I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the only child of a single mom who is full blooded Norwegian. Some of my earliest Christmas memories were the weeks leading up to Christmas each year when a large supply of lard and sugar would find it's way into our house and the baking would commence.

Potatoes would be boiled, strained, rolled out and put on the iron to make homemade lefse, that would be served with butter and sugar with Christmas Eve dinner. A boiling pot of grease/lard would be at the ready as we would carefully dip the rosette iron into the batter (make sure you keep it level and don't let it get over the top, otherwise it would be ruined!) They'd be laid out on the table and dipped in sugar to be served as dessert.

The fattigman dough would be rolled out, the cutter taken to it for the pieces to be deep fat fried and served with powdered sugar (P Sugar as mom calls it to this day). The most delicate krumkake, rolled around the iron and again, deep fat fried.

And then dozens upon dozens of what I still just call "Christmas cookies". A simple butter cookie recipe (I've tried to make them and I think Mom is leaving out an ingredient!) The frosting a mixture of whipping creme, powdered sugar and vanilla extract at the right consistency and me running back and forth between our tiny kitchen and the dining room where all the cookies would cool in patterns like snowmen, Santa, Christmas trees and bells with me telling my mother "we have enough trees, we need more snowmen!"

Once they'd cool, she would spread the frosting on each cookie while I would line up all the shakers of sprinkles in different colors and decide how to top each cookie, a job I took VERY seriously!

Mom would cap it all off by making a batch or two of cocoa balls (think Swedish Tea Balls/Russian Tea Balls, only made with chocolate) and then rolled in powdered sugar (yeah it's no wonder I have a sweet tooth!)

But that was Christmas to me. It's never been about the presents. It's about the traditions. Mom still calls me and asks what cookies I want and I'm more than happy to find the cocoa balls and 'Christmas cookies' when I get home. I know how much work all the true traditional Norwegian treats are, so I'd never ask my 78-year old Mom to go to all that work. But when I see a picture on Facebook like Lex posted, or my friend Sue bringing homemade lefse to one of our parties, I miss the traditions of growing up in a far more innocent time.

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you have traditions that you're able to keep going at your house. I'm thinking next year, Sarah and I are going to tray our hands at lefse and fattigman!


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