Thursday, December 16, 2010


We used the holly and silvered sprays in the decorations. The holly makes the very prettiest I think. We used the silvered bull [pine] sprigs of last year again as a centerpiece and the candles. They are so festive; we burned them all evening. We used up one pair of white ones and part of one short pair of red ones and greatly diminished the tall red ones. Ralph remembered how last Xmas you had said to light the candles to eat by and thus you’d be blessing us as we dined. After the dinner Shirley reduced the table to a round, removed the decorations, added candy, nuts, and fruit and fresh candles. Ina Dobson on Christmas 1937

My Grandfather Portfors, my mother's father, was a Swede. He immigrated to the United States at the age of 16 in 1891. But we know nothing about our Swedish heritage. Grandpa's goal was to assimilate the American culture as quickly as possible. He wanted to be American, not Swedish. With the exception of a few childhood anecdotes, we know nothing about his life in Sweden. If Mother had a burning interest in Swedish traditional foods -- you know, like Swedish spritz and Swedish tea rings, she didn't say so in my hearing. I think they were just the popular traditions of the era.

One day early in December, Mother would make her Swedish tea rings for Christmas morning. There would be two of them -- one was cinnamon raisin and the other holiday fruit. She baked and then froze them for warming Christmas morning. 
I found an old recipe card for Swedish tea rings in handwriting I don't recognize. I also found recipes in Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book and Meta Givens' Encyclopedia of Cooking. I decided not to post such an involved recipe. We're all busy in real time, right?

Oh -- and on Christmas morning my mother set out her tea rings for early risers, but my dad served biscuits, eggs and bacon.

The card: Candle centerpieces were apparently a popular card theme. Are candles still important? KW


Chris said...

I like to burn candles, but I'm careful when the small ones are around, so it's usually one in a glass jar. They seem safer.

Swedish tea ring sounds yummy! My usual Christmas morning breakfast is quick breads (cranberry orange and poppy seed, and maybe pumpkin) and eggs and sausage or maybe a breakfast casserole. I need to get this year's decided upon and made up!

Love this card!

Leah said...

Candles are certainly a big deal today. Case in point...candle stores. At this time of year, there are pine, cinnamon, apple, vanilla and pumpkin scented candles. My goodness, Ina really got in the Christmas spirit with the centerpieces and other decorations. What wonderful memories...her letters detailing Christmas at her house.

Kathy: Your mom and dad's Christmas breakfast speak to their gender. A woman bakes a lovely Swedish tea ring and the man makes biscuits, eggs and bacon. What wonderful aromas to have in your house Christmas morning.

Hallie said...

We like candles, especially vanilla and cinnamon scented, and Bath & Body Works had some great holiday scents this year.

I don't remember a whole lot about Grandpa but I do have a memory of breakfast with biscuits and eggs. Yum!

Kathy said...

Yes, we certainly do use jar and container candles and scents are big. But are tapers as popular as they once were? I think Chris makes a good point about the safety of tapers. Tapers can also make a mess. But they look classy.

My dad believed in hospitality through food service. No one went away from his table hungry.

And remember -- when we shop Bath and Body Works we support a family member. Yancey is a district manager in Denver.

Leah said...

I agree with your comment about tapers, Kathy. They are something that people only use for special occasion dinners. And they do look classy.