Holiday Memory: Gullan’s Glögg

Written by Braiden Rex-Johnson on December 23, 2013

Every year, as a tribute to my dear mother, Julia Looper Rex, I republish this blog post that first appeared on the Five More Minutes With website in 2011. It always makes me smile as I recount this beloved holiday memory of Mom. I hope you will enjoy it, too!

And if you are interested in making Glögg at home, here’s a video from New York City’s legendary Aquavit Restaurant. Looks pretty yummy!

A Holiday Memory of Mom

When I was a child, one of my mother’s dearest friends hailed from Sweden. Desperately homesick and longing for her country’s unique holiday traditions, each year around Thanksgiving Gullan would show up on our doorstep with a batch of homemade pepparkakar (pepper cookies) and a bottle of Glögg.

Our family soon learned that Glögg is a popular winter-time beverage in Sweden, made from an intriguing mix of what seemed to us (at least during the innocent days of the 1960s) some pretty exotic ingredients: red wine, Aquavit, Madeira, whole cardamom, cinnamon sticks, candied orange peel, raisins, and blanched almonds.

My mother, a dyed-in-the-wool teetotaler at the time, looked askance at the annual bottle of Glögg. But, in deference to her friend’s beloved homeland, she took a few tentative sips of the warm, sweet wine punch. And then a few more.

As I remember things, Mom always got a bit tipsy while my father enjoyed his cup of holiday cheer along with Mom’s merry mood.

Gullan’s husband was transferred back to Europe and Mom passed on seven years ago, but my mind often wanders back to those simpler, more innocent days and the warm, soothing drinks of winter like hot chocolate, hot toddies, and, of course, Gullan’s Glögg.

More stories from: Featured Story,With My Mom

Memory of Mom: Things I Want To Tell My Mother

Written by Marylin Naomi (Shepherd) Warner on May 11, 2012

Marylin Naomi (Shepherd) Warner is a writing coach, editor, and freelance writer who keeps a blog entitled,  “Things I Want To Tell My Mother,” in order to help her mother–Mary Elizabeth (Hoover) Shepherd–with her Alzheimer’s Disease.

What an inspiring idea, Marylin! Thanks for your submission to our Memory of Mom (MoM) contest. 

My mother is 93, losing her memories in bits and pieces as her dementia advances.

I made her a promise three years ago when my father died, that each month I would drive from Colorado to southeastern Kansas (1,300 miles round trip) and stay a few days with her in her assisted living facility.

During those 32 monthly visits, we have shared driving adventures to her favorite places, and taken friends who’ve been part of her life for years out for meals or coffee.

During the years, though, Mom’s memories became more and more lost in a haze.

I was with her each month, but also losing more of her each month.

So what I did was create a blog, “Things I Want To Tell My Mother,” so I record stories (with pictures) of the big and small events of Mom’s life, the simple and the significant, the poignant and the funny.

This blog will be the “five more minutes” of Mom’s connection with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and they will know the woman she once was.

When a blog post touches them or triggers a memory, they leave a comment with more details, and the ongoing living story takes hold.

Now when I visit each month and read aloud a few entries and show her pictures, Mom will smile and say, “What an amazing lady your friend must be.”

She’s right. My friend–my mother–was and still is an amazing lady.

And even though she will forget, we will remember.

Nothing Left to Say. . .

Written by Carole Cancler on November 3, 2011

 Many of us have issues with our mothers. . .here fellow food professional and friend Carole Cancler describes her strained relationship with her mom. Carole told me that writing this story for Five More Minutes With did more for her in helping her release her pent-up feelings than years of therapy. Thanks for sharing, Carole!

Carole's Mom

I remember as a young girl going to the Tea Room at Frederick & Nelson with my mother and enjoying a Crab Louie with Russian dressing. We bought new dresses and hats for Easter service. I felt very grown-up and very special. I don’t recall feeling that special ever again.

A couple of years later, I found my mother alone and crying in the living room. I asked what was wrong. She said that no one loved her. In a small, meek voice, I stated that I loved her. She answered in an angry retort, “No, you don’t! Nobody does.”

I never seemed able to please her—each time I tried, I failed. I always seemed to do the wrong thing, in the wrong way, or at the wrong time. No boy I dated in high school was good enough. When my first husband left me, she reminded me, she often did that I had always been “a brat”. When I remarried 10 years later, she said that I was just plain stupid; she did not come to the wedding and did not speak to me for two years.

I tried to find common ground, be it developing an interest in things that she enjoyed (like opera, gardening, and bridge—none of which I do today). Each time I came up short. When I suggested we play bridge, she responded, “Why would I want to do that?”

We simply never bonded. In the 51 years we had together, we did not have even one “mother-daughter” talk. We didn’t share clothes or makeup secrets. She gave me no guidance in handling boys (or men). In the most vivid and frequent memories that I have of her, she is angry. During one angry exchange, I asked her if she could remember one time when we bonded. I did not receive an answer.

As a young girl lunching in the Tea Room, I saw her as an energetic, exciting, and glamorous woman. I very much wanted to be like her. As I grew up and began to make myself in this image, I also began to see her lack of confidence, a need that no amount of reassurance could assuage. At these times she would erupt in anger—anger that I’ve learned is the fear of failure, of being unloved. Yet, there were miniscule moments when some small gesture on my part was met with silence and I knew she felt love after all, love that she could only express with silence, never with a hug or conversation.

Still, I managed to build a successful life with dual careers, a loving husband, and a happy home life.

On what was to be her last birthday, knowing her cancer would soon take her, I gave her a card in which I thanked her for the qualities that I posses that have brought me the most success and happiness. Despite all indications, she must have had something to do with them. They came from somewhere. While I take full credit for my hard work, it seemed appropriate to look past her anger and silence, and simply thank her for the successful qualities we seem to share—my love of travel and adventure, a tenacious and determined nature, and the joy I find in life around good food shared with friends.

If I had five more minutes with my mother, there would be nothing left to say. She read the card. And she was silent.

More stories from: Featured Story,With My Mom

Our First Lost Love Memory Contest Entry

Written by Misty on January 24, 2011

I lost my mother in Oct 2009.

She went to sleep and never woke back up.

She was my very best friend. We talked to each other on a daily basis.

I really miss hearing her voice, and my three children really miss their “Meme.”