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  • HDT Team

HDT Shares Their Holiday Traditions

Happy Holidays from Happy Dancing Turtle. We know that it's tough to be safely distance from our loved ones, family, and friends during this pandemic. Now, things are topsy-turvy, upside-down, mish-mashed in ways that are uncomfortable, frustrating, and down-right not fun, right? It's times like these where you look to return to comfort foods, holiday customs, and familial traditions to bring some semblance of normalcy.

So, we thought it would be neat to share what the HDT/HUG team has done with their families in storied histories of yuletide past. Let's start with the food!


Lefse has been a traditional part of [our] holidays. This year, for the first time ever, I endeavored to make lefse without the supervision/guidance of my dad. My husband and I followed the family recipe and were successful! In fact, he thought it was great fun and thinks maybe we should make lefse more than once a year! - Quinn

Our Christmas Eve tradition is to order Chinese take-out. I think when we were little, it stemmed from the ease of not cooking on an already very hectic night of the year for a family of procrastinators. As we got older, the tradition continued, as many of us had a long day of travel to get home on Christmas Eve and again, enjoyed an easy meal upon arrival. Plus, Chinese food is the one type of food everyone in my family could agree on. - Nora

We enjoyed oyster stew, turkey, shrimp/fish and pie. Usually after eating we head to the fish house to get some fresh air and see if we can catch a walleye or two with the father in-law and brother. - Bruce

Another tradition is that we make lefse. As the years have passed (as well as a few of the older family members) we gathered together to spend Quality Time and make this Norwegian treat! The question still remains: Butter with brown sugar or white sugar? - Shirlee

We travel to grandma and grandpa's a day or two before Christmas and have a nice dinner, often Swedish meatballs or salmon. Christmas morning, we have Swedish pancakes and then we usually make krumkake, sometimes we make lefse. - Simon

What treats do you enjoy during the holidays?

My wife's family introduced me to their traditional holiday meal years ago. They call it the Hunt Family Hotdish. It's comprised of rice, beef, water chestnuts, and other odds and ends. It's extremely simple to make and, more importantly, easy to clean up. That's important, as no presents could be opened until cleanup was finished. The kids even learned to help! - Colin


Our family has never been big on what you buy and receive as gifts. For us, it was more about the quality time spent togther. For a stretch of eight years, each Christmas season my sister and I would purchase 2 matching ornament kits. We would get together, sit across the the table from each other and assemble these intricate creations filled with beads, sequins, pins, and ribbons. -Shirlee

Homemade ornaments are a way to show you care and spend time together.

One of our favorite traditions is visiting the Sertoma Winter Wonderland. Once we get to the Arboretum, the kids crawl up to the front seat and sit on our laps as we drive through, looking at the lights. We might need a vehicle with bigger front seats to continue that part of the tradition as they get older! - Michelle

Enjoying the festive lights of neighborhoods is a wonderful tradition.

The first week of December, my eldest goes to grandma's and helps set up the tree and the Christmas train. At my house, the kids set up the tree, stockings, and lights. there is ALWAYS a Christmas train around the tree, this part is my oldest boys alone to moderate. We often have fires and time on the couch near the fire. We usually watch several Christmas movies during this time. Die Hard is usually among them, you know why. - Simon

For holiday traditions we visit family on Christmas Eve at my mom's in Coon Rapids. We'd have dinner and play dice for gifts (secret Santa gifts/joke gifts). It's fun since some of the gifts are complete jokes (like mis-colored socks, golf tees, or pot holders out of style) and other likes candles, playing cards or something you might actually want. - Bruce

Our other traditions are that kids can open stockings as soon as they wake up in the AM (so parents can get an extra hour of sleep). We also eat a big, yummy breakfast/brunch after opening presents on Christmas morning. - Nora

On every Christmas day, as our children were small, we would open our stockings and enjoy a very laid back morning or homemade caramel rolls while watching The Toy That Save Christmas. As the kids got older, we have since changed that to viewing of The Lord of the Rings marathon, (extended editions, of course.) - Colin


As a kid, my family would travel to my grandparents home in Alexandria. We would light candles for everyone in the extended family and gave everyone a chance to share their year, both good and bad. It was a great way to keep connected. As I got older, there were soooo many candles as the family kept growing and growing! - Colin

When my grandpa was little, he and his sister and brothers would pick out a tree and cut it down. They'd take it home and decorate it to high heaven with their mom and dad. After Christmas, when the tree had dies, they would stick it upright in the snowbank. His mother and they would string rows and rows of popcorn to hang on the dead tree outside and sit inside to watch the birds have a feast on the popcorn. It was like a little holiday present for the birds! - Alyssa

What's your favorite holiday movie watch?

Growing up, my parents got the four of us kids a new matching or coordinating ornament each year at Christmas time so that when we moved out, we would all have enough to decorate our own trees. It's pretty cool now to see my sibling's trees with the same, familiar ornaments, hanging on our trees next to each other. - Michelle

New Years can vary for us, but is usually spend ice fishing, followed by turkey dinner and watching the ball drop on tv. Also, we like to snowmobile to Gooseberry island and sit on the picnic table in the middle of the lake and take photos on Pelican Lake near Lincoln Point. - Bruce

No matter what your traditions are, now is a time to start new ones! Let us know how your family is making this holiday a time filled with good memories.


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