There's only one problem.
My lussekatter dough didn't rise.
I suppose it was inevitable that this would happen sometime: every serious baker I know has sometime when their bread just went awry, and I haven't really had one. It was probably time. But the problem with investing small acts with joyful symbolic significance is that when your small act of hope falls flat, you're left struggling to wipe the symbolism off, quick, before it gets all over everything in the wrong places.
"We've got so many dark hours," said my mom on the phone this week. She was talking about life in Minnesota in December, waiting for the Solstice to come, waiting for Christmas, for Santa Lucia Day; waiting for anything, really, anything good, as long as it'll relieve the long hours of night. And we have an aunt in Arvada, my grandparents live in Omaha, and my friend's husband got robbed at gunpoint recently, and me, I fell and hit my head on the door jamb trying to sort the laundry. It is easy to spot the dark hours from here, and not all of them are coming at night.
But it's always easy, and lussekatter are not easy, and that's kind of the whole point. If we were languidly waving light and hope out of the darkness, it would be a whole different metaphor. An easy one. A false one. But sometimes the work of kicking the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight isn't the thing, either. Sometimes we have to be patient. Sometimes we have to be calm. And, heavens forfend, sometimes we have to be flexible.
I spent the day running errands, and the vertigo is no fun, and I am tired. I am not running to Byerly's to start lussekatter at 9:45, and therefore there will be no lussekatter first thing in the morning on Santa Lucia Day here at my house. Where there are supposed to be some. Where my tired and slightly wobbly self was perfectly prepared to use the last vestiges of energy to make them. No. There will be quiet, and there will be a perfectly ordinary breakfast, and the hope that I have manufactured for myself this year out of very expensive spices and apparently defective yeast is the hope that sometimes I will know when to redirect my energy. When it is time to have a quiet half-hour with my book instead, and check in on a friend who's hurting from a serious relationship that broke without much warning, and be gentle with myself and the world instead of fierce. I haven't given up on fierceness. But I also haven't given up on balance. Even with the vertigo. You have to walk pretty carefully with the candles on your head. Balance is part of the symbolism of this holiday, too. And this year, it'll do.