Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Traditions

I love the traditions my family had growing up. I love hearing about traditions of other families, cultures, etc. So if you would like to share some of your favorites, I would love to hear them. I would love to get some ideas to implement for my little budding family next Christmas when Evan and I will have our first Christmas at home with our 8+ month little girl:)

Some traditions in my home growing up:(My mother is from Denmark so some of them are based from there)

Christmas Eve
We would start out with a yummy dinner, sometimes with friends from Church or the neighborhood to share with:

Clam Chowder (the best ever!!!)
Pumpernickel and Rye bread with liver-paste
Olives and pickles
Yummy Punch

Then we would clean up and meet in the Family Room to read the Christmas story from the scriptures. (My dad and mom would be very emotional while it was read) Our beautiful tree would be next to us, and we could admire the beautiful decorations. We would follow that with Christmas songs. Every year we drew a name of a sibling, and on Christmas Eve we would exchange that gift. We usually had a $5-$10 limit, since the kids were buying the gifts with their own money. We would sometimes have a gift for our parents too.

Then we returned to the dining table to have our dessert, which was a game with Danish Almond Rice Pudding. The pudding was made into a creamy pudding, that we sometimes added a strawberry or raspberry sauce to. It had many blanched, chopped almonds mixed through the bowl. Then, with everyone sitting at the table, my mother would show the desired WHOLE almond and mix it in the bowl. Starting youngest to oldest, the bowl was passed around and we could only take one scoop to place in our bowl. When my mother said go, we all ate as fast as we could trying to find the almond, and careful not to bite into it. If you finished your bowl, you could get another scoop in hopes of finding the almond. Many years, my dad would get it, keep it in his mouth and then sneak it into one of the younger kids bowls. Some of the family would hold it in their mouth the entire game to trick us, until the rice pudding was gone and we all wondered who had it. Now that our family has many grandchildren added, my mother will sometimes do 3-4 almonds. Whoever finds the almond gets the "almond gift" which is a small toy or candy. I LOVE THAT TRADITION!!

We usually have ongoing puzzles, dominoes, scrabble or some fun game to play, and we just hang out the rest of the night. After we all go to bed, Santa comes out to put presents under the tree. All kids know they HAVE to stay in bed for the rest of the night.

Christmas Day
Our rule is that you may open your stockings, but not your presents. So that way, those who want to sleep in can, and others won't be wishing they had more sleep, like Santa and Mrs. Claus. You also could not wake anyone up..we didn't want any grumpy kids on Christmas Day:)

My mother had Grapefruit, scrambled eggs and Julekage(pronounced Yulcah) for breakfast. It was the best!!!! I guess it depended on the year, whether we ate first or opened presents first, or when you woke up. The Julekage was the best! It is like a flat cinnamon roll, made with cardamom(a spice similar to cinnamon) and we would slice it up, broil it and spread butter on them...YUM YUM!!!

Once the whole family was together we would open presents. We would take a picture of each person opening gifts, and we did it one person at a time so we could all enjoy the time together. I like that rather than everyone just opening and finishing in 5 minutes. We would hug the person it came from and it was fun seeing what everyone got. I loved to see Mom and Dad open presents, they would get very emotional.

I rememeber a few gifts from childhood. Link bracelets, a pink and purple tape player, my own bag of HUGS candy, Levi jeans and some shirts, books, cabbage patch dolls, my little ponies, a watch, I am sure a lot more, I just can't remember right now(I guess I can blame the pregnancy:)) Some years growing up in South Texas, we would all get an envelope with money and then we would make a day out of going to Mexico or the Ropa Usadas(used clothing stores) to spend our money, I think it was usually $10 -$20. I loved spending those days with my family!!! While we only got one or two presents, it seemed like the best thing ever!!! I remember one year in Logan, Utah, I was younger than 6 years old, and we just did not have money at all, and a man from the ward came dressed as Santa, and delivered BAGS of gifts for our family..what a sweet thing. I was too young to know what was happening, but it was truly a very charitbale thing done for my family.

After present opening, we all cleaned up, showered, played together or with our gifts, and hung out. Our turkey would be cooking in the oven all day long, and we would have our Christmas meal, which resembled Thanksgiving.

mashed potatoes
cranberry salad
green bean casserole
yummy punch
and other sides

My mom is one of the best cooks I know!!! She would also have danish cookies made up for all to snack on, and some years we would go carroling and deliver cookies to friends.

I remember some years, where we just didn't have money at all for Christams, and our hometeacher would bring us a Christmas tree, and we would magically have a present for each of us. Some years my parents would ask us if we would like to have presents or get presents for other families in need. Those were some of my favorite Christmases. I am pretty sure my parents still had something for us, but it was so special seeing others get presents and be sooo happy. I love having people over and sharing meals with them as well.

One Christmas imparticular, we had a woman and her two twin sons stay with us for a few days. They were living in a place that was a beginning of a home never finished. It had three walls, concrete and cinderblocks held it together. They had no heat and no food. We also had a man in similar circumstances stay with us, I loved playing chinese checkers with him. It was great seeing all of them open their gifts of sweat pants and blankets and heaters and other things. I will never forget my parents sacrifices or their willingness to serve others. I learned about service from watching them, and seeing them do it out of love and expecting nothing in return. I know our family has been blessed and helped out many times(we are a family of ten children), and I know they loved giving back when they could.

Anyway, sometimes our traditions change, but each year is wonderful and special.

I can't wait to go home this year to spend it with my mother and a few of my sisters.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!!!! and I will post pictures of this Christmas fun in a couple weeks:)


Anonymous said...

I knew this in high school but it's confirmed every time I talk with you - you're family is truly amazing!! I love your traditions and all the experiences you've had. I think, if anything, I can learn more from you in instilling family traditions, than you could ever learn from me! Thanks for leaving this post b/c it truly epitomizes the spirit of Christmas! Have a grand time in the RGV! -leslie

brook said...

That is soooo wierd. We do the exact same thing! Well, close. Sometimes we eat rice pudding.