Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Traditions

The Christmas Season brings with it many family traditions for us.
One particular favorite that goes back for as long as I can remember is our “Danish Christmas” celebrations.

As a little girl, I loved, and so looked forward to Christmas Eve, not only for all the obvious reasons that every child waits for that big night with such anticipation, but in our home, that was the night we had our “Danish Christmas.”

It began with each of us opening our gifts that had been sent from our grandparents in Denmark. What was inside, could be anyone’s guess. As a child, we found dolls dressed in national costume. Sometimes we found new pajamas or beautiful knit sweaters. Whatever the gift would be, it was always such a thrill to see what we would receive. But that wasn’t all, what we really looked forward to was all the Christmas candy that was sent to us. As a child I was eating Gummi Bears, Salmiyak (salt licorice) and that wonderful European chocolate long before I realized how lucky I was to be getting such delicacies!

After we opened our gifts and before our mouths were too full of candy, my mom would bring out the Ric ala Mon. It’s a type of Danish rice pudding loaded with slivered almonds in it. It was always eaten while we played a little game. The person who found a full almond in the pudding won a prize. All of us kids found it strange that for some reason we all ended up with the full almond in our dessert.. My mom would pat her cheeks and say, “Oh no! Don’t tell me I’ve done it again! I slipped up. Well, fair is fair. I guess everyone gets a prize.” Of course we were thrilled that mom had slipped up again. No one felt left out. All of us kids were winners! It took us years to figure out it was rigged-- and we loved her for it.

The night ended with us talking to our Mor Mor and Mor Far (our grandparents) to thank them for our gifts. Then we all settled down to the Christmas story read from the Bible by my dad. The evening ended with the family singing Christmas songs.

Years later, we still have traditions that go along with our Danish Christmas. Every year, we still have our Ric ala Mon, strangely enough, full almonds keep popping up unexpectedly, Dad still reads from the Bible and we sing together as a family.

However, through the years other traditions have been added. We love to see the lights on Temple Square, come home and have hot chocolate and doughnuts. I also love reading Christmas stories with my family each night.

Our son wants to add a tradition of watching a Christmas movie every Christmas Eve. However, with every special that he watches, the movie keeps changing to the flavor of the day. We’ll see what happens…
He also feels that you cannot decorate too soon. He came home from school last Monday and said that he absolutely HAD to decorate the entire house that night because he had promised his teacher we were going to do that. He had given his word and he needed to follow through…(Oh sure NOW he chooses to show us he was listening when we were going over that lesson!) After working all day it was all I could do to muster up the energy to carry through on that lofty goal. I did advise him to check with us before making promises of that magnitude in the future.

We have several other traditions that help us not only keep in mind the purpose for the season, but they add to the excitement, as well as help us to work together as a family get the most out of this joyous occasion. Traditions can be a way of strengthening the family bond and will in turn give us a lifetime of priceless memories.

I would love to hear some of your favorite memories from your family traditions. Please feel free to share.


Cheri J. Crane said...

What a wonderful post, Jeri. Your family traditions sound like a great way to enjoy Christmas, and your Danish ancestry. =)

We have several Christmas traditions in our family. On Christmas Eve, we enjoy a variety of fun finger foods and fondue, a tradition that started with my mother's family when she was a young girl. We also let everyone open one gift that night. Then we reflect upon the reason for the season and we bring out a small, white stocking. It is filled with our gifts to the Savior from the year before. These are items we write down on pieces of paper, and then store inside the white stocking all year long. It is kept in my china cabinet as a reminder of what we've promised to do that year for the Savior. (These are items like being more patient, kind, or Christ-like, or rendering anonymous service, etc.)

Jennie said...

When our children were small we hung a tiny felt stocking on the tree for each of the children with his or her name on it.
Christmas morning they would find a new toothbrush, a package of Certs, or some other small item in the little stocking. They got as excited over it as they did their big stockings they hung on Christmas Eve. Now all of our children come on Christmas Eve, we have dinner together, a program featuring our grandchildren, read the Christmas story, then we all open our gifts from each other. This way gifts from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins aren't lost in the Santa Clau melee Christmas morning.

Jeri Gilchrist said...

Oh wow. What a beautiful thought. The white socking filled with gifts for the Savior... I love that tradition, Cheri!

What a wonderful way to keep the Spirit of Christmas going throughout the year.

And fondue sounds so yummy!!!

Jeri Gilchrist said...

How fun! I love the idea of the little sockings hanging on the tree, Jennie! I can imagine how excited the children would be on Christmas morning to see what was left in them. I also love the program featuring the grandchildren. What wonderful traditions to look forwrd to. Thank you for sharing!