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My Holiday Memories

by Kristi Hennessy / Winnipeg Jets
Everyone has their own unique family traditions, whether you are from Stonewall or Sweden, you're holiday celebrations are unique. Five Winnipeg Jets players shared their holiday memories and traditions, unique to their families, and unique to their homes.  “Christmas Eve we usually get together as a family and open one gift, usually pajamas or something like that the night before. We’d always get up and go to my Grandpa’s for Christmas morning for a big brunch and do all of the gift exchange there. We would later have our Christmas turkey dinner.

Best Christmas memory:
The one that stands out is because I’ve seen the pictures and it brings back memories. It was the first time my brother and I got gear and were standing in front of the fireplace with our helmets and full gear on; I was probably five years old.

“It’s my favourite holiday; it’s always unbelievable. We have dinner on the 24th and then presents after dinner. We have potato salad, fish and fish soup but I don’t eat fish anymore so I eat chicken. The 24th was my favourite day; we just would watch Christmas movies and spend time with family. I remember always being so excited for dinner. I couldn’t wait to have the presents.”

Best Christmas memory:
“We would go play hockey all day long on Christmas in the cold. I’d always play with the friends that I grew up with on the street and around the house. On Christmas I think I played eight hours in a row, it was the first thing that I did when I woke up, just grab the stick and go outside and play hockey.

“Every Christmas is something special, I don’t think it’s about the presents, it’s about spending some time with your family.”

“Most of my family is from Illinois. I grew up in Minnesota, but everybody else, grandparents and extended family are all in Illinois. We always used to go to my Grandma’s house on Christmas Eve on my dad’s side, spend the night there and then Christmas Day, go over to my mom’s side on the other side of town and spend Christmas Day with them. We did that almost every year.”

What’s for dinner?
“At my Dad’s parents they make an Italian dish called bagna cauda. It sounds pretty bad and it’s not good for you either, but I love it. Basically it’s butter, anchovies and a bunch of garlic cloves, and you cook it in a big pan until it’s like a paste and you dip break, cabbage, celery and other things into it, it’s unbelievable. You wake up in the morning and your hands and feet are so swollen because of the amount of salt but it’s once a year and I look forward to it every Christmas.”

“For us, Christmas is about spending time with your family. The 24th is our biggest day. Santa Claus (Tomte) in Sweden comes for the kids and we usually have a big dinner. It’s a nice time to have with your family.

What’s for dinner?
“There are always Swedish meatballs. There are a lot of things on the table like meatballs, ham and sausage. I love the Christmas food we have.”

Christmas memory?
“I was maybe 10 or 11 years old. I have a brother that is close to the same age and he got something that I wanted that I didn’t get. A bicycle. I don’t remember what I got but I wasn’t happy about it that’s for sure!”

“We would just go over to my grandmas on Christmas Eve. The whole family would get together and have a great time, have a great dinner and open presents there. Christmas morning we’d celebrate with just our family, have a snowball fight or two and then head back to where we were going because hockey takes up a lot of family time for sure.”

Most memorable gift?
“I remember when I was really young, everyone had coats from the house team that you played with. You put patches on it from the tournaments you went to and your name was on the back and you’d put a bunch of pins on it. My parents got me one of those and I still have it to this day. It’s red corduroy. I still remember opening it up, putting it on and feeling like I had a varsity coat from high school or college and I was like six or seven years old.”
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