Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota

Advent is a time in the Christian church year of waiting and anticipating.  Hymns are somewhat mournful and quiet, and  readings deal not only with the wait for the Christ Child but the end time and the crucifixion.  We wait for packages and children to arrive, we wait in line, we wait for bread to rise and for cookie dough to chill. I always seem to need time off from work during Advent to recharge and regroup, and that is what I am doing this week.

Yesterday I made some cookies I have never made before-Nurnberger Lebkuchen and Spekulatius.   Both are German cookies. The Lebkuchen are honey cakes, and the Spekulatias are like the Dutch Speculaas windmill cookies. I have been contemplating my German roots lately, and I would call these contemplative cookies, as they turned out weird (the Lebkuchen), and ugly but full of flavor (the Spekulatius).  They make me contemplate what people were thinking when they came up with the recipes.

The Lebkuchen sound good in principle. They call for honey, flour, spices, citron, almonds, candied orange peel, and butter, as well as a cup of strong black coffee. The sweet honey and the bitter coffee compete for dominance in the taste. I believe the cakes have to sit for a week and mellow. We will see how they progress by New Years Day. The Spekulatius are made by pressing dough into wooden Speculaas molds, intricate woodcuts of old-fashioned figures and scenes. I don’t have any of the wooden molds, so I used a springerle rolling-pin, which has carvings of hearts and other shapes cut into it.


The cookies look like tiles. The only problem is that the pretty shapes disappeared while baking, and I have these terribly ugly yet great tasting cookies. I know that the honey must preserve the cakes so they last a long time; the wooden molds are lovely and the cookies could be too as long as the decorative imprints don’t disappear. There is something about these recipes that is important to the people who grew up with them.  It is interesting how tastes differ from culture to culture.

Today I will make Spritz cookies and pepparkaker. Husband wants to make Krumkake on Sunday, as we are now waiting for a blizzard on Sunday and we expect to be snowbound. The NOAA keeps putting out warnings and advice to stock up and prepare for a terrible storm.  They have been warning us for days, and now tell us that we will get between 6-8 inches of snow with very strong winds, while others in the central and eastern parts of the state could get up to 15 inches. It is sunny today, with no wind, which is quite unusual here. It is as though the world is holding its breath.  We have been to the grocery store, and husband has filled the bird feeders.  Now we wait to see if the predictions come true.  I am thankful we are all home and safe, and no one has to go anywhere. The air pressure should drop with the storm, so bread should rise well. Husband has mixed up a rye sour dough starter, and I want to make Julekag and Bremen Klaben. We will need to carb up in order to shovel.  For now, though,  we wait for Christmas and snow and wind in the unnatural stillness and sunny skies outside.

What are you waiting for? 


97 thoughts on “Waiting”

  1. My family used to drive down to Des Moines to celebrate Christmas Eve with my dad’s parents. My Uncle Don and his family would be there, so my cousin Sue would be the third child in the gathering. The grownups were in no hurry for Santa to come, but for the three children the waiting was agony. Poky old Santa wouldn’t arrive with presents until after we had shared the Christmas Eve meal, so the Christmas tree sat forlornly in a corner with no presents surrounding its base. For cousin Sue, sister Nancy and myself, those meals were unbelievably slow. In those days my parents weren’t done with a meal until they had savored coffee and one or two cigarettes.

    Although the preliminaries seemed to drag on forever, the time would finally come when the three kids would be ushered into the back bedroom to wait for Santa to arrive. You can imagine our excitement. We knew exactly when Santa came, for his arrival was announced by a frenzy of terrified barking from Skippy, my grandparents’ baby Boston terrier. Skippy was famous for just two things: he farted copiously after each meal and he freaked out at the sight of Santa. The adults told the kids that Skippy only barked at strangers, so we’d know when Santa entered with his bag of toys. When Skippy’s frantic barking finally stopped, an adult would open the bedroom door and let us rush into the living room where the tree would now be ringed with gaily wrapped presents. And for us, that was the end of waiting.

