20 November 2009

Merry Expensive Christmas

The annual Christmas Bazaar at Manhattan Swedish Seamans Church, on 48th Street near Fifth, will take place today, tomorrow and Sunday. If you need Swedish licorice, St. Lucia dolls, straw reindeers, brightly colored wooden candle holders or tickets to the Dec. 13 St. Lucia service and concert, here's the place to go.

I paid a quick visit this afternoon. I used to attend this event every year when I worked in the area. It was an enjoyably ethnic holiday tradition (most people there speak Swedish) that reminded my of my Midwestern upbringing. I particularly liked the homemade Swedish meatball lunches you could buy in the basement. You just don't expect to find church basement buffets in midtown Manhattan. It was so surreally homey.

I was a bit disappointed this year, however, because the prices have skyrocketed. Candy was $3. Candles were $5. Pastries were $8. In the basement, a meatball plate I remember buying for $8 or so a few years back was a whopping $20! For a few meatballs, a lump of mashed potatoes and a dinky piece of salmon. It must have something to do with the exchange rate, since most of the craft products on sale are brought in from Sweden. But you certainly don't need to go overseas to get the ingredients for Swedish meatballs. And if the salmon is so expensive, don't include it.

I left not having bought anything, which made me sad. I would have liked to have supported the church, but I could have bought a better lunch for less money at Aquavit.

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