Ugly sweaters and tiny horses ring in Christmas

Dec 23 2010 - 7:15pm

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Photo courtesy Alexandra Dunn
Ogden resident Alexandra Dunn (center standing) began her own holiday tradition this Christmas by hosting her first ugly sweater party.
KRISTIN HEINICHEN/Standard-Examiner
Sadie Wiser is held by her father, Robert Wiser, as she pets Two Socks, owned by her grandfather, Pete Petersen (left). Petersen’s newly adopted Christmas Day tradition is to invite family and friends to his home in Fruit Heights, where they can ride his snowmobiles and horses.
Photo courtesy Alexandra Dunn
Ogden resident Alexandra Dunn (center standing) began her own holiday tradition this Christmas by hosting her first ugly sweater party.
KRISTIN HEINICHEN/Standard-Examiner
Sadie Wiser is held by her father, Robert Wiser, as she pets Two Socks, owned by her grandfather, Pete Petersen (left). Petersen’s newly adopted Christmas Day tradition is to invite family and friends to his home in Fruit Heights, where they can ride his snowmobiles and horses.

Maybe cutting down a pine tree and dragging it into your living room seemed like a weird thing to do.

Perhaps nailing hosiery to the mantle seemed a bit random. Or approaching the red-suited Santa at the mall made you want to shriek "stranger danger." Or your personal opinion is that blaring Christmas carols should be reserved for when hostage negotiations fail.

Well, Christmas traditions don't have to be one-size-fits-all. Area residents tells us they do as much or as little as they like, and they make the holiday as serious or as funny as they like.

Here are a few "new traditions" people shared with us:

* "My parents lived in a house in Salt Lake City with a small yard, but I spent a lot of time with family in Cache Valley, riding horses and motorcycles," said Pete Petersen, 50, of Fruit Heights. "My mom was a great cook, but after we opened presents and ate, there wasn't much to do on Christmas (in Salt Lake City).

"So about 14 years ago, I decided it was time to find a place I could keep my horses, and on Christmas, everybody comes here to ride horses and snowmobiles. There's plenty to do, and my family and friends come, and they bring their friends. My granddaughter, Sadie (3), has her own mini horse and mini snowmobile. If Sadie falls off the horse, she doesn't fall very far, and it's usually into snow.

"We order too much Chinese food, because we love that movie, 'A Christmas Story,' where they ended up at a Chinese restaurant. We order too much on purpose, so everybody gets to take home leftovers."

Petersen's bench house and 2.5 acres are up a secluded drive.

"The city has a lighted star on the side of the mountain during the Christmas season, and I live just below it, so I tell my friends to follow the Christmas star to my house."

* "I'm having my first ugly sweater party this year, but I've been to two or three others," said Alexandra Dunn, 24, of Ogden. "You go to a thrift store and find the ugliest, most over-the-top sweater you can find."

Dunn found a blue cardigan with reindeers, Santas and gingerbread houses, and she wore a red sparkley turtleneck underneath.

"It's just fun to get together with friends you haven't seen for a while, and the bad sweaters get you laughing. It's fun to see what people come up with. I've seen some pretty bad sweaters."

* "Me and a few of my friends do funny gifts," said John Smith, 68, of Clearfield. "We don't need more junk to clutter up the house, so we donate them somewhere after Christmas. Our rule is you can only reuse a gift if you can make it funnier and worse, like when one guy was given a headless store mannequin, and he covered it with fake tattoos and gave it back to me. Our wives pretend they don't think it's funny, but you can see them laughing."

* "My family wasn't too religious, but with my boys, I like to light candles on Christmas Eve, and we tell the Christmas story," said Anna Garcia, 36, of Farmington. "I don't know why, but it quiets the kids down and they listen. It's about the only way to get them to listen. It's nice to have a little quiet before Christmas day."

* "My new tradition is to do nothing," said Troy Page, 23, of Ogden. "I'm away from my family now, so I can just do what I want to do. I'll probably sleep in on Christmas, and after that, I don't know yet what I'll want to do."

* "When I get sick enough of Christmas, I invite friends over to watch 'The Grinch,' " said Liz Cook of Layton. "I always try to get them to stop the show before the Grinch's heart grows and he becomes good. You can overload on too much sweetness," she said, with a laugh. "You need some Grinch to balance out the sweetness."

Sometimes a holiday gripe session ensues, but regardless, her friends always talk her into watching the happy ending.

"I always feel better after," Cook said. "But it's probably just from seeing my friends."

* "I do all the traditions," said Mary Bennett, 29, of Ogden. "That's what's new and different. My family didn't do much when I was a kid, so when I grew up and had my own family, I decided we were going to drink hot cocoa and go see lights and listen to Christmas music. We do everything. It's a lot of work, but when it's all over, you really feel like you have had a Christmas, which is a new thing for me."

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