Norman Rockwell Moment

The e-cards I sent this year included an audio file of a child singing “Silent Night.” That has always been my favorite Christmas carol. I love the simple melody and lyrics, and it reminds me of my own childhood when I played the spinet on Christmas Eve and my German father and aunt loudly sang Silent Night and few other carols in their native German. I picture it now as my family’s own Norman Rockwell moment.


Dessert at Christmas Eve dinner was the Christmas stollen plus German cookies – pfeffernusse and springerle. Pfeffernusse are a gingerbread type spice cookie, springerle are anise flavored. One could not cut into the stollen until Christmas Eve or else you would have bad luck. Mom used her Czech recipe for stollen, but the result worked for both sides of the family.

My mother was born in Nebraska to Czech parents, so Christmas in my house was a two-day affair. Christmas Eve was German night; Christmas Day was American/Czech day with my mother’s side of the family.

Medvedi tlapcicky

Roast goose and dumplings for a Christmas afternoon dinner, more stollen, and Czech Christmas cookies – vanilla crescents and medvedi tlapicky or “bear paws” because they are baked in individual molds or a madeleine pan to look like paws. They are a savory chocolate cookie. Good old American chocolate chip Toll House cookies were also there.

This story dates back to the 1920s. That’s well before my time, but I think you’ll enjoy it: The Real Flying Santa.



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