Swedish Smorgasbord by Laurel Rain-Snow
Swedish Smorgasbord by Laurel-Rain Snow

Swedish Smorgasbord by Laurel-Rain Snow

My favorite Christmas moments in childhood involved my maternal grandmother. She was my absolute favorite adult person, and I loved hearing her stories about Sweden, where she lived until she was twenty.  Several of her family members immigrated into the US during the early Twentieth Century. As a result, many of them lived around the small town where I was born.

On Christmas Eve, a regular tradition was a Swedish Smorgasbord. I wish I had photos of the feast that appeared out of the old country kitchens.  Here is a photo that resembles those I remember.  Bread, butter, and cheese are always part of the smörgåsbord. It is customary to begin with the cold fish dishes which are generally various forms of herring, salmon or eel.  After eating the first portion, people usually continue with the second course (other cold dishes), and round off with hot dishes.
The best part, of course, was the feeling of being part of something special. My grandmother had that effect on everyone around her.
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Only on Christmas Eve by Maggie Bishop

Pearle and Lyle D. Bishop II

Pearle and Lyle D. Bishop II

Hand tooled cover by Lyle D. Bishop II

Hand tooled cover by Lyle D. Bishop II

Way back in the 1940s when Dad was stationed in post WWII Germany, he hand tooled a book cover in leather and cut out pages from a Reader’s Digest issue of the story “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore.  This issue had cartoons of Bugs Bunny before the story so Dad included those.

Mom and Dad (Pearle and Lyle D. Bishop II) were pro ski-patrollers at Sugar Mountain Ski Resort in North Carolina for over twenty years.  Dad was Skiing Santa and would come home from a day on the slopes skiing in costume (with a foam belly strapped to his midsection), gather the family, and open the leather bound pages.  He had sported a white beard and mustache  ever since he retired from the Air Force (followed by ten years in the Civil Service) in the 70s.

Mom would bring out the Rice Krispie with marshmallow treats she’d made along with hot chocolate.  The lights on the Christmas tree twinkled and we’d play “I spy” where one of us picked out an ornament, gave a brief description, then the other four kids would try to find it.  The game helped burn off some of our excitement-charged energy which had grown as Christmas approached.

Bugs Bunny from Freaders Digest 1943

Bugs Bunny from Readers Digest 1943

Until we grew too large, the smallest of us five kids would sit on Dad’s lap.  Later, one of us sat on the floor by his feet.  We’d sit quietly and listen to his strong, soothing voice as he read the story.  Visit Maggie Bishop’s Amazon Author Page for information about her novels.

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Holiday Traditions by Christy Tillery French

I can’t think of any holiday traditions in my family growing up. I guess with 5 kids, my parents never had time to establish any. Oh, wait, there was one thing my mother always did: gave us each a box of chocolate-covered cherries. I tried this with my kids but my daughter finally told me she and her brother hated chocolate covered cherries boxchocolate-covered cherries so I stopped.

My dad always made eggnog, a drink I never liked but I’d drink it anyway just to please him. eggnogI’ve never developed a taste for eggnog for some reason even though I try it occasionally just to see.

With my own family, we established what I consider a somewhat redneckish tradition – Christmas mornings, after we opened our gifts and cleared away the wrapping paper and ribbons, we’d troop down to our local Waffle House for breakfast (it was the only restaurant waffle houseopen on Christmas day). When they were little, my daughter and son always considered that a special treat, I guess because that’s the only time we ate there.

Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas and happy New Year (that is if the zombie apocalypse doesn’t occur on 12/21)!

Visit Christy Tillery French’s Amazon Author page for more information about her novels.

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The Personal Touch by Caitlyn Hunter

Like Christy, I don’t remember many Christmas traditions from our childhood. Yes, I remember the chocolate covered cherries (I still buy a box every Christmas–love those things!) and the eggnog (I agree with Christy on that one!) but other than that…I’ve got nothing.

As for my husband and I, we have only a few traditions and only one that has lasted the 37-year course of our marriage: one special ornament for the tree every year. Some were gifts and some we bought ourselves, but there is always at least one new ornament and in most cases, it’s something that has a special meaning to one or the other of us.

