Christmas at the Kramers

It was a quiet day here at my house over Christmas.  The family has all been super careful around me.  If you have a cold you can’t some…cough, can’t some so, that left Karl and me as the only really truly healthy ones.  No one else is seriously sick.  Just coughs and sniffles that make things risky with me taking chemo and with Covid hot and heavy around here.

The new variant has made us all a little more nervous as the symptoms are not as noticeable…so we just are being careful.

So what did Karl and I do…Christmas Eve, we snuck into church all masked up so I could enjoy Christmas candlelight service.  It’s my favorite…well maybe second favorite.  I think Easter trumps Christmas services for me.

Earlier in the day, I had started things for tamale making.  Karl spent one-semester student teaching in Houston Texas and one-year teaching second grade there.  To say he came back a tamale lover would be an understatement.  I do all I can to keep him in Iowa so…our new tradition for the last three years has been to make tamales at Christmas.

I was wondering how… I could make them so I could eat them (being I’m on the low iodine diet and can’t have iodized salt) but we managed.  I found this unsalted chicken stock at the local grocery store and then I added non-iodized salt to it.

I set that all aside when we went to church and saved the actual tamale making for the next day.

After church, I asked Karl if he wanted to play Ticket to Ride.  He, of course, said yes.  I told him to go grab whichever version of the game he wanted.  We have the original and the kids got me the Nordic version for my birthday…well, earlier in the week when I found out the kids weren’t going to make it for Christmas, I thought I would quickly order another version.  I read through all of them and had decided to get the Japan version.  Well, that one wasn’t going to get her on time so, I got the Rails and Sails and version.  Amazon said it would arrive on Christmas Eve day.  I decided to risk it and bought it.

I NEVER track packages.  I tracked this one.  I had a plan.  I was going to put it on the shelf, tell Karl to pick a game, and see if he noticed it.

Karl did notice it and he danced around the house so excited.  The Rails and Sails version of Ticket to Ride (Find it HERE) is really different than the original version.  It has both boats and trains and you travel across the world.  There are different rules such as you can buy harbors.  On the flip side of the board, there is a Great Lakes version.  Karl and I loved it.  We have to say that we think that it’s best to play without kids around and it takes longer to play than the other versions…but WE LOVE IT!

So that was Christmas Eve…Now Christmas Eve…

It was still just Karl and I…and now it was tamale making time.

Karl is awesome in the kitchen.  Honestly, if I can work with any of my kids in the kitchen…I’d pick Karl.

Here Karl is putting the tamales into steam.

We ended up making three pans of them.  Being no one else was around, we decided not to make anything else and feasted on tamales.  They were really good.

While they were steaming on the stove, Karl and put my phone on time-lapse and started playing Rails and Sails Ticket to Ride.  You can push the play button to watch us.

You notice Karl and I suddenly jumped up at the end of the video…well that wasn’t because the game was done.  I smelled something burning.  The steaming pot with the tamales ran out of water.

I lept up and tried to get water in there ASAP.  We saved the tamales…thank goodness!!

So that was our Christmas.  Super low key but we had a nice time.  We’re hoping to video chat and open presents soon.  It’s so hard to coordinate a day that everyone can.  Thankfully I’m pretty patient when it comes to presents.

9 thoughts on “Christmas at the Kramers”

  1. On your recommendation I purchased ticket to ride for our granddaughter, age 10 who is game playing crazy. 3 of us sat down to play one afternoon. We struggled through one game —reading directions and advising one another. We had a great time and I am sure we will spend many hours playing. Thanks for the tip!

  2. It sounds like you and Karl had a wonderful Christmas Eve and Day together. The tamales look really good. That’s one recipe I’ve never tried. Every time you blog about your family playing Ticket to Ride I get tempted to buy one.
    I hope you continue to heal from your chemo drug reaction and that the new meds help. So glad you’re able to fix food you can eat this time around too. I also hope the New Year brings you good health. Prayers and hugs!

  3. Every time I read about you’re playing Ticket To Ride, I think of my friends who wanted to play that game but it just didn’t sound good. Next time I’ll try it.
    Happy you and Karl had a good day together – hopefully you can video chat with the kids. And hope the chemo drug effects are negated with the meds the doctor recommends.
    Love and prayers,

  4. It looks and sounds like you and Karl are a good team. I think it is always so fun to cook together with any of my kids – or sisters! I have never made tamales but I really like them and should give it a try. I was fortunate to be able to just buy them from a local source when I lived in Colorado, but Michigan does not have a good source. I keep praying for you that your side effects will be less and that you are healed.

  5. Sounds like a great time, playing games and cooking together. Our family loves to play games when we get together and this year I got the game Pass the Pig ( for 4 players or less). It was fun. I will look for your new version for next year.

  6. We visited out kids and grandkids before Christmas. I played the Jr version of Ticket to Ride with my 10 year old grandson. We had a good time even tho he beat me in both games!! I was sorry to hear about the side effects of you meds. But praying for a good outcome to everything. I so enjoy your blog and have enjoyed Kayla’s posts about Christmas.

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