Sunday, November 22, 2009

Heartfelt and Handmade Holidays Creating Traditions

This week Katrina and I got together to make our video. I know it is riveting screen time to watch our little videos. Katrina and I laughed most of the evening. I think our final take was at 1:00 am. I hope you take a look at the fruits of our labors;) It is a quickie.


Last week I talked about embracing the traditions associated with our heritage. Those certainly are traditions. The kind of tradition I am talking about this week are the ones that make the holiday season special for your family, not necessarily based on your heritage. They don't have to cost money either.

Most of the traditions I am going to mention below started when we were kids, but my little family also has recent traditions that I didn't grow up with.

A few of our traditions are:

*Something that is huge for us is putting the angel on the tree. It is the last thing to go on our tree and we make a big deal out of it. My husband gets the honors...I think because he is the only one tall enough to reach;)

*My little family of 4 loves to drive around the neighborhood listening to Christmas music looking at lights. We rate the houses based on a scale of 1 to 2. Ha! We are tough critics;) We say what we think would have made each house perfect. It is a lot of fun. (I know other families that do this with hot chocolate. This doesn't fit in with our food allergies so we don't do it.)

*Our maternal Grandparents have spent the night on Christmas Eve with our family since we were kids. There have only been a few years they missed. Grandpa died a few years ago, and our 92 year old Grandma didn't come to Arizona at all last year. It just feels wrong without her with us on Christmas morning. We are lucky that she just came back and is staying with my little family for the next few months. She is just in time to spend the holidays with us! My kids get to share in the tradition now!!

*Singing carols as our Dad plays the piano is another tradition we love. This tradition started because our oldest sister's birthday is December 20th. For her birthday parties we would always carol to our neighbors. Before we went we choose the songs we would sing and then we would do a quick practice with Dad at the piano. Our neighbors knew we would be coming and they had cookies and hot chocolate ready for us. How sweet was that?

*Becky has 25 Christmas stories, and she reads one to her children every night.

* Going to the Tempe Light Parade is a huge event the family has done almost every year since we moved here.

*Christmas pillowcases come out on December 1st and we use them for the whole month.

*We always make "Grandpa's Christmas Caramels" with the extended family. I have seen similar recipes forever and they may be exact. But to us, these will always be Grandpa's Christmas Caramels because once they were cooled in the pan, he was always the one to cut them up. We talk about Grandpa when we make these. And they are delish!!

1 C butter

1 C brown sugar

1 C white sugar

1 C light corn syrup

1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

dash of salt

Combine ingredients in heavy pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Keep at rolling boil and cook until soft ball forms in cold water (about 15 minutes). Pour into buttered 7 x 11 pan. Cool, then cut into squares and wrap each piece in wax paper.

This year I thought it would be fun to try to dip these in chocolate. Why, I don't know, but a chocolate coating with some coarse salt sprinkled on top sounds delish to me;)

I'd love to know what you have as solid traditions in your family that you do year after year. And is there something new you are trying this year?



Katrina here,

Some thing I always remember from my childhood is that we would all decorate the tree together. Some time during December my just older brother (he is 5 years older than I am) and I would sit in front of the tree with a very old book my mother had, singing the Christmas carols from it. We would turn the lights off and just have the lights from the tree. We always opened up with O’ Christmas Tree and we always sang the German version next. My mother is a German immigrant. We would work our way through all the songs in the book.

I carry on the tradition of decorating the tree with my own family. My husband started the tradition of making sure Christmas music is playing in the background. I usually buy some Egg Nog or have hot chocolate for us to drink. The first thing we do is put up our tree. I too remember the days of my Dad putting the angel on top of the tree at the very end. She is beautiful and old. I never found an angel I like as much as her so we have a beaded snowflake for the top of our tree. Unfortunately it is too heavy for the not so strong branches at the top of our artificial tree. So I always put it on first so I can rig it to stay upright. It goes on before the top of the tree is added to the base. If we had a fireplace we would have a fire burning. I dearly miss having a live tree but it isn’t the “green” thing to do so I usually find a candle or something that has a bit of pine scent and light it. Your senses can trigger a memory of things from your past. I like to involve all 5 for this event. It is something that I remember from my childhood. I don’t think my parents did it with a purpose and until now I had not thought about it that way.

