Christmas at the Kramer’s

I had a very fun Christmas.  It all started on Christmas Eve.  Karl had it in his head that he wanted to make tamales.  He misses the food from Texas and I thought I’d do what I could to ease the missing.  It’s a tall order for a gal to make tamales when previous to this, I’d not really had tamales before.

The evening before Karl and I sat down and watched a few Youtube videos that showed how to make them.  We watched this one.

Karl worked the morning of the 24th.  Then stopped in town and got dried peppers and whatever else we needed.  I was at home prepping the meat.

When he got home we started in on the process.


Nope…no staged kitchen and pictures for me.  No cute clothes.  This is real life with the kitchen a total mess.

I was the mesa girl and Karl was the filler and wrapper.


We tried this one other time and admittedly, it wasn’t very successful.  This time, we were both happy with the results.

Here we had to try one before they had even cooled off.


They initially didn’t look like a success but once they cooled a bit, PERFECT.



Karl and I were able to go Christmas Eve Candlelight Church.  Before anyone says anything about being careful when we were out.  We totally were about as safe as we could get.  First off, we had to let them know we were going to church.  Then there was assigned seating.  Family units sat with family units with a blank pew between them.  We had communion but again, people only went in family units.  Karl and I signed up late to go so we ended up way in the back sitting next to the door.  I felt completely safe.

Karl and I had talked about it in advance and decided if it didn’t seem safe, we’d duck out the back.  We both felt VERY good about it.

I’m so glad we went.  Christmas isn’t Christmas to me unless there is candlelight service.

The next morning I was up and doing a little cooking getting things ready.  It was low key.  Friedman’s came and Hanken’s came.

Of course, the highlight of my Christmas was opening my annual gift of red plates from Carver.  For those of you who don’t know, Carver always buys me red plates for Christmas.  When he was just little Kalissa took him to Dollar Tree and told him he could shop and pick out whatever he wanted to get me at Dollar Tree as a present.  He chose red paper plates.

Throughout the year if we order out pizza, I make sure to use the red paper plates and make a huge production of it.  When the last ones are gone, I start making a production of how I don’t have any more red paper plates and that I really hope I get some for Christmas.

Well, Carver did not disappoint.  He bought me red plates.  Here I am opening them…


He loves giving them to me.  I love getting them!!


The red plates are HIGH at the top of my favorite Christmas traditions.  I’m going to be so sad when this isn’t cool to him anymore.


There was more present opening…

Gannon is going through a stage that he gets mad if you want to take his picture.  So no good pictures of Gannon were taken.

With great hesitancy, I gifted Kalissa this quilt…
It’s our In a Black and White World quilt.  You can get the pattern HERE.

So many quilters have said that their kids are sick of getting quilts.  I have wondered if my kids might be that way.  They all have a lot.

At the time I made this, Kalissa said she liked it and also said it would be great in her living room.  I agreed it would.  So, I decided I’d wait and gift it to her at Christmas.

She thanked me lots and later in the day sent this picture of the boys playing in it at her house…


So cute!!

The kids overdid it on me.  These comfy jammers came in the mail a few days before Christmas.  The note with them said, “From the one who loves you most”.   Well, that’s tricky when you have five kids and 7 grandkids.  Then I notice they came from Lands End.  Hands down, that would be Kayla!!

I told you Christmas would involve a chess game or two and I was right.  Karl beat Jason.  Georgie wanted to play too so she got to move a piece or two before we put it all away.

Later after everyone was gone, Karl and I played two games.  He won once, I won the other time.

Before Hanken’s left Kelli wanted a baby bump picture.  She’s been a little lonely this time around being pregnant.  The last time when she was pregnant with Georgia, Kalissa was pregnant with Gannon at the same time.  This time she’s the only one pregnant of the girls in our family.  Karl in his sweet way was a stand-in…


There’s a big height difference in our family as you can see.  Kelli is the shortest and Buck is likely an inch or so even taller than Karl.

Rosie had a good Christmas too.  She loved this toy…sadly it only lasted about eight hours before she ripped it apart.  Does any have a recommendation for a squeaker toy that can’t be destroyed?  She loved squeaker toys.


So, that was Christmas Day at the Kramer’s.  No one went hungry…and I think everyone was happy.  I’m calling Christmas 2020 a success!

27 thoughts on “Christmas at the Kramer’s

  1. Maxine

    Thank goodness something in 2020 can be called a success! And I’m so glad that it happened to you and your family because I can’t think of anyone more deserving.

    Reply
  2. sew happy

    Red Plates might be here to stay, especially with you playing along. My brothers still look to me for winter boot socks. One year I was not going to do socks and my brothers were not happy to hear that. Carver will grow up loving the story. Happy New Year.

    Reply
  3. Joni

    Love the red plates tradition! So sweet. I have Outward Hound fire hose squeaker dog toys that are indestructible. My German Shepherd puppy uses them as tug of war toys as well as teething toys. No rips, squeaker still works and it’s 7 months old. thanks for the tamale youtube link.

    Reply
  4. Cindy F

    Loved the red plates! I have never made tamales so I’m going to try this one. Did you use the same dried chiles she called for in the recipe? I wonder what heat level they are as unfortunately my stomach can’t handle heat.

    Reply
  5. Judith Fairchild

    Whoa you and Mark made tamales!!!?I like them but never even thought about trying to make them. I’m glad you were successful. FYI they also make great deserts with cinnamon, dried fruit (any kind) and nuts. The Carver story is so special. Having and keeping family traditions is such fun.

    Reply
  6. Debbie B

    Sounds like a great Christmas at the Kramer household. Love the red plates story. Fun idea. I wish for all of you a very Happy New Year! Cheers!!!

