Friday, December 23, 2011
I love this evening. In Scandinavian traditions, December 23rd is Lille Julaften -- Little Christmas Eve. Taking note of this night spreads the pleasure of Christmas forward and intensifies anticipation. When I lived in Norway as a teenager, preparations for Christmas did not really begin until Lille Julaften. That was the day when people shopped for gifts and put up a tree which was decorated solely and purely with white lights, Norwegian flags, and small balls of white cotton snow.
Lille Julaften became part of my life as a young mother, wife, and artist in Cleveland as we threw a big party that drew together people from all parts of our lives -- neighbors, friends, family, work colleagues, and eventually friends of friends and friends of family. The preparations were daunting -- huge quantities of eggnog and strong punch, buckets of 1/2 inch round Swedish meatballs. I accomplished Herculean feats of lefse-making and fragile cookie cakes. And it was all wonderful as everyone I loved gathered together.
So tonight, even if you are far too busy and your list of tasks is still too long, even if the Christmas music that has played in your ears since Halloween has grown tedious, even if you are sad, even if you miss someone, perhaps there will be a moment of quiet joy and sweet anticipation of better times as Lille Julaften works its small magic.