The holidays, at least for me, are reminders of the special times and traditions Lee and I established in our family when our children were young. Building of gingerbread houses, watching the cartoon movie “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and of course baking and frosting Great Nana Swanbom’s sugar cookies. A Swedish style smorgasbord dinner on Christmas Eve and a gift exchange are other examples of the traditions that we carried over from our own childhoods.
There is one tradition we still honor that began years ago, when I was a very young girl, with my Grandpa Landen, Oscar. Grandpa was quite the Gardner extraordinaire. He grew things in his garden we had no idea what they were, like zucchini, and concord grapes and raspberries. My Grandpa grew amazing peas; and taught me to open them while in the garden, and enjoy a snack of green and sweet sugar snaps. Delicious!
One Christmas Day, we were all at Grandma and Grandpa Landen’s for dinner, when Grandpa told me to go get my coat; we needed to get something from the garden. My first thought was “What were we going to get from the garden?” The garden was dead, frozen and covered with snow. He grabbed his shovel and we walked to the center of the patch and he began to clear away the snow and then, the straw that he laid out earlier in the fall. Then, under the straw I saw the green flat fern tops of the row of carrots. He dug deep, next to the carrots snuggled in the dark cold soil and then up popped a bundle of brilliant orange carrots! To my surprise, they were not frozen at all. He explained how the straw and the snow kept the carrots from freezing. He said to me “Grandma want glazed carrots for dinner.”
Recently I shared that story with my niece and her children as we (you can guess what we were doing), digging carrots for Christmas dinner. The tradition lives on.
I have so many fond memories of Grandpa Landen, and think of him often, but mostly when I’m in the garden digging carrots.