Today Alison is sharing some of her favorite holiday memories.
As you may know, I spent many Christmases in Scotland. We celebrate in many of the same ways you do this side of the pond, but here are a few traditions that I still like to enjoy in my celebrations in the US.
My Granny on my mother's side is from Germany, and we would all wait impatiently for a big cardboard box to arrive to her house from her brother. He would post (somewhat illegally) German cheeses and meats which our parents really liked, but what I was looking for were the Pfeffernüsse and lebkuchen. These little spiced cookies taste great dipped in a cup of tea, or with a glass of cold milk. My daughter has come to enjoy these, and Aldi sells them so we are enjoying far too many of them already.
Something else we always had at Christmas was a real tree. Granny would light real candles on hers (safety caution - maybe don't try this at home!), and she would give us children a little sprig of burning tree to hold so we could smell the aromatic fir scent. Gorgeous! So we always have a real tree in our house with a matching live wreath on our front door. We typically buy a tree twelve days before Christmas and take it down twelve days after.
On our tree we placed Christmas crackers. When it was time for Christmas dinner, there was a cracker at every place setting. When our Mum finally sat down to eat, we would each pull a cracker with the person opposite and we would immediately put on our paper hats and read the terrible jokes inside! We also had foil wrapped chocolates hanging on our tree. We would eat them the day we took the tree down, as a small reward for the undecorating chore.
Like children here, we put our stockings out on Christmas Eve. My Auntie Linda made all of the children in our family a felt stocking with their name sewn on, and although she has been gone for a few years now, we still use our stockings and make them for the new great nieces and nephews she would have adored. Typical things to get in your stocking are an apple, an orange, chocolate coins, and small trinkets.
Advent calendars were a festive staple too. For the twenty four days preceding Christmas, we would open a little door on our calendar to see a picture from the nativity scene. At this time, many of the calendars have chocolates inside, which my six year old enjoys greatly. Nowadays, my brother and I like to tease our mother about our hard life with no chocolates in our calendars!
These are some of the special traditions my daughter Felicity and I observe to remember our family across the ocean at this time of year. Thanks to online shopping and stores like World Market, it is quite easy to buy international delicacies to enjoy over the holidays, abating my homesickness (for the most part)!
For more seasonal recipes check out one of our holiday cookbooks. The library has a great selection of holiday recipe books that can be found in the nonfiction section both on the main floor and children’s floor. We have a large variety of seasonal reading so also be sure to browse our holiday displays. Happy holidays!
Posted by Terry Pierson, Library Clerk and Alison Donnelly, Children’s Librarian