A wonderful aspect of the Christmas season is the traditions that make it unique to your own family.
They can be traditions passed on from generation to generation - a favorite ethnic recipe, or treasured ornament.
They can be a recent addition to family folklore - watching "Christmas Vacation" in your jammies as a family, or picking out your tree the weekend after Thanksgiving.
In reflecting on my own family traditions, some are silly, some are sacred, but all are part of what makes the holidays special.
From our Scandinavian heritage, we have rosettes, krumkake and some lefsa on the table for the holidays. Luckily, the lutefisk part of the tradition was let go years ago. The lye-dried cod not only ruined the appetites of half the guests, but the smell lingered long after the tree was taken down.
We have stockings made by my mother - the same pattern for my family and all my brothers' and sisters' families as well.
I make the cheesecake - every year- for dessert after our large family dinner.
It's funny to see how the traditions of my little family of my husband, son and I, are a combination of long-held activities of our families, and some new holiday "musts" that the three of us have created over the years.
Santa always - always - brings a game for we three to play on Christmas Day. Generally he brings underwear as well. Santa is concerned about the possibility of accidents, and suitable undergarments in case of such an event.
No matter how silly, or how odd, our traditions are ours.
Other traditions aren't silly, or odd. They do, however, mark the season more than any other.
For me, that's the Holiday Family Adoption program. Helping to organize this annual event marks for me, as clearly as anything, that the season is upon us.
It reminds me of the true meaning of the season. It fills me with gratitude.
It is Christmas, at its best.
I was joined this past Saturday by my "Box Man," Ron Bauermeister, and four members of the Clay County 4-H County Council. We collected gifts from "adoptive" families and organizations. We'll be back there this coming Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to noon, to collect the rest of the gifts for the 81 families in the program this year.
Next Sunday the Spencer Firefighters and UPS drivers will play Santa, and deliver the gifts, with some help from our out-of-town drivers. This has become a tradition for all of them as well.
I like to believe that, for those families who year in and year out "adopt" a family from our list, it's become a holiday tradition for them as well.