Learn about, practice family holiday traditions

Published 8:45 pm Friday, December 16, 2022

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Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

Living in Minnesota has its perks. One of my favorite things about living here is that we get to experience all of the seasons. The heat of summer makes me appreciate the cooler temps of fall. Snow in the winter has me looking forward to the warmth of spring. Sometimes we don’t even have to wait that long as we can get two or three seasons in one week!

April Jeppson

Having snow on the ground mentally prepares me for Christmas. It gets my soul ready for snuggling up with my family and enjoying the traditions that this time of year brings.

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A few weeks ago I was chatting with others about their family traditions. It’s fun to hear how others celebrate and take time away with their loved ones to make memories. I make sure to have fried chicken and potato salad on Christmas Eve in honor of my grandfather’s Southern roots. We allow our children to open up a present the night before because that’s what our parents did. And I’ll make some type of caramel roll or monkey bread to enjoy Christmas morning.

My cousin enjoys working on our great-great-grandparents’ family history. With the language barrier and the different ways that countries track their residents, she’s been at a standstill for a few years. Recently she joined an online community for those doing genealogy on their Swedish ancestors. Within days she was able to crack the code and found information that was otherwise lost to us. Through the help of those native to the country and able to translate and decipher documents, we now have lots of information at our fingertips.

There’s something special about getting to know the details of your family tree. They are no longer just branches, but people with stories. People that I want to honor and remember. Having this new information so close to Christmas really makes me want to dig a little deeper and rekindle some traditions that have been lost.

Growing up, my family always gathered on Christmas Eve to celebrate. After doing some research I learned that most Nordic cultures celebrate on the 24th. I also learned that foods like pickled herring are served. As a child, one of my uncles always brought pickled fish to the party and I just knew that’s what we ate at Christmas. I guess I thought it was more of a family thing — I didn’t realize it was part of our culture.

In my reading I discovered all sorts of cookies and treats that I remember various people bringing to the party. Some of them are Swedish, but many are from other neighboring countries and grouped as “Scandinavian.” I have a desire to try my hand at a few of these recipes next week. The longer I look, the more Hallongrottor and krumkake are no longer a maybe, but a must try. In a few weeks I will let you know how my ancestral baking journey turned out.

I remember my mother telling me a story about her experience making rosettes. I know that someone, somewhere in my family has those cool metal forms that are required for these intricate treats. I won’t be baking those anytime soon, but they are some of my favorites. I recall purchasing them from the winter farmers market a few years ago — I wonder if someone out there still makes them. I guess I’ll update you on that in a few weeks, too.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams. Her column appears every Saturday.