Today marks the begining of the traditional "Twelve Days Of Christmas". There was a letter to the editor in this morning’s FORUM from Barbara Glasrud, who gently chided some FORUM writers for saying in previous articles that the Twelve Days of Christmas happen BEFORE Christmas. She said they do not, and she is right. "Twelve Days" begins today and goes until January 6 (Epiphany Day) Barbara Glasrud and I must have grown up in the same sort of home when we were young….my Dad’s family always observed and truly celebrated the Twelve Days of Christmas when my Dad was a young boy in the early to middle 1900′s. It was one of his most memorable times and he told us about how his family and the neighboring families would all stop all work on their farms on Christmas Eve, giving their animals extra food and extra grain on Dec. 24, leave food and milk for the "Nisse" (which would be consumed by the barn cats and the mice) and then begin the joyful time of the Twelve Days of Christmas. On these 12 days only the milking and feeding of animals would be done. It meant going to a different neighbor’s home for each of the 12 days and taking their own turn hosting all the others at their farm. Everyone would bring food each day, the feasting was lavish ..for rural people..all of it homemade, special and very tasty! I am sure there were special holiday foods and baking that each mother in each family specialized in making and everyone waited for that time of the year when they could all get together, visit, play, sing Christmas songs, probably have a small home-worship time. My Dad said he had so much fun playing with all the friends that lived close but they only saw each other at the country school since each child, when they would go home from school, had many jobs to do to help out in their respective households..both indoors and outdoors. Kids knew how to do honest work in that generation…it was expected of them. I am sure that on the Twelve Days, the kids in the families went all-out playing in the snow, skiing on home-made skis, sliding down snowy hills, skating on the frozen lakes and ponds and all of them shouting and laughing—in the Norwegian language that they all spoke at home. It was the "Blow-out" time of family gatherings and neighborly visits, all crammed into the marvelous Twelve Days….the rest of the year was spent in hard daily work and plain food, much of it based on what they produced on their farms. My dad’s family had "mush" made from milk twice a day on the ordinary days…hot for supper and cold with syrup for breakfast, accompanied by much home-made bread and farm-churned butter. It would have been washed down with more milk and a lot of very strong coffee! Not the sort of food today’s "food police’ would approve!!! It is amazing that many of that generation were healthy, hardy, and lived into extreme old age. It is definitely not the food you eat, as far as I can tell—it must have a lot to do with high activity level gained by the hard physical work done in those time. I have plans afoot to celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas also; there will be an extended family gathering with some traditional foods we ate in our years at home and are still loved by my sister and me and our families….potato dumplings, rice dishes like pudding and "glorified rice", traditional "rommegrot" …a milk and cream pudding served with melted butter and cinnamon (I called it "slip-go-down" as a child) and other extremely "white food". There will be lefse and sugar cookies (all white). There will have to be fruitcake but that is not white so we will have to ignore the color of it! I said to my Sis on the phone yesterday that we should have some vegetables but what? "Creamed Cauliflower" was her instant answer! Now if we can only think up a "white" salad…anybody know where you can buy "white lettuce? The Food Police will have a fit if they find out about this meal we are planning. There are going to be trans-fats all over the place. If I survive the meal, I can tell about it later!!!