Winter Wonderland ’08

I’ve been snowed in since Tuesday and it’s been fantastic to stay home, work over VPN, hang with the wife and kids, and enjoy this weather. I can’t imagine anything more gentle in terms of forcing us to all slow down and spend time doing things that really matter. That’s my opinion, anyway. We’ve gone out and played in the snow, taken pictures, and done a lot of baking/cooking, and working on my music in addition to doing some work.

I’ve been quite annoyed with the news coverage constantly reminding me how terrible and inconveniencing the snow is to a lot of people. I can understand that some folks might have to go in and stuff; perhaps it’s their way of expressing empathy. Dunno. I remember as a kid growing up in Chicago we had winters where two feet of snow wasn’t uncommon and the wheels of society seemed to continue to turn. Perhaps they were better equipped and the city was flat.

This year’s Christmas plans are still just as crazy as they always are but rearranged to try and keep it all on one day. Eve we’re staying home all day culminating in a tasty dinner. Day we’re waking up to watch the kids (well, Henry really) open a few presents here. Afternoon we’re going to my parents’ place to have dinner with them. And then evening we’re going to her mom’s place in Auburn. 2 days of good food and family. My mom has the day off this year so it’ll be nice to spend more time with her. I am really excited about not having fish for dinner. I understand the tradition and all but, well, without getting deep in theological discussion, it seems kind of silly. Regardless, here is the Polish tradition [source]:

Polish Wigilia Since the vigil was traditionally a fast day, fish is in order. Whereas in Brittany the codfish takes the honors of the day, American custom associates piping hot oyster stew with Christmas Eve. Sponge cake or an Italian cream tart would make an excellent dessert, quickly prepared by the older girls. The Polish Christmas Eve supper, called the wigilia, is perhaps the most complicated culinary celebration of the vigil.

In the homes of that country stalks of grain are placed in the four corners of the dining room with a prayer for plenty in the years to come. Then bits of hay, symbolic of the manger in Bethlehem, are strewn beneath the tablecloth, which must be hand woven. The youngest child is set to watch for the first star of the evening, and when it appears he runs to tell the rest of the family. Then supper begins, as tradition has ordered it, with the breaking of the opłatek, a semi-transparent unleavened wafer made in an iron mold and stamped with scenes of the Nativity. Each one at the table breaks off a piece and eats it as a symbol of their unity in Christ. . . .

The soups are three in number, followed by three fish dishes accompanied by noodles, cabbage and dumplings. The desserts are also three, one of which is always a fruit compote with twelve dried fruits symbolic of the Twelve Apostles. At the end of the supper, carols are sung and presents are exchanged. The remainder of the food is often given to the animals in the hope that all living things may prosper by the food served in memory of Our Lord’s first night on earth.

We never did any of the stuff with hay but the basic premise is here. Simply put, it’s a lot of fish.

Anyway, I’ve shut myself in the office. It’s time to get some work done. I have a bunch of things to reply to and finish coding some stuff for my application. Stay warm everyone. Have fun!

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