Place item was collected
Point of Discovery/Informant Bio
McKahll Strong was born and raised in Syracuse, Utah. She now lives in Logan, Utah and attends Utah State University. She is a junior studying Marketing at the Jon M. Huntsman Business School. She is 19 years old and is the youngest of three children. She is currently a shoe salesman at Striders in Ogden and is on Utah State’s Dance Company. She is one of my roommates and we have been friends since junior high.
I interviewed McKahll at the kitchen table in our apartment while she was eating lunch. We had both just finished classes for the day and she was eating quickly so she could pack up her stuff and head home for Thanksgiving Break. As we talked about our plans for the break, she mentioned that even though she likes Thanksgiving, she really prefers Christmas, and then proceeded to tell me about this custom. We were the only two people home during the interview, so it was really quiet. The feeling in the room was very relaxed because McKahll and I are good friends and she was happy and excited to drive home. McKahll told me that this custom occurs mid-morning, usually around 9 or 10 AM, every Christmas Eve since she can remember. It happens at the same IHOP restaurant in Layton every year as well. However, the food that is ordered changes every year; certain food is not part of this custom. The participants include her immediate family members (her mom, her dad, and her two older brothers), but extended family members tag along occasionally. She mentioned that significant others or spouses would be welcome as well, if/when her or her siblings were ever in the position to bring them along. The movie theater and type of movie varies from year to year, but they always go see a newly released film. The eating part of the custom usually takes about an hour and is immediately followed by the movie. The custom usually ends around 2 PM. McKahll stated that this custom must take place on Christmas Eve; it would be wrong to do it on any other day.
Every Christmas Eve my family wakes up and we go to IHOP for breakfast, followed by an afternoon show at the movie theater. And then we go to my grandparents’ or aunt and uncle’s house, it rotates every year, and we do games and Christmas dinner and a cousin gift exchange. It’s crucial for Christmas Eve!
McKahll told me this Christmas Eve tradition with fondness; it was obvious that she looks forward to this custom. She has told me about this custom before, but still went into detail about it because she likes it so much. She was adamant that Christmas Eve wouldn’t really be Christmas Eve without going to IHOP and a movie, and assured me that she plans to continue this tradition with her own family in the future. The “rules” of the tradition were less important to her than just gathering with family to go eat and see a movie; she said that the family members present changes, the movie theater and type of movie changes, and the food changes. She categorized the custom as a casual occasion and said, “It’s not a special event, but it’s not small enough that it’s insignificant.” She was chatty and nostalgic as she related this custom to me. The atmosphere during the custom is jovial and festive and happy; while eating the siblings tease one another and her parents good-naturedly reprimand them. She admitted that they probably are a little obnoxious to the wait staff at IHOP. During the movie they are quiet and attentive, but proceed to discuss and debate about the movie aggressively and in detail as they drive home from the theater. It is a custom filled with family bonding and love.
Introduction to Folklore/English 2210
Dr. Lynne S. McNeill
Semester and year
Price, Carrigan, "Christmas Eve Brunch" (2017). USU Student Folklore Fieldwork. Paper 192.