A hodgepodge life of tomte and trolls

As REO Speedwagon once sang, "My life has been such a whirlwind since I saw you." So true for us all these days as we are too busy to slow down and reconnect. My excuse for neglecting this little two-readers blog is that I am in the panic and crush of a book deadline: busy rolling out dough, tasting new flavors (Dopp i gryta! Eight different meatball mixes! Lard laden cookies!), and searching for lutfisk lovers. It's a dazzling time and tomte has been my constant companion. In fact, he was my date at a recent speaking gig (that's him above, admiring a Christmas tree).

Last week I met some Jolly Trolls. They live in Carole Jean Anderson's storage room in Minneapolis.(Carole Jean is the Jolly Troll heiress. Her parents founded the popular restaurant that housed the trolls.) It felt like my whole life led up to the moment when Carole Jean unlocked the storage, turned on the light, and introduced me to a dozen little men (and one woman) who continue working on the same chores I remember them doing forty-five years ago. There are little men slicing rye, stirring stew pots, and sawing tree limbs. The Jolly Trolls live in a time forgotten by so many of us; a time when families rarely went out to eat, but when we did it was an experience.

In Swedish lore, tomte hangs out in our homes and barns; sometimes a protector, sometimes a mischievous trickster. Feed him enough delicious rice pudding on Christmas Eve and he'll gladly help out until the next bowl of porridge. We've never needed their service more than we do now. I'm knee deep in rice pudding recipe testing, and all the while imagining fate unlocking the doors to many rooms full of tomtar (plural) and trolls, eager to accomplish their tasks and help out humanity.

The event of the past few months remind me to appreciate the good that I see, whether large or small. We will combat the gross and depraved among us by becoming warriors of truth and justice. A majority of the people I talk to are already embracing this moment. Together we are stronger. And it doesn't hurt to leave a little rice pudding out.



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