It is over with, well sort of... The big Christmas Eve bash at our house is done. We've picked up the house and many of the extra dishes are washed and put back into their places in our cupboards.

We still have Christmases yet to come with my kids and my husband's kids, but there won't be the same stress as getting ready for a crowd of nearly 50!

That's how many came for our "dippa feast" for a noon meal. This is a Swedish tradition that my Grandma Terra Voxland started. It is an honor to keep carrying the torch for this unusual meal. I am also honored that three of my siblings still attend -along with their kids and even grandkids.

What happened this year reminded me of the times I attended the dippa event Grandma hosted at my grandparents' retirement home in Wanamingo. They had farmed in Holden Township in Goodhue County until their retirement. Then they lived in a pink rambler on the edge of Wanamingo.

It was a small house, but somehow we fit in a crowd as big as the one that attended the same event at my much larger home this year.

At noon on Christmas Eve, Grandma would open her home for a simple celebration that we thought was called dippa, doppa or duppa - but were not real sure of the spelling. Checking Google, I find it called "dopp i gryta" (dip in the pot).

She would serve a meal of bread, broth, boiled meats, Swedish potato sausage, home canned pickles, root beer and pie for dessert. The unique part of the meal was that we'd dip our thickly sliced bread into a pot of simmering broth on her stove after we'd filled our plates.

She was not trying to impress anyone with a fancy menu or some new recipe she was trying. The beauty of the meal was that it was traditional. After Terra, my aunt Margaret served the same meal to an even bigger crowd - until she was disabled by an automobile accident.

For over two decades I have been hosting the event for my siblings and their offspring, along with my family members. The menu is not too complex, although I have added a few items (veggies with dip and a casserole of squash) and added a table of pre-meal appetizers.

I happily accept help with any part of the menu if someone else doesn't mind preparing items for the meal. In truth, our meal has become a feast with all the pre-meal and post-meal options. Most of our guests stay throughout the afternoon - we have a gift game and young kids receive an exchange gift. Table games follow, with a few light supper snacks before folks depart for home after dark.

There are lots of conversations and endless photos posted on Facebook.

But to set the stage, our house has to be cleaned. This is not an easy job and actually is a succession of many projects and tasks. This year we reclaimed a bedroom to create a second guestroom. I purchased a new bed and got bargain prices for new bedding at late evening Thanksgiving Day sales.

After five days of vacation, we had accomplished a lot, but not everything. Even the morning of Christmas Eve, I was still cleaning and had to admit I could not get it all done. It was time to get out my holiday dishes and set the stage for the meal.

My daughter-in-law, Jenna, had helped with holiday decorating that I had run out of time to get done myself. We'd had a lefse and flatbread making day and an evening for rolling out and decorating sugar cookies.

One thing about having a set menu is that shopping for the needed supplies is pretty specific and predictable. It was fun using homegrown pork and beef along with getting out the jars of dill pickles canned last summer. Admittedly though, it is not cheap hosting this event for so many people.

I was surprised when I counted up everyone who had attended that night after loading a final load of dishes in the dishwasher. Actually, I was trying to get to sleep that night and counted people instead of sheep to arrive with a tally of 47! There were few leftovers.

Usually, when the last guest leaves, the party is over. But this year, I had a houseful of overnighters, so the party continued with talk and snacking even past midnight. This was extra work, but fun to have guests like my daughter, Amanda, who had worked and missed most of the partying. Her evening included gazing through old photo albums with her brother, Doron, and visiting with her aunt, Beth.

With the snowstorm, it was good to have fewer guests trekking homeward on snowy roads, although most did pack up and leave for home.

I served a Christmas Day brunch for those who were still here at noon. I tried out a new recipe for egg frittata, which still needs some perfecting. It took a lot longer to bake in the oven than the recipe I'd found on the Internet. That may be because I put in twice as many eggs to feed a group of 10.

It was actually pretty easy since I picked a recipe having few specific ingredients, so I could create a mixture fitting what I had on hand - eggs, milk, peppers, spinach, cheese and herbs. We also had homegrown bacon, fried potatoes and a large fruit plate. At the point when I realized I could not get it all ready on my own, I asked guests for help setting the table, tending the frying bacon and cutting up fruit while I slapped the egg dish together.

Asking for help and accepting help is especially important for anyone hosting big and small holiday events. Their part in the process becomes as much of the tradition as the overall event. I depend on those like Jenna, Kylie and Kayla who arrive early to prepare plates of pickles, slice bread, butter lefse and cut up veggies.

I also depend on my husband who rents a carpet-cleaning machine a few days before our big day to make the carpets look like new and erase enough doggie-ness so my niece's tiny son, with a severe dog allergy, could attend. (We also kept our dogs in kennels or in rooms away from our guests.)

Since I have been so busy with Christmas prep, I want to share one simple recipe for a pre-meal treat that's become a holiday tradition at our house. It is a simple layered shrimp dip that I was served over three decades ago at a dinner party. I found the taste so enjoyable that I found myself going back to the table over and over, getting additional nibbles.