Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Childhood Christmas Traditions

Christmas Eve
Until the early 1970s Christmas Eve was always celebrated with my Dad’s side of the family. Grandma Toots was last with us for Christmas 1965 and Grandpa Stuart didn’t pass away until 1974. We spent the early years at Grandma and Grandpa’s at 2019 Princeton in St. Paul.Then we began with one year at our house, one year at Aunt Dorothy’s and the next at Aunt Jean’s. They both lived in Roseville, Minnesota right by each other. There were 10 of us cousins. I think Grandma Toots gave me either a Bobbsey Twins or Nancy Drew book every Christmas.

Christmas Eve at our house included homemade au gratin potatoes many of the years. My cousin Mary often mentions how good those were. Once year my Aunt Dorothy made the most mouthwatering beef roast that had cooked overnight in the oven. I thought that was so neat. It was excruciating when the adults made us kids eat dinner before opening presents.

Christmas Day
Until the early 1960s Christmas Day was spent with my maternal Grandparents, Maurice Micheal and Gertrude Margaret (Cook) Hanley. Then after 1967 it was just Grandma — and she was with us through Christmas of 1997. She passed away in 1999. There were years in the 1950s where my great grandmother Nana and her sisters-in-law would join us. Until the early 1960s my Aunt Jeanie (Hanley) Ronnan was with us on Christmas Day. By the early 1960s she and her growing family stayed home in White Bear Lake. I missed having all those little cousins around. Watching them unwrap gift was more fun than watching my own sisters who were getting older. The picture on the left is from Christmas 1958. The three girls are me and my sisters and our first maternal cousin, Ricky.

Most often we had turkey on Christmas Day. My Mom made the best gravy!

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2 comments on “Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Childhood Christmas Traditions

  1. Today we do what you call funeral potatoes (hash browns, soup, etc.)but what Mom made was from real potatoes, peeled, sliced very thin, white sauce, cheese, etc. We would fight over the crispy edges. She had a huge all glass two part casserole that she used in the 1950s. Wayyy before Corningware.

  2. Thanks, Paula for sharing your memories of Christmases past.

    We call those potatoes au gratin “funeral potatoes” since they are so often made for the dinners following funerals. But indeed this Sunday, my middle daughter will be making a 9×13 inch pan of them.

    We have our formal family Christmas Dinner a little early due to my eldest daughter’s travel plans to be with her husband’s mom and grandmother. Grandma is in quite fragile health.

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