What are your favorite Christmas traditions? What memories do you hold dear this time of year? Our members were kind enough to write in and share some of their experiences.
I have many fond memories of Christmas spent with family. We would go to my grandparent’s home where my aunts, uncles, and cousins would gather to celebrate Christmas together. Grandma would prepare a meal of either roast duck or roast pork with dumplings and sauerkraut. For dessert, we were sure to have kolache.
I recall a special Christmas when I was four-years-old. We lived on a farm two miles west of Lankin, ND. My brother Chuck and I wanted a farm set for Christmas. We woke up Christmas morning to find a toy farm set on the kitchen table. My grandfather had driven his horse drawn sled into our yard to make it look like Santa and his reindeer drawn sleigh had been there. My brother and I got a lot of play time out of the toy farm set.
Later, as an adult, I was serving in the U. S. Army in South Korea and Christmas was going to be my third and final Christmas away from home. I had planned on staying at the barracks Christmas Eve, but some of the guys talked me into going along to visit the orphanage for deaf kids. Every payday we would donate to the orphanage that we supported. In December, we purchased and wrapped several winter caps and pairs of mittens to take to the orphanage.
When we arrived, the staff took us into a dining room and served us some snacks and rice wine. We were then seated in the small auditorium where the children put on a few skits to entertain us. When they got done, they encouraged us to do something for them. One of the guys suggested that we all go up in front and sing some Christmas carols. The kids loved it. They cheered and clapped. We then brought in the gifts and watched as they opened them. They were so thankful.
The trip back to the barracks was a lot different. We sang Christmas carols all the way. I think we all learned something about the true spirit of Christmas that Christmas Eve. It turned out to be one of the most memorable Christmas Eves I will remember.
I love Christmas. I believe I inherited this from my mother, who loved Christmas and had over 500 Santas that she put up every year.
At Christmas time, I love making Christmas candy and decorating Christmas cookies. It was always a big thing I would do with my mom, and now that she has passed, I keep it going and my family loves it. Second, I decorate the house, right after Thanksgiving, putting the tree up and all the decorations out.
I collect Hallmark ornaments, and gathered so many it's mostly the musical ones on the tree now. I give my nieces and nephews a Hallmark ornament from one of the series each year. They look forward to seeing them. I also passed some of my mother/daughter ornaments to my nieces to give to their mother, to keep them in the family.
We also watch Christmas movies with only the Christmas lights on. Lastly, I attend midnight mass, and I love the low lights and the music of the season. The best part of Christmas is celebrating with family and friends.
I recall some of my childhood Christmas traditions while growing up in Dwight, NE. For example, in order to see the Golden Pig (a Czech custom that is supposed to bring good luck), you had to abstain from eating on Christmas Eve day until supper. We never saw the pig, and older family members always said, “you must have eaten something during the day.”
Mother always fried cod for supper, and then the Church choir always stopped by and sang a Christmas carol at everyone's house. We opened the gifts that were under the tree, and then went to midnight mass. On Christmas Day, we had roast goose dumplings and sauerkraut.
In our family, the women carry on a long-standing holiday tradition of making and gifting goodies to family, friends, and neighbors. I remember as a young child being sent to deliver boxes of treats to the neighbors.
Later, as my immigrant mother got older, my sister and niece helped to bake. After my mother and sister passed away, I began to help with the baking to keep the tradition alive.
We try to bake twelve different kinds of cookies each year. We also make fudge and a different kind of sweet bread to give away. Some of the recipes are from Czechoslovakia, and some are modern. We change out recipes each year to make it interesting for ourselves and our friends.
Last year we distributed over 40 packages of cookies and breads to family and friends to continue our family legacy. It has been over 70 years in the making.
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