Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Day

Our Christmas Day always starts early. Too early. It doesn't seem to matter what time our children go to bed the night before, the get up early on Christmas Morning. Since no one is allowed into the family room where the Christmas Tree is set up, my dear wife and I usually awake to the sound of our children huddled in the hallway outside our room, hushing each other to be quiet so they don't wake us up.

Once their nefarious plan comes to fruition and we are awake they gather at the end of the hallway and anxious watch while I get our camera ready. The last few years we have followed the custom of the children anxiously watch me cross the family room to get the camera. Once I get the camera in hand I turn towards them, glance at the tree and then with a sigh of disappointment I tell them "we don't need the camera this morning. There is nothing under the tree." My children always respond with a resounding "Daddy!" Then they immediately start think of things their siblings may have done that cost them their Christmas presents.

Once I get the camera turned on I usually get time to take one quick blurry shot as the children rush into the room. Rounding the Christmas tree they quickly discover the gifts that Santa Claus has left. Santa is usually generous and leaves one large or expensive gift for each person. This year the twins each got new bicycles. My oldest daughter got a digital camera, my dear wife a new Palm TX PDA and I got a film scanner. Santa is a pretty smart guy. He always seems to know what we each want the most.

After exploring our new gifts for a while we all then rush into the living room to see if our stockings have coal in them or not.

So far no one has ever gotten coal in their stocking. Which is too bad, with the price of natural gas these days we could use a little coal. Our stocking usually contain a mixture of treats and essentials. We get things like toothbrushes, chapstick, shaving cream, etc. We also get candy, trinkets and chocolate.

After the morning discoveries we have breakfast. The last few years breakfast has been homemade carmel rolls. This tradition started several years ago at my sister's house when my nephew would make homemade carmel rolls every morning. We loved them. Since then we have homemade carmel rolls every Christmas morning. However, I do cheat a little. My nephew made his dough from scratch. I use frozen bread dough. But they are still good.

After breakfast our day depends on whether or not we are hosting Christmas Dinner at our house or going to someone else's house. If we are the dinner hosts we usually start dinner preparations. If we are going somewhere else our morning depends on what we are bringing to dinner. If we have preparations to make we do them. If not then we relax for a while and play with our new toys.

Christmas dinner has only a couple requirements. First off we must have family or friends there. We have never had a Christmas dinner with only the 5 of us. We hope we never do. The more family and friends around the better.

Our afternoons, preparing for Christmas dinner are a combination of dinner prep, family fellowship, and watching football on TV.

Christmas dinner fare has changed through the years and locations. As a child living in South Dakota Christmas dinner always included ham. It sometimes included goose, duck, or even pheasant, depending on how the hunting season went. Dessert was an assortment of pies - pumpkin, apple, blueberry, cherry, mincemeat and pecan. One year my great uncle Bud refused to make a choice. He just insisted that my Mother and Aunt surprise him. So they did, they gave him a slice of each covered with whipped cream.

Once we moved to Wyoming and bird hunting was as accessable the main Christmas dinner fare was ham and turkey. Our family Christmas dinner has a few essential elements. First as always - ham. We usually have turkey. If we are hosting dinner the turkey is fried, cajun style. I'm not cajun, but my dear wife's family is and she told me about fried turkey for years. I tried it for the first time about 5 years ago. We haven't gone back since. Fried is the only way to go.

Christmas dinner also includes my wife's dirty rice dressing. She always made pretty good rice dressing, but she always told me it was nothing like her cousin Frankie's. Then several years ago while at a family reunion in Louisiana I got to try her cousin Frankie's dressing. She wasn't kidding, it was great. Before we left she talked Frankie into telling her his secret. So now we get the really good dressing each year also.

The last regualar ingrediant for a proper Christmas dinner is my mother-in-law's Christmas salad. Her Christmas salad is a layered jellow salad that everyone loves. I don't know what all is in it. I don't care, I don't have to make it, I just help eat it.

After dinner, we sit around and let our dinner settle. We watch football if there is a game on. We play games with the kids. We talk, or we nap. Other than dinner preparations Christmas day is a day of family, relaxing, and just enjoying one another's company.

Our dinner menu has taken on a definate cajun flavor the last few years, it still contains the mainstay of Norwegian Christmas dinners - ham. Our Christmas Day also follows Norwegian traditions in that it is the frist day of our Christmas Holiday. We always take the week off work between Christmas and New Year. Starting with Christmas day is our holiday of relaxing, spending time together as a family, visiting with friends and mostly just having fun. We plan very little and pretty much just let each day happen.

More Family Holiday Traditions are written about here.

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