arrange and attend a Julotta.

"Stella recounts: 'There was always a 6 o’clock service on Christmas morning. To prepare for the service, Father, the sexton of the parish, would get up at 3 o’clock, walk across the frozen fields to reach the church and replenish the fire in the big sheet iron stove. Then at 5 o’clock the bell pealed to awaken the people for the Christmas service. I think Father received a salary of $25 a year but his was truly a service of love.'”


In 1890, when our home was built, I found this description of food that would have comprised the Christmas day meals:

Christmas Day, It has been our custom, as well as the custom of other household writers, to devote much time to Christmas dinners, their bills of fare and preparations, entirely losing sight of the fact that most people eat three times a day on Christmas, as well as on other days of the year, so in this article we will give three bills of fare.

Let the breakfast be simple, plain and nutritious, served early, as on this morning the children of the house usually arise early, and a late breakfast makes too short a space before the heavy dinner, and the children, in consequence, suffer for perhaps a week to come from indigestion, cause by cramping, and, by the way, I think as a rule Christmas dinners are too heavy to be thoroughly enjoyed and digested.

We are living in the days of civilization and refinement, and not in the days of King Richard II, at whose table thirty courses were served at a Christmas dinner and it is said that the fragments that remained were more than sufficient to serve a thousand persons.

Of course, great numbers were invited; but imagine the waste and the heavy laden table with such a quantity of left over. The feast given in Westminster Hall, in 1399, was such a large and coarse affair, that twenty-six oxen, three hundred sheep, besides fowls without number, were put upon the table and consumed.

Breakfast, at 8 o'clock Fruits, Breaded Chops, Tomato Sauce, Baked Potatoes, Buckwheat Cakes, Maple Syrup, Coffee.

- Dinner at 2 o'clock Oysters on Half Shell, Almond Milk Soup with Rice, Salted Almonds, Celery, Olives, Halibut baked with fine Herbs, English Drawn Butter, Persian Potatoes, Roast Trukey, Cranberry Sauce, Rice Croquettes, Asparagus Tips, Braised Duck, Baked Macaroni, Lettuce Salad, Wafers, Brie, English Plum Pudding, Brandy Sauce, Coffee, Nuts, Fruits, Sugar Plums.

- Supper, at 8 o'clock Raw Oysters, Chicken Sandwiches, Coffee, Jelly, Cake."

~Table Talk, December 1890 (p. 459)

1 comment:

Rita said...

I hope your mom will be okay. Another strange Christmas for you all. I'm glad she's going into the nursing home so they can get her more stable before she goes home, though.
I'm Swedish genetically but know very little about their customs, so this was very interesting to me.
I hope you are all rested up and ready for the new year. :)