Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – Holiday Foods

My dad would like to think I grew up eating lutefisk for Christmas like he did being 100% Swedish, but for better or worse, I did not. But I really don’t remember what I did have. We spent most of my childhood Christmases at my Grandma and Grandpa Wood’s, and I’m sure we had great holiday feasts, but I don’t remember anything particularly special or ethnic or anything.

Well, okay, the poppyseed rolls were pretty special and might be of Eastern European extraction. My Great-Aunt Mary, whose family was from Czechoslovakia (she was my Grandpa Wood’s sister-in-law; I’m not even a little Czech or Slovak), made them originally. I seriously need that recipe. One of my uncles makes them occasionally, but there’s never enough to go around. Particularly as I’d like all of them to make it around to my tummy.

As time went on and we didn’t go to see my grandparents for a whole week around Christmas, my parents, my brother, and I ended up with a tradition of lasagna for Christmas Eve supper and often Cornish Hens for Christmas Day dinner.

We did have lutefisk once. My Grandpa Strum made it one year. I’m pretty sure I was already an adult, and I’m not sure if my brother was still in Minnesota then. It wasn’t terrible. Really, it wasn’t so bad, but I seem to recall it was kind of rubbery or something, and my dad assured us later that Grandpa hadn’t made it quite right, and it should have been better. Maybe someday I’ll try it again.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories – The Christmas Tree

So, I was just saying on Twitter yesterday that I probably wouldn’t be able to blog until the BU program is over (the 19th), but then I saw this Advent Calendar thing and figured that with some holiday prompts, I might just be able to do at least  a few posts this month.

The timing of today’s topic, the Christmas tree, is kind of amusing to me because I’ve been pondering over the past week or so whether to get a tree. This will be my third Christmas in my own home, and so far I haven’t had a tree at all. This is in part because I haven’t figured out where to put one, another part because I can’t decide between artificial or real, and a final part because I have a tree-climbing cat.

Blazer in the Christmas Tree

Blazer in the Christmas Tree

This photo is from when she was just two, and she’s seven now, but she still acts much the same as she did then. I fear for any tree in her presence.

Growing up, my parents had an artificial tree. I don’t recall ever having a real tree at home. My mom was pretty much in charge of all decorating, though my brother and I probably helped from time to time. I know I’ve helped with the trickier items, like lights, more than once. Below is a photo of my brother and me in front of our tree the last time he was home for Christmas, in 1994. He was still in Texas with the Air Force then, and in the summer of 1995 he was stationed in Alaska, where he’s lived ever since.

Kristie & Eric - 24 December 1994

Kristie & Eric - 24 December 1994

My maternal grandparents (Wood) always had a real tree when I was a kid as far as I recall, and my memories are of tall trees that they might have cut from their own property, but perhaps not. My grandpa was a logger, so who knows where they got the trees? Perhaps my mom will comment and weigh in on where the trees came from. What I do remember was that they had a real tree despite my grandma being allergic to it. The photo below is me at age three and a half with my youngest aunt (nine and half years older than me), Karen, and the aunt who’s also my godmother, Carolyn.

Kristie, Karen, and Carolyn 25 December 1976

Kristie, Karen, and Carolyn 25 December 1976

Here’s another one of my brother and me, but in front of Aunt Carolyn’s tree a few years later after she was married.

Eric & Kristie 24 December 1980

Eric & Kristie 24 December 1980

I believe my paternal grandfather (Strum) and his wife (my grandma died several years before I was born, and grandpa remarried when I was pretty little yet, but I never considered his second wife to be a grandma) had real trees when I was younger, perhaps a bit smaller than my other grandparents’ trees. They also could have cut trees from their own property for all I know. With little notice, Mom hasn’t found photos from their house yet…I really should keep up better with these things!

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