This year we experienced a special celebration at our house. It was my wife and my 25th anniversary. It made me stop and think about the 25 Christmases that we experienced as a family.
Our first Christmas we did not have much money. We got a Christmas tree, a star to top it, lights, and some garland; but we did not have ornaments. My wife had some books with bead patterns for Christmas ornaments. We must have made several dozen ornaments, bells, stars, ball ornaments filled with figures. Many of these ornaments we still have and still put on our trees.
A few years later we had some little ones to enjoy our Christmas trees. By this time we had some store-bought ornaments hanging from the branches. We also had a train running around the tree.
Then came a major move from the Gulf states to the upper Midwest. We no longer had room for the train. The tall trees did not fit either. We started using a 4-foot tree set on an end table. The star and the bead ornaments were still there, and more children were enjoying Christmas with us. We finally bought a slim 6-foot tree and started decorating the tree with color-themes. Our favorites color themes are red and silver, blue and silver, and purple and silver.
Many of our Christmas traditions were set during this time. Every year we set up our tree the day after Thanksgiving with all the children helping decorate. We usually take a Saturday in December to make several kinds of cookies. The family decides on 3 or 4 kinds of cookies to make. (At one time we let every child choose a cookie recipe to make on that day; but as more children arrived, cookie making day became a chore instead of being enjoyable so we cut down on the number of cookie choices.) Every Christmas morning we have a hashbrown breakfast casserole. Last year when my wife and I talked about doing something else for Christmas breakfast the children spoke up and made us know that they wanted the traditional hashbrown casserole. Unlike many families who have turkey with all the fixings for Christmas dinner, we have an extra-cheesy, extra meaty lasagna. It sure simplifies the clean up.
Then came another move, not so far this time. Now we are able to comfortably set up two Christmas trees. We decorate one tree with a color-theme and the other with our favorite ornaments. The train has also reappeared.
The next 25 years will be full of surprises. As the children grow and move on to make families of their own, I am sure we will be dropping some traditions and adding new ones. The trees will lose some ornaments and gain others. But, oh, the fun we will have getting there.
Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole
1 lb ground sausage ( “hot” or “sage” flavored)
¼ cup chopped onions
2 ½ cups frozen cubed hash brown potatoes
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese (2 cups)
1 ¾ cups milk
1 cup baking mix
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1. Cook sausage and onion in large frying pan over medium-high
heat for 5 minutes or until meat crumbles.
2. Stir in hash browns, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until sausage
is no longer pink and hash browns are lightly browned.
3. Drain mixture well on paper towels.
4. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 13×9-inch baking dish.
5. A stoneware baking dish works really well.
6. Stir together the lightly beaten eggs, shredded cheese, milk,
baking mix, salt, and pepper.
7. Pour evenly over sausage/hashbrown mixture.
8. Stir well.
9. Cover and chill for 8 hours.
10. Bake covered with foil at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
11. Uncover and bake 10 to 15 minutes or until a wooden pick
inserted in the middle comes out clean.
12. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes.
13. You can also keep the casserole warm until you are ready to eat
by covering it with foil and putting it in a 200 degree oven.
14. Optional toppings: sour cream, favorite sauce of your choice
(picante, hot sauce). You can also garnish it with parsley.