December 2003: I learn the art of making lussekatter (saffron pastries) from Swedes. It's part of the celebration of Luciadagen, which becomes my favorite Swedish holiday. I think to myself, "Self! Wouldn't it be fun to make this a tradition at home?"
December 2004 and 2005: I spend hours in the kitchen trying to replicate the joyful baking moments of yesteryear. I end up with mediocre imitations of the lussekatter. I'm never quite sure what to do with them once they're baked, because they're um... sort of an acquired taste situation. I discover that saffron is really expensive in this country. Still, I feel all warm and happy inside because, come on, it's Lucia Day.
December 2006: Utter failure. Shay wonders if we accidentally dumped concrete mix into the dough at some point? We keep the buns long enough to photograph them and send pictures to Swedish friends so that they can laugh with us. Then we dump most of them hastily into the trash. The rest we use throughout the year as paperweights, doorstops, and projectile missiles.
December 2007: After years of trial and error, I finally get it right. I revel in the beauty of my lussekatter and am actually brave enough to deliver them to friends, in the true spirit of Lucia.
December 2008: I manage to keep tradition alive with the help of Pillsbury. The cheap imitations taste nothing like lussekatter, but you do get to smother them with sugary icing. Also preparation took me five minutes.
Happy Lucia Day to you! Thanks Pillsbury!