Who was that Methodist woman in the Swedish Lutheran church, wearing the black robe?

The Permanent Maternal Record
And: ‘Tis the season!

Bloomington Bird Lady writes: “My mom was a church organist for 37 years, and Christmas time was rather hectic. The music doesn’t just ‘happen’; it has to be planned, practiced and performed. We lived about two blocks from the church, and since we had only the one car, as did most other people, she’d walk over for everything. I can remember Mom taking off running at times to get there ahead of maybe the choir, or the pastor, etc.

“Our Lutheran church was started as Swedish Lutheran. Mom had been Methodist before she married, so some music needed extra time to learn — especially those hymns that were written with Swedish words. Once a month there would be a Swedish service in the afternoon, so she had to kind of guess her way through the liturgy. Early on Christmas Day (probably 6 a.m.), there was ‘Julotta,’ a service in Swedish, to which my grandma would bring me. It would be dark, Mom would already be there, and my grandma and I would walk to church in some pretty cold weather. When we came home, Grandma prepared a real Swedish-style breakfast with potato sausage and lingonberries and rice pudding, and lots of special limpa bread. I still make all these things for our family, but gave up on lutefisk.

“Musicians like to tell stories about overly long services, pastors who printed the bulletins themselves and didn’t know how to spell the composers’ names, etc. Mom had to wear a black robe like the choir, and someone told me, at the church’s 100th anniversary, that they thought she was God — because when she walked through the church up to the organ, the service started. The middle-aged man who said this had been the pastor’s son!”

Everyone’s a (fashion) critic
Or: ‘Tis the season!

John in Highland: “What is with all of the boring, striped ties that people are wearing these days? They remind me of the narrow, ultra-conservative ties that my dad, Ed, used to wear in the 1950s.

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“Come on, guys, show a little daring, especially now at the most colorful time of the year!”

Life as we know it

Kathy S. of St. Paul writes: “This Christmas season has been shadowed for me, though I had the joy of attending a party yesterday where there was a bountiful bevy of beautiful babies. And what could be more fitting than that?

“To cheer myself up, I am binge-watching the movie ‘Love Actually,’ on cable. Some channels are playing it two or three times in a row, so I can catch my favorite scenes or watch the whole thing. It follows a number of love stories: all the beginnings, then the ‘middles,’ and the denouements. Not all the stories are happy, but there is sheer joy in the cheerful ones. And the scene with Joni Mitchell’s song ‘Both Sides Now’ in the background truly makes you understand the words in that song.

“What hooked me on this movie is the voice you hear at the beginning of the movie, as you see joyous people run to hug and kiss their loved ones. These scenes (and those at the end of the movie) were filmed clandestinely (and later OK’d) at Heathrow Airport near London.

“The voice says that, on 9/11, people called from the Towers, etc., to tell people they loved them — and that love is all around us.

“It’s a message I need to hear, this year.”

A  thought for today

Tim Torkildson: “A little more forgiveness and a little less judgment are good advice for anyone.”

Our community of strangers (responsorial)

Fudge Brownie: “Reading about Otis from Inver Grove identifying The Cab Driver of South St. Paul [BB, 12/19/2016] seems to me to be an exciting discovery.

“I am always trying to figure out who is behind the BB monikers. I try to decipher the gender from what they write. Some names are easy to identify, like The Gram with a Thousand Rules, obviously a woman; IGHGrampa, a man. Sometimes I’m surprised to learn that who I thought was a woman was actually a man. and vice versa. Wouldn’t it be fun to actually meet all the contributors and match up the names?

“I am guessing that everyone knows I am a woman. I can’t think of any man I know wanting to be known as Fudge Brownie.

“I try to picture the person behind the name and wonder what their life is like and what it would be like to converse with them. Just getting to know the BB family.

“As a meeting is very unlikely ever to happen, I suppose it will remain a mystery, unless BB readers care to share something about themselves. A new category, maybe?

“Happy Holidays to one and all!”

The Permanent Family Record
And: ‘Tis the season!

Zoo Lou of St. Paul: “A sumptuous spaghetti feast has been a longtime Christmas Eve tradition in the DiSanto family. But several years ago, an unintended blunder nearly ruined this cherished tradition.

“I usually bought the spaghetti sauce at Big Steer Meats. On this occasion, however, my brother Mike offered to do the honors. But what he brought to the house was a can of tomato paste, thinking it was the same as (not to mention cheaper than) spaghetti sauce. Big mistake! That paste was more like tomato soup and had about as much flavor as beet juice.

“In desperation, we tried to ‘Italian up’ the paste by adding oregano, olive oil, flour and even a bottle of Ragu. All we got was a pot of sludge that would have made Julia Child swoon.

“After wasting all that time trying to rectify this divine comedy, I drove over to Big Steer, only to find they had closed 15 minutes earlier, at 2 o’clock. Peering through the window, I could see some workers were still inside. As I tapped on the glass and put my hands together in a prayerful plea, a nice young man graciously opened the door and let me buy a can of the ‘real stuff .’

“‘If you had come two minutes later,’ the man said, ‘we would have been gone.’

“Thanks to this little miracle, the sausage and meatballs were soon simmering in savory spaghetti sauce while the tomato-paste sludge was being dumped unceremoniously down the drain. It made us grimace to think we might have actually had to put that gunk on the spaghetti.

“That’s how a can of Pastorelli sugo Italiano saved a cherished Christmas tradition. And yes, Virginia (and Mike), there really is a difference in spaghetti sauces.

“I only wish Phyllis, our beloved Mom and Nana, who died in May at age 91, could have been with us this Christmas. Before health problems set in, her homemade spaghetti sauce, bread and steamed pudding were culinary masterpieces that made the holidays truly magical.”

In memoriam
Hanging Fruit Division

Papa on Elm Street (he of the favorite apple that hung on and hung on and hung on, throughout the fall … and was pictured 161220bbcut-applehere, not for the first time, as recently as Tuesday) has sent us this new email: “Wouldn’t you know it.

“My favorite apple that is a tough bugger made it through the extreme below-zero weather yesterday, but with today’s temperature in the mid-20s, it disappeared.

“I spent a half-hour trying to find it, but couldn’t. I wonder what people going by thought when they saw me raking my snow. No success.

“Since there were no tracks in the snow, it couldn’t have been taken by a squirrel, so the culprit must have been a crow. All summer, the crows tried to take it but to no avail. One of them apparently won out.”

The great comebacks
Unappreciated Division

Frosty of Linwood: “I sympathize with Poet X of PDX for delivering a great line that no one else gets. It happens to me a lot.

“My husband and I like to play cribbage. He wins about 90 percent of the time. He can be a little sarcastic sometimes. For instance, when my count is only two or four, he’ll often say: ‘That’s a lot, boy.’

“One day I asked him if he knew what the doctor said to the man from Gomorrah when he delivered his son. ‘That’s a boy, Lot.’ I laughed and laughed, while he just looked at me and blinked.”

A traveler is born

The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “With a passport nearly half his size, our newborn Colorado great-grandbaby is off to see the family in Oz.”

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Band Name of the Day: Women Who Are Actually Men

Website of the Day: The opening of “Love Actually.”

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