decorating the tree

At this point it's about decorating the tree and making cookies.

That's all I've got on my agenda.

Nina and Rob and I went out for brunch yesterday (courtesy of Rob), to a place called HOPE, so that's nice.

We went to an old Little Italy (St. Paul, MN style) market and I cried because it was so delightful with imported European candies and all sorts of lovely things everywhere and Christmas carols playing.

Then we went to three different tree places to find the best tree.

The nicest trees were a hundred dollars.

I bought little boxes of candies from Italy to fill the Christmas stockings at our house, which were surprisingly expensive but very festive, so I didn't want to spend very much for the tree.

At the third location we found a perfect tree for thirty dollars, the perfect price.

We brought him home tied to the top of the car of course, everyone feeling cheerful.

Our tree, unadorned, is up now in it's red metal stand, with plenty of water, and ready to be decorated today!

I'm excited to get out all the ornaments.

We have gorgeous old and new blown glass baubles and all sorts of handmade beautiful Christmas characters....the characters from the Nutcracker Suite all with velvet outfits and porcelain hands and faces and feet with painted on shoes.

We have woodland animals, like glitter covered deer with silver antlers and blown glass owls painted with brown feathers.

I think our tree probably looks very German overall, or Italian maybe, or French but I don't know how the French do it.

The one thing I did want to do this year was to buy the little paper flags of the countries we love best and festoon the tree with those.

I may still be able to find them before Christmas Eve.

I would want flags from Sweden for my mother, Italy for my father, Germany for my one grandmother and for my friends there now, and Poland for Rob.

If I don't find these this year, I am determined to do this next year.

We're having this small party for my children and their friends and a few very closest friends of mine and Rob's.

The party is Monday night the 23rd.

Nina is worried that the house is too small.


The house IS too small.

We've never tried to have a party in the three years I've lived here.

A party would have been unthinkable.

But now I feel we're to that level of comfort with our lives and our circumstances.

And giving back to people who have stood by us through thick and thin feels so great.

My mother bought us all the ingredients to make the Glogg so it's a Glogg tasting party.

That means you all stand around a huge pot on the stove that's already filled with an inch or two of water that's steeping cardamum pods, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves stuck into two halves of a big orange, raisins, and almonds.

Then you pour in two bottles of red wine, plus Brandy and Port, and lastly enough Aquavit to light your hair on fire.

All this warms up, and you let the spices steep further, while you're eating everything on the groaning board dining room table covered with cheeses and pate and meats and fruits and fresh cut vegetables. Chips and dip. Spiced popcorn. My homemade cheesecake and Christmas cookies.

Then everyone starts taking small ladles of the Glogg in small glasses meant for the smallest aperitif.

Everyone argues about whether it's "strong enough yet".

More Aquavit is added.

Everyone tastes again.

More arguments ensue and people have to taste again to be sure they can give a confident assessment.

Everyone's judgement becomes impaired, the Glogg ends up way too strong, and coffee has to be served to get everyone out of your house before morning.

That's the Glogg party.

Have a party for your friends this Christmas, even if it's just yourself and your favorite stuffed bear sharing your favorite kind of cookie.

I've had Christmases where it was just me in a city where I had no family, I know what that feels like.

If that's your situation go on Christmas Eve to a big huge church where you can slip in and out unnoticed and just let the solemnity of the night engulf you, suspend your beliefs and disbeliefs and just let it be magical and mysterious.

If you're able to do everything for everyone and you have many people around you, do everything you can and thank your lucky stars that you are who you are.

I'm somewhere in between, this Christmas, and I'm only where I am by the immense good graces of those around me who have loved me and supported me this year.

My deepest gratitude to friends and fans far and near.

I am full of hope for the new year.

Gratitude is the Remedy and Love is my Survival.

Here's my donations link if you're inclined to help keep the wheels rolling on one woman's artistic journey.

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