Expectations of Light Ahead


This painting by Swedish painter Carl Larsson, dated 1904, depicts a Christmas Eve gathering. Family members present are not giddy but quietly enjoying the prospect of the feast they will share, set out before them. Snow falls outside in the growing dark as candle and fire light fills the space within. The picture is illuminated as well by the serving girl’s soft smile – she and what she bears, created by human hands, are as important and warming as the light within the room.

Tonight in my household we are making Swedish cookies from a recipe left to us by a departed family member. We laugh over happy memories we shared with them, and now make new memories over this messy communion flavored with cinnamon, sugar, and too much butter. The fun and memories are as important as the cookies themselves; they create the foundation for decades of holidays yet to come.

I hope you are also someplace warm and happy tonight, enjoying pleasant memories and making more. Do something joyful, whether for yourself or others, even if you are alone. Embrace the expectation of increasing light in the days ahead.

And I wish Marcy and Mr. Wheel, Jim, bmaz, Ed, their families, and all the rest of the Emptywheel crew and community a very happy and peaceful Christmas.

8 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    The cookies in question: Kanelbullar. Direct translation is Cinnamon Buns; the name also applies to yeast rolls as well as these cookies. My MIL made them every year for FIL; the recipe was originally from her SIL. Here’s the recipe; allow time for chilling dough—overnight for best results. (I skip the frosting; it’s gilding the lily as far as I’m concerned.)

    Cookie dough:

    1 lb. small curd cottage cheese
    1 lb. margarine
    4 cups sifted flour

    Mix and form into 6 or 7 balls.
    Chill overnight.


    1-1/2 cup brown sugar
    1-1/2 t. cinnamon
    3/4 cup chopped nuts

    Divide each ball into 1/3, roll out into circles.
    Spread with filling, cut into wedges.
    Roll up from large end.

    Bake 20 min. at 375 degrees


    4 T. sugar
    4 T. water

    Bring to boil, then boil for 1 minute. Cool.


    1 stick margarine
    1 egg
    1 t. vanilla
    1 pkg. powdered sugar*

    Beat (until smooth). Cool until just warm. Spread a dollop over each cookie.

    Note: use filling generously.

    * believed to be 1 lb. pkg.

  2. bloopie2 says:

    Thank you for setting the scene; the best to you and yours also.

    And for a touch of religion, one could hardly do better than John Rutter’s ‘Candlelight Carol’. A gentle treasure.


    How do you capture the wind on the water?
    How do you count all the stars in the sky?
    How do you measure the love of a mother
    Or how can you write down a baby’s first cry?

    Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star-glow
    Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn
    Silent night, holy night, all is calm and all is bright
    Angels are singing; the Christ child is born

    Shepherds and wise men will kneel and adore him
    Seraphim round him their vigil will keep
    Nations proclaim him their Lord and their Saviour
    But Mary will hold him and sing him to sleep


    Find him at Bethlehem laid in a manger
    Christ our Redeemer asleep in the hay
    Godhead incarnate and hope of salvation
    A child with his mother that first Christmas Day


  3. Peterr says:

    God Jul, Rayne, and Merry Christmas to you all!
    Rayne, with a recipe and story like the one above, I have to ask: growing up, did you ever wear the garland and candles of Santa Lucia?

    • Rayne says:

      HotFlash! Lovely to see you, hope you’re having a pleasant holiday! There’s rarely too much butter, but there is when a family member has heart disease. Just means more for the youngsters, I guess; the teen boy will happily snarf up more than his share.

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