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For some odd reason, I’m more excited about Christmas this year. I can’t figure out why. I’m as busy as I usually am. In the past, I have to give myself a pep talk, saying, “It’s almost over and you can do this. And, Christmas is fun!”

This year, I’m caught off guard when I hear Christmas carols in stores or when someone wishes me a Merry Christmas or tells me to have a Happy New Year. My heart swells and I’m filled with gratitude. Maybe, I was a Grinch or a Scrooge without even knowing it.  I hope no one noticed. 

Day to day living and trying to raise a family and/or work is hard enough. Then, add all the added pressure of finding the perfect gift for everyone you love, entertaining with the relatives, and baking massive amounts put one over the edge.

This year I’ve been baking for other people and selling cookies. I guess it’s my way of giving back for all the years I didn’t have the energy myself. There is nothing wrong with buying premade treats and goodies for the holidays or letting someone else do the baking for you.

There are some easy ways to serve store-bought products and make them appealing. Cheeseboards and dessert trays are easy to make, and everyone likes them. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or tired this year, be kind to yourself. It will get better. And, maybe some year, you’ll even enjoy it. 


There are at least a thousand different ways to make a cheeseboard. I like the Koldtbord Scandinavian tradition. It’s a smorgasbord of only cold foods that are put on a table and guests serve themselves. Ask everyone to bring something. That makes it fun for everyone and simple for you.

How to make and serve a Scandinavian Koldtbord:

Breads: Prepare a basket of crackers and breads. Have an assortment of various grains. Rye bread and crunchy crackers are traditional options, but lefsa and dinner rolls work well, too. 

Cheese: Choose your favorite cheeses. Have a variety of hard and soft and sharp and mild. Buying locally made cheese will give you something interesting to tell your family about.

Meat and proteins: Summer sausage or spreadable meat like Braunschweiger pairs well with cheese and bread, but don’t stop there. Most traditional Koldtbords also have smoked fish and hard-boiled eggs.  

Vegetables: Pickled veggies are the perfect addition to the heavier meats and cheeses. The vinegar helps cut through the fats and cleanses your mouth, getting you ready for the next bite. Spicy radishes and sauerkraut are also interesting additions.

Condiments: Mustards and horseradish add a little zip. Cranberry chutney or apple butter is an easy way to balance out the saltiness. Plain and simple butter is also a nice spread to include. 

Lisa Erickson is a food columnist who loves adventure and food. You can find more recipes at or email her at

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