If Jesus marched in the band, would he be cool with the tubas? Would he get so wild and excited the oompahs coming out of that deep brass section that he’d agree to direct an entire ensemble of tubas knocking out enormous noise and joyful Christmas music in a chapel? Why, yes. Yes, I believe Jesus would.
A Tuba Christmas is one of those oddities so unique and wonderful that we just had to check it out. We attended Tuba Christmas at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota on Saturday, and we were blown away. Imagine fifty-plus tubas in all their splendid shapes and sizes gathered in one venue belting out (er… bleching out?) everything from “Silent Night” and “Jingle Bells” to “Fum Fum Fum” (the later which certainly must have been written with tubas in mind. A tuba-friendly carol if ever there was one.). Fellow band geeks and general music enthusiasts out there, this is a can’t-miss event. Finally some respect for our spit-valving friends.
After the tuba jubilee we headed to St. Olaf’s Scandinavian Buffet (a.k.a. smörgåsbord). We arrived early enough to immediately snag seats (by the time we left, the line to enter was hundreds deep and guests waited upwards of an hour to enter the dining room). While our companions ditched smörgåsbord etiquette and went straight for the meatballs and ham, T and I found ourselves among other gravlax, herring, and mackerel lovers at the fish table. Almost as good as the silky cured salmon were the delicate and lacy lefse slips. I took more than my fair share of both the salmon and the lefse.
Being a Swedish meatball snob I wasn’t overwhelmed with the Norwegian rendition, but I was pleased to partake in the lutfisk (perhaps I should honor the Norwegians who provided our feast and use their spelling: lutefisk). T had his first taste of the gelatinous lye-soaked delicacy, and promised to take two bites next year.
While I wasn’t completely won over by the meatballs and stuffed pork roast, the dessert tables more than made up for my Swedish snoot. We chose from infinite arrangements of pies, cakes, cookies, rice pudding, fruit pudding, and rømmegrøt. If you are ever invited to a Norwegian’s holiday celebration, don’t snub your nose when rømmegrøt is offered. I’ve spent enough delicious Christmas Eves with Norwegian friends to appreciate their cream porridge and the love that goes into slowly stirring the cream and wheat over low heat until the butter separates. Add a bit of cinnamon sugar and settle in for a long and happy night.
We drove away from St. Olaf singing along with Christmas carols on the radio, and I remembered why I never eat a full bowl of rømmegrøt. It sits in the eater’s tummy, expanding and reminding us to be grateful that we are only this well-fed once each year.
Today my ears are still warm and slightly buzzing, my tummy is still a little bloated, and I cannot wait to return to St. Olaf’s Tuba Christmas and Scandinavian Buffet next December.