New Traditions



When we made our purchases at the bird store the other day, we were handed a small packet of bird seed mix with our receipt. The young lady said, “Put these out on Christmas morning and good things will happen in the new year.” I had not heard of this tradition, and was a bit skeptical that it was just a ploy to make you go back and say, “Wow! That seed really worked! I need to buy a big bag of it from you. Is it a special mix?” My cynicism has been dispelled however, since the internet is full of information testifying to this tradition in Sweden.

I’m starting a few new traditions this year. The bird seed is one, and the new vegan gingerbread cake recipe that I found on Facebook last week. It has already been baked twice and it will be firmly lodged in our Christmas Customs from now on.

Next up? Danish aebleskiver for breakfast after we get back from singing at the Christmas Day mass. We usually fry up some fruitcake, but there was none to be had in the shops the other day! It will have to be our New Year’s Day special now.

Have a wonderful December 25th!

Scatter seed to feed
the wild birds on Christmas Day—
Swedes say it brings luck.

Kathleen Mortensen © 2016


O Christmas Tree!*



I can get a little crazy when it comes to preservation of the wildlife in my backyard. I am determined to have a heated birdbath on the deck by Christmas and right now, the variety of food out there includes: sunflower seed (shelled and unshelled) finch mix, torn bread crusts, walnuts in the shell, peanuts in the shell and a few organic carrots for the as-yet-unseen rabbits who leave their scat and tracks all over the yard.

One of the wackiest things I’ve ever done, was to drag a neighbour’s Christmas tree from the edge of their drive where it was awaiting pickup post-festivities, and lay it out in my own backyard at the townhouse where we lived nearly 20 years ago.  It served as shelter for not only birds, but also chipmunks, squirrels and even a family of mice!

This year, I was set on having a tree on the deck to provide a bit of shelter for the small birds who visit every day.  We have an artificial tree indoors because we have cats and the tree needs to be portable. Right now, it’s sitting on my dryer, awaiting its time of glory on Christmas Eve, where it will have a place of prominence by my great room window. With our cats, it’s always best to get the tree out of the way before you go to bed.

The price of real trees is rather steep! We shopped around for a small tree and finally found one being sold by a local charity in the empty garden centre of our local Walmart.  I offered $20 for it and that was accepted.  The tree fit in the back of our Toyota Scion, so it was ideal.

We celebrated an early Christmas with my husband’s side of the family because my husband and I are busy with rehearsals and preparations for singing over Christmas with our church choir.  Both my husband and I have senior parents in their 80s (my mother lives with us), and so it was good timing for all of us to get together on the 10th of December.  The lighted tree on our deck added to the convivial Christmas spirit of the day.

My neighbours have no notion of it, but I will be keeping an eye on who puts out their real tree after December 25th.  I plan on shifting the small tree to another spot (perhaps below my window) and replacing it with a full sized “donated” tree to live out the winter as shelter for all of my winter garden residents. There will be photos!

Thanks for reading,


*O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, wie treu sind deine Blaeter!
(old German folk tune by Ernst Anschütz, 1824)

(translation: O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, you stand in verdant beauty)