Wednesday, December 24, 2008

アメリカでのクリスマスの思い出 American Christmas memories

What do I remember about Christmas as a kid? Well, the main thing is presents. Presents would be piled under the Christmas tree, and as a kid, that was torture. You see, the presents would be stacked there for as much as two weeks before Christmas. Of course, my brothers and I could not open them until Christmas Eve. That was because relatives would send or bring a present, and under the tree it would go.


So gradually they piled up. My brothers and I would try to peer through the wrapping to see what was inside, or shake the boxes. We rarely ever guessed the truth of what was inside.


Christmas Eve, family would gather, and there would be a big festive dinner. And then we would open the presents! After a while, it was time for bed. But none of us wanted to sleep, because in the night, Santa would come!


And there in the morning, would be even more presents, from Santa under the Christmas tree!


But really home preparations for Christmas started about two weeks earlier. It was then that we would buy a Christmas tree. I was born and grew up in the American Great Lakes region, so there often was snow in December. Christmas trees were sold in the parking lots of shopping malls; one huge section would be roped off for tree sales. After picking out the tree, we would drive home with it in the car.


Once home, the decorating would begin. In my home, we had Christmas ornaments from Germany. The ornaments and many colored lights would go up. Some years an electric model train would be set up to run in a circle around the tree.


Many Americans who are first or second generation in America, mix ethnic Christmas traditions from the old country with American customs.


In our household, Christmas Eve dinner was always Swedish food. Pickled herring, pickled pigs feet, roast pork stuffed with plum, sausages, bean, potato salads. For dessert we would have rice pudding.


Christmas day would be turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and many vegetables. Dessert was pumpkin or fruit mince pie.


Usually, many relatives would help making all the food. And there was a lot of food. In fact, for about a week after Christmas, we would be eating the leftovers.


For weeks before Christmas, there would be many special Christmas shows, for example there was always a Peanuts cartoon show, with the Peanuts characters. I liked “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, which was done with puppets.


Of course, the radio was always playing Christmas music. It is the custom that every American musician must do his or her own version of Christmas songs.


But sometimes, in an effort to be original, people went a little too far in making Christmas music.


Here are some of the Christmas songs that I thought were terrible, and what I liked.


My worst two: 最もひどい2曲です。

Dog Jingle Bells:犬達がジングルベルを歌います。

Cat Silent Night:猫達がきよしこの夜を歌います。

My favorite two. Yes, in America these songs would sometimes be played in German on the radio.


Stille Nachtドイツ語のきよしこの夜です。

O Tannebaumドイツ語でクリスマスツリー曲です。
For an American kid, Christmas is probably the favorite time of year. But there were some kids who were a little bit glum around Christmas. You see, there is one other time of year that one can get a lot of presents. That is on birthdays. Now kids with birthdays in December or January, well the birthday tended to get mixed with Christmas. Parents always promised a double amount of presents, but to those kids, it never seemed to work out that way. Me, in any case my birthday is in February, so I just lucked out!


Anyway, Merry Christmas to everybody!


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