The Think Write Thursday prompt for this week is to write about a favorite holiday tradition. Why I love it, how it started, why it’s important to me.
You know, I came up with the prompt for this week. And it seemed like a great idea at the time. Kat said so, too. But now that I’m sitting down to write this post I’m wondering what the hell I was thinking. ONE single favorite holiday tradition? Only one?? I thought about making decorating the house as my favorite holiday tradition. Or perhaps watching Christmas movies. Or maybe even decorating the tree. And then I realized it really does all come down to one favorite tradition.
Our Christmas Eve Open House.
I love that our house is full of friends and family. I love that they are eating delicious food and laughing and telling stories and making merry. I love that we sing together. And I love that this is something I have done for my whole life, first as a child, then as a young wife and mother, and now as a, hmmmmm, well-seasoned woman who loves to entertain.
As a small child we went to my grandparents on Christmas Eve and my Swedish grandmother served a traditional smorgasbord. We had Swedish meatballs and baked ham, korv and pickled herring, medwurst sandwiches, pickled beets, baked beans, rice pudding and glögg. Later, my mother took this over, but the menu remained pretty similar. Our house was packed with family and friends, we had a piano and I always played carols and everyone gathered around and sang. I remember loving it because everyone sang so loud that it didn’t matter if I made mistakes. Those memories are some of my favorites from my childhood.
And what we do now is very similar. The menu has changed slightly – I don’t make korv and rice pudding – and I’ve added things like finger sandwiches and baked macaroni and cheese – but I still serve many of those Swedish specialties. Meatballs and baked beans and glögg, medwurst sandwiches and pickled herring and baked ham. I’m sure many of our guests just think of it as party food but for Dale and I it’s a special way of honoring our Swedish heritage. I love serving those foods to my father-in-law, big Swedish elf that he is, and seeing him enjoy them, too.
It’s not all about the food, though. It’s about being together and celebrating – celebrating the birth of Jesus, celebrating the return of the light, celebrating another year on this earth. It’s about blending our voices (often not very harmoniously) in song, it’s about setting time apart to be human and feel loved, it’s about remembering all the other Christmas gatherings, thinking that our children and grandchildren will carry on these traditions, and recognizing that caring for people in our home, with hospitality and grace is one of the greatest blessings we have. It is, quite simply, one of the best things Dale and I do as a couple.
Speaking of Dale, I can picture him reading this and thinking to himself, whaaaaa? For a tradition she loves so much, Carole sure does complain about this party. And it’s true, I have been known to complain about the work associated with hosting Christmas Eve. But, work or not, I love it. And I’m trying, really trying, to focus on the joy of Christmas and the graciousness of opening my home to the people I love.
Our Christmas Eve Open House is my favorite Christmas tradition. What’s yours?
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