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ART DIRECTION HEIDI THORSON PHOTOGRAPHY DANIEL JOHNSON STYLING MARK AND MIKAL ECKSTROM, DAN HAMMOND, ANN ETIENNE

With parents of Swedish and Norwegian ancestry, Omahan Mark Eckstrom has always known a Christmas derived heavily from Scandinavian traditions. He reminisces about his favorites here, inspiring a visual smorgasbord that celebrates holiday traditions everywhere. STORY CHRIS CHRISTEN AS TOLD BY MARK ECKSTROM

I

n the Christmases of my youth, decorations in our family’s home always mixed past and present. Woven wheat garlands and fresh evergreen boughs in centerpieces and wreaths made for a wonderfully intoxicating coniferous aroma in every room. Swedish dala horses, wheat yule goats and orange pomanders were staples on tabletops. The mantel, though, was less traditional and reflected the latest decorating trends. I still reserve the hearth in my own home for creative play. Then, as now, heritage foods dominated the menu. Revered dishes included potato sausage (ordered weeks ahead from Stoysich House of Sausage in Omaha) and homemade lefse. My grandmother rolled out the thin dough and deftly flipped it on the griddle with her lefse stick, making the task look incredibly easy. My mom and aunts, though, never could master the art of the flip and ordered Mrs. Olson’s Potato Lefse online instead. Not to be cliché … but the smorgasbord truly was a gastronomical delight. Old and young alike got their fill of Swedish meatballs, Lingonberry Jam (Aunt Helga and Uncle Rueben pronounced it “yam” in their Swedish accents), Swedish rye bread, pickled beets, Janssons Temptation (a potato and anchovy casserole), Swedish brown beans (made with salt pork, cinnamon sticks and allspice which took all day to cook) and cookies – Pepperkakers (my favorites), along with Swedish butter and almond cookies. (continued on page 51)

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inspiredlivingomaha.com  47

Inspired Living Omaha  

November/December 2015 issue of Omaha's leading home and lifestyle publication.

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