Our Christmas tree was always real, and was put up on Christmas Eve, and I look back and wonder about that one. Cause Mom was in the kitchen cooking, and I and my sibs were supposed to help, but we also helped Dad with decorating the tree. The chaos of that day, wow. How she survived?, semi sane I will never know. Not only was there a meal to prepare, we had the tree to decorate, and any last minute wrapping to take care of, not to mention, we had to dress and make ourselves ready.
:Let me share a Christmas Eve with you here, or at least my memories of our Christmas Eve.
The tree was put up, and decorated. Any presents we'd bought and wrapped were put under it in anticipation.
Mom had a duck or a goose in the oven, made the Danish way, stuffed with prunes and apples. The aroma wafted through the house, and your mouth watered in anticipation.
Well, mine did.
My sisters and I helped Mom with peeling the potatoes, and preparing the various side dishes. Early in the day Mom made a Citron Fromage for dessert and it was given pride of place in the fridge, because it had to set up for dessert.
We always had Risengrød, Mom would start it early on, and then the pot would be wrapped up in a down comforter to finish cooking. I think it was done that way because there literally was no more room on top of the stove for it to finish cooking. But also it requires a lot of stirring, so that it doesn't burn or scorch, and by wrapping it in a blanket, it was easier on the cook, and it finished steaming away, happily, in the dark. (and I will be sharing the recipe for that soon).
When the dinner was ready to be served the Risengrød (Rice Porridge) would be brought in, and we would all get a small bowl. An almond was always hidden in the Risengrød and the lucky recipient of the almond would get a Marzipan pig as a prize or a box of After Eight mints. (depending on your age) As my nieces and nephews got a little older, two almonds would be hidden in the risengrød, and it was really kind of funny, how one of the children usually got the almond. The other one would be random. And you weren't allowed to eat the almond until after you had proven you'd gotten it.
After the Risengrød, the rest of the meal would be served, and there was always much laughter and joy. The smaller children would hurry up and eat, hoping to hurry the adults along. But it never worked. We would have dessert, a wonderful Citron Fromage, and then the table would be cleared and the dishes done. Trust me on this, that was the hardest part of the evening. We knew those presents under the tree were just waiting impatiently for us to open them.
The torture continued. Just kidding.
After everything had been cleared up, we all gathered around the tree, joined hands and sang Christmas carols as we circled the tree. We sang some English carols and some in Danish and I still love the Danish songs.
Højt for træets grønne top, (High on the trees green top, rough translation)
På loftet sidder nissen med sin julegrød (In the loft sits the Nisse with his Christmas pudding)
and Glade jul, dejlige jul (Silent Night, Holy Night, you're probably familiar with that one)
and there were probably more Danish ones, but those are the ones I remember.
And after that interminable time of singing, well, when you're a kid, any song is too long if it's keeping you from the presents. It was time to get our presents. Mom was the designated reader of tags, and Dad would hand them to the recipient, or they would take turns. The youngest would get their presents first, then the adults in turns, and finally Mom and Dad would open their presents.
After all that, a pot of coffee would be made and the Christmas cookies would be brought in and we'd all just sit and visit and enjoy each others' company.
I hope you've had a great Christmas,