Showing posts from December, 2010

Christmas Music

I’m listening to Christmas music on Pandora today.  Just seems like a good thing to do on a quiet slow Christmas day.  Our festivities were last night.  We had a wonderful time.  The day ended with making potato candy with my youngest daughter.  She is off with friends today and wanted a treat to take with her.  It was fun. Christmas music really sets a mood, doesn’t it.  I love Silver Bells because it reminds me of Christmas in New York City.  I sure hope I get to see the tree at Rockerfeller Center at least one more time.  I used to love to go see it with my dad.  I’ve even been there when it was lit.  What joy, what excitement!  After that, a trip across the street to the magnificent St. Patrick’s Cathedral to see the crèche, followed by some steaming hot chocolate made the day complete.  Our first Christmas in Tennessee I was so homesick for New York and the East coast one of our daughters gave me some silver bells.  They still hang on our back door.  She told me when you see

Christmas at Tante Bitta's

Heavy snow is coming down today.  It is reminding me of a Christmas in Brooklyn. One of my favorite people when I was a child was my “Tante Bitta.”  She was actually not my Aunt or Tante, she was my cousin.  However, like all of my first cousins on my father’s side, she was an adult when I was born and had children my age.  Out of respect, I called her Tante.  When I was little I couldn’t say her name Birgit; in my childish pronunciation she became Bitta.  We saw her and her family only occasionally until they moved within walking distance.  What a happy day that was!  Her eldest daughter and I became best friends. So many things I could write about her daughter and I.  After putting 75 cents in the cigarette machine, we’d puff away for a few hours.   Believing we’d rather “fight that switch” after a brief usage of Marlboros we became Tareyton smokers.  Doused in perfume, with gum in our mouths we'd try to cover the smell.  My mother would be angry and yell, always s

Men Norsk Mor -- My "Norwegian" Mother

The smell of Norwegian baking just reminds me of Christmas and home.   At Christmas, my mother would bake for weeks filling the little railroad flat at 434-53 rd Street with smells of cardamom, almond, and butter.   In that small kitchen in an old gas oven she worked her magic.  My mother had a well-worn stained Norwegian cookbook.  She was an American girl from Waynesboro PA who was transformed into a Norwegian speaking, acting and cooking woman when she said "I do" to a former Norwegian sailor from Arendal. By the second grade I was allowed to cross streets by myself.   I would walk home  from school with Barbara.   Once in the vestibule I’d ring the bell.   The buzzer would sound to unlock the inner door.   Like going into the inner sanctuary of a holy place, an aroma better than the finest incense would greet my little nose.   Sniffing as I walked the hall to the kitchen, I would try to guess what had been baked that day.   If there was a yeasty cardamom smell, it m

Coming of Age at Christmas

As I look back on that day, it was a real coming of age type of day.  I remember clearly standing by the front window of the subway as we rode back to our home in Brooklyn.  We lived for two years on Fort Hamilton Parkway.  I didn’t like living there.  I missed PS 94 and 53 rd Street.  It was the world I had always known.  I knew each house and at least a little something about the people who lived there.  I knew to walk fast when I passed the tenements and to walk near the curb if I walked past the bar on the odd side of the street near 5 th Avenue.  I suppose it was because we never had alcohol in the house and because of how my parents felt about it that I was always nervous walking past a bar.  I think I thought someone might reach out and grab me and I’d never be seen again.  It was a lonely trip back to Brooklyn.  I don’t remember why my father wasn’t with us.  I was at an age where I was beginning to have those inevitable conflicts one has with their mother as they are appro

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

I’ve seen a lot of snow in my life.   As a child, the wonder of snow was real.   It seemed magical as the flakes of white would fall from the sky.   I remember making paper snowflakes in kindergarten.   How magical it was as Mrs. Pellegrino, one of the first pregnant people I ever saw on a daily basis, showed us how to cut with those blunt stubby scissors and make the designs of a snow flake.   She told us that in nature every snowflake was unique.    She might have even uttered the forbidden word God as she told us this scientific fact.   In those days, we still prayed in school.   Yes, even in NYC we bowed our head and said a generic prayer at the beginning of the school day.   During weekly assembly we would also recite a Psalm from the Holy Bible.   The Psalms were common to all Judeo-Christian faiths. There was something ethereal about the snow of my childhood.   Full of life and vitality, Brooklyn was noisy.   The cars, the buses, the sounds of the nearby subway, the chatter of