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Send your stories and traditions

December 2, 2015
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

We're into December, and I was strongly considering spouting off this week about how much I dislike driving on snow and ice. Let's get that out of the way now. I know to slow down, to put it in third when starting out, to firmly and consistently apply my anti-lock brakes, to gently correct in a slide, and to keep a good distance from other drivers. I accept that we live in the top of Iowa (and I've always lived within 150 miles of here) and that winter is long and snowy. Having compression socks and a nice pair of boots helps heaps, and I take in the beauty of the snow-covered trees and houses.

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and I'm finally starting to get into the spirit of the season. I struggle with some parts of it; I always want to do the over-the-top perfect thing so that our home and my family is overjoyed like it's the end of a Christmas movie. But we're not in a movie; we're just us. And the kids are getting older and it really is mostly fine. My daughter in Texas has insisted she'll be home for Christmas Eve because she wouldn't want to miss that for all the world. They'll be working in Georgia and South Carolina before then, so the clock is ticking and I can't wait to see the result. The anticipation of Caitlyn coming home overrides my usual moments of melancholy missing those who have gone before.

I look forward to covering a lot of basketball games and attending a lot of events between now and then.

In our newsroom, we're also looking ahead to the Christmas Eve and after Christmas issues of our newspaper. News items slow down a bit for the actual holiday, and that frees up room for the stories of Christmas from around our community.

Do you have a tradition that's continued in your family for generations?

A decoration or ornament that represents something memorable?

A person in your life who made the season bright?

A gift that you thought would be impossible to deliver that ultimately was delivered?

A gift you gave that was really spot-on?

A year that money was scarce for gifts and you replaced that aspect of it with time together?

Do you volunteer or make a donation as a family that warms your heart? (It's not bragging if by sharing, others realize they can make a difference, too.)

Have you created a snowman on your property or a fantastic Christmas display you want to talk about?

Have you experienced a Christmas miracle?

Has someone you thought wouldn't make it surprised you by coming home for Christmas?

Have you had an amazing Christmas party or exchange at your workplace?

These are the kinds of stories we want. You can inspire readers in the community with what you share. No pressure: make me laugh, make me cry, make me believe in the holiday spirit again.

I'll share more of our traditions in the next two columns, but here's a snippet. My paternal grandparents were 100 percent Swedish, so we had oyster stew and opened most of our gifts Christmas Eve then went to 11:00 candlelight service. There was plenty of lefse, kringla, papparkakar, stamp cookies, lingonberry tarts, Swedish apple cake, and Lucia buns, plus Grandma Agnes's signature light sugar cookies and brownies. There was also some less-Scandinavian fare like cheese, crackers and summer sausage to ward off sugar crashes. Swedish women always put out "a little bit to eat" for company so this could go on for days on end. Because of my grandpa's need to be prompt, we were always at least 20 minutes early for any church service and more for Christmas Eve. Once they started snowbirding in Arizona, we had traditions like picking grapefruit and cotton, and sunbathing by the pool while staring up at Superstition Mountain.

I'm grateful to have heard from so many of you that you enjoy this column. When you're ready to share your story or tradition, send it to



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