Christmas Eve Traditions

Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the house,
The kitchen was a buzzin’; there was nary a mouse.
The cookies and treats were done to perfection,
In hopes that all would enjoy the confections.
And what to the wondering eyes should appear,
But a plate full of goodies, and a room full of cheer.

That isn’t exactly how the traditional Christmas carol goes, as I altered the words a bit to fit into my topic — Christmas goodies and traditions! If you ask someone about his or her favorite Christmas treat, two things are certain: everyone has a favorite and there is a wide variety of treats that people like. In addition, there is an abundance of treats this time of year. For people who enjoy baking and cooking, it is fun to make holiday favorites and share them with others.

Many times these holiday favorites are from traditional recipes that we hold dear. Traditions are center stage as we gather together with family and friends to celebrate Christmas. Some of my fondest early holiday memories revolve around holiday meals with family. I remember all the aunts, uncles and cousins gathering at someone’s house, with everyone bringing something to serve at the holiday meal. We indulged in everyone’s “specialty.”

These same types of traditions continued as I raised my kids. We enjoyed making Chocolate Kiss cookies and Gingerbread cut-out cookies (my kids’ favorites). We enjoyed the traditional family favorites — wild rice casserole, lefse and Swedish meatballs. I encouraged them to “just try” the lutefisk, but to no avail. (I have a bad feeling that this piece of Christmas tradition has stopped with me, at least in my family!) I’m sure most families can relate to variations of these traditions, making the holidays special each year.

Many times, at least in our part of this country, the memories we share around the dining room table are the things we remember the best. The hospitality that revolves around food is important to many of us. We may not remember what we gave or received as gifts last year, but we likely do remember the enjoyment we had with our loved ones around the dinner table.

And so this year, no talk about how many calories in gravy, or how to substitute yogurt in place of sour cream. There is a time and place for this and certainly we can practice moderation and restraint, even over the holidays. But we can also enjoy our friends, our family, our traditions and our favorite foods.

Merry Christmas!

By Cheryl Rude

Registered Dietitian at Avera Marshall

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