Tis the Season: Christmas Heritage

Sunset chaser

Take a walk with me down memory lane to my 140-year-old, two-story family farmhouse in South Dakota…

Norwegian, German, Swedish, English…where I grew up in South Dakota, you knew what your nationality was an probably knew how to prepare a few of the foods of that culture. And at Christmastime, many of those foods were on our farm table…lutefisk, lefse, kuchen, krumkake, rosettes. Mom was a great cook! Growing up in a family of six kids: four older brothers and a baby sister, I was Mom’s helper in the kitchen. I learned how to cook Mom’s way -– by taste and often, without a recipe. Food brought people together!

Christmas Ever was our time to be with my favorite relatives, Aunt Mary (whom I was named after), Uncle Barney and my cousin, Jim. And on Christmas Eve, oyster stew was on the menu, along with Chile (because Uncle Barney did NOT like oyster stew!). The milk broth, the tiny round crackers, and 2 or 3 oysters on the bottom of Mom’s china bowls – so delicious!

The best part of the evening was the homemade ice cream! I can still see Dad, Uncle Barney and the boys taking turns before dinner, turning the crank, adding rock salt to the ice, until the crank turned harder and harder. Then, we would all crowd around with a spoon, because when the metal cylinder was opened and the dasher pulled out, we would each grab the first taste of the ice cream! Ooh, there is nothing like that taste…creamy, cold and sweet. We had to wait until after supper and gifts to enjoy an actual dish of the delectable!

The Christmas story was read from Dad’s big, black Bible and gifts were distributed. A few of my treasures stick in my mind…my Chatty Cathy doll, my first radio, and a pair of black patent shoes that made me sound like a tap dancer on the old wooden floors – all fun memories. But my favorite gift is still with me. Uncle Barney gave me a tiny nativity to hang on the tree (pictured above) as a sweet reminder I still have of the heritage of love, family, and treasure of Christ’s birth:

the reason for Christmas!


merryMerry Shervey has been attending Grace Chapel for about 13 years with her husband of 42 years, Wayne. Merry recently retired from a 40-year nursing career, and now enjoys being a Grandma to four grandchildren, gardening, and quilting. She and Wayne enjoy getting to know new people and lead the Prime Timers group at Grace Chapel, for those in their over 55 years.

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