Heart Choices: Thankful Thursday ~ Christmas Past -->

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Thankful Thursday ~ Christmas Past

This year Thankful Thursday is on Christmas Day. And what better day to be thankful. Iris took a poll to see how many people would be willing to blog on Christmas Day and since I voted YES, here's my post. I hope you'll also head over to Grace Alone to visit other thankful blog posts. Our thankful topic for today is Christmas past.

My family heritage is Norwegian. Both my mother and father's parents came from Norway. So many of their Norwegian Christmas traditions became part of our family's Christmas celebrations.

I remember Christmas Eve was a special evening. We went to my grandparent's house for dinner. The tree was decorated beautifully. My grandfather took pride in the miniature village he set up under that tree. He had a train that circled around and there were little houses, a church and even a skating rink with little people.

There were always lots of wrapped gifts underneath the tree. My Nana told us that we just missed Santa. He had dropped off the gifts but had to leave so he could visit other children's homes.

We were permitted to open our presents on Christmas Eve but only ...after dinner and the dishes were washed, dried and put away. As kids, we didn't mind helping since it meant we could get to the presents faster.

During our dinner, my grandfather always took out his worn leather Bible and read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and then he prayed. Then the rest of the family would join together and say this Norwegian prayer:

I Jesu navn går vi til bordså spise, drikke på ditt ord. Deg, Gud til ære, oss til gavn, Så får vi mat i Jesu navn. Amen.

The English translation is something like this: In Jesus' name to the table we go. To eat and drink according to His word. To God the honor, us the gain. So we have food in Jesus' name. Amen.

I remember all of the Norwegian cookes, cakes and other goodies we ate for dessert. I think my Nana must have baked for weeks. I loved the spritz cookies, the rice cram with chopped nuts, rosettes, the thin waffle type cookies that were rolled into a cone shape. Some of my Norwegian blogger friends may have to write down the names of the traditional sweets that I love so much.

I remember when I was little I used to love baby dolls. At the risk of really dating myself, here's a picture of me with my new doll and carriage one Christmas. Notice the tinsel on the tree. Most people don't decorate with tinsel now but at that time it was quite common.

My mom continued many of the family traditions through the years since my grandparents are no longer with us.

And now since my mom died, my sister Christine works hard to keep those traditions alive. She inherited my mother's love for cooking and uses the Norwegian American Christmas recipes to make it special and keep the memories alive.

I'm the only one who lives on the opposite side of the country so I have to work at integrating some of our family traditions with my husband's.

I'm so glad that our common theme is ...to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

I wish you all a blessed and a Merry Christmas!
Debbie Petras
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  1. Merry Christmas, Debbie!
    Wow, a Christian blogger in my own state, yay! Loved your post with all those pics! I like Spritz cookies, too, baby dolls were my favorite as a little girl!

  2. I love hearing of other family celebrationis and what an awesome blessing, to have been brought up in a family that had such strong roots and ties to tradition. I pray you and your family have an incredibly blessed Christmas!

  3. love the pictures! awesome! Merry Christmas!

  4. Merry Christmas - thanks for visiting my blog.

  5. I so enjoyed reading about your family traditions. And thank you for your kind words on my blog. I know that cultural and family traditions have greatly enriched my life... and it is clear the same is true for you. And btw, Norway has always held a special place in my heart as I was an exchange student there. God bless and Merry Christmas.

  6. I enjoyed my visit today. You have a wonderful story. Great post. Hope you and your family had a very MERRY CHRISTmas~

  7. This was a great post. Thanks so much for sharing and Merry Christmas!

  8. You have such a way of taking us with you into your memories. Thanks for sharing your heart. Love you.

  9. Oh Debbie,

    I loved reading this post.I feel like I know you even more today. The traditions we have are a link to our past and give us such great memories. Loved loved this.

    Merry Christmas... and His name shall be called Immanuel.

  10. wow! that was a beautiful story and the pictures! amazing, beautiful! i enjoyed and love it.

  11. Loved the blog and boy do I remember the little girl in the pictures. It brings me back a few! :)

  12. I was very excited to see that Betty added a comment. You see, Betty is my friend from way back. She lived across the street from me in Lindenhurst, which is on Long Island, NY. We were great friends as kids and it's so much fun to reconnect, especially when we live far apart.

  13. Hey Debbie,
    Adrienne is actually my oldest daughter and plays hockey. I am glad to be over at Sandy's, I hope I stay motivated.

  14. "To eat and drink, according to his Word..."

    No more powerful prayer can be offered from our hearts. That's how I want to live each day...eating and drinking according to God's Word.

    Thanks for posting some of your heritage. Traditions root us. We don't have a lot of "routine" to our Christmas, but I have tried to bring some "reoccuring" themes to each year. The one I'm most practicing today?

    Rest and the release from having to do anything!


  15. "the thin waffle type cookies that were rolled into a cone shape" - ah, these are one of the traditional Norwegian Seven Sorts cookies called 'Krumkake'. They are minature sugar/waffle cones (similar to am ice cream cone) and are usually filled with cream and/or berries.