    About fifty years after the last of those Christmas Eves, I finally asked the obvious question: how had my grandparents made Skippy bark on cue? Skippy wasn’t, after all, a highly trained animal. Cussing at Santa was his only trick. By the time I thought to ask the question, all the adults who had shared those Christmas Eves with us were no longer alive, all except my aunt and uncle. They quizzed each other and reported that they had no memory whatever of how Skippy was triggered. And maybe that’s the way it should be. Most of the great mysteries of life have been explored and explained. We’ve even got a good idea of how Amelia Earhart spent her final days. But the question of what made Skippy bark will forever remain a mystery.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. We had a terrier who freaked out whenever we brought out the ironing board. Maybe Skippy learned to react to Santa the same way Casey reacted to tge itoning board-one trial learning of a very odd behavior through a mysterious behavioral chain of unknown reinforcers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good thought. I suppose many dogs would freak out at the sight of ironing boards now, for few dogs have seen them. When I was a kid, ironing was a big weekly chore for my mom. Wrinkle-resistant clothing is a relatively recent development, and I think many young women don’t even own an iron or ironing board these days.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Interesting, Steve, that you should specify “young women” as not owning an ironing board. I don’t think of ironing as a woman’s domain.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. My husband irons his shirts, and does it left handed, and it is too painful for me to watch. I don’t think daughter has ironed anything in her life. Son relies on his wife to iron.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. In the society I grew up in, ironing was a quintessentially female task. I’ve known several women who detested that chore, my mother being one. She almost wept with joy when “wrinkle-free” shirts first showed up in the stores.

          Liked by 5 people

        4. I’ve done my own ironing all my life, but I still couldn’t tell you which way the board should be oriented. I use it whichever way it happens to set up and it all seems pretty much the same.

          Liked by 2 people

        5. I own several…my mother used to buy old wooden ones at thrift stores and finish them to use as extra tables or side boards. I put such things as plants on them…never iron on them. I still have the iron I took to college with me. I wonder if it still works. But then I’m not a young woman…

          Liked by 3 people

    2. We taught our last dog to bark when we raised our hands and to stop when we put out hands down. Then the dog (Coco) could “count.” She would bark until the number 3 or 4 usually, was reached, then we would put our hands down. I suspect that your Santa barking was similar.

      Somebody in your family was sly and clever.

      Liked by 2 people

    3. My memories of that night are special. When we kids were sent to the back bedroom, we were told to stay there for 3 minutes. Steve, the oldest and most learned cousin counted to 60 three times. Then, we heard Santa’s sleigh bells ring and a merry, “Ho ho ho!” I never could figure out how those gifts appeared so quickly. And who said, “Ho ho ho?” I think it was Uncle George. Merry Christmas, Cousin Steve! Greetings from Ohio!

      Liked by 6 people

      1. We always took a drive to look at the lights on Christmas Eve, and what a coincidence – Santa always managed to stop at our house while we were gone! Sister and I couldn’t figure out why it took Mom SO LONG to get out to the car! One year a Santa-clad guy walked into the next door neighbors’ party, and we were about went into orbit.


        1. That reminds of this, a true story I have told before on here, but trust that most have forgotten.

          We used to spend Christmas Eve with Ken and Eva (the Ken who now has FTD) and their three little girls. Eva is a Swede, and asked me one year to be Jule Tomten, the Swedish Santa Claus after dinner. She had somehow acquired a Tomte suit complete with boots and a beard. I was duly plumped with a pillow in order to fill out the suit. After dinner I dressed in the suit and delivered the gifts to the kids, doing my best Swedish Jule Tomte impersonation. It was a very sweet and memorable exchange.

          We had other friends who lived just a few blocks away who had a three year old little girl, and we had bought a present for her as well. I decided to pay her a surprise visit dressed in the Tomte suit. I piled in my trusty old SAAB (what else does Jule Tomten drive?) and checked the address of our friends. I rang the doorbell, and much to my surprise three little Asian kids appeared in the doorway. I apologized profusely to the father who materialized right behind the little ones; I had the right house number, but I was one the wrong street. I felt terrible that I didn’t even have candy canes or anything else I could give these little ones. I may have forever traumatized them that Santa came to their door only to tell them he was at the wrong house.

          This incident happened about thirty years ago, and I have never forgotten it. A few years ago, when being reintroduced to one of Ken and Eva’s daughters, who is now an architect and lives in NYC, she confided that had wondered that night why Jule Tomten smelled like Margaret, but apparently hadn’t given it a second thought that Margaret was missing when Tomten was there. Ah, childhood memories!

          Liked by 6 people

    4. At least, Steve, you had your sister and cousin with which to commiserate. For the whole of my childhood, I was the only kid in our larger family’s Christmas celebration. Christmas Eve was when we would get together with my paternal grandparents, my uncle and often some close friends of the family. Christmas day would be just my little nuclear family, and I was free to wake before first light and creep out to get my stocking. I understood at an early age that I was expected to wait until my parents were awake and ready to witness before I tore into larger presents.
      But Christmas Eve was excruciating. I had to somehow occupy myself through the preliminaries to dinner, dinner, a lengthy discussion about whether the lutefisk was especially successful this year, or not ( the distinction escaped me), then the table would have to be cleared and all the dishes washed before any presents could be opened. By then I was apoplectic.

