Growing up, Christmas Eve night was the night for the Smorgasbord. The Swedes all got together and ate beige food. We started with aquavit (for the hearty souls). My father's family had made glogg, but that had waned by my generation (though, I'll consider trying it some year). The appetizers included shrimp, nuts, pickled herring (sil or formally - glasmatarsil), crackers, and cheese. Dinner included a liver sausage (korv), Swedish meatballs (kottbullar), pearl onions, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, baked beans, and buns. Dessert include pepparkakor cookies, refrigerator cookies, fruit soup (frut suppa), coffee, and a variety of other holiday cookies. Santa then stopped by to say hello before his rounds.
One year (when I was starting to doubt Santa), we went to the Smorgasborg. This particular winter, the snow was coming down. We must have had five to seven inches of snow during the evening. It wasn't a harsh storm though, it was floating down to the ground slowly in big, soft flakes - no wind. Rather than the usual, we didn't only hear Santa's bells as he pulled up. Santa pulled up to the house in a horse drawn sleigh (the reindeer were resting up for the night's work) - talk about snowy, sparkling magical holidays. I believe, I believe...
We have some traditional foods for the holidays. We will start both dinners with cocktail shrimp (and lots of it) and crackers with cheese and pickled herring. Since we moved to Virginia, we have oyster stew on Christmas Eve dinner - it is full of cream and it is yummy and I will even post a recipe if anyone is interested. For breakfast, I'll have coffee, egg nog, hot chocolate, and OJ ready with sausages, apples, and a bun (usually it is sticky buns, another recipe I could post if there is an interest). This year the bun will be the Moosewood Cardamom Cake, both because cardamom says (Swedish) Christmas (my mom used to make the most amazing cardamom braid with almond paste in it, must find the recipe) to me and because the sticky buns didn't make it past Thanksgiving (I freeze them, but the kids plowed through - I kid you not - nine trays at Thanksgiving). Dinner tomorrow will be more traditional than I have done in a few years. I had been doing roasted cornish hens (from a Julia Child recipe, roasted with garlic and mushrooms), but I will switch to a more Smorgasbord dinner of mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, salad, kottbullar, and gravy. Pumpkin and pecan pies for dessert (store bought, I'll be more ambitious when all of my kids are potty-trained).