Wednesday, December 2, 2020
When I woke up in the morning, I was excited for my adventure. I was going to explore
the attic behind the closed door. I knew I would need a flashlight, so I rushed downstairs
to find one. I have always been a morning person, but on this Christmas Eve I had risen
exceptionally early. There in the kitchen I found my grandmother Alice. She was working
on several different food projects for the family Christmas Eve dinner. She immediately
took an interest in me and showed me what she was doing. I quickly forgot about the
On the stove was a kettle that looked very different from anything I had ever seen.
Grandma explained to me that it was a double-boiler. There was water in the bottom
section of the pot. In the top section she was preparing to put several cups of whole
rice along with a couple of quarts of heavy cream. The rice would simmer in the cream
all day, heated by the steam from the boiling water below. She was making the
Gabrielson traditional Norwegian Yulegret. Now I have looked all over the internet and I
cannot find that word anywhere, but that’s what grandma called it. I remember my
Uncle Al calling it “You’ll regret.” My first taste of it would come that evening.
On the kitchen island counter there were three large lumps of bread dough; two white
and one wheat. As I would soon learn, grandma made the BEST bread ever. One white
loaf would be special. It would be the Gabrielson tradition Norwegian Yulekaka, a fruit
bread with powdered sugar frosting. It would be eaten with the Yulegret. I stood for
what seemed like hours watching grandma knead those lumps of dough over and over
and over. My mom told me many years later that the secret to grandma’s bread was in
how long she kneaded it.
The third item on the counter by the sink was a large beef roast for lunch. It was in the
final preparation stage for the oven. Grandma took a break from kneading and
grabbed a sharp knife. She sliced off a thin piece of the seasoned meat and handed it
to me. She explained that this was her tradition. Everything else she did was for the
Gabrielson Norwegians. Grandma was a Meinke, straight from Germany, and she
taught me to enjoy raw beef.
Soon there were others in the kitchen demanding breakfast. I felt I had already had
mine, consisting of raw bread dough and raw beef. My grandma looked at me with a
stern look, and I knew immediately I was not to talk about what we had eaten. It was
our secret. She then winked at me and told me how much she enjoyed my company.
So while grandma kneaded bread, she showed me how much she needed me. I
cherish those memories of great food. But what I cherish most is time I spent with her. I
felt valued, not because she gave me treats, but because she gave me herself.
Without even knowing it (or maybe she did) she laid a foundation in my life that my
value does not come from the treats God gives me, but from giving me Himself. It is my
relationship with Jesus that qualifies me as an eternal child of God.
Grandma is with Jesus today. I wish I could tell her thank-you for raw beef, raw bread
dough, and cream-boiled rice. But I would thank her most for showing Jesus to me by
giving her attention to a six-year old boy.