Snow vs Palm Trees: Why We Love Being Home at Christmas by Kendra Thornton

Kendra Thornton
Kendra Thornton

Around this time of the year, you can sense the Christmas season approaching without even looking at your calendar. People walk with a livelier step, eager to find the right gifts to place under their trees. The warm and joyous sound of familiar Christmas music fills the air. Chicago is a perpetual winter wonderland throughout the holiday season. Excitement, fun and holiday cheer are guaranteed.

Tradition Is Everything 

In my house, we celebrate our own unique traditions each year. Being Norwegian, my side of the family is focused on celebrations involving foods like lefse and kringla, which we make together as a family. On Christmas Eve, we partake in a tradition that usually leaves us laughing hysterically; all participants much propel a raw oyster down their throats at the same time. After the coordinated “oyster shoot,” we all enjoy a delicious, hot bowl of homemade oyster stew. Finally, we make a toast. This event features a Scandinavian spirit called Akvavit, which is quite potent and burns on the way down. As we toast, we all yell “skol,” an exclamation that’s roughly translated to “cheers” in English.

Christmas and the Kids 

My children enjoy ice-skating, decorating the Christmas tree in our large bay window, helping me cook our huge Norwegian dinner, and decorating the freshly baked cookies we leave out every Christmas Eve. The task wouldn’t be complete without settling down to relax with a steaming mug of hot cocoa. Another favorite tradition is making “reindeer dust” and sprinkling it around the outside of each child’s window just before bedtime. According to those who know, it helps Santa’s reindeer find your house, so they can make their special delivery. This final Christmas Eve touch is so exciting and special to my kids.

Kendra's Snow Angels
Kendra’s Snow Angels

We Dream of a White Christmas

My former job allowed me to travel all over the world, but although it sounds cliche, there’s simply nothing that compares to being home for the holidays. I’d never want to spend Christmas away from my loved ones or the fluffy, white blanket of snow I associate with the season’s magical atmosphere. I recently read an article on Gogobot’s blog about comparing holiday seasons in warm and cold climates. I’ve been to hot climates during the winter season, but I just can’t imagine how their sand and palm trees could hold a candle to snow, evergreens and the need for frequent infusions of hot cocoa.

From Our Family to Yours

Perhaps your corner of the world holds a special holiday magic for you and your family. Any climate can offer a certain charm when it inspires warm memories of good times. A cold Christmas works best for my family and me. We’ll be staying in town this Christmas and enjoying the company of all our relatives again, just as we did this past Thanksgiving. We wish you and your family an amazing holiday season full of your favorite recipes, the laughter of your loved ones and memories to last a lifetime.

 Editors Note:  You can find more from Kendra Thornton on Twitter at @Kendra Thornton and at


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