Saturday morning, I woke up early, snuck downstairs, took the saffron roll dough out of the refrigerator, and settled on the couch with my laptop and a cup of tea. I had just been complaining about how our house is never quiet--if it's not kids fighting, it's one playing electric guitar or drums, and if the kids are in bed, it's my husband banging out Christmas carols on our badly out-of-tune upright grand piano with the cast iron sounding board--so I had to take advantage of an hour of just me and the Christmas tree lights in a quiet house to try to put a few paragraphs down in a piece I've been agonizing over.
When the dough had warmed up enough, I put rolled it into s-shapes and placed them near the warm oven to rise.
This year, I used cranberries instead of raisins in buns, to give them a Maine touch. I first soaked the cranberries in orange liqueur to make them nice and moist (and delicious) and added them to the dough, which works out much more nicely than sticking them on top.
While the buns baked, I snuck outside and took some pictures of the snow that had fallen in the night, a surprise treat after a week of rain and sleet.
At breakfast, I read a little bit about Lucia Day from our Christmas in Scandinavia book. A solstice celebration (December 13 was the solstice in the Julian calendar) that traces its origins to the Goddess Freya (who was associated with the number 13), Lucia Day, like all of the holidays this time of year, is about bringing light to the darkness.
I don't have any adorable blond little girls to bring us the buns in bed--and none of my adorable blond little boys showed any interest in doing so. So we ate in the kitchen. At breakfast, Z said, "I like how we celebrate a lot of holidays in our family...because I get a lot of presents and good food." Oh well, so much for my hope to de-emphasize the commercial / acquisitional aspects of the season. At least he liked the buns (he ate six at breakfast!).
After breakfast, we got to work finishing some gift-making. Z's gifts were mostly done, except for labels, and M is an artiste and cannot be rushed, so it was mostly E and me working.
While they were outside, I finished decorating the tree. I thought about just leaving off the breakable ornaments this year, but once I started poking around in the box, I saw so many old favorites, most of which made it on the tree, though I skipped the glass balls and a few that I just don't care for that much. I also made some more gift bags and got our boxes (mostly) ready to go to Colorado.
In the late afternoon, while the boys were upstairs cleaning their room with M as
drill sergeant supervisor (they did a marvelous job--for the first time ever without me doing most of the work), I thought about making cookies from the dough I had optimistically gotten out of the freezer Friday night (which I had even more optimistically mixed up the previous weekend) or wrestling with Christmas card labels on the computer. But instead, I relaxed on the couch with an eggnog and David Sedaris's Holidays on Ice for my annual reading of "Santaland Diaries." It makes me laugh out loud every time.
Sunday I joined some friends for the Christmas Bird Count. We saw a big flock of bluebirds (so strange this time of year, but so beautiful against the snow!) and a big, gorgeous bald eagle. When I got home, I made potato soup and the cookies I neglected Saturday (spekulatius, using that St. Nick mold, above, and my usual Joy of Cooking recipe, only I used orange flavor instead of almond extract, because I was out of the almond, and I think they're the best batch ever. Orange and cinnamon go so well together). After dinner, C and I stuffed and stamped Christmas cards (I still haven't printed out the mailing labels) while we watched Charlie Brown's Christmas with E and Z, while M played guitar in the basement with his open mic buddy.
Hope you're finding ways to bring light to the darkness this time of year, friends.