Today our own Queenie T shares a Christmas tradition and a great background story. I must say I love learning more about my Divas, even though I've probably heard these stories at gatherings before, it's quite magical to have them in writing. Enjoy!
I was repeatedly nagged by our head diva dahlink, Frantastic™ to submit a holiday recipe/tradition for her wonderful blog. I have one of each that tend to go hand in hand. Although, not necessarily the recipe, it was a holiday tradition for many, many years.
When my parents emigrated to Canada in 1953 from Germany, they brought many traditions with them that they passed along to us. Although my father was a firm believer that when he did come here, they would raise us in Canadian ways; i.e. Christmas presents were opened Christmas Day and not Christmas Eve, he still held tightly to ones that he and my mother had been brought up on. Others, they developed along the way. One such long tradition, very popular among Europeans, especially Germany and other Scandinavian countries who lived close to the sea, was and is Herrings, or rather, Pickled Herrings. To those not aware, herrings are little fish about 4-6 inches long and 2" wide (when halved). Slippery little suckers when doing the pickling method. My mom taught me how to pickle them, more than likely because I was the only child, save for my eldest brother who wanted to learn. We always ate pickled herrings at Christmas time and ONLY at Christmas time. My mom would pickle them about 2 weeks before we would eat them. Now, in our family, 2 adults and 5 kids, not all of us had the "acquired" taste for them. My sister dislikes them to this day. Out of my brothers, 2 liked, one didn't. My parents and me longed for them and I would often have two helpings.
My husband (brave soul that he is), being with me and my family for our very first Christmas was introduced to them by my Dad. Now granted, Dad did skew the order of serving by giving my hubby dessert first and then pickled herrings. My husband gave that telltale look at first bite, the look one gets when forced to eat Liver! He ate the entire small bowl my dad gave him but indicated to me after that it was not his favourite dish. Having said that, there is another tradition that tends to visit our family every couple of Christmas'; the flu. It just so happens that my mom and husband both got it Christmas Eve. Using your own imagination you can envision my husband's horror when he started vomiting shortly after midnight. He wasn't fond of the herring going down let alone coming back up. Not wanting to wake me up, he crept upstairs to use the bathroom there. That is where my father found him, slumped over the toilet heaving away. To this day he blames the herring but as I always tell him, you and mom just got the flu, bad timing is all.
I last made pickled herrings with my mom about 2 years after my Dad passed away. The time we spent doing that was both therapeutic and sad. Although my mom loved to make them, she found it hard to continue especially when my dad wasn't there to enjoy them. I haven't made them since then and now my mom isn't here to enjoy them either. Perhaps I will again with a nod to my mom & dad for giving me something that I love.
My husband was introduced to many of our traditions and the other one that went along with Pickled Herrings was watching our favourite movie. Anyone who became a member of our family was subjected to our true and traditional Christmas rituals and our movie was and always has been......The Sound of Music. For those not in the know and really, why aren't you as it is a classic, it was filmed in the early sixties and released in 1965. I first saw it in 1975 at the old Princess Theatre in Prince George. I sat in the first row of the balcony with my sister (what a memory). I fell in love with it or rather I fell in love with Georg (Gay-org for those of you who cannot pronounce it) Von Trapp aka Christopher Plummer. To date, I have lost count of the number of times I have seen it but suffice to say it is well over 150 times. My sister and I can recite the words verbatim for the whole movie. We watch it faithfully every Christmas season. As per my earlier comment, anyone who joined our family had to watch it with us. Now some members of my family have in the past, tried to deke out of watching it. My father once said he was going upstairs to get a glass of milk and never came back downstairs. After that, he had to get his milk ahead of the movie and we blocked the door to bar any escapes. My husband, brother-in-law and sister-in-law have all tried to avoid watching it but they too have suffered consequences for trying to do so.
For those of you who have never seen it, I implore you to do so. A true story, it takes place in the early thirties in Salzburg, Austria. Maria is trying to become a nun but is failing miserably at it. She is sent to be/act as a governess for 7 children of Captain Von Trapp (Austrian Navy Captain). He had been widowed but is now engaged to the evil Baroness Schraeder, a wealthy widower herself. Maria and the Captain fall in love just as the Anschluss (Germany took over Austria) happens. Baroness leaves, Maria and the Captain marry and escape over the hills into Switzerland with the children so he is not forced to serve in the German Navy. Okay, I've told you enough. Go watch it yourselves.
Off track again. It is a valued tradition carried on today. Last year was the first year after my mom passed away we watched it without her. It was sad because she wasn't there to enjoy it but at the same time, I know my parents are in heaven knowing that their treasured traditions are continuing with all of us.
There, I have now told you our traditions and I have cried several times while writing this because of all the memories they bring back. I hope your holiday traditions always carry on and I hope that you treasure each and everyone of them.