Holiday memories, made new

I looked back today at what I wrote during the holidays in December 2019, a few months before the world was turned upside down. The post, about favorite holiday food memories, was about the dish of nuts that my grandparents always put out during the Christmas season. That memory is more poignant today because not only were traditions put on hold during the pandemic, but also because my grandmother passed away last year.

 Bourbon yule log (Bûche de Noël au bourbon) from Gâteau by Aleksandra Crapanzano

While I am sad that our family will never gather together in the same way as we did before, I am consoled by the fact that I have many happy memories from my family’s holiday gatherings, and that I am able to create new happy memories with friends that are as close as family. We just returned from our recently established Christmas Eve tradition of going to the home of special friends for an intimate dinner. One custom I have adopted for this event is making a bûche de Noël for dessert (tonight’s version is posted above).

We met these friends because of the house we purchased in our new home town. My husband’s boss mentioned that he knew the people who grew up in the home. He introduced us, and we discovered we had a lot in common. We invited the family over for dinner during the holiday season and I made a bûche de Noël for dessert with a white chocolate buttercream icing that I decorated to look like a birch tree. It was a serendipitous choice, because I discovered that our friends’ family name was Norwegian for “birch”. Learning this made our connection seem almost ordained by some higher power – especially since we bought this house without ever setting foot in it.

I had toured several homes during a brief visit to the city when I interviewed for a job (my husband had already been offered a dream job, which precipitated the move). I landed the position but it came with a catch: the start date was only six weeks away. This meant we had to find, buy, and move into a house in a tight timeframe (renting was unworkable for several reasons). None of the homes I had seen were suitable, so after I flew back we looked at additional online listings and this house jumped out to us. We had the realtor send us photos, hired a home inspector, and quickly made an offer. Five weeks later we pulled into the driveway with two moving vans for our first in-person visit. It was a real leap of faith – especially since it took us two years of looking before we purchased our first home.

Life often takes unanticipated twists and turns – I said I would never move back to what I termed “the tundra” after many years of living in the South, yet I ended up in Minnesota’s frigid winters again. Finding this house – which came with wonderful friends that I can’t imagine being without – has made up for the shortcomings in the weather. I hope this holiday season finds you in the company of cherished family and friends, making your own happy holiday memories.

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  • franniepie  on  December 27, 2022

    Thank you, Darcie, for this beautiful post. It was a such a heart warming, life affirming read for ending my first Christmas in a new home & town. This year I bought a house unseen & moved from NYC to the Midwest so almost all of my traditions are being metamorphosized.

  • AhoritaComida  on  December 28, 2022

    What a beautiful, and heartfelt share here, for us to read. I made my first bûche de Noël this past weekend. I’ll remember your grandfather as I eat the rest of it. It’s a holiday food worth the effort, for sure. Blessings to you-from snowy, frozen North Idaho 🙂

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