Today, I spent some time thinking about our Christmas traditions.
When I was a little girl Santa always came to our house on Christmas Eve. We lived on a farm which had two houses. As my father worked throughout the day we were at the main house, which was grandma and grandpa’s house. And then when it was time to go home the tree would be lit and Santa had left presents under the tree. The reason Santa came on Christmas eve was because my father milked cows in the morning and he would miss out on the festivities.
Santa Memories – A Real Tear Jerker
When I was very young we went to our uncle’s house for a Christmas party. At the party Santa came and all of the kiddies became hysterical. There are photos of all of the kids crying. I remember spending the rest of the time under the kitchen table. I wouldn’t come out and my aunt game me my present under the table, which was a pretty pastel orange sweater.
Grandma and Baby Jesus
At my grandma’s house we always decorated the tree together. She had lots of old Christmas tree ornaments and old Christmas cards used for decorating the tree. Every year we would take this old, broken baby doll and put on a new paper swaddling wrap. Then we would lay the doll on the boughs of the Christmas tree. This was our baby Jesus.
My grandmother always used to send out Christmas cards. It was always so much fun picking out which cards should go to which people. While she was home she did not miss a year of sending them, and she had lots of people to send them to. Her children alone we’re ten families. In her later years she had really bad arthritis in her hands and could not write. So it was my job to sign all of the cards and address the envelopes for her. I was only 6 or 7 years old, and my handwriting was not the best (seems like it hasn’t improved much with age), but she didn’t care. It is a nice memory. It is too bad the digital age has taken over. A digital Christmas card is just not the same
My parents have the tradition of eating oyster stew on Christmas Eve. When I was young we jokingly called the oysters frogs. I am not a big fan of oysters.
I was reading on the internet about having oysters at Christmas and it turns out it is not just my family’s tradition. It appears it came from an Irish tradition, but was embraced by all of the cultures in America. My family happens to be German. Take a look at Roger M. Grace’s article, Tureen of Oyster Stew, Christmas Eve Feast Begins.
Baking has always been a big tradition in our family. We always make frosted sugar cookies, and frosted molasses cookies. Sometimes we make quarter nut cookies (also called peffernusse), sea-foam candy, fudge, caramel, or pecan fingers. The biggest special treat we have is kugen (supposed to be pronounced kuchen), which is a sweet bread with raisins and a crunchy sugar topping. It is really good when it is toasted with butter – real butter. My husband really loves it, and my mother occasionally breaks tradition and makes a few loaves in the summer.
To this day I really enjoy baking Christmas cookies. I am always looking for new recipes. I have every magazine that you see at the check out counter at the grocery store which is featuring Christmas cookie recipes. I also have a Facebook group page which is a Christmas Cookie Recipe Exchange. Besides recipes it also has other cookie related items. Check it out, and add one of your favorite recipes.
My son and my husband have a tradition of driving around the city to find the best houses decorated for Christmas. I guess this is like our ride in the sleigh. When we do this it feels like Christmas. Warm inside, cold outside, the scent of pine or cinnamon, smiles, and rosy cheeks.
O Christmas Tree
My son and I have created our own Christmas tradition. Right after we put up our Christmas tree, we turn out all of the lights in the house except the Christmas tree. Our Christmas tree is decorated with blue lights and all of the ornaments are snowflakes. This year my son wants to change it a little. We will still have the blue lights, but all of the ornaments are purple (his favorite color). After the tree is put up we stand together holding hands, just me and my son, and sing O Christmas Tree. We don’t even know all the words and just make it up. Then when the day comes to take the tree down, we do the same things. It’s like we want to keep that warm memory of the Christmas tree and make that feeling last until the next Christmas. I hate taking it down. I have been known to keep it up way beyond Christmas. My goal each year is to get it down before Easter.