Christmas Greetings – Sharing My Traditions of Christmas


Christmas Greetings - Dial M for Moms

For me, Christmas is full of rituals, some old, some new traditions. I have found over the years that no one year is the same as the next. I change, my family changes. But there are some things that never change. This is what I want to share with you and offer as my Christmas Greeting to you.

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps..means a little bit more!” ~Dr. Seuss from How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Christmas Greetings to You and My Traditions of Christmas

One thing I do each and everyday, regardless of whether it is Christmas or not, is that I look out my window and thank God for another day.

Snowy snowy Christmas morning - Dial M for Moms

Christmas this year is a bit grayer and snow-laden. But that doesn’t matter to me. I’m actually glad that Santa had some to land on my roof. Not a good thing to land on bare shingles, I think.

Lone tree in chilly wilderness - Dial M for Moms

I’m the first one up each year. Go figure! I don’t let anyone know that I really love to check out what Santa has brought everyone and if he has eaten the cookies and carrots we left him and his reindeer.  Oh, and he always answers our Christmas Eve letter.

We have a family tradition of writing a letter to wish him and his reindeer well. Does he answer? Of course! In Santa-style he writes in his familiar scrawl and highlights what he believes is the very best of the the writer and wishes them well for the upcoming year. This year, number one son decided to avoid writing a letter.

Funny how Santa knows this and includes him on his well-wishes.

Santa ate the cookies we left and gave carrots to reindeer - Dial M for Moms

The Christmas tree is lit and I get my first glimpse of Santa’s generosity.

Santa's been here - Dial M for Moms

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.” ~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Now for my personal favorite: coffee! I cannot even begin thinking of what’s ahead for the day without my first cup (or glass) of coffee. Thank goodness for Nespresso!

Please make my coffee strong - Dial M for Moms

And, I share the Christmas spirit with my love, my hubby, with his very own hot glass of Joe to get him up-and-at-em. These are venti cafe lattes.

Christmas coffee for two - Dial M for Moms

I’m not kidding…I have a lot of cooking to do this morning before all is said and done!

Christmas cooking supplies - Dial M for Moms

But first…I need to make the main dish, Sarma. Sarma? It is a Croatian specialty that is made up of a mixture of beef and pork, spices, rice, rolled in cabbage leaves. It is tradition and I cannot think of a Christmas without this family-fav. But first, I have to do some preparation.

Uncored sour head of cabbage - Dial M for Moms

It all starts out as a sour head that I purchase from our specialty grocer Rupenas. From what I know, they are the only ones who offer this in the whole area. I suppose you could create your own by letting green cabbage ferment, but why smell up your house when you can get it fresh from the pros.

Here is the set up for the sink. Don’t the strainers look like googley eyes?

Sink set up for washing cabbage leaves - Dial M for Moms

I core the cabbage head and start to peel off the layers of cabbage down to the center.

Sarma starts out as sour head - Dial M for Moms

Cool water is key, as the cabbage is extremely salty. That is why it tastes so good but you can’t consume the cabbage without properly rinsing it at least three times. Yup! I said three times!

Core and peel sour head - Dial M for Moms  IMG_3626 IMG_3627

The one year I tried to shortcut this step and my Sarma was soooo salty that it was hardly palatable. So rinse, rinse and rinse again!

Meat filling for Sarma - Dial M for Moms

To 3 1/2 pounds of ground beef and pork, add 1 onion, chopped, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 2 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika, 3 eggs, 1 cup breadcrumbs (I use Italian) and two cups of long grained rice. Mix well by hand.

IMG_3629Tuck in the edges of the cabbage leaves - Dial M for Moms IMG_3631

It isn’t difficult to make cabbage rolls. I take a leaf and with the firm end toward myself, I place a tablespoon of meat mixture. I tuck in the sides and roll up. It’s that simple!

Place cabbage rolls in Nesco with smoked meats - Dial M for Moms

I place the rolled cabbage package in a large Nesco with a smoked ham hock and smoked kielbasa, hot and spicy Hungarian and Slovanian sausages.

Keep stacking cabbage rolls until done - Dial M for Moms

Keep stacking until you have used up all of the cabbage leaves or meat, whichever comes first.

IMG_3634 IMG_3636

I top the Sarma with fresh sauerkraut. But just like the sour head, you have to rinse it three times. Then I spread it evenly on top of the Sarma.

Add water to cover Sarma - Dial M for Moms

Then I pour fresh cool water over everything until it just covers the Sarma. I cook at 350 degrees F for at least four hours.

Meatloaf - Dial M for Moms   Leftover Sarma meat is made into meat loaf - Dial M for Moms

Leftover Sarma meat is made into meatloaf. I froze it after it was baked through for another meal. Yummy!

“Christmas is doing a little something special extra for someone.” ~Charles M. Schulz

Now onto breakfast…I can hear my hubby waking!

Ham and Cheese Frittata - Dial M for Moms

I made my family my delicious Ham and Cheese Frittata. It is a favorite for any occasion but I think it is a special treat for Christmas. Besides, the oven is hot and since the Sarma meatloaf is baking, why not kill two birds with one stone.

Jacques Pepin Soda Bread Recipe-1- Dial M for Moms Jacques Pepin Soda Bread Recipe-2- Dial M for Moms  Jacques Pepin Soda Bread Recipe-3- Dial M for Moms

Next to make is homemade soda bread. This is a Jacques Pepin recipe. I’ll have to share this with you later. But take my word for it. It is super delicious!

Now onto the dessert! Tiramisu.

Set Up for Tiramisu   Mixing Up the Ricotta Egg Whites and Ricotta Laying down the cookies for Tiramisu Second layer of coffee-soaked cookiesStarting the layering process  topping tiramisu

It only takes about 15 minutes and my Tiramisu is complete. We will eat this later. After our Sarma, of course! :)

Add coco powder to Tiramisu - Dial M for Moms

Can you believe that I got all of this out of the way in less than an hour? I don’t. But then I have been doing this for years.

Whew! I can now settle down to opening Santa’s gifts…

“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” ~Roy L. Smith

Looks like Buick Regal (yes, that is our pup’s name) made out like a bandit.

Pup with toys - Dial M for Moms Pup enjoying toys-2

Notice his paw on his toy. No, you don’t mess with his toys–just kidding. He’s a sweetie!

Oh, I heard someone ask if the Sarma is ready. It is! Yea!!!

Sarma in bowl with mashed potatoes-3 Bread and Butter tops off Sarma Bowl

The usual way our family eats Sarma is with mashed potatoes. I’ve added the homemade soda bread to my plate to sop up the juices. My mom always told me not to waste food. Mom+, here’s to your memory!

Dessert anyone?

Finished! Tiramisu - Dial M for Moms

I think after this filling meal and delicious dessert that Buick Regal has the right idea. I think I’ll take his hint and rest a bit, too!

Pup Taking a Nap - Dial M for Moms

What a day! It has been wonderful and full at the same time. Here’s hoping that you, too, had a wonderful Christmas.  Here is my final wish for you:

“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for  Christmas to do that?” ~Bob Hope


Quotes thanks to Good Reads (


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