      Liked by 7 people

        1. I agree. When we were in Norway, lutefisk only existed in national lore. “We don’t eat that stuff,” was the national motto regarding lutefisk. We saw one reference to it in Bergen on a blackboard replicated from the 1890’s. Bill, your comment about “especially successful lutefisk” IS FUNNY. Lou’s mother repeatedly had this discussion. The discussion escaped me too.


  2. It has been comical to read the storm updates from the NOAA. There is palpable excitement in the missives, with frequent use of he phrase “great confidence” regarding the path and strength of the storm .

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ll take this moment to express my hopes that everyone in this odd little bloggy community has a lovely time in the next several days. Enjoy your cookies, your Christmas music and the love you share with your special people. Celebrating Christmas used to be a joyous marathon for me that began Christmas Eve and continued all day of the 25th. This year’s celebration will be quickly done, and then my family will fly out to share Christmas with my SIL’s mom in northern Michigan. I’ll probably be a bit lonely, so anyone who cares to share holiday email will find me quick to reply.

    Be well, friends.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I’ll be lonely with you. My expanding family, 18 and counting, is having Xmas today because two of the older grand kids can’t be in town tomorrow. My daughter, being overwhelmed with five kids, started a new tradition years ago: drawing a name for gifting. Each adult then would buy a nice gift for just one other person. The little kids, of course, still got gifts from everyone. Having grown up with endless gifts for each person, it wasn’t an easy transition, but I adapted.

      She then decided that we should should forgo a special gift for one other adult and just play the game where everyone brings a gift under $15, draws a number, and then trades with someone else if there he/she had a gift you’d rather have. Each year, Mary gave us all some theme for the trading game. The gift had to be androgynous. One year the theme was polka dots. Last year, she made it even more challenging. Not only did it have to follow her theme, but whatever part of the meal we brought had to be related to our gift! I hated this game. Year after year, I’d come home with no gift personally given to me. I continued to gift my three kids anyway because to me, buying for them was part of the joy of Xmas.

      At last year’s game, I somehow wound up with a action figure board game. I didn’t even bring it home because it was geared to teenagers. As I drove home, I felt awful because I hadn’t come away with a real gift from anyone. Maybe it’s the little kid in me, but I couldn’t get away from the thought that being the matriarch should warrant at least one present to bring home. In other words, it really hurt my feelings. The next day, I phoned the most empathic kid and shared how this felt to me.

      This year, I phoned him BEFORE the holiday and outright told him that I wanted a gift and maybe he, Mary, and Dave could just go in together. I expected how he’d respond and was right; “Mom, Xmas shouldn’t be about getting stuff. It’s all about family being together”. I persisted saying, “I know that, but I still want at least one gift to bring home”. I went even further the next day by texting him a few ideas.

      Like most people, I felt uncomfortable literally asking for a gift because I want them to want to gift me without prompting, but it was either that or come home feeling badly again. A few days later, my DIL texted asking what I’d like for Xmas. I knew then that Steve had called his sibs.

      This year’s theme is supposed to be related to an animal, and again it’s supposed to reflect whatever dish we contribute for the meal. I wracked my brain. If was a zebra, the dish would have to be striped. Finally, it came to me yesterday: I’m bringing Cottage Shepherd Pie. “Shepherd” is related to sheep, and I just happened to have ordered an Xmas sweater with a big sheep on the front. Whew! One more challenge over with!!

      Have a wonderful holiday everyone!!! The Trail is one gift that keeps on giving everyday, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.

      Liked by 5 people

        1. I can relate to it being stressful to buy presents for everyone, but it sounds like the complicated theme-related way of doing presents would make it even more stressful. Not to mention you end up with a gift that supposedly would suit anybody, which often means it suits nobody. Very impersonal.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. Ditto about babooners having a lovely time, and I’d like to extend my wishes that this odd little bloggy community continues to hang out through the coming year. You all provide me with a lot of fun, laughter, some tears, and I learn something new here almost every day. I suppose I should save this till New Years Eve, but my sister will be here and I’ll forget.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Rise and Wait to Shine Baboons!

    Most of 2015 and 2016 I was waiting for all the stars to align so I could sell and pass my practice to the next owner. That was accomplished Nov. 1. Now I am waiting for the adjustment period to allow me to merge into another life phase–the Play Time I referred to early this week in a previous blog.