    The prayer that your family recited is a well known Norwegian meal prayer which can be said for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    One of the more modern traditions over here in Norway is watching the Sissel concert at Christmas. Every year Sissel puts on a special concert in Norway about a Norwegian Christmas. As I write this, the concert is on TV - the whole family is gathered in the lounge eating, talking and playing games while we listen to Sissel sing.

    I really enjoy learning about your family ;) (And I love the retro pics!)

    Vi ønsker deg og familien din en god jul og godt nytt år!

  16. Dear Debbie,
    I wrote you a long letter from my birthhome, Sauda. With only a telephone snail modem the connection was broken before it was sent to you.

    Now we're back in town and I'll try once more.
    It was great to read about your Norwegian/American Christmas.
    I enlarged the pictures and studied them thoroughly.

    Guess your grandfather must have been very artistic creating those miniature villages under the tree.
    We have had - and still have a nisse-village on a table.
    I now can see that the nisse of course must live under a tree, they are so small and shy...

    Your mother was a lady of class and slso of concidreale strength, it seems.
    I can understand that you miss her soarly, especially at Christmas time.

    To us it was the second Christmas after our dad died, and my brother still could not hold his teaars back when reading Luke 2, The Christmas Gospel.

    We visited my Dad's grave when attending the service Christmas Eve, lightening a candle there.

    Both your sister and yourself are looking very much like your Mama.
    Fairhaired beauties.
    The cookie on the picture is named Sandcakes in Norway. They are supposed to be filled with whipped cream and cloud berries when served.
    They are tricky to get out of the metal forms in one piece, so crispy.

    In Norway Christmas is celebrated differently from county to county.
    A marriage is often about the art of combine and respect traditions.

    I am sure you have had a wonderful celebration.
    Both First and Second Day of Christmas are holidays in Norway.
    All shops except the gas stations are closed.

    It has been wonderfully relaxant.
    To morrow the ("romjul" = days between Christmas and New Year) sales start.
    I better go to bed and get ready!!

    Wishing you and your family all well.
    From Felisol

  17. Enjoyed reading about your family traditions. Have a blessed holiday season

  18. Debbie,

    Thank you for taking the time lately to share all of your wonderful childhood memories and traditions. It is fascinating to learn how others celebrate and to hear what you remember.

    Your family sounds beautiful and the care you all have for one another is very special.

    I adore the picture of you with the carriage and doll. I had a dress just like yours and everyone decorated trees with tinsel when I was little too :)

    Wishing you a blessed weekend!

    Love and hugs,

  19. That is so wonderful! I can't imagine having a grandfather -- or even my father reading to me from the bible. What a wonderful heritage you have! And it is so funny that you mentioned the tinsel on the tree. I told my husband I wanted to find some just to see if I could get people using it again (ha). I used to love it!

    The treats sounds wonderful, but the heritage is the richest.

    Thank you for sharing!


  20. Debbie,

    I hope you had a great Christmas. I loved seeing the pictures of Christmas past...just awesome, my friend.

    Thanks for your comment on my new header...we just took the picture yesterday at our old house in Vero so I thought I would throw it up there.

    Happy Saturday to you, my sweet friend.

  21. What a blessing this post has been to me. I'm glad you decided to blog on Christmas day and tell us about the Norwegian traditions. Love the picture. I remember when a Christmas tree just wasn't complete until all the tinsel had been put on it. We called it icicles. I was always tempted to just throw it on the tree, but it was so pretty when applied one strand at a time. I just mentioned yesterday to Hubby when we saw an old fashioned tree in an old movie that kids nowadays have never seen a tree like that. There are compensations for being old. We have a lot of great memories.
    Thanks for sharing your memories with us.

  22. Oh.my.goodness. I am so glad that I wanted others to share from their Christmas past...How cool to read yours. It is really similar to mine - I guess it is our European heritage...I am first generation German - lol...
    I totally forgot about the tinsels - we had those on our tree too :)
    I love what you said - we all have a common reason to celebrate - Christ.

    Thank you so much for sharing your Christmas past with us this week.

    Blessings to you and yours...

  23. What a wonderful Christmas heritage you have! Also, thank you for your sweet comment to my TT post! God is good!

  24. Hi Debbie,

    I pray you had a blessed Sunday. Hugs to you today, my sweet sister!!

  25. What wonderful traditions! And so good you and your sister work at continuing them. Very meaningful!

  26. hey there ...
    i came via felisol ...

    those are lovely memories you shared ... i was born in finland, living in canada now - yet we still celebrate on the eve - it feels more like christmas to me ...

    blessings on you!

  27. Sorry I'm a little late to this post. I've barely been on my computer at all since before Christmas.

    What a very touching post, Debbie. So sweet, I loved hearing about your family. It must be hard living so far from family around times like this, but it sounds like you all keep it very special.

    Wishing you a Happy New Year!

  28. I think the LORD led me to this message today because during the Nov/Dec time of giving thanks and CHRISTmas I miss my Grandparents EVEN more if that's possible because I miss them so much DAILY.

    Memories of the precious times at their Thanksgiving and Christmas table and around the tree were a part of the handful of childhood memories that were GOOD.

    Thank you for sharing your precious family. I love you.

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