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The Two Days of Christmas By Eric Chandler My family does a lot of typical things during the holidays. We have an Advent calendar. We go up to the Mount Royal grocery store parking lot and buy a real balsam fir. That’s been a sturdier tradition than going to cut it ourselves. My sister sends us homemade shortbread from New England using my great aunt’s recipe. We celebrate my daughter’s birthday just beforehand. We think about how we brought our newborn girl home from the hospital for the first time on Christmas Day. On that morning, we look at the remnants of cookies and carrots that we left out for Santa and Rudolph. I drink absurd amounts of eggnog.

Skiers crest the high point at Giants Ridge; December 29, 2015. | ERIC CHANDLER

Fischer Family Christmas By Kelsey Roseth Heaps of extra-buttery spaghetti noodles. Ladles full of hearty meat sauce. French bread sliced sideways, topped with butter and garlic salt. These perfectly-prepared dinner plates were the scrumptious start of the Fischer Family Christmas. When I was 12 years old, I moved with my family from the Cleveland, Ohio area to Fargo, North Dakota. In Ohio, my immediate family was isolated. The majority of my mother’s family, the “Fischers,” live near Fargo, and my father’s family is spread out across the country. We moved from the bustling suburbs to the growing prairie city to be closer to family. The move was anxiety-producing for my sister and I, but on the first Fischer Family Christmas, it was confirmed—my parents had made the right decision. Years ago, before my grandparents passed away, it was tradition on my mom’s side to meet at Grandma Beth and Grandpa Bob’s house on Christmas Eve for a full family celebration. My grandparents lived in this ranch-style home and space was 16


This is where my thoughts drift like the snow toward skiing. My kids are both on the cross-country ski team in high school. The team goes to Giants Ridge ski area during the Christmas break. On two different days, they practice on the racecourses they’ll ski on three different times later in the winter. Races that include the high school state championships. These two practices are key for the kids who want to make it onto the state team. They do intervals on the uphill sections, sections with nicknames like Double Trouble, Tri-

ple Threat, and The Wall. I stand with the coaches as they watch the kids ski with power and determination. Eventually, I get cold from standing still while the athletes have sweat dripping off their noses. Feeling guilty, I go glide through the trees by myself at my parent pace to warm up. I had their fast kind of fun when I was younger. A lot younger. Six years now we’ve been going up to the Ridge after Christmas. Two different days of proudly watching my kids and their team leave it all out there on the snowy trails. That’s what I think about between the Nativity and the New Year. In a few weeks, I’ll drive south on the Vermilion Trail after those practices with my exhausted children. And even though I didn’t earn it, I’m going to drink too much eggnog.

limited. With about 30 people packed in the narrow house, the adults would gather upstairs and us kids would hang out in the basement. While waiting for Grandma to cook spaghetti, the kids would play pool and hideand-seek, and sneak into the back room to check out my Grandpa’s not-to-be-touched model train set. A few of us would set the table, and when dinner was ready, our parents would help us pile plates with pasta. The kids would bring dinner downstairs with a full glass of chocolate milk—then laugh, talk and share stories. After dinner wrapped up, and my cousins did the dishes, we’d each grab a wrapped present from beneath the Christmas tree and head back downstairs for a game of “White Elephant.” We’d sit in a circle, go around the room, and when it was your turn, you could unwrap a mystery present from the center of the circle or steal an already unwrapped gift from someone else. In tight quarters, the game was chaotic and loud, lengthy and fun (except the year I won some Spam, if you remember


The Fischer Family seated for the game of White Elephant, sometime in the early 2000s. | SUBMITTED those unpleasant cans of cooked meat. It was never confirmed, but I think my exuberant Uncle Donnie is to blame for that gross gift). Most importantly, during this half-day event, we’d make memories that have lasted my lifetime. Now in my 30s, I look back and recall those large family celebrations with aunts and uncles, cousins and siblings, extended family and friends. As we’ve aged, each of our families have stretched and changed,

and it’s becoming harder to get everyone together. Some years, I ache for those celebrations, and the joy of seeing holiday wonder through a child’s eyes. However, most years, memories of the Fischer Family Christmas serve as a warm reminder of what the holiday could, and should be— incredible food, spiritual reflection, hearty laughs and most importantly, gathered family.

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Northern Wilds December 2018  

For our December theme of “Home for the Holidays,” we asked our writers to describe some of their Christmas traditions. As you’ll discover,...

Northern Wilds December 2018  

For our December theme of “Home for the Holidays,” we asked our writers to describe some of their Christmas traditions. As you’ll discover,...

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