1. At Thanksgiving, aunts, uncles, cousins, mom and dad, my brothers and sister and I, and grandma and grandpa put our names in a hat. Each person drew the name of one person for whom to buy a Christmas gift. All gifts would be roughly the same cost. The name exchange proved to start the excitement for the coming Christmas party, a delight that stretched over the following month until we got together again.
2. At the Christmas party on Christmas Eve, we gathered in grandma and grandpa’s small house. I remember the trimmed and lit Christmas tree. Dozens of gifts, gaily decorated, lay in heaps beneath the tree.
3. The main course of the menu consisted of lutefisk and milk gravy. As a child I considered the lutefisk to be tasteless. I thought it compared in taste to that of unsalted, boiled egg whites. As I grew, I learned to like it. Even my dad of German descent became fond of the menu.
4. After dinner, Santa Claus came to grandma and grandpa’s house to hand out the gifts. I recall that Santa was a crabby guy. When he called my name to go up and get my present, he held tight to it and would not let me get it without a struggle. He scared me.
5. Every Christmas my Sunday School had a Christmas program. I generally had a recitation to say as my part of the program telling of Jesus’ birth. Sometimes, when I got a bit older, I sang a song with other children. When the program was finished, we left for home. The deacons waited for us at the church door and gave each of us a huge, sweet Christmas apple to take home. Mom and Dad promised that when we arrived home from the program, we could open one gift from them. The black night and the sparkling snow decorated the winter landscape, adding to the fun of the evening.
6. Mom particularly liked decorating our house with outdoor decorations. When I was a teen I remember mom got a job at a Christmas wreath factory. We had a patio door in our northern Wisconsin home. She got us a 60-inch balsam Christmas wreath for the door. It was painted white and adorned with only red decorations and Christmas lights.
7. Our family sang Christmas carols in the car as we drove during the holiday season. That is how those songs sank deep into my heart.
Do any of these sound familiar? Have fun recounting your fond Christmas memories.