Something that my oldest son insists on is that when we wrap gifts, I tie a nice ribbon on to each one. He does not like it when I use those premade bows. He reminds me as I wrap gifts for others. It is that little extra something. I always buy wrapping paper and ribbon at the after Christmas sales for the following year. The first year I did this was to add some decorations by putting bows on pretty boxes. They were empty and I planned to put them on top of a wall to dress it up. He insisted that they belonged under the tree.

Of course we have new traditions that seem to start up every year to go along with the old. I wonder if my oldest will draw up a song book and want to go caroling like last year. Oh my heavens it was so freaking cute to hear my boys version of Jingle Bells. I wish I had thought to video tape it. If your children want to go caroling you MUST remember to get it on video if you can.

Another must is setting up the Christmas village. We have a plant shelf high up next to our vaulted ceiling where we set ours up. I confess that last year it never got taken down. ;) So I guess this year the task will be to dust if off. LOL

One final thing I would like to add is a recipe for Orange Cranberry bread that I LOVE to make this time of year. I mean I LOVE it and will eat half a loaf before it has even cooled. You might say it had become a tradition for me to make it at least once during the holidays.

Orange Cranberry Bread

Grate the rind of 1 orange

3/4 orange juice

2 Tbsp butter or margarine

1 egg

1 cup sugar

1 cup cranberries, chopped (I like the cut in half)

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional if you don’t like nuts)

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Heat 3/4 cups of orange juice (You can use the juice from the orange you zested plus an additional orange). Add the grated rind and butter. Stir to melt the butter.

In another bowl combine the egg and sugar. Beat well to combine. Stir into the orange mixture. Add cranberries and walnuts.

In another bowl sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Stir into your wet mixture. Spoon into a greased loaf pan (9x5”). Bake for 1 hour.

Eat warm…Ok so this isn’t required unless you are me. ;)

There are so many things we do during the holiday season that we don’t even realize are traditions. As you go through this holiday season pay attention and I think you will be surprised by how many traditions you have that you don’t even think about. Think about how each event makes you feel. Consider starting traditions that will evoke fond memories for you and your children in the future. When they have families of their own (a long long long long long time from now cause I am no where near ready to think about it ;) they will want to make similar memories for their children. Think, is this something that I want carried down for generations? How do I want them to look back on this time of year? Whether you realize it or not, it is some thing that stays with your children. Like my wrapped empty boxes, it does not have to cost a lot to make great memories.


Heartfelt and Handmade Holidays

We are linking up to some fun parties here.


Felicia said...

Any way you could list the 25 different christmas stories? I would love to start a tradition of the different stories!

RootsAndWingsCo said...

Rebecca here,
Here are the titles of the stories/poems that I have. They really are all about a page or two long and are perfect for bedtime stories. I'm sure you could do an internet search for short poems and stories for Christmas and come up with plenty.
Davey & The First Christmas, One Solitary Life, Time of Enchantment, The C-C-Choir Boy, The Other Wise Man, Symbols of Christmas, A Gift of The Heart, Old Gentleman Gray, Surprise Ending, The Stranger, The Three Kings, From Santa, With Love, Pattern of Love, Why Santa Claus Chose the Reindeer, A Legend, Keeping Christmas, Is There A Santa Claus?, A West Side Christmas Story, The Gift of The Magi, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Trouble At The Inn, Christmas Is For Sharing, A Visit From St Nicholas, and The Littlest Angel.

Felicia said...

Thank you so much for sharing! This will be our first christmas as a family, we welcomed our little one back in February, and I would love to start a nice tradition and I think this is it!!