    Reply
  7. linda jackson

    I loved your Christmas presents. Those grandkids are so cute and so sweet.

    I found the Kong brand of dog toys can take a beating, and still last. They have teddy bears that squeek and are made with rope inside and no stuffing. Lasts through a pit bulls working it over and over and over

    Happy new year

    Reply
  8. NancyA

    Sounds like a great day! I understand the dog toy problem. My Golden Retriever loves the squeaky toys, too, but she insists on trying to chew the squeaky mechanism out. And she chews off any thing that sticks out-ears, nose, tail. I try buying cheap stuffed animals at thrift stores and garage sales….the kid safe ones without plastics eyes that could be swallowed. I repair them often, but then just throw them away after too much damage has been done. I have found that the toys that don’t have any stuffing have lasted longer. They aren’t her favorites, but they are the only ones that still squeak.

    Reply
  9. Jeanie S, Central Illinois

    I loved hearing about your Christmas, Jo. The red plate story is precious. I love tamales but have not made them. My son made black bean tamales for my birthday, which was so sweet of him, and they were great. Thanks for posting the video link. Happy New Year.

    Reply
  10. Pat

    What a nice Christmas. Carver is so sweet, I hope you keep getting red plates for a long time.. I have a little Cairn Terrier mix rescue dog. He tears up toys in a New York minute. I have found if I buy the toys made from old fire hoses, they last much longer. Oh and my girls never turn down quilt gifts. lol

    Reply
  11. Donna

    Like everyone else, I love the red plate story. That’s something he and you will remember forever!
    Will be reading the other posts about dog toys as my dd has 2 dogs that rip the heck out of those things.
    Tamales for Christmas – I always wondered what they tasted like with that wrapping! I have a friend who makes them every year.
    You’re right – Christmas isn’t quite the same without the Christmas Eve service!
    Love and prayers

    Reply
  12. Donna Weeks

    Love the Kramer Family Christmas celebration and traditions.
    Here is a suggestion for dog toys. Although they are still plush, you won’t hear the squeak. Not sure if you are interested. My daughter got them for her fur babies and we had house of piece and quiet in the house.
    This info is copied Hear Doggy! plush toys give your pet the same sensation and enjoyment of traditional squeaky toys without the irritating noise!

    The science behind Hear Doggy!: Dogs can hear sounds at a higher frequency (0 to 45 KHz) than humans (0 to 20 KHz). Tuned to an ultrasonic range in the 24-28 KHz frequency, each Hear Doggy! squeaker is out of human hearing range, but still fun for your four-legged friend.

    Reply
  13. Ruth

    Speaking of being disappointed when a certain expected yearly Christmas gift no longer arrives… My grandmother (my dad’s mom) was a seamstress, and made us kids (5 of us at the time) flannel pajamas for Christmas every year. There were other families with grandkids but don’t know if she made them for them too.
    Anyhow, when I was 14, she became sick, and one of my three aunts sent “gifts from Grandma.” My sister and I got brown nail polish! And nylons. We wanted pjs!! So when she got better, Grandma made a pink tricot nightgown, the last nightclothes she made. I still have it and my four daughters have each worn it and enjoyed it. Tricot lasts a long time. This fall I cut off the back of the hem, and sewed it into squares for the memory quilts I am making for each child. My Grandma’s lovely work will last a long time.

    Reply
  14. Lisa

    I have no idea on a squeaker toy that can’t be destroyed but my one year old lab mix chews every toy apart too. I bought her the same toy that Rosie has there and she has yet to rip it apart. We have had it a little over a month now. The squeaker inside is a plastic bottle that can be replaced. Our bottle has no more squeak to it and we need another. I get water bottles from Aldi. Their bottles do not have a long enough neck nor are the threads far enough apart to replace the bottle inside of the toy. Do you or any other readers here know of a water bottle brand that has a longer neck with wide threads? Gracie needs her squeaker repaired. She loves that toy even with the flattened out bottle inside.

    Reply
  15. Susan the Farm Quilter

    Looks like Christmas was a success at the Kramer house!!! I too need Christmas Eve service for it to feel like Christmas. I found 1 in town that was not virtual at the Catholic Cathedral…not Catholic, but my daughter, granddaughters and I went. Very spaced out with lots of room between families. True to 2020, when the altar kids went around the church with the incense, it set off the fire alarm!! Oh my goodness, 2020 just will not quit!! Will you please let “sew happy” know about Darn Tough socks – I can’t message her directly, but these socks are made in Vermont and are guaranteed for life. They are a little spendy, but if you never have to buy socks again, they are definitely worth the price!! I like socks that go up to my knees and stay there…these do just that!! Nice and warm wool that doesn’t itch. I highly recommend them for anyone! Happy New Year, Jo!! I’m looking forward to reading about the adventures of your family in 2021!!

    Reply
  16. TeriDegonia

    I’m making tamales for New Years Day. We lived in Texas 25 years and really miss the Mexican food. Took us a year to find anything decent in St. Louis. My Sister in law taught me how to make tamales. She’s from Mexico. She made some for Christmas Day.
    Thank you so much for the quilting ideas. I’m using the ribbon motif on a quilt I’m doing right now.
    Teri

    Reply
  17. Kim J LeMere

    I really enjoyed seeing you open your present from Carver, it is a treasured memory thru the years. I hope he never gets to big to continue this. My husband went to the dollar tree and bought a cute dancing Christmas tree and a blinking red nose for each of his home bound parishioners that he takes the church bulletin to. Lots of older persons don’t have internet access to for services. We added some large print hidden puzzles books and a few treats to each gift bag. It was so fun to hear from them and how much they enjoyed wearing the nose! We are all children at heart with the memories of Christmas.

    Reply
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