BY JENNY GOLDSBERRY
This year, we’re sharing some of the locals’ holiday traditions. Maybe you’ve heard of these traditions before, or maybe you’d just like to give them a try yourself. Behind every one is a fascinating history, originating from the families of North Ogden citizens. We hope that reading these stories will get you in the holiday spirit.
Every year on each of the six nights leading up to Christmas Eve, the kids put their shoes in the windowsill. If the kids have been good, they get candy from the elves. If not, the elves bring coal or a rock. My parents used to remind us to be good by telling us, “The elves are watching!” I believe it’s an old Scandinavian tradition that has been passed down through our family for several generations. My mother’s maiden name was Prawitt (which is actually German), but a lot of her ancestry came from the Scandinavian countries. My mother’s grandma grew up in Germany. After WWI and the inflation that followed, their family suffered a lot of hardships. They worked as farmers and saved their money for 14 years to immigrate to the United States, and they ended up settling in North Ogden, Utah, around 1929. The next three generations were raised in North Ogden. My grandparents lived in the Ogden area their entire lives. My grandpa George Prawitt, son of the woman that immigrated to the United States, still lives in North Ogden, at 86 years old. George married Diana Van Alfen, whose parents traveled here from the Netherlands. Their daughter, Laurie Prawitt, was my mother; she passed away in 2018. Mom married Mike Foley and had seven children, six of which still live in northern Utah. I’m number five of seven, and I continue their traditions with my own kids.
My parents would buy each of the kids a new ornament for each year, usually related to something that had happened during the year. We’d all decorate the tree together and reminisce about the ornaments and the memories attached, as we pulled them out each year. Finally after we started to grow up and move away, our parents gave us our box of ornaments to start our own trees with. I’ve carried the tradition on with my kids now, and they love to look back on the memories made each year too.
Weber High School:
Weber High has a tradition that started in 1986. Quarters and Cans raises money to help local families have a good Christmas, and the program also assists those families struggling financially. Families, students, and businesses unite together and donate money and canned goods. Food and gifts have been delivered to needy families every year since its inception. Last year, they beat the previous year’s fundraising record.
Marilyn Love Thorstensen:
When the extended family got too big to do dinner together, we created “Pie Night.” We all get together the night before Thanksgiving and have the piece of pie we will be too full to eat on Thanksgiving Day. And of course, we visit with our cousins, aunts and uncles then as well.
Krystal Stokes Barker:
We do a pie night as well, but we do it the Saturday after Thanksgiving! It’s so fun to enjoy family, and the pie we couldn’t get to on Thanksgiving.
Our multiple-generational family tradition is to make homemade individual meat pies with gravy for everyone, and then getting together on Christmas Eve (all 60 of us sometimes), to eat them. My mother, who passed away eighteen months ago, taught several generations of children and grandchildren (and even some great grandchildren) to make pies (even when we had prime rib once to save everyone some work). Everyone revolted and said they weren’t coming if we didn’t have meat pies!
My family would travel to grandma’s house every year for Christmas. Once, the car ran out of gas (found out the gauge was broken). Another time, there was a horrible blizzard ~ so bad that the suitcases and duffle bag blew off of the station wagon! (Dad was willing to search in the blizzard for the precious cargo). Years later, Dad and Mom confessed that Santa knew we weren’t going to be home, so he came by early and dropped off the presents which had been stashed in those bags. My dad risked his life in that blizzard to get those packages! How I miss him. We would always leave the day after school closed for the holiday. It was a great yearly family reunion! I loved playing with the “cuzins”. My other grandma made the traditional Christmas Stockings for each child as they were born. They were made with narrow corduroy and decorated with handmade designs.
Tracy Twine Wiesenberg:
Our Christmas tradition started about 25 years ago. We started doing a Children’s Nativity as a neighbor gift.