© 2024 Wyoming Public Media
800-729-5897 | 307-766-4240
Wyoming Public Media is a service of the University of Wyoming
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Transmission & Streaming Disruptions

We hear from you, the listeners, about your favorite holiday traditions

Three Kringla pastries on a blue plate.
Karen Rogers
A buttery, tasty pastry called ‘Kringla.’ It is a Scandinavian recipe that a listener in Cheyenne makes every holiday.

Wyoming Public Radio asked listeners to share their holiday traditions – whether that be favorite foods or activities, both new and old.

And lucky for us, we got a variety of answers. We recommend listening to the short stories, but below are a few highlights.

Forget the Turkey

For some of us, turkey is the main event at Christmas, but that is not the case for Richard Hallwell. He is originally from Louisiana but recently moved to Teton County.

“I don’t like turkey, what can I tell you? It’s dry and itself doesn’t have much taste,” he said.

Rather, Hallwell begrudgingly eats the turkey in order to have the carcass to make gumbo.

“It is the best gumbo yet,” he said. “And it is my Christmas tradition to have that on the day after Christmas.”

He said to make it one starts with a roux and then roasts the ‘Cajun holy trinity,’ which is celery, onions and bell peppers. Then you boil the turkey and add that water to the mixture, add the leftover turkey meat and toss in some filé, which is a powder from dried sassafras leaves. Let it all boil and then serve over rice.

Traditions Old and New

We also heard from Karen Rogers, who lives with her family in Cheyenne. Her family has holiday traditions both old and new.

Rogers’ father’s side of her family is Norwegian, so they have carried on one of the food traditions. Every winter they make a buttery, tasty pastry called Kringla.

“They are just the most delightful little treats,” she said. “There is sugar in the recipe, and with the buttermilk, they are kind of sweet. But they are best served just slightly warmed with butter on the flat side.”

A handwritten recipe for kringla.
Karen Rogers
Karen Rogers’ original recipe for Kringla that she has had since she was a teenager. She has made one addition over the years, which is to add one cup of sour cream.

“This goes back to my son’s absolute fascination with trains from a very early age,” Rogers said. “We just watched it [The Polar Express] two nights ago, and my son is 17 and my daughter is 14 now, and they were both sitting there the whole time, phones down, just loving watching this movie.”

She said when they watch the movie hot cocoa is a must.

A Very ‘Untraditional’ Christmas

We heard from Mike DeWitt, who lives in a cabin just outside of Pinedale.

He prides himself on being a person who celebrates the holidays untraditionally.

“It’s usually myself and my two kids, and they didn’t really like gifts, so they would pick an experience,” he said. “So we’ve always… for birthdays, Christmas and holidays… done things, instead of get things.”

DeWitt said he would let his daughter and son take turns choosing the adventure. One year they even went to Vegas.

“And so they had gambling for Christmas, which is not normal for little kids. So they loved that,” DeWitt said with a hearty laugh.

Another year they drove their camper down to Baja to find seashells. They even went to Dollywood one year.

“Dolly Parton was there and she sang Christmas carols with us,” DeWitt said.

He added that his kids are all grown up now, but they still celebrate the holidays with fun trips.

DeWitt’s next big adventure is driving from Wyoming to Belize.

“Through Mexico. It’s about 3,500 miles, 4,000 – something like that,” he said. “Yep, that’s my next one.”

A Hallmark Card Come to Life

For our last listener holiday story, we bring you the traditions of Kathryn Turner and the Triangle X Ranch in Teton County.

It is a five generation ranch in the unincorporated community of Moose.

Turner said historically, holidays at the ranch were about solitude and chores.

“For a long time the ranch was snowed in all winter, which meant a two day horse drawn sleigh ride to town,” she said. “Where the ranch was really isolated it became about family. It also had to be really self sufficient.”

Nowadays, Triangle X is a working dude ranch that has visitors from all over the world. It is less primitive, but some of the longtime traditions remain.

“We grab a couple guitars and the player piano, and gather around the same fireplace that my great grandfather built when he built the ranch,” Turner said.

She said the family has grown significantly. About 50 people come and celebrate the holidays and everyone brings a dish for dinner.

Before eating, everyone spends the day helping with chores and playing in the snow.

“It’s kind of like a living Hallmark card. It’s really special and really idyllic,” she said.

Thank you to all our listeners who called in and shared with us your holiday traditions. Happy holidays!

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
Related Content