Wicked Wednesday: Holiday Traditions

We Wickeds have a few holiday traditions, some from our childhoods, some created as adults. We thought we’d share a few.

Liz: I’m a Christmas music junkie. My parents played all the classics during our holidays while I was growing up, and it stuck. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas to me without some Burl Ives or Nat King Cole. Also, opening presents on Christmas Eve. That was my family’s thing – we had our big celebration on Christmas Eve and then the “Santa” presents on Christmas Day – even when we were way past Santa age!

Sherry: One of my favorite traditions came from my childhood. We always have pizza on Christmas Eve. That tradition came about when we were supposed to go to my grandparents farm one year but an unexpected snowstorm stopped us. Mom had cleaned out the refrigerator so it was pretty empty. Pizza Hut was the only place open so that is where we ate and a tradition was born. My mom made the pizza for years and now Bob is in charge.

Jessie: When I was a child my mother gave each of her children an ornament on Christmas Eve each year. That way when we got to be adults with a tree of our own we would each have at least eighteen ornaments to decorate with that would feel familiar and already be imbued with Christmas memories. Now that I am a mother, I do the same with my children. I hope they will continue the tradition with their own families.

Julie: Jessie, I love your tradition! Am a decade behind with the nieces and nephews, but maybe I’ll jump in anyway. Honestly, but only holiday tradition is to watch White Christmas on Thanksgiving. Other than that, I try to spend time with friends and family. And I make apple pies. But the rest? All up in the air since my sisters both had families, and I spend time different places.

Edith: I always make bunches of sugar-and-butter based cookies from my motherOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA and my grandmothers’ recipes. But the first Christmas after I was divorced, 12 years ago now, my sons and I decided to make sushi on Christmas Day. No tradition was behind it, but now it’s an important new one that has lasted over a decade. And in Jessie’s tradition, I started acquiring decorative nutcrackers, thinking each son would then have a few for his own home when the time came. A couple of years ago, they said, “Mom, I think we have enough nutcrackers now!”

I also love to put electric candles in all the windows that face the street, and line the doorways with tiny white lights. I leave the window and door lights up into January, long after the tree has come down. It helps to dispel the short dark days of winter.

My son Rob gets a present from Santa in 1983

My son Rob gets a present from Santa in 1983

Barb: One of my favorite traditions is a party my husband’s father’s family has every year on the Sunday closest to The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th. It started as a way for Bill’s grandparents to get together with their four boys, their daughter and the cousin they raised, and all their many, many grandchildren around the holidays. Of their children, only one, Bill’s Aunt Mary, now 90, is still living, but the tradition goes on.

One of my favorite features of the party is that Santa comes! My son says he was in school before he realized that not everyone had Santa as a friend of the family and that having him drop in on our family party was very particular and special to us. I loved it because each of the children would give Santa their (often meticulously researched and constructed) list, and that way we had it when it was still early enough to do something about it. Santa then gives them an inexpensive toy, something to “hold them over” until the big day.

Viola and Santa in 2013, with a reassuring hand from her dad.

Viola and Santa in 2013, with a reassuring hand from her dad.

It’s a lesson in patience, because the children have to wait until it’s dark, and then have to sing three Christmas carols before Santa comes, and then have to wait until their name is called to come up. In my husband’s day, Santa, always played by one of the uncles, wore a terrifying mask. Fortunately that had been dispensed with by the time my kids came along.

This year was my granddaughter Viola’s first time with Santa. She sat on his lap and smiled like a champ. I have to admit I cried.

Readers: What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Or the least favorite, which you are obliged to follow anyway?

18 thoughts on “Wicked Wednesday: Holiday Traditions

  1. My favorite holiday traditions are Christmas Eve tarte au sucre (on my speech to text that comes out “talk to the super”—will have to work on that) and tourtière. “Talk to the Super” ha ha 🙂 is maple sugar pie. My family tradition is to make it with walnuts. Tourtière “talk to you here” ha ha 🙂 (I love my speech to text) is very special pork pie with a regionally dependent recipe. I learned from my great-grandmother the way she made it from the area just north of Québec City. We always have a prime rib roast on Christmas Day and use the leftover meat, bones, and au jus to make French onion soup with Gruyere cheese the day after. I don’t know how French my recipe is, but everyone loves it, even the Irish half of my family. They don’t know what to do with “talk to the super” or “talk to you here,” so they don’t come until Christmas day proper. xo

    • I always make prime rib for Christmas too but have never used the leftovers for my French onion soup. Great idea! I wonder if tarte au sucre is something that should show up in my Sugar Grove Mysteries?

      • Welcome one and all. Would love to share. Even my husband’s ex is coming— because we like each other.

      • Welcome one and all. Would love to share. Even my husband’s ex is coming— because we like each other.

      • Sorry about the double post!

        Jessie, Edith, Sherry, Barb, Everyone— I would love to share these family recipes. I would be pleased to know that they carry on in someone’s family, If not my own. I think they go way back but have been modified over the generations. Shall I post them here?

        Barb, I will happily share my onion soup recipe. In the meantime, reserve the biggest and most generously marbled prime rib your butcher can supply. You need a lot of leftover au jus and pan drippings for this recipe. Little leftover bits of meat make it the specialty my family loves. This makes a good New Year’s Day meal. New Year’s Eve—the prime rib/ New Year’s day—the soup.

  2. I’m not sure I replied in the right spot to everybody’s questions or comments about my family’s recipes. So if you are waiting please look above—I’m still getting used commenting on WordPress. xoxoxo

  3. Mémère’s Tourtière

    This recipe for pork pie is my great-grandmother Clarisse Gaudreau’s. Everyone in the family called her Mémère. She came from Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, Québec (on the Gaspé Penninsula).

    Mémère always had tourtière in the refrigerator. When I was a teenager I would often walk to her house on Lafayette Street in Salem, Massachusetts. She’d cut a couple of pieces of pork pie, and we would sit and talk while we ate this great treat.

    This is an easy recipe but time-consuming. Be prepared to wait while the pork is boiling down. You can’t take shortcuts with it unless you use a pressure cooker, but you will still have to boil the pork down some after it’s done. I like the slow boil method. Don’t use ground meat. Some people do it but it isn’t the same because you have to do something to hold the meat together and that takes away from the flavor.

    Ingredients:

    Large Fresh Pork Butt/Boston Butt—Bone in. You need the bone to get the gelatinous effect. If you take a shortcut with this, you’ll be stuck with trying to thicken it with mashed potato or flour. It might taste good but it won’t be the same.
    1 small onion, chopped
    Salt Pepper Double Pie Crust

    Put the pork roast in a large pot and cover with water. Add the chopped onion and a little salt and pepper. I throw in a few cloves of garlic if I have them.
    Cover and cook until mushy.

    Once the meat is cooked through remove the cover, and boil until the meat falls off the bone and gets mushy. The water will get gelatinous. You can help it along if you want by pulling it apart after the meat is cooked through. You may have to add water from time to time if you see that it isn’t mushy yet. I use a 10 inch pie plate. Sometimes I can get two 8 inch pies from this recipe.

    Put the bottom crust in the pie plate. Scoop in the meat and cover with the top crust. Bake at 400°F 45 minutes. If you have any trouble with this recipe email me or contact me on Facebook. It’s simple, but sometimes get calls from younger cousins think it isn’t working because “… it isn’t mushy yet.” It takes a long time to boil down. That’s probably why people take shortcuts with ground meat and thickeners.

    —Reine Carter

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