Christmas Parties with GLOGG

"Christmas Parties with Glogg"

Growing up in Goshen Connecticut in the 1960's was quite an adventure - especially at Christmas time.  There were two Christmas parties in town (at least those were the only two that my family ever cared about).  My parents threw the annual party the weekend before Christmas on Saturday night.  The Larson family threw the Christmas Eve Party.  Anyone who was anyone made it to both parties - every year - no exceptions. 

The party at my parent's house took tons of preparation.  My mom made every hors d'oeuvre imaginable.  (my brother of course called them Horses Ovaries which still continues in Wistromspeak).  No one that came was allowed to bring food.  Mom knew exactly what she wanted on the table, and quite frankly, no one else's cooking would be acceptable to her strict standards. 

Mom would have been making cookies for weeks - 12 different kinds - all stored in Christmas tins and kept in the back room (aka indoor freezer).  She also prepared everything that she could ahead of time that could just be heated and served the night of the party.  Korv (Swedish sausage) was handmade and stuffed into pig intestines while I pretended to hurl in disgust.  Swedish meatballs and gravy were made.  Bruna bönor (swedish brown beans) were purchased at Tre Kroner swedish store in Farmington and prepared with mom's recipe.  And that's just the Swedish dishes - and that's not a tenth of the list.  There were hot crab meat dips, artichoke dips, pigs in a blanket...  the list went on and on.  (and never changed) 

The night of the party was truly magical.  The house was absolutely decked for Christmas.  Everything Christmas was out and shining.  People would start arriving around 6pm because no one ate dinner before coming to the Wistrom's Christmas Party.  Aunt Marge and Uncle Fred (neither one related to us by blood) were first to arrive.  Marge would help mom in her final push to get everything perfect.  Fred and dad would make sure that the bar was appropriately stocked....  When everyone else arrived, it was my job to take coats and put them on my parent's bed.  That bed was HEAPED with coats by the time the party was in full swing.  

The men all wore suits and the women wore sparkly evening gowns.  Everyone was dressed to the nines, and the varieties of cologne and perfume was overwhelming.  There must have been 50 people, and everyone knew everyone.  And this was middle income folks in a very small New England town.  They all dressed as if they were going to the Waldorf for the evening.  

Christmas Eve had the following schedule:  7pm evening service at the congregational church, 8:00-11:30 party at the Larson's house and 12:00-1:00am Midnight mass at the Roman Catholic Church.  Yup, my parents were in a "mixed marriage" (more about that another time) and that was the ONE DAY of the year that the entire family went to church together - TWICE....  Dad's congregational church was very nice - but since I only went there once each year, everything about it was strange to me (no kneelers, weird little drink holders in each pew, an organ that took over half of the front of the church).    As soon as the "candlelight service" was over - we walked straight across the street to the Larson's house.

As soon as you walked into their house, you were hit with the olfactory celebration of the year.  There, on the stove was the Crown Jewel of Christmas:
The hints of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger and citrus effectively hid the wine, whisky, rum, rocket fuel and turpentine that was in the secret recipe.  I remember NOTHING ELSE about Arvid's annual parties - just Glogg. 

Midnight Mass was always interesting because from the time I was about 10 - I was always snookered by the time we made it to mass.  Two vivid memories of midnight mass were:

  • The time my dad fell asleep in the middle of the mass and dropped the heavy hymn book that was in his lap.  Everything stopped.  Everyone turned and looked at my dad - who immediately started looking around for who the culprit was.  Everyone knew it was him.  I about died of embarrassment.
  • The year I brought along my best friend Mike Scognamiglio to Arvid's house for glogg.  That was the same year the two of us were assigned to be the altar boys for midnight mass.  There's nothing quite like two drunk 12 year old altar boys serving one of the holiest masses of the year.  At mass we giggled, laughed, and made faces at each other until the priest stopped and glared at us.  I remember genuflecting and then going in the back sacristy and laughing my butt off before returning with an extra chalice as if that was my reason for going back there.  (I learned diversion as an art form from my dad)....
The Christmas party tradition was carried on for years at my home after Maria and I were married.  Our parties combined the very best of my mom's cooking (with some new recipes) and my very best rendition I could create of Arvid Larson's Glogg. 
Here is the WIKIPEDIA Definition...
Glögg or glogg (DanishgløggNorwegiangløggSwedishglöggIcelandicglöggFaroesegløggFinnishglögi) is a spiced, usually alcoholicmulled wine or spirit. It is a traditional Nordic drink during winter, especially around Christmas.
Pronunciation is:  \ 'gl?g  , 'glœg  , 'glu?g but my favorite pronunciation comes from my friend Carissa who every year askes if we've made our famous "GLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOG".  

God Jul!