When it comes to Christmas traditions, two come to mind.
The first is not unique to our family, but not as well-known as I once assumed.
Who has heard of the Christmas pickle?
Up until very recently, I thought everybody had! Then I saw a note from one of my editors in my upcoming manuscript (the scene involved the pickle), asking what in the world I was talking about. She had to look it up.
Supposedly, it’s an old German tradition, which would make sense. I come from hardy German stock. I grew up calling my great grandma and grandpa Oma and Opa, and I distinctly remember Oma yelling at Opa in German anytime she got upset. They came to America on a boat as teenagers.
The funny truth, though, is that it’s not actually an old German tradition at all. The funny truth is that nobody is quite sure where this tradition comes from. All I know is that we have one and this is how it works.
First of all, you should know that it’s not food. It’s an ornament, and it comes in varying sizes. Someone hides the green pickle ornament on the tree and the first person to find it gets an extra special gift. We did this when I was younger and we do it now with our son, Brogan.
The second tradition is most definitely unique to my family.
And that tradition is egg salad.
What’s that? Egg salad, you say? On Christmas?
Yes, egg salad sandwiches on Christmas Eve, to be more exact.
Our family is quite large, with lots of aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins. And every Christmas Eve, for as long as I can remember, we hosted a giant party. It was the thing. The big event. The party my brother and my same-aged cousins and I would eagerly count down to with much anticipation. Because it. was. so. much. fun. It was the night we opened most of the gifts. The night we got to stay up to two in the morning (because the adults were playing cards in the basement). And we ate food! All kinds of food. A whole giant table-full of food.
And every single year, part of that food included my aunt Peggy’s egg salad.
My aunt Peggy is more like a second mom than an aunt. As a kid, she lived with us. In elementary school, when you’re supposed to draw a picture of your family, my aunt Peggy was in every one. And every year the day before Christmas Eve, I remember her boiling eggs upon eggs upon eggs and peeling them in the sink. A sign that the long-anticipated party was upon us at last!
We still have our annual party. No longer at our house, but at my Uncle Paul and Aunt Lisa’s. Peggy still makes her egg salad. I eat it approximately once every year, on Christmas Eve.
What’s one of your Christmas traditions?