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The Rough Cut 12/16/11:A tradition-filled time of year

December 16, 2011 - Keith Frederick
I’ll admit it: I’m a very sentimental person.

I’m all about tradition, and I’m never as particular about traditions as I am at Christmas. (Or, as I call it, “the only holiday I like”)

This weekend, my family and I will be making my grandfather’s cookie recipe, lovingly listed in our recipe book as “Pap’s Sugar Cookies.” It’s most likely a misnomer, as they’re far more dense than any other cookie I’ve ever had, and not like any “sugar cookie” you’ve ever had — but that’s just the way we do it in my family.

I guarantee I won’t be the only member of my mother’s side of the family making Pap’s cookies this weekend. Last year, a few quick phone calls confirmed that I, my mother, my aunt and at least one of my cousins were all making Pap’s Sugar Cookies on the same December day.

While we make cookies, I can guarantee that we’ll be listening to one of two Christmas albums: “Ala­bama Christmas” by Alabama or “Christmas Eve and Other Stories” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

When I was a kid, my mom played Alabama’s Christmas album all the time and I fell in love with it. It’s impossible for me to hear songs like “Christmas in Dixie,” “Santa Claus (I Still Believe in You)” and “A Candle in the Window” and not start smiling from ear to ear.

As for the TSO album, just try and listen to “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” and not start playing air guitar or making weird guitar solo noises. It isn’t possible.

Watching certain TV shows and movies is a big part of the Christmas experience for me, because it’s tradition for me to watch certain things each year.

On TV, “Charlie Brown’s Christmas,” is a must, of course. And it helps to see as many Rankin/Bass specials as possible, like “Frosty the Snowman” “The Year Without a Santa Claus” and “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” But the movies are where I get very anal-retentive. Each December, I must watch “White Christmas,” “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Die Hard,” “The Polar Express” and “Love Actually.”

I wrote years ago about “Die Hard” and its status as an ultimate Christmas movie. If you don’t remember that column, I’ll simply say this — “Now, I have a machine gun. Ho, ho, ho.”

Then there’s one of my absolute favorite holiday traditions. Each year, my wife and I share a large bottle of wine while we wrap Christmas presents. That’s a good tradition. But it’s also one where too much wine — and passing out before everything is wrapped — is a danger. (Once again: Sorry honey!)

As my kids — Paige, 6, and Melody, 2 — get older, I hope they develop traditions of their own. But I’d like it if they kept some of Daddy’s going, as well.

Though, if their traditions start including Justin Bieber’s new Christmas album, Daddy might have to go Grinch all over them.

Mirror Staff Writer Keith Frederick’s column appears monthly in Go. He can be reached at 946-7466 or by email at

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