Part 1: Christmas Eve in the City
Christmas Eve is spent with my dad's parents and family. Typically, the evening begins by attending Christmas Eve Service at our Lutheran church at 4:00 pm. In middle school and high school, I was typically accompanying the pianist on my flute, playing piano interludes, leading the congregation in singing, or singing a solo. My favorite and most repeated solo was "O Holy Night". I LOVE that song. After church, my parents, sister, and I would return to our house to light luminarias -paper bags with candles inside, pack up the car with presents and food, and drive 3 blocks to my grandparents' house.
There, we would enjoy a somewhat typical Christmas dinner- I can't say that the main dish has always stayed the same, but my LEAST favorite holiday tradition happens at this dinner. My grandparents are part Norwegian, and in an attempt to force our heritage upon us (by the way, did I mention that both of them are at least 2nd generation Americans?..), my grandma insisted that we eat lutefisk. "Lute-wha?" you ask.
Lutefisk is whitefish that has been prepared with lye that upon final cooking is a gelatinous mass of fish that smells horrendous. Fish jello, anyone? *Gag, gag*
This tradition is cruelty of the worst sort, especially to children. Every year, we were exposed to the pungent odors of the dish, and then, we were forced to eat a few bites of the concoction or face the consequences. If we didn't eat lutefisk, we weren't allowed to open our presents. Imagine what kind of stress this might bring on a child, especially one who is not yet sure if they can control their gag reflexes.
At least we got to eat lefse afterwards? Lefse, in my opinion, is a much friendly "heritage" food. For those of you who have no clue what I'm talking about, it can best be described as tortillas made out of potatoes. Traditionally (or at least in my family...), they are covered with butter and sugar, and rolled up to eat. Sometimes cinammon.
|Lefse Image from CiderHillFarm|
Once the lutefisk is eaten, the dishes cleared, and the presents opened, my family drives around the city listening to Christmas music on the radio and looking at the Christmas lights that are put up. Over the years, less and less houses put up lights which makes me sad, but I still remember some really creative displays from when I was younger. One year, one house put out their antique car on the lawn with a stuffed Santa inside and wooden reindeer to "pull" the car along.
Then, we would return home, eat a few more cookies, and go to bed. So concludes the "first" of three Christmas celebrations......