As anyone who reads this blog knows I love to create things and chronicle them. From food to crafts to travel to homemaking I tend to do it all…. I love art and I love crafts and I adore cultural traditional arts and crafts and I really enjoy writing about my experiences with them in addition to writing about my own goings on. Some years ago, a friend of mine, Gunn, in Norway, sent me the most beautiful little nutcracker. Soon as I saw it I was in love. It has an adorable little red cap and of course a long beard. It is carved from a piece of wood. Completely beautiful. The detail is exquisite. He is just divine. My friend, who also flew from Norway, to Boston for my wedding some years back, told me that it was made by hand by her grandfather who had been a goat farmer in the Norwegian countryside.
Anders Åsen, the father of eight lived on Åsen farm in Norway. He was according my friend, a quiet man who loved his family and farming very much. When not working the farm he enjoyed walking in the Norwegian mountains and playing his accordion. His favorite time to play was when he had an audience especially one that would dance to his music. And in the quiet hours of what I imagine to be evening in the summer outside on the porch or by the fireside in winter, he would sit carving wood making little animal figurines and little nutcracker nisse (elves in Norwegian) like the beautiful one my friend gifted to me. Though the making of these Nisse nutcrackers was just a hobby in his old age, for a time in his younger years the artistic carvings that he did were a bit more for him than that. He used to make them for months and months then box them and send them down to the south of Norway where they would be sold.
Not so very long after the one that he made for me, he passed away. He and his work were and remain much loved. The Christmas nisse nutcrackers he made by hand have traveled… All over the world. The one with me has been just about everywhere over the last few years and at the present it makes it’s home as far from Norway as Boston Massachusetts. I cherish this little nutcracker and I wonder what Anders Åsen, would make of how far it has traveled. I hope it would make him proud. I hope too that it would thrill his heart to know just how much I treasure this little nisse, it simply isn’t Christmas time till I have brought him out and placed him in a position of honor. This year he sits presiding over my glogi glasses and as of tomorrow he will have his very own little bowl of nuts. Not only did Anders Åsen, produce and leave an amazing legacy of beautiful wooden art, his eight kids produced at least a couple really wonderful children who I am so very happy to call my friends. Merry Christmas Norway, and to all my Norwegian friends especially! Elsker fra Boston!