We never ate Christmas Eve dinner on time when I was a child. You see, my family’s traditional Christmas Eve dinner is Swedish “milk rice”—a creamy delicacy that takes all day to cook. Mother always started it early in the morning, stirring away at a pot that seemed to hold nothing but milk. As the day progressed, we’d start checking the pot more and more anxiously, wondering if the meager grains of rice at the bottom would swell up by 5:00. Or 5:30. Or 6:00. Or…. Most of the time they did. But every now and then they waited until Christmas breakfast. Of course, there was the constant danger of scorching the milk and ruining everything. (Which happened one year when the teenager in charge of stirring got bored, cranked the heat up to boil, and left the room for just a second…) I was in college when Mother discovered a recipe for Finnish Rice Porridge, which involved parboiling the rice to speed up the process. We were skeptical. After all, part of our Christmas Eve tradition was our fret fest over the milk rice! Then we actually tried the new recipe. Oh. My. Word. It tasted – to quote Mother directly – “Better than the original!” And it took less than two hours, start-to-finish. Which means that if a distracted teenager multi-tasks when she’s supposed to be stirring, you’ll actually have time to throw out the burnt batch and make an entirely new one before anyone starves. (Not that I know this from experience or anything!) My mother’s willingness to switch recipes taught me an important lesson. Holiday traditions are supposed to serve my family and me, not the other way around. When we find ourselves held hostage by a holiday tradition? It’s time to ask: “Who is serving whhhom?” Speaking of serving, I hope you enjoy our family’s traditional Christmas dinner recipe. (I predict that you’ll want more than one serving!) DOWNLOAD the Traditions, A Holiday Collective e-Book to find Cheri’s recipe for Finnish Rice Porridge and Berry Sauce on page 38.
CHERI GREGORY | is a teacher, speaker, author, and Certified Personality Trainer. She is the co-author, with Kathi Lipp, of The Cure for the “Perfect” Life: 12 Ways to Stop Trying Harder and Start Living Braver and Overwhelmed; co-host for Grit ‘n’ Grace podcast; and founder of Sensitive and Strong, an online community for Highly Sensitive Christian Women. She has been married to her college sweetheart (and opposite personality) for twenty-nine years and has two young adult children. Connect with Cheri at www.cherigregory.com You can connect with Cheri on social media: