While I don’t have many holiday traditions, over Christmas when I visit Nebraska for two weeks, we celebrate with several. When I arrive at my mother’s house there are tons of presents (primarily for the little kids). Mom has a young woman that helps her stay organized, but one of her other many talents is wrapping presents. I hated that job, mostly because I’m so lousy at it. Heather loves to wrap gifts, which I am eternally grateful for. As with many families, somebody inevitably gets forgotten, so last minute shopping is in order.

On December 23, the date of my dad’s birthday, we remember him by sharing his favorite meal of Kraut Runza’s, a traditional dish of seasoned hamburger enclosed in bread dough brought to America by Germans from Russia. On Christmas Eve my sister-in-law, Mary, makes French onion soup from scratch, then it’s off to church services. Christmas morning, Mary, David, and my three nieces serve brunch. Mom hosts family on Christmas Day. With my brother, John, living in Texas, the crowd is somewhat smaller than in the past. We are fortunate enough for Mom to gift each of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren with money. The one thing she asks is that 10% of whatever amount we receive be given to a charitable organization of our choosing. It’s interesting to hear where each person decided to contribute their 10%. We used to have a tradition of opening presents oldest to youngest, but with so many little ones they open theirs all at once. Christmas dinner always includes Minnesota Wild Rice. Then it’s clean up time and men and women alike pitch in doing the dishes and all that good stuff.

After that, Mom and I hang out, mostly watching Hallmark Christmas movies. It’s silly fun seeing snow that never gets dirty, romances that always blossom over the holidays, and picture perfect villages where everyone gets along. If I get the chance, I do some writing. We ring in the New Year indulging in old movies, snacks, and wine. I get to visit my brothers’ families, catch up with my nieces and nephews, and Mom’s gal pals. It’s always a great time and before I know it, it’s January 2 and I’m flying home to Minnesota.

Those are my holidays in a nutshell. What traditions do you and your families share?

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