So this is Christmas 2013

I’m really bad at staying away from blogging, especially when I tell myself I am going to stay away. I have this same problem with ice cream, eggnog and puppies. But, when you love Christmas and spend an awesome couple days with family, nieces, nephews and cousins … you can’t NOT tell the world about it, right?

Anyways, let the pictures and stories proceed …

With a toddler in the home the presents never make it under the Christmas Tree. Usually they’re nestled out of reach with much care and intense strategy.

The Hansen family festivities began on Saturday when we had our annual Pederson Norwegian Smörgåsbord (yes, you can’t type it without all the fancy widgets included, that’s part of the charm). My responsibility for the party was to make the Norwegian style meatballs. They really aren’t a family secret, but if you want to believe that go ahead. The trick is to use two parts beef and one part pork sausage, plus the semi-secret ingredient … nutmeg.

I’m no Julia Child (we do share a birthday though), but I was quite impressed with how my meatballs turned out. If anything saved Christmas, my first nomination would be my meatballs.

Traditionally, we had the Smörgåsbord on Christmas Eve growing up. Once we all started growing up and getting married and creating new traditions we kind of had to have it wherever we found time. It was a favorite tradition of my Aunt and since this was the first Christmas since she passed away we wanted to have one last Smörgåsbord in her house (and my Mom’s childhood home) before it was sold.

This is jukekake (yule-a-kag-ga) crappily buttered. I have no doubt my Aunt is rolling in her grave because my sister didn’t evenly butter to the edges. If you doubt that, you never met my Aunt Diane.
Bakkles are a tradition in our family that go back generations and generations. Well, at least two generations. But, still, that’s along time …
Bakkles are a Norwegian cookie that’s basically a poorman’s cookie. I bet there’s a cooler way of telling this story, but I’d like to point out that it appears fairly prevalent that whatever the poor eat it’s usually fried.

The evening was really fun. It was a bring your own chair event since there is no furniture in the house. We fried traditional bakkles, ate our Norwegian meatballs, sour cabbage, julekake, gtestost (pronounced YAY TOAST! … and you gotta yell it when you say it, like you are really excited about toast) and cranberry Jell-O salad and reminisced about past Christmas Eves and our Aunt Diane. It was really touching. We even had the kids lead us in Christmas carols while modeling their Christmas pajamas.

After the family party Free and I went to Elf the Musical with Cousins Em & Paul and the rest of the gang. Nothing gets me more in the Christmas spirit than watching or attending Christmas movies/plays. This was no exception. Free and I even smuggled in a little snack.

Is there sugar in maple syrup?

On Christmas Eve my Mom, brother, sister and I went to the Huntsman Cancer Institute (HC) here in Salt Lake City to spread a little Christmas cheer. I dressed up as Santa, my brother as Buddy the Elf and my sister and Mom made little treats for the patients and nurses. My mother spent part of the holidays last year in HCI battling her breast cancer and we understand how much it sucks to be in the hospital during the holidays for the patient and family. It was a great experience. Some patients were alone, some not, but we made sure we left each one with a smile. It was a great experience.

This should be next year’s family Christmas card, except is there a way to possibly Photoshop Jen’s awkward floating head out? Or at least downscale it?

Since most of my siblings are married and have other plans on Christmas Eve with in-laws, Free and I decided to start our own tradition of having Christmas Eve dinner at the local sketch Chinese buffet. Of course in the spirit in of A Christmas Story. It was memorable, but definitely not one of those traditions you hope last forever. Of course, unless my future wife is all over it. Could be fun.

You know it’s a sketch Chinese buffet restaurant when it’s nestled between a Village Inn and Taco Time … and used to be a Payless Shoes store.
Deck the halls with boughs of holly … fararararararararara!
Ok fortune cookie, I am holding you to your deadline. March 24, 2014 better be the best day of my life.

The rest of my Christmas Eve though was spent helping my Mom cook for our annual Christmas Day Brunch. For the past 30 years plus we’ve hosted a Christmas Day brunch that consists of mock (I’m trying to work the family into naming it after us) quiche, holiday Jell-O salads galore, sticky buns and the works. We usually leave an open invitation to any family in the area and they come and go as they please. The quiche is usually what gets people here and the sticky buns from wanting to leave.

I made eight pans of Mock Quiche on Christmas Eve. EIGHT! If I wasn’t filled with the Christmas spirit I would have been calling the Division of Labor complaining about forced labor.
But, when the end result is this delicious creation, all is forgiven and forgotten.

On Christmas Day (and after less than four hours of sleep) I went with my Mother to drop my brother off to the airport. He’s traveling to the motherland (Greece) and chose leaving today because it is cheaper. Wise man. After getting home I went back to bed for a nice hour and half nap. This would be the first of four naps I would take throughout the day. If I was a Christmas animal, I most definitely would have been a Christmas cat.

I woke up on Christmas Day not just tired, but stupid tired. You know that tired I am talking about? The one where you wake up questioning your very existence? Yeah, that tired.

Finally around 10am the nieces and nephew came over to open gifts. All of the kids lined up to walk run into the living room and then the whole family opened gifts together. I got a pretty good haul, I guess? I mean for a runner it wasn’t that bad. Especially, considering the fact that all I wanted was money for races and compression socks. I got what I wanted! I’m so spoiled.

This was really the only time we were able to remotely contain the kids during the day. These three kids are stinking cute. I’m one proud uncle.
Yes, people get this excited about socks. We’re called practical adults. Subsequently, we are very easy to shop for.

After much food, naps and too much excitement for two days I was spent. Free tried to coax me into going to Saving Mr. Banks on Christmas Day night. I almost relented, but it would have ended in a fifth and final nap. And, knowing Free he probably would have left me in the theater to wake up alone the next morning.

But, this was a very memorable Christmas. There were no hospital stay, awesome running gifts, great food, some newly created traditions and time to reflect and enjoy what matters the most during this season … family.

Oh, man, Koko is already practically a teenager now.
My Yia-yia is the best kind of gifter. Why? Because she gives me pickles! Doesn’t matter whether it’s Christmas or my brithday I can always rely on a jar of pickles to come my way. I love my Yia-yia!
I just love it when Free steals my camera phone to snap beautiful pictures of me napping. Ever so classy.

I won’t be posting anything else until January 1st when the launch is officially suppose to happen. I promise. I just felt like I had to share my wonderful Christmas day and since I closed my other blog I needed somewhere to put it.

Anyways, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

If you want to stalk me even more, you can find more pictures on my Instagram profile @running180. Sometimes I even post Twitter pictures @running180. But, I’m more of a Instagram snob, so you’ll find more there. 

What did you do today?

Any cool traditions you have?

Any cool gifts? 



  1. I hope you had a great holiday too! I am looking forward to Saturday! I can’t wait to get my gift from you and Becca. She’s been excited about it the past couple of weeks.


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