Some people complain about being “home for the holidays” but to me, it’s been crazy but completely perfect. I may have fled 1,000 miles south but I’m still close with my family and it’s been wonderful spending time with them.
I was driving around with my mom the other day when she asked me what my favorite Christmas memory was. For a minute, I felt like a terrible daughter because I couldn’t think of a single memory that really stood out.
“What about presents?” She asked, kind of perplexed. “Isn’t there a present you got that you had to have?”
“No,” I answered and then I realized why I couldn’t think of just one thing. To me, Christmas has never been about just one place, event, or present. Excuse my cheese but to me, Christmas has always been about the traditions and spending time with my family.
My favorite Christmas traditions:
- Making lefse (a Norwegian “taco” made of potatoes, with butter and sugar on the inside) with my mom before Christmas.
- The “progressive dinner” with my dad’s side of the family the weekend before Christmas. Looking back, it was kind of inefficient and there was a lot of driving, but I had so much fun with my cousins.
- Driving to my grandparents’ house in Iowa (not the drive itself because yawn) to see my maternal extended family.
- My mom’s mom (grandma)’s cooking. She always had no-bake “bar” cookies and kringle (a traditional Norwegian Christmas cookie) for my cousins and I to snack on.
- Causing trouble and playing games with my cousins.
- Going to Christmas Eve/Day church at my grandparents’ church with the whole extended family.
- Eating lutefisk (a tasteless Norwegian fish that you smother in butter to give it flavor) and lefse for Christmas Eve dinner, prepared by my grandma.
- Reading the Christmas Story from the Bible aloud with my cousins before opening presents on Christmas Eve. Then, opening one present at a time, in age order. Talk about anticipation…
- Waking up on Christmas morning and bee-lining to my stocking with my cousins and playing with whatever new toys I’ve received until it’s time for lunch and eating leftover Christmas dinner for lunch.
- Trying to pick a movie to see among however many of my aunts, uncles, and cousins wanted to go. Yes, we went to the movies on Christmas day.
Over the years, our family’s traditions have been altered to accommodate various life changes. My parents’ divorce sparked a few initial changes, since we alternate Christmases we get to spend with them. I no longer just celebrate Christmas in my immediate family – as far as I’m concerned, we celebrate Christmukkah – since my stepdad is Jewish.
Many of my cousins have grown up and started families of their own. In general as we’ve grown up, my family members (and myself) have just become busier, making some things (like a Progressive Dinner) more difficult. My mom and I still try to make lefse (probably one of my favorite traditions) every year to eat on Christmas but it’s a very labor-intensive recipe, so we don’t always get around to it amidst the holiday chaos.
My maternal grandmother has moved from the home we always went to visit to an assisted living community and my paternal grandmother is not quite as nimble as she once was, so she no longer hosts Christmas at her house either. Every other Christmas, we visit my dad’s side of the family at my aunt’s house and every year after Christmas, we drive to Rochester to visit my maternal grandmother and take her out to dinner.
I guess the point is…growing up is weird! We have to alter and omit some of our favorite traditions to accommodate certain changes. Last year, I was a bit of a Scrooge about it but this year, I’ve chosen to embrace it. Besides, there are always childhood memories to look back on.
What are your favorite holiday traditions?
Share them with me on Instagram! Post a photo of your favorite memory or tradition, tag me, and hashtag #MyChristmasMemories.
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