Merry Christmas from our families to yours!!
Celebrating Christmas is a special event for many people that includes traditions.
Do you ever wonder what other people do?
There have only been a couple of times in my life that I didn’t spend Christmas with my family. I have to admit, even though we can be corny and there can be drama at times, I love Christmas with my family!
Here’s a look at what we do for Christmas including some of our traditions. We all get together and also celebrate my mother’s birthday. It usually goes something like this…the whole family arrives at my parents house sometime in the early to mid afternoon.
It’s like entering a winter wonderland with Christmas decorations on steroids, but in a really beautiful way. Sometime when we were kids, they started setting up multiple trees and now after many years of collecting ornaments, they set up 7 trees and many other lovely Christmas decorations! My nephews can’t wait to visit grandma’s and grandpa’s house and see the magic! With the nice weather, some of these trees are outside on the patio. We are very fortunate to use our outdoor patios as additional living space here in Arizona.
If last minute presents need to be wrapped, we take turns in the garage using the collection of wrapping paper and bows saved from years past. One particularly “funny-to-us” tradition is seeing if there is still the leftover red paper with green and white carolers from when we were kids. My folks bought a GIANT roll of wrapping paper when we were really young and it has been the butt of many Christmas jokes that we still have some. But it has also become a beloved Christmas tradition whether intended or not.
My mom’s birthday is celebrated during the afternoon where we give her presents, read the hilarious collection of birthday cards she receives and maybe have some birthday cake and sing “happy birthday”. “Mom’s birthday time” usually involves music, dancing, and perhaps a game of Farkle. We carry on until “Church time”.
Then around 4:30 or 5:30 depending on the time of services, those who are interested, attend a local Church service. And those who stay home, prepare the food. Or, they stick around and take time to enjoy a drink or drinks and simply chill out and talk.
When everyone is back together again, we start the feast. This changes some years between casual and formal, but there is always a huge spread of food. There are some foods that have become part of the tradition. My parents make mini-pizzas on rye toast with hamburger and cheese topping, Swedish meatballs, miniature hot dogs or weenies with pineapple, shrimp dip, cucumber dip, and fresh veggies and chips. When we were growing up, they made all sorts of cookies, candies, and snacks for the company that would come over. One of my sisters has taken on some of that food tradition. She makes divinity (a super-charged sweet candy in white or pastel colors), Chex-mex party mix, fudge (female version without nuts and male version with nuts), and pretzels dipped in almond bark.
We come from Norwegian ancestry and I was the fortunate grandchild that learned directly from my grandma how to prepare lefse. This has been part of our traditional holiday food for as long as I can remember. Lefse is made from potatoes, flour, and a little butter, salt, and sugar. It is made into dough and rolled using a special rolling pin into paper thin giant round pieces. Then using a special lefse turner stick, it is gently rolled out onto a 500 degree round pan. It’s a quite a process to make and luckily my KitchenAid stand mixer and my husband are around to help make it faster. When we eat lefse, we spread butter over it, then sprinkle it with sugar, and roll it into a tube.
Once the feasting is over, some of us will help with dishes while the others attend to the kids and maybe play games. When dishes are done, my mom often plays Christmas music on the piano. She is extremely talented and it is like attending a private concert.
When the kids start snooping around their gifts, we sense the patience is ending and proceed to gift giving. This is such fun to watch the kids open their gifts! We try to have one at a time openings so everyone can see who got what, but it is not always a smooth process. In fact, other than the piles that are made for the individual treasures, it is chaotic.
Once the kids have settled down and its time for bed. The adults gear up for their tradition. Since we were either in high school or first years of college, my dad started a game with us that has become at least for us kids, our most cherished family Christmas tradition. We call it the riddle game. Dad makes up riddles for us to solve and the answers to them are represented by something in the house. It sounds simple, but actually can be quite challenging as this has been known to take 2-3 hours to get through the game. No matter what, we always end up laughing – all of us!
This year I get to experience a new tradition with my husband’s family. His ancestry is part Italian. So, we will be enjoying a feast of seven different fish dishes on Christmas Day. I’m really looking forward to it!
Enjoy your Christmas time and traditions with your families, friends, and loved ones! I’d love to hear about your Christmas traditions. Please share below.
Until next time…Live, Love, Learn, and Matter.