    Now I await artistic inspiration that drives some output. What will my next project be? My mom’s stories (8 of them) are all made into books. The grandkids have all had portraits. What is next?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m currently working on mine (long term project). I don’t know if I’d be any help, but maybe I could write up some tips (once I figure out what the tips are).

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I would especially like tips for deciding what to throw away. We have some very old ones I want to scan onto CD’s or a file on a hard drive. Then what to do with originals?


      1. I have sculpted some elderly people. They make wonderful subjects and their faces are so interesting. However, I have found they do not really like seeing themselves as “old.”

        I have come to the conclusion that appreciation of years and wisdom lies in the eyes of others.


        1. Among my many projects, I have been working on largish (18 x 24) colored pencil drawings from 35mm slides taken in the early ’50s. One I’m currently working through is of my mother when she would have been in her mid-twenties. Your mother may be elderly now, but she wasn’t always.

          Liked by 3 people

  5. I held great anticipation for the watching of “Amahl and the Night Visitors” by Menotti after the first live performance on CBS in 1956. From that year on it was a must that I view the reruns which happened for several years. Usually about a week or the Sunday prior to Christmas.
    I now have the disc.

    There was always great excitement when the boxes of ornaments and Christmas books were out for us to decorate the tree and the rest of the house. And decorating-frosting the sugar cookies was great fun.

    Then Christmas Eve dinner…the dreaded (required) one bite of Lutefisk & clean plate prior to gift opening. I was always the last one at the table. Until the year I cheated. Dinner was all candle light…I took two spoons of rice pudding, pretended to put lutfisk on my plate (by the second rice pudding) and did not get caught. What a glorious Christmas Eve that was! And my Lutheran guilt didn’t kill…me nor did it give me indigestion.

    Liked by 7 people

  6. We’re waiting till my sister arrives on the 28th to do our Christmas gifts with my mom – it will be more fun that way – maybe we’ll do Husband’s and mine then too.

    And I’m waiting till Monday to see how my mom reacts to moving to a new room on the memory care floor – the room itself is lovely, but it has a much more “nursing home feel” than any other place she’s been so far.


  7. It’s Christmas Eve, and husband and I have just finished a lovely traditional Danish Christmas dinner: Flæskestej med rødkål og brunede kartofler. Essentially, that translates to pork roast with red cabbage and sugar glazed potatoes. A nice bottle of wine, and we’re now enjoying some quiet music and “brune kager,” our favorite Danish Christmas cookie.

    This year, neither of us has been able to muster much enthusiasm for Christmas. Didn’t write a single card or buy a tree. Didn’t hang a wreath or string any lights. Pretty much my only concession to the season was buying one white and one red poinsettia and attend a performance of Penumbra Theatre’s Black Nativity. So this my friends, is the extent of our Christmas celebration. It’s quiet and peaceful, and at the moment that’s all I want. Merry Christmas to everyone, and if you happen to celebrate it, Happy Hanukkah, too.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. I just made rice pudding. I will leave some out for the tomten. I didn’t last year, and the dishwasher broke down. I am sure it was the work of a disgruntled tomten.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Well – made it through another gift-trading game. My son, Steve, made a python complete with eyes and a forked red tongue made of 20 dollar bills for its body. My grandson got it and I really really wanted to trade my adult coloring book for it but didn’t have the guts to trade my gift for his. My son, Dave, had contributed an adult tic tack toe leather-bound game He ended up trading it with me when I picked another gift. Clearly, he gave what he himself really wanted. I should talk – I ended up trading the coloring book for the Xmas sweater I’d put in the mix!!

    Then, because I’d made it clear that I wanted something from my own kids, I got a Kerig (sp.??). It’s a thing which quickly makes just one cup of a dozen different flavored coffees in a small packet in less than a minute. When I got home, I tried it and it was so delicious that I had one for a nightcap. It’s something I’ll really look forward to having every morning now. Maybe that’ll give me a reason to get up before noon?

    Liked by 3 people

  10. MORNING ALL! My best best wishes for everybody – my hope is that whatever you’re celebrating this season brings you joy and comfort. And chocolate.

    YA have made a few of our house calls the last couple of days and last night was the chaos/zoo/marathon up in Nowthen. 25 of us (10 of us aged 7 and under), 3 cats and a dog. Actually went fairly smoothly; we do the “open one at a time” method, beginning with the youngest.

