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Marissa Lingen

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This is a long-distance call [Dec. 13th, 2016|06:37 am]
Marissa Lingen
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I’ve been doing this for ten years now.


Not making the lussekatter; that’s a tradition of longer standing. But writing about the making of the lussekatter every year. About doing the work of the dark of the year, singing the light back into the world while you make the saffron-rich bread. About Santa Lucia Day, how it comes before Solstice so there is more dark to come, and what that means to me. It’s the same every year. It’s different every year. Holidays are like that.


This year in particular I am so glad to have a ritual to fall back on, work that yields to patience and experience and knowledge. The long rise changed my life. This year I made a half-batch, carefully measuring the beaten egg into my tiniest measuring cup, pouring half of it into the dough and half down the drain. (I know. It would have been fine with a whole egg. But I want it the way it’s supposed to taste, not a slightly richer version.) And between the smaller mass of dough and the knowledge gained from years past, it was an easy knead, turning pliable almost as soon as I picked it up.


In addition to Christmas songs, I find myself singing other songs every year, whatever pops into my head. “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” and “This Year” and whatever else feels appropriate. This year I discovered that what I was singing was Paul Simon’s “The Boy in the Bubble,” with a line I never really thought of before: “These are the days of miracle and wonder, and don’t cry, baby, don’t cry.” The days of miracle and wonder, we find out, are not the same as the days of ease and laughter. The days of miracle and wonder make us weep, and not just for joy. Not even mostly for joy.


Sometimes miracle and wonder come upon us all unawares. But sometimes we have to work for them. We have to work our asses off for them, and cry and despair and feel that we’ve come to the end of the line. And some of us have–I don’t want to pretend that it’s inevitable that we always win out, that we always come through the dark times. Sometimes it is just all too damn much. And the people around us, the people we turn to for help, may have reached their point of “all too damn much” in ways and for reasons that we don’t know or don’t understand.


And it’s so easy to feel distant from everyone we love, to see the distances and not the ways in which we’re close. It’s so easy to feel like we’re struggling alone instead of together. But it’s not true. Or it doesn’t have to be.


And still we try to carve out something beautiful, something fragrant and fine. Something we can give, something that connects us. Something miraculous and wonderful. Even in a year where the dark days have taken turns we never imagined. Especially in that kind of year. I’m struggling to remember which rabbi it was, what the exact wording was, who said that the work of the world is neither ours to complete nor ours to abandon. Not my tradition–but one of my truths. One of my great truths.


It’s time to sing the songs and bake the bread. It’s time to find our way kicking and screaming into miracle and wonder. And it’s time to do the work in the dark time to bring the light back into the world in the days ahead.


Happy Santa Lucia Day.


2006: http://mrissa.livejournal.com/380857.html

2007: http://mrissa.livejournal.com/502825.html and http://mrissa.livejournal.com/503100.html

2008: http://mrissa.livejournal.com/596214.html

2009: http://mrissa.livejournal.com/688906.html

2010: http://mrissa.livejournal.com/751599.html

2011: http://mrissa.livejournal.com/798532.html

2012: http://mrissa.livejournal.com/842565.html

2013: http://www.marissalingen.com/blog/?p=260

2014: http://www.marissalingen.com/blog/?p=659

2015: http://www.marissalingen.com/blog/?p=1141




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: arkessian
2016-12-13 01:19 pm (UTC)
This resonates.

Thank you -- I read all your lussekatter posts gladly, but this one really resonates.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-12-13 02:38 pm (UTC)
Thank *you*.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-12-13 02:37 pm (UTC)
I suppose I could have put it in the stout gingerbread, but that is really the end of the line for baking for December. I have done so much and cannot really do more. Usually with egg yolks I scramble them for the dog or make curd. If the timing is different next year I could put it in the apple muffins. It's a thing to remember.
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[User Picture]From: timprov
2016-12-13 03:07 pm (UTC)
The 2007/8 links are broken.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-12-13 03:19 pm (UTC)
Should be fixed now.
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[User Picture]From: sartorias
2016-12-13 03:37 pm (UTC)
Lovely!

