Monday, December 5, 2011

Virtual Advent Tour -- Why it's great to be the grandchild.


Welcome to my little corner of the 2011 Virtual Advent Tour.  If you'll permit me a digression from the usual book talk, I'd like to share with you a Christmas ritual in my family that began as a tradition, but then morphed into something unique to us and the source of a good laugh.
 
Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays.  Sure the presents are an important part of it, but even when I was a kid I loved everything else that went with the holiday; decorations, Christmas cards, the truly Silent Night of Christmas Eve (in Winnipeg where I was born and raised just about everything closed by 6:00 pm on Christmas Eve and didn't re-open until the 26th - Boxing Day - or even the day after that), and of course the food.  And though sometimes I felt left out of bigger celebrations, I was lucky that I come from a small family and was able to celebrate Christmas with everyone at the same time.

  On Christmas Eve, my parents, two brothers and I would go to my maternal grandparents' house for dinner.  My mom's family is from Denmark, and the traditional dinner was roast pork, frikadeller (my Grandma's were THE BEST) and rice pudding for dessert.  The Danish tradition is to hide an almond in the pudding and whoever is lucky enough to have the almond in their serving receives a small gift (a box of chocolate or something like that).  In our family anyways it became a big game to see who could hide the almond from everyone the longest.

  The problem:  My brothers and I hated rice pudding.  Even the thought of an extra present was not going to get us to eat the stuff.

  The first few years that I can remember, we just didn't eat dessert; but then one year my Grandma made a chocolate mousse pudding with an almond instead of rice pudding so that we could play along, and that was the Christmas Eve staple for as long as Grandma hosted Christmas Eve dinner (the last one I attended at her home was six years ago and the chocolate mousse was still there, and we all still fought over the frikadeller).  It took me a few years to "win" the almond, but at that point it didn't really matter; Grandma was the best because she made us what we wanted to eat.

  Christmas Day was held at our house, with my grandparents, my paternal grandmother, and my dad's aunt joining us for dinner.  My mom also made rice pudding for dessert, but she was a purist:  if you don't like rice pudding, then no dessert for you.  So we just watched the grown-ups eat theirs and my brothers and I made our own game of guessing who was hiding the almond.

  Fast forward many years.  I live in the US now and am not able to get up to spend Christmas with my family every year, and my brothers have children of their own and must split their holiday time with the other side of their families.  But that Christmas six years ago again sticks in my mind.  I was home and dinner was as always at my parents' house.  One of my brothers, his wife, and their two kids (about 4 and 2 at the time) were with us and we had a lovely dinner as usual.  Until dessert.  There was a rice pudding for the adults in attendance and we still had to eat it if we wanted to get a prize, but my niece and nephew each got THEIR OWN bowl of CHOCOLATE PUDDING that had THEIR OWN ALMOND!  My brother and I cried foul -- this was totally not fair!  My parents just laughed it off -- grandparents' perogative, they said. 
  My Grandma passed away last year, and I've only been able to come home for Christmas once since that Christmas six years ago, so my own special treatment is but a memory.  And even though my nieces and nephew have developed a taste for rice pudding, they still get their own almond at my parents' house.  I guess that is the benefit of being the grandchild.

  Happy Holidays everyone!  May you have a grandma that makes chocolate pudding just for you.

17 comments:

  1. Beautiful memories! We never had frikadeller but my Grandmother always made rye bread sandwiches. They were always the popular Danish food at Christmas.

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  2. I love this story, thanks, Suzanne!

    How cruel that it was rice pudding or not for you and your brothers! And amazing that the grandchildren did get the chocolate pudding!

    As you say, it's good to be a grandchild.

    Hope you have a great Christmas this year!

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  3. What a great Christmas remembrance, though it probably was not so great when you were sitting there staring at that bowl of rice pudding! I love that you shared this with us, and that you eventually got your own chocolate pudding! Thanks for letting us in on some of your Christmas traditions!

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  4. Haha, I totally would have cried foul at that too! :) Hope you have a wonderful Christmas this year!

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  5. Awww! How awesome that your grandmother changed up the dessert for you guys. And how funny that your mom took such a hardline with you and mellowed for the next generation.

    Thanks for sharing such a nice memory with us!

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  6. Thanks for sharing such a sweet memory.I'm beginning to wonder if we're the only ones who don't have a traditional Christmas food.

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing such a lovely, sweet story with us! Your memory is definitely something to be treasured!

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  8. Oh wow, I've been reduced to tears, such a family story we can all identify with in some way

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  10. oops, I keep forgetting what account I am signed in with. As I was saying, what a wonderful post! It is great to have such memories. Thanks for participating!

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  11. Mmm, frikadeller and risengrød, yum! (*I* like risengrød, so I'll have your share.)

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  12. Thanks for posting on the Advent Tour. Cherish your memories.

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  13. What a great memory you shared with us! So sorry about your Grandma's passing; she sounded like such a wonderful woman!

    Between chocolate pudding and rice pudding, I would definitely take chocolate any day!

    May you and yours have a great Christmas season!

    betty

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  14. What a great story! I love the pudding traditiom. (Althiugh I don't like any pudding myself....)

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  15. what a delightful memory--and yes it is a grandparents job to make a grandchild feel special. You see, they make us feel special all the time. Merry Christmas. kaye—the road goes ever ever on

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  16. What wonderful Christmas memories. And yes, grandparents have the right to spoil any and all grandchildren. :) I think it's great that you have continued the Danish traditions. Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas.

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  17. I loved reading this story, but mostly love how traditions come into being with just the slightest change that sticks. It's wonderful that you are able to keep this memory alive and with such joy. Happy Christmas!

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