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Emily Ford column: Our favorite holiday traditions

By Emily Ford

For The Salisbury Post

I love e-mail almost as much as I love Christmas.

So what joy when I received an e-mail asking about Christmas traditions. I sent it on to family and friends, and the replies made me laugh, and cry. Here are some of my favorites.

Does Santa wrap presents?

Santa doesn’t (and shouldn’t) wrap gifts, insisted Amanda in Indiana. He doesn’t have the time, according to Kim in Iowa, especially since he brings three gifts for each child, just like the Wise Men.

Do you hang mistletoe?

“Uh-huh. If it is remotely connected to a holiday, Bob will buy it,” wrote Shelly in South Dakota. (I hear it takes Bob a whole day just to put up his Halloween decorations.)

Amanda says no mistletoe. She doesn’t need an excuse to kiss her husband or daughter. Kim asked, when you’re married with three kids, won’t any wilted vegetable out of the crisper do?

Do you remember your favorite gift?

Amanda remembered a classic, a red Schwinn bike. Shelly still has her favorite gift, a tiny plastic house full of Hello Kitty erasers.

“And heads will roll if I ever catch my kids playing with them,” she wrote.

JoLynn in California remembered going shopping with her mom and aunt before Christmas, looking for a dress for a school dance. She found one she loved, but it was too expensive.

Later, her mom and aunt separately sneaked back into the store and each bought a dress, giving them to her for Christmas.

“I just loved them so much for doing that,” she wrote.

Favorite Christmas songs ranged from “White Christmas” to “O Holy Night,” but the favorite Christmas movie by far was “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Without exception, everyone said the most important thing about the holidays is “family.”

What is your favorite holiday dish?

Three of us answered “lefse,” revealing our Norwegian heritage. Pronounced “lef-suh,” it’s a thin potato pancake slathered with butter and sugar. My sister Laura learned the fine art from Grandma Pearl, and we devour it as quickly as she makes it.

Kim and her twin sister Kelly from Nebraska love lefse. Their brothers make it during an annual battle called “Dueling Lefse Irons.”

If you’re not familiar with lefse, it looks a little strange. Kelly remembered a high school friend asking why her mom was buttering a paper towel.

JoLynn loved Jello salad.

“My mom used to have a rule that my plate couldn’t be more than half full of the pink stuff.”

What is your favorite holiday memory?

Amanda awoke to her dad’s treasure hunts. She followed a series of trivia questions until she found a wad of cash.

Little Shelly proudly gave her big brother a sack of dried corn from the zoo for him to cook at college. I laughed so hard at this that Shelly actually sent me the photo.

(I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that someone who still has her Hello Kitty erasers could resurrect a 30-year-old photograph.)

I couldn’t pick a favorite holiday memory until I read the next question.

How did you find out about Santa?

Then I knew they were one and the same.

I went to my dad in tears after hearing that Santa wasn’t real. Dad stole a glance at Mom and put me on his knee. He said Santa may not be a person, but Santa is the Christmas spirit that lives inside our hearts.

And that is very real.

Emily Ford is a freelance writer living in Salisbury.


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