009Take, for example, this ornament. Yes, it’s a model of the shuttle craft from Star Trek. My husband is a big fan of the original series and all the movies spawned from it. Along with the shuttle craft, there are at least seven other replicas of various space vehicles, most of which I have no idea what they are, from Star Trek. This one is different from the others because not only was it the first, it also talks. Seriously, just push the button on the bottom and Spock says “Shuttle craft to Enterprise. Shuttle craft to Enterprise. Spock here. Happy holidays. Live long and prosper.” That ornament is always one of the first to go on our tree.011

Along with the Star Trek ornaments, there are also multiple UT football (once a passion of his) ornaments. All in bright, bright orange and all placed in as discreet and hidden place on the tree as I can find. Don’t judge me, bright orange is not a Christmas color!

So for my Scrooge-alicious husband, it’s Star Trek and UT football. For me, it’s many things; snowmen, penguins, polar bears, and Santa Claus. Much more festive and, in my eyes at least, much prettier. One of my favorites is from one of my favorite Christmas movies, It’s a Wonderful 008Life. It has a picture of Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed on one side and on the other it says, “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.

But this year, this year is the year of the snowflakes! I’ve always loved snow and always long for a white Christmas (which I never seemed to get until we moved to Maine–it’s almost guaranteed there!) and I always had crocheted snowflakes on the tree, but they were getting a little ragged so this year I replaced them with plastic, glitter-covered ones. So pretty on the tree and much easier to hang. And since the chance of a white Christmas is slim where I live now, it’s a sure-fire way to brighten up my holiday!

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 Happy Holidays, everyone!

Visit Caitlyn Hunter’s Amazon Author Page for more information about her novels.

Everything about Christmas is a Tradition

by Betty Dravis

christmas nativityThe most universal tradition of Christmas is giving gifts to those we love, commemorating the greatest gift God gave to us, His Son Jesus Christ. From time immemorial people have enjoyed celebrating Christ’s birthday. Just as various countries have different traditions that grew naturally from their own unique circumstances and environment, different families have developed their own traditions, also.

The traditions passed on to my children are the same ones passed on to me from my Kentucky/Ohio relatives (Bargers and Crawfords).

Like Christy (story above), I don’t recall anything about my childhood Christmas holidays that were unique to our family. It seems that everyone did the same—or very similar—things: bringing home and decorating the Christmas tree, baking cookies and other sweets, wrapping gifts and hiding them from the little ones, last-minute shopping…

kids-decorating-christmas-treeI fondly recall stringing popcorn and cranberries with my six siblings, making “homey” garlands to add to our tree, and my father making eggnog, which we pretended to like. I suppose the most unusual thing was my father roasting chestnuts in the oven. And an especially welcome treat was when weather conditions permitted, we’d often get to have snow fights and ice-skate on the vacant lot down the block. You see, it would freeze over pretty often in those cold Ohio winters…

Later when I had my own children and lived in California, we did the same things our parents before us had done, but by then we had the gorgeous shopping mall decorations to add to the splendor and shopping expeditions were much more fun, especially when we managed some magnificent photo ops. Another difference is that if we want to ice-skate we need to go to an indoor rink and head to Lake Tahoe for snow-fights! And no more “chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”🙂 Oh, well, we can’t have everything!

Yes, the Dames are fun-loving gals, often managing to keep the "snow-fighting" tradition alive at Christmas!

Yes, the Dames are fun-loving gals, often managing to keep the “snow-fighting” tradition alive at Christmas!

One thing I have always noticed about our Christmases is that this holiday is not centered around food as so many others are. I know my six children were much too excited about opening their presents to think about food. Our tradition was to get up ahead of the kids, have our coffee and tea in private while baking a big tray of cinnamon rolls. Keeping the otherwise hectic day simple, after opening their gifts, the kids ate rolls, milk and orange juice for breakfast. For the other meals, we would dip into the ham and baked beans that I’d prepared earlier. On several occasions, we all went out to dinner.

Devon and Christmas Tree 2011

Betty’s great-grandson Devon helps trim the Christmas tree.

No matter what your traditions, it’s most important to “remember the reason for the season,” which we always do by singing Christmas carols and attending church.

I wish a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all…

For more about Betty and her books, visit her Amazon Central Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Betty-Dravis/e/B002BLJJIU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1