    Today is busy. Stockings (if you believe in Santa, he believes in your), brunch at my best friend’s, movie, open house at another friend’s. YA wants me to make cinnamon roll waffles this morning for stocking opening. We’ll see…

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Did a quick visit to my mom (will celebrate with her on Thursday when my sister is here) so I can help Michael prep for 5 others coming over at 3. Big chicken to roast, made a Cranberry Upside Down Cake, wine/hard cider/non-alcoholic glog, etc. The place looks festive if I turn on all the Christmas lights, and a tiny tree (I’m talking under two feet) in front window.

    Anyone see Steven Colbert on Face the Nation? Food for thought – rest of interview being posted in segments the next seven days, I think they said…

    Merry merry, everyone.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Listening to David Sedaris “Six to Eight Black Men” and “The Santaland Diaries”. The blizzard has not yet hit. NOAA advises us to not be fooled (their very words), and that the snow is coming and it will look much different later this afternoon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When our kids were kids and adolescents “six to Eight Black Men” was our Christmas tradition. Every year we listened to it. Every year the kids would laugh so hard. There are several theatre people in the family. I think explains it.

      Lou’s family read the gospel story of Christmas. No laughing. I daydreamed during the reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m waiting for winter in Minnesota to start behaving like winter again. I’m looking out the window right now as raindrops go down the window. I was hoping that the visiting grandkids could play outside with the minnesota grandkids, but it’s just a sloppy, ugly mess out there.

    But, of course, if a winter storm does come, I’ll be complaining about driving or walking on the ice…

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Follow up on our Saturday Xmas…… On T Day, I took a couple dozen pictures on my iPhone. Excited to get home and import them to my Mac laptop so that I could email them to friends. I was mortified to see ONLY photos of my own face – apparently, I’d inadvertently pressed the selfie tab, making every shot aim at me.

    To insure that nothing could go wrong yesterday, I used a little digital camera. After importing them, I found only three that seemed “postable” for Facebook, so I went ahead, wrote a cute little paragraph, and posted them. The first text I got was from a granddaughter insisting I take the picture including her down; “How could you post such an ugly photo of me without getting my permission??”. Next, a text came from my son requesting that I delete a darling photo of him with his little kids. He wrote, “I look like an old man – please delete it!”

    I’m now down to one photo of just his two kids. It seems no matter what I do, it’ll bomb 😦


  15. No new snow here, just a day of rain, rain, and more rain. Expecting the world to turn into an ice rink overnight.

    We had a pleasant Christmas at my sister’s place, good food, cookies, and some unextravagant gifts.

    My niece invited a couple of her friends, who brought their dogs, and this resulted in three or four incidents of inapporpriate elimination in the house. The resident cats went upstairs in a huff till the house was clear of the canines.

    I have the next three days off, after working 8 of the 10 days leading up to Christmas. Looking forward to some down time.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Fortunately the streets look pretty dry. I was worried – after listening to the rain drumming on the roof for hours yesterday – that the relatives traveling to Missouri today would be on some dangerous icy roads, but I think they’ll be OK.


    1. I’m retired, which basically means I could go to sleep tonight and never wake up, and very few people would know the difference or care.

      The husband of a very dear friend died unexpected in his sleep on December 19th. 71 years of age. Fit and with no known risk factors. In our age group, we should take nothing for granted.

      Liked by 3 people

  16. I’m eagerly awaiting my W-2. Never in all my working life have I ever had so much federal and state income taxes deducted. That’s what overtime does. I’m not a “smart businessman”, so despite getting a goodly sum back from the Fed’s, I will still have paid more in one year than Trump has in ten years.


  17. Nice day yesterday. Two emails from Baboon friends. Two long phone calls from best friends who live far away.

    My daughter is getting wonderful photos of my grandson with her smart phone’s camera. She sends these to me.

    My SIL grew up in an incredible 19th century house built right on the banks of the St Clair River running between Michigan and Ontario. Ships of all sorts pass by, so it is a delight to sit by a picture window with coffee and study thousand-foot ships as they go by.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When she became an Oregonian my daughter suddenly became nostalgic for white Christmases. I remind her that she wasn’t responsible for keeping the walk shoveled! I don’t forget those times when the accumulated snow on both sides of the sidewalk was shoulder-high and shoveling fresh snowfalls involved some mighty heaving.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. Now we wait for the interstate to open and for city plows to come past. Our city has traditionally waited for snow to magically disappear, like in Denver, and is terrible at snow removal. Daughter works in Fargo tomorrow night at 9:00. We hope for liberation during the night.

    Liked by 1 person

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