Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Record Your Christmas Traditions & Recipes

Christmas Traditions

Most families have holiday traditions handed down through the generations. Many of these come to us from our parents and grandparents. Then we often combine them for our children, plus add customs of our own.

These are treasured memories to record for yourself and for future generations. Often you’re the only one who remembers the stories told to you by relatives.

*Begin a Christmas Journal in which you record the various memories.

*Look for pictures of Christmas past and photos of relatives who attended these festivities.

*Place these photos on CDs and make copies for family members. These make nice gifts.

*Start a scrapbook of holiday stories and photos.

Consider Your Parents’ Traditions

When considering my parents’ traditions, I remember they grew up celebrating Christmas differently. So we had a medley of customs, resulting in an expanded holiday for us children.

Mother’s family opened their gifts on Christmas Eve, then had their big dinner Christmas Day with relatives often visiting. Father’s family had their gifts on Christmas morning.

So they compromised. Mother let us open one gift the night before Christmas, and we enjoyed the remainder the next morning…after Father and the hired man milked the cows and ate breakfast. (That was such a long wait.)

We always let our daughter open one gift on Christmas Eve, and she’s carried out that tradition with her children. What traditions have you carried on or combined?

Christmas Foods

We generally had roast chicken for Christmas dinner because we raised chickens on our dairy farm and sold eggs commercially. Turkey was a special treat.

Nowadays we often have roast beef for our Christmas dinners. To accompany this, our daughter makes YORKSHIRE PUDDING, a dish her children enjoy, which she learned about when in England as an exchange student.

Actually she has adapted a POPOVER recipe and makes individual servings, baking them in a muffin tin instead of with the meat drippings.

Beat 2 eggs slightly. Then add remaining ingredients (1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup milk, ½ teaspoon salt) and beat until just smooth, making sure you don’t overbeat.

Fill a well-greased six-cup popover pan, six small custard cups, or stoneware muffin pan about ½ full. Bake in preheated 450 degree F. oven for 20 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. and bake about 20 minutes more until they’re a golden brown. Remove from cups immediately and serve.

(Beth doubles the recipe, making 12 popovers. You also can spoon gravy or meat drippings over them individually, if you like them this way.)

©2008 Mary Emma Allen

(Mary Emma enjoys researching family food customs and holiday traditions. Visit her at: and )


Eileen Bergen said...

My family opened presents on Christmas Eve. There was a punch bowl and plate of Christmas cookies. Then wrapping paper and ribbons flew through the air.

The only problem for me was that my birthday happens to be Christmas Eve.

When I learned my husband's family tradition was to open gifts Christmas morning, the deal was sealed - a match made in heaven!

41 years later, we're still together and enjoying our blended Christmas traditions.

Kate said...

I will always consider myself very fortunate that it was important enough to my parents, my Mum in particular, to ensure that the magic of Christmas didn't die when I became an adult. It's changed and morphed and it's now found in different places, but it's still there and no less special. One thing that hasn't changed at all is that my Mum reads me "'Twas The Night Before Christmas" on Christmas Eve. It doesn't matter how old I get, I'll never want that tradition to change.

And I still spend a lot of time in the kitchen with my Mum at Christmas, but that has changed. For a start, I do actually help now, as opposed to the kind of "help" that actually translates as "getting underfoot". :) I make the sausage rolls, my Mum makes the mince pies, we both make the Christmas Cakes and Christmas Puddings. And then there's the tradition of trying something new each year. The year before last, we tried to make a gingerbread house and that was an unmitigated disaster. Last year, it was cookie mixes in jars and that went so well that we haven't really stopped doing it. And my favourite tradition that originated as a "new" thing is our chocolates. We do still buy quite a few Christmas chocolates but we make just as many of our own too.

Something else that's worth doing is to take pictures of your Christmas preparation, not just of the day itself. Get pictures when you're decorating the tree, when you're cooking, when you're untangling those oh-so frustrating lights, even when you're wrapping presents. These memories are every bit as precious as the day itself.