Author Archives: Newton Garner

“Kris Kringle”

We will get together for various holidays throughout the year, like Christmas is always spent at my grandma’s house, and usually we have breakfast for dinner. And a tradition that’s been in the family for a while: a “Kris Kringle” – more commonly known as a “grab bag” or “white elephant.”

I feel like it’s a tradition for many families, but anyway. We also get together for Thanksgiving…


We used to do Kris Kringle which is like Secret Santa, where everyone has to get a gift for someone else based on names we drew at Thanksgiving, but recently we’ve switched to the grab bag, which is everyone gets a gift and you draw numbers and pick and steal
And I hate it but everybody has a good time.
Except me, of course.
I find it really interesting that the informant assumed that more people did his tradition, devaluing and trying to make it seem less special, in a way. While he did not explain why it was called a “white elephant,” the concept does not stray too far from his family’s original tradition. I think he hates the new one because it is less personal. These posts on Christmas traditions exhibit how different families celebrate the same holiday in a variety of ways. Furthermore, this tradition links two holidays together, which ties this family further together.

Celebratory Korean Soups

Like whenever it’s your birthday, it’s tradition that you eat seaweed soup. Or even on New Year’s, it’s tradition that you eat rice cake soup – miyukgukk.

Is this strictly a Korean thing or is it more Asiatic as a whole?

Wait, miyukgukk is the seaweed soup. Korean. The New Year’s soup is called” dukkgukk.”

Do you know why people believe in doing this?
Hmm… I’m not sure positively, but I’m guessing the seaweed soup is to bring you more health, and the rice cake soup is to bring hope for the next year to come healthy. A lot of the food we eat, we eat because it brings us health and youth. Most of the time
So these are widely done, right?

The birthday soups and New Year’s soup, yes.


This shows the Asiatic fixation on mortality and health. Koreans focus more on longevity, which the informant called the “mirror opposite” of the Chinese, who are just afraid of death. These are foods eaten for their specific health values, which is done in every culture, but tied to superstition.

Christmas Dinner

Do you do Christmas meals? 


Yeah. We have like a huge Christmas Eve party every year and everyone comes and my dad makes the same thing every fucking year.


What does he make?


Tenderloin from Costco. He makes the tenderest loin. It’s delicious. He makes tenderloin and we have Peanut M&M’s and my step-grandma makes this weird marshmallow pretzel fucking desert.


Why Peanut M&M’s? 


We just have like literally gallons of M&Ms of all varieties. It’s beautiful. Peanut M&M’s are just at Christmas. My dad calls regular M&M’s “medicine,” so we always have those.


How long has this been a tradition?


Every fuckin’ year.


This colorful post shows how ingrained certain foodways are in the fold of familial life. Certain foods are only eaten at certain times of the year, which may make the person nostalgic whenever they are exposed to them later. The mention of CostCo in particular really ties the holiday to consumerism, but it is the mention of family members by specific relation that brings out what this post truly means, which is that family makes the holiday, not the date.

A Different Christmas Morning Ritual

I’ve never really been a huge fan of Christmas, so I’ve just never been excited… See, I didn’t get toys. I didn’t play.

What’d you get?

I got like stuffed animals and lotion and DVDs and like I got a camera one time. Like, my sisters and I would sleep in a queen-sized bed and I would be like, “No, we’re not waking up until nine. And we’d take– each of us had like thirty stuffed animals. We’d take them all downstairs, we’d set them up, and then we’d open the stockings and assign each present to an animal. After that whole process, which took like an hour and a half, we’d make breakfast for our parents.

We wouldn’t get to open presents until after this, at about like eleven. We would take turns watching each other open presents and show what they are.  We would do this every year.


This informant, as opposed to the other, more colorful one, showed a more restrained and reverent exhibition of Christmas, placing each family member in the spotlight and showing the importance of parents in their life by cooking for them. These opposite posts (see “Waking Up Early”) show the many different ways that families celebrate the holiday and the different values emphasized.

Waking Up Early for Christmas

The point of the fuckin’ story is that it doesn’t matter like, if you believe in Santa Claus or not, like, you get sick fucking hockey skates and hockey sticks and fuckin’  like paint ball gear and like the dopest clothes ever on Christmas. And you need to be awake by dawn otherwise there’s daylight that’s burning you’re not playing with your new fucking hockey shit or paintball gear. I got a laptop one time.

That’s probably in my top 3. Probably like the third of my top three though.

Literally until I was thirteen-years old, me and my brother slept in the doorways of our rooms so that we could, like, wake up at seven a.m., run down the stairs, open our stockings, and be stoked as fuck about our stockings – just go to sleep on the living room floor for two more hours. Like, once the sun’s been up for an hour, you gotta wake up. Literally, by eleven, we’d be on our way to my mom’s house, but we also had like two Christmases, so we’d have a lot to get through. Then we’d have to go back to my dad’s for the afternoon. and then back to my mom’s for Christmas dinner. We’d go back and forth the whole day, which was actually kind of fun but you’d get sick of family. We sometimes went to more of our family.

Thank the sweet Lord, Baby Jesus.


Easily the most fun I had in any interview. This was actually done with multiple informants and can be followed by “A Different Christmas Morning Ritual” and “Christmas Dinner” for more of the same. This informant expresses how belief in the religious foundations of a celebration aren’t absolutely necessary, but rather emphasized the time that he spent with his family. This prescription of Christmas aligns with a more wholesome take on the holiday that it’s about family, not materialism… Even though he does admit to liking getting “sick fucking hockey skates.”