I adore the blog Clover Lane and read what Sarah has to write every day.  Even though I haven’t been blogging much lately, I’m still here and still checking out the blogs on my list.  Well, Sarah has inspired me today to write my own “Christmas Trivia” list, as she has done here.

1.  Best childhood gift from Santa–I got a lot of nice gifts, few of which I remember.  One I do remember and know I loved is my avocado green, metal kitchen set.  I loved it!

My cousins, brothers and me with the glasses and "muppet puppets" made by Grandma Marjorie Barber, Christmas 1982.(My cousins, brothers and me in the glasses–I thought I was so stylish!
Christmas 1982, with “muppet puppets” our Grandma Marjorie Barber made)

2.  Best childhood memories–baking cookies with Grandma June each year.  I remember once I became concerned because I had not washed my hands before starting to bake and Grandma calmly said, “that’s okay, the germs will bake out in the hot oven”.  I still think of her words anytime I realize I forgot to wash my hands before cooking (for shame!).  I loved to help Grandma roll out the dough and sprinkle the sugar.  We never frosted our cut-outs.  My favorite decorations were the little silver balls we put at the bottom of each bell, which you’re not supposed to eat but we did.  We also made Santas and trees and reindeer.  Unlike me, my Grandma had infinite patience with us kids when we baked and never cared if we made a mess.

Christmas 1987, with my Mexican exchange sister Anglica, cousins, brothers and Grandpa and Grandma Adams.

3.  Favorite Christmas cookie–Grandma June’s sugar cookie cut-outs, of course, which now my husband or I make because Grandma is 92.  I like them really thin and slightly over-browned.

4.  Icky Christmas memory–this one stumps me because I don’t recall any really bad Christmas memories.  I’m not sure if the time we brought our new 3 and 4-wheelers to Grandma and Grandpa’s farm was at Christmas, but I think it might have been and that’s a bad memory.  I got going too fast on my little 3-wheeler and put my foot down to brake, like on a bicycle.  Of course that motored thing was not a bicycle and my foot got stuck between the tire and the foot rest and my brothers had to run for my dad to come help me get it out.  I don’t remember if it hurt, but I was scared.  I hate ATVs and have never ridden once since.

5.  It’s not Christmas without–many people say snow, but growing up in Minnesota I’ve learned never to depend on any particular weather because it’s so variable here.  We are as likely to have snow at Easter as at Christmas.  For me it isn’t Christmas without a nativity set with the baby Jesus and, now that I’m an adult, an Advent wreath with three blue candles to light on the first three Sundays of Advent, one red for the last Sunday, and one white for Christmas Eve.  My husband grew up putting the baby Jesus in the nativity scene on Christmas Eve and having the Wise Men move closer and closer across a room to the nativity scene each day from Christmas until Epiphany, so we do that now with our kids.

6.  Our Church service–my parents were not big churchgoers and neither were my grandparents.  As an adult, I like to attend church each week but fitting in a Christmas service is sometimes hard.  We are going to the 2 p.m. service this year and hopefully that will become a tradition, because we can make it before the drive to dinner.  Many years, we also like to attend a wonderful choir concert/worship service put on by my alma mater, Augsburg College’s Advent Vespers.  Having been part of it for the four years of college, it is very special to me, as is Velkommen Jul, the first Friday in December chapel service at Augsburg.  The kids and I will drive down to Minneapolis on Friday morning to take part.  They’re there for the treats St. Nick will put in their shoes outside the chapel, and the “little lunch” of Scandinavian goodies afterward–krumkake, lefse, kransakake, rosettes, etc..  I’ll be there for the memories, the tradition, and the gawking at all the beautiful Norwegian sweaters!

7.  Christmas pet peeve–feeling obligated to spend a certain amount on gifts for others, and trying to figure out what to get people who have everything.  I prefer spending time with people to giving gifts, but I do like to pick out small and special things to give.  My kids’ gifts from the Dollar Store mean the most to me (often they involve chocolate!).

8.  Favorite Christmas CD–This seems silly because I’m not that into Christian contemporary music, but I love Amy Grant’s CDs because she has a low voice and I can sing along.  Same with Ann Murray–remember her?  I like the beautiful Christmas music my husband brought to our marriage, which is more formal choir and orchestra music.  And I adore the hammered dulcimer recordings of our dear friend Paul Imholte.

9.  Real or fake–It was always fake growing up, but a few years into our marriage I got rid of my husband’s fake tree because I couldn’t stand storing a giant tree in my house.  We now get a real tree every year, and I love it.

10.  I spend Christmas Eve–with my husband and kids, my mom and dad, aunt and uncle, Grandma June, and brothers and cousins at my aunt and uncle’s house in Plymouth, Minnesota.  Christmas Eve was always our big family night, and Christmas Day is quieter (though if we could afford it we’d always fly to Virginia to see George’s family Christmas day).  My aunt and uncle cook us a big meal complete with lutefisk, Swedish meatballs, turkey and ham, lefse, potatoes, Grandma’s scalloped corn, green jello and more.  Then we open gifts, chat, and eat some more in the form of cookies, including the sugar cookie cut-outs and Norwegian krumkake, and ice cream treats.  It is simple and nice.

Now it’s your turn!  What are your Christmas memories?  It seems this year, the kind of snow around our house in the photo above, may be just a memory!