Sunday, December 11, 2011

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: December 11

(This is post 11 in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by

Prompt: December 11 - Other traditions
Did your family or friends also celebrate other traditions during the holidays such as Hanukkah or Kwanzaa? Did your immigrant ancestors have holiday traditions from their native country which they retained or perhaps abandoned?

Back of photo says "Christmas at Grandma/Grandpa Thibodeaux"
These would be my 'Cajun' great-grandparents, living in CA.
Funny that the photo is dated July, 1963.
No hurry in developing holiday photos.

The first time I read these questions, my initial answer was, "I don't know." So...I called my grandparents and asked them.

My grandfather's parents were born to French speakers in Cajun Louisiana. He says they had turkey and mince meat pie. He can't remember anything else, but says he always loved desserts. He was one of many in a large Catholic family but says he always got a present.

My grandmother's parents were German immigrants. My grandmother's mother passed away very young, so my grandmother only knows Christmas memories with her father and her siblings. She says they always had a tree, which is interesting given the extreme poverty in which they lived in 1930's Los Angeles. Her brother would get a tree for fifty cents (or sometimes free) on Christmas Eve, after the price was reduced for quick sale. When she woke on Christmas morning the tree would always be decorated. I suspect much of my grandmother's childhood Christmas memories were created by her older brother who saw to it the holiday was celebrated, while their father worked to keep food on the table. The Christmas meal was a roasted chicken. My grandmother said that when her mother was alive, she liked to bake and would make streudel.

My grandmother told me a funny story. One Christmas Eve, she got out of bed and went into the living room. The presents were under the tree and there was a (used) bicycle for her! The bike had the type of kickstand that would elevate the back wheel so you could pedal in place. My grandma got on the bike and pedaled and pedaled and pedaled, all while her family was asleep--her brother was sleeping on the couch! The next morning, she got up and pretended to be surprised about the bicycle.

It was fun answering this question for the Advent Calendar series, because it resulted in a great phone conversation with my grandparents.

(Originally published December 11, 2009)


  1. I can see your grandmother peddling and peddling. That is a great memory.

  2. That is a fun story! I bought my grandma a memory book for her to fill out for my boys. We've had some great conversations while filling out the pages, a great way to hear some stories like yours!