(Though extra egg to me is an excuse to make butterscotch custard)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-12-13 03:38 pm (UTC)
That sounds great but also perishable, and we have so many sweets here now.
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[User Picture]From: sartorias
2016-12-13 03:44 pm (UTC)
Ahah! (I make a serving for one, as no one else will eat it, and I love it warm when it's not too hot outside)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-12-13 03:47 pm (UTC)
Single-serving butterscotch custard! Now that sounds like a recipe worth having.
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[User Picture]From: sartorias
2016-12-13 03:54 pm (UTC)
So easy (it has to be easy as I am kitchen klutz, mixing up numbers and getting distracted and burning things). Take a cup of milk (or less or more, depending on how much you want to eat) and beat the egg into it until it's frothy. With a whisk it takes half a minute or so. Regarding roughly a heaping tablespoon of corn starch or similar in ratio to a cup of milk, add or diminish according to how much milk you want. Mix brown sugar of your choice (I use super dark made with molasses) into the corn starch first, then stir into the milk over low heat, keep stirring until it thickens. If you want it rich, add butter, and vanilla. Let it cool long enough for form a skin (I like that, anyway), select your book, plop the warm bowl on your tummy, and eat and read.

Edited at 2016-12-13 03:55 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-12-14 12:04 am (UTC)
I like the skin, too! Sounds awesome.
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[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2016-12-14 08:53 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful recipe. If you don't like the skin, place a circle of baking paper (technically called a cartouche) right onto the cooling custard.
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[User Picture]From: dichroic
2016-12-13 05:09 pm (UTC)
:-)

(It feels kind of trivial to leave just a smiley face as a comment on a well-thought-out essay, but sometimes "I was here and I like this" is exactly what you want to say.)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-12-14 12:05 am (UTC)
For all that Facebook gets wrong, I think the "like" button was actually a useful thing. Livejournal has one, but I have not found a way to see whether there's an indication of who likes my posts.
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[User Picture]From: dichroic
2016-12-14 12:24 am (UTC)
If you hover your mouse over the little heart on the post, it says who.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-12-14 12:26 am (UTC)
I do not see a little heart anywhere.
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[User Picture]From: dichroic
2016-12-14 12:29 am (UTC)
Weird. Can you see the one at the bottom of <a href="http://dichroic.livejournal.com/466563.html>this post</a>? It has a 1 next to it because one person liked it, and you can hover on the number to see the name. I don't see a heart on your post either, or any way to 'Like' it.

Edited at 2016-12-14 12:30 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-12-14 12:30 am (UTC)
Nope.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-12-14 12:27 am (UTC)
I also have not been able to find any method of placing a little heart on anyone else's post, so this may be a matter of what style/interface I am using.
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[User Picture]From: timprov
2016-12-14 04:10 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: pameladean
2016-12-13 09:28 pm (UTC)
You make me cry every single year, but the quality of the feeling is always different. Thank you. I am always glad to know of the lussekatter.

P.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-12-14 12:05 am (UTC)
I am generally not in favor of people who make the Pamela cry, but I suppose this sort of thing is an exception.
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[User Picture]From: athenais
2016-12-14 03:56 pm (UTC)
These posts mean a great deal to me. Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-12-14 03:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: saare_snowqueen
2016-12-14 08:50 pm (UTC)
That is utterly wonderful. I have to thank Lucy (athenais) for sending me here. Up here in the North Baltic, on an island just below Sweden, these last days before the sun reawakens are genuinely grey and demanding. It's good to be reminded of the rituals and tasks that have for centuries, kept us going until the sun rises bright and clear again. Thank you for your lovely essay.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-12-14 10:38 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it!
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[User Picture]From: ashnistrike
2016-12-18 03:19 am (UTC)
I think that quote's from Rabbi Hillel. It's from the Talmud in any case. (Hillel's a quote magnet nearly on the level of Mark Twain, so I may be wrong.) It's been on my mind, too.

Before apocalypse - chop wood, carry water. After apocalypse - chop wood, carry water.

-Nameseeker
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[User Picture]From: cissa
2016-12-27 05:58 am (UTC)
Thank you for this. It is timely and very meaningful.
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