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LET'S COOK: The great 12 days of Christmas

December 28, 2018
Chuck Repnow , Pierce County Tribune

I love antiques, and I love Christmas. I love baking traditional, heritage Christmas breads. Sadly, I have already heard this week, "Oh Christmas went by so fast, and I really didn't get to enjoy it." What? This is the very reason why in the Repnow home we celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. In our 30 years of marriage Christmas has been made more enjoyable with this tradition. It is easy to understand why one could be all worn out if every detail of the Christmas season had to be prepared before the 24th and 25th of December.

Let's recall the list just for the fun of it. Decorate the tree, hang the decorations and lights outside the home, practice for Christmas programs, attendance at Christmas programs, and let us not forget parties. Then there is that small task of shopping, perhaps creating a homemade gift or recycling a family heirloom. Oh, the baking of cookies, making of candy and let us not forget party mix and ingredients for delicious homemade punch.

Where is that photo we had planned to use for our family Christmas card? After hunting for hours you discover it is unusable because you look like you have been pulled through a rat hole backwards and no amount of Photoshop is going to restore your youth and zip. Add to the list then the retake of the family photo and Eric will only be in the photo if all family members wear sport shirts from his favorite team. Thus the reason we used the family picture taken at Aunt Sally's garage sale with her button collection hanging in the background! Add sending our Christmas cards to the list.

Article Photos

Yulekaga (Christmas bread)
This recipe came from Rose Holmgren and is a family favorite. Rose was Jan’s Uncle Reuben’s aunt from Sweden. So you can see the tradition goes back many, many years.
- 2 cups whole milk scalded
- 2/3 cup butter
- 2 scant teaspoons salt
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 scant teaspoon cardamom
- 1 envelope yeast dissolved in warm water
- 3 eggs
- Add enough flour to knead (about 8 cups)
- Add candied fruit—about ½ pound
Let rise in large buttered bowl.
Put in 3 round layer cake pans or loaf pans, let rise.
Start oven at 375 degrees and bake bread for 10 minutes then lower heat to 350 degrees and bake for 10 minutes and then lower to 325 degrees and bake until done. About 50 minutes in total.

Relatives will be arriving so complete housecleaning is added to the list and let us not forget to take down all the light fixtures that contain bugs from last fall! 18 are coming for three days of meals, so make out the grocery list. How lovely the table will look when set with china and Christmas linens you can see it now. The neatly folded napkins, creative centerpiece, candles and polished silver. More to add to the list! I need not proceed because you understand the strains of the season and these extra duties are happening while we continue with our regular day to day schedules. It is easy to see why many are exhausted over Christmas festivities.

Embracing celebrating the 12 days of Christmas certainly does not mean that there won't be rushing, and moments of feeling completely hailed out but there will be less. For our family this year, we took the time to drive to Moorhead and take in the Concordia Christmas concert, enjoy Lessons and Carols presented by the Heritage Singers, an evening of singing performed by Voices of Note, attend the Christmas symphony, and even do a bit of caroling.

Christmas Eve and Day were celebrated in Ray with family and now upon arriving home we take time to enjoy the decorated Christmas tree, open small gifts, share memories and music. It is during this time that we take time to actually read our Christmas cards and as a family we send out our Christmas card. We also reflect on memories of loved ones who are no longer with us.

Fact Box

The Singing Tree

The "singing tree"-the soldiers called it that-

Bravely grew upon a ravaged battlefield,

The only tree in all the countryside.

And there the birds found sanctuary.

Birds, small and large, both friend and foe,

Came there at night. And in the dawn

The soldiers heard them singing

And so they called the tree, the "singing tree."

America might well be called a Singing Tree,

For friend and foe alike among mankind

Have found a haven there.

And as a symbol of America

This Christmas Tree was made into a Singing Tree,

For Christmas comes to all the world,

And music is a universal language.

So, here you see adorned with varied fruit,

Bequeathed to us from many foreign lands,

Our tree of peace-our Singing Tree!

- Clara Louise Kessler

Remember when I mentioned that I love antiques? Perhaps I should say vintage items. Here is a poem from my mom's collection that will be read during celebrating (see page 4). Coming from Jan's heritage is this traditional delicious bread recipe called Yulekaga which we have been enjoying toasted.

Thank you readers and a very meaningful 12 days of Christmas to every one of you!

 
 

 

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