Holiday Traditions


Happy December, all!

This is the month most anticipated by many children, and for those adults in touch with their inner child. It’s a time of faith and magic. Unfortunately, the holiday season can also add stress to an already busy schedule. To relieve the pressure to get everything done, I find it helps to focus on family traditions. Some of our friends attend cookie exchange or ginberbread house decorating parties, and they sound wonderful. Our traditions are simpler and quieter, usually involving only our immediate family, due to my son’s autism.

After the holiday cards have been mailed and a bulk of the presents purchased, the joyous part of the season begins. My son and I make dozens of sugar cookies. Here’s a recipe from Bon Appetit magazine:

For cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For frosting

  • 9 cups (or more) powdered sugar (about 2 1/4 pounds)
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons Just Whites (pasteurized powdered egg whites)*
  • 12 tablespoons (or more) water

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Holiday-Sugar-Cookies-104455#ixzz1fbfMAseM

I mix, cut out, and bake them while he ices and adds colorful sprinkles to the santa, star, and stocking shapes, although we both agree our favorite part is eating a few–still warm out of the oven.

Christmas Tree in Germany at EPCOT, WDW

When our daughter arrives home from college, we seek out a Christmas tree and bring it home to share in the happiness of the season. My husband wraps it with lights, and the kids and I decorate it. They love to hear each ornament’s story as we place it on a branch, especially the ones they made long ago in preschool or were given as gifts.

Once the Christmas tree is decorated, it’s time for our family’s favorite activity. The four of us eat a leisurely dinner one evening–usually pizza or another meal easy to clean up–and then we pile into the family car with contented bellies. My husband tunes into a local radio station known for it’s holiday songs. As we pull away from the driveway, singing along with Jingle Bell Rock or Frosty the Snowman, we happily anticipate our neighborhood’s celebration of the season.

We are never disappointed. Each year, our village outdoes itself. Christmas lights cover homes and greenery. Nativity scenes and other seasonal lawn decorations are proudly displayed. Apparently, we aren’t alone in our fascination with our neighborhood displays. HGTV’s “Light Up the Holidays” features what it deems the most amazing front yards across America. Check out their great website and photos here. I also like to peek at other beautifully decorated homes on YouTube, like the ones from Melbourne, Australia:

Others are even more inventive, their lights synchronized to music. If you watched the video above, click on the “Holdman Christmas Lights” video next. These homes remind me of the music/water show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Good times!

After trolling around town for festive displays, we head home. We end our family evening in front of the fireplace with hot cocoa and sugar cookies.  After the kids go to bed, my husband and I cuddle on the couch. We each sip a margarita or another favorite adult beverage and enjoy watching It’s A Wonderful Life late into the night.

What family traditions are a relaxing part of your winter holiday?

Advertisements

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nicole Basaraba
    Dec 05, 2011 @ 08:02:39

    Sounds like you have some excellent holiday traditions! You make me want to be there. But I’m going home for Christmas! In Edmonton, they have what’s called “Candy Cane Lane” and basically its a neighboorhood what looks somewhat like Melbourne video in your post, except with a slightly more tasteful display of lights over the white covered ground and rooftops.

  2. Rhonda Hopkins
    Dec 05, 2011 @ 18:57:58

    What wonderful traditions! We’ve always have Christmas with my mother’s family on Christmas Eve. The best part of the holiday as far as I’m concerned. We changed to BBQ as our traditional dinner many years ago and it’s just been awesome. (We are in Texas after all! LOL) We usually draw names or do a surprise gift. That’s always decided at Thanksgiving. Of course we buy for the kiddos. I like to read the Nativity Story.. Then we gather at my sister’s home (was my mother’s and then changed to hers since she’s now the grandmother) on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought the kids. It’s a lazy day spent with family.

    Thanks for the sugar cookie recipe. Sounds yummy. I’m going to give them a try!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Dec 05, 2011 @ 22:14:13

      Hi Rhonda,

      I’ve never had BBQ on Christmas. It must be fun having a cookout while us northerners are freezing.

      Your traditions sound lovely, and I especially like the part where you read the Nativity Scene and have a lazy day with extended family. I have fond memories of my father’s family, with lots of cousins to play with and aunts and uncles to dote on us.

      Hope you enjoy the sugar cookies. They’re my favorite. 🙂

      • Rhonda Hopkins
        Dec 06, 2011 @ 00:29:03

        Oh no! We’re not quite that into BBQ to be facing the elements. We never know if it’s going to be 80 or zero on Christmas around here. LOL We get a bunch from our favorite BBQ place. No cooking. No muss. No fuss. 🙂 Hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!

  3. Jeannie Moon
    Dec 05, 2011 @ 21:58:14

    One of the things we started years ago was Christmas Day brinch. The family gathers at our home around 11 am Christmas morning and we make wonderful goodies for breakfast. We eat, drink Mimosas, and open gifts they we all hang out the rest of the day, nibbling on leftovers and watching movies. We don’t do the big Christmas dinner, but we eat, we drink and we are most assuredly merry.

    • Jeannie Moon
      Dec 05, 2011 @ 21:58:56

      Of course, I mean BRUNCH. 😉

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Dec 05, 2011 @ 22:17:33

      Thanks for stopping by, Jeannie. I love the sound of a Christmas brunch. We should start that tradition here, especially the part about mimosas. Do you watch traditional Christmas flicks like Christmas Story, or do you have other faves?

      • Jeannie Moon
        Dec 05, 2011 @ 22:19:13

        I start watching The Grinch and Charlie Brown right after Thanksgiving! On Christmas Day we watch A Christmas Story and Miracle on 34th Street. Also if Santa brought anyone a favorite movie, that usually gets a viewing.

  4. Donna Coe-Velleman
    Dec 06, 2011 @ 00:42:49

    I always have to stop what I’m doing to watch either of my three favorite Christmas movies: The Grinch that Stole Christmas (the animated one), A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to share this with my daughter this year because she as working.

  5. Tuere Morton
    Dec 06, 2011 @ 05:16:50

    Talk about traditions. Every year we got a real Christmas tree for the authenticity of it, pine aroma and what not. Well, in the last couple of years, I’ve contemplated a fake one just cuz. Well, this year is the 1st with an artificial tree and…not a big deal., SO glad I ventured out into the unknown and look forward to many more environmentally-conscious years with my fake tree!! 😉

  6. Catie Rhodes
    Dec 09, 2011 @ 18:55:24

    Y’all sound like you have a good time with your traditions. I need to make some sugar cookies. They’re my daddy’s favorite. I bring them to him wrapped and he hides them so only he can eat them. LOL

    We don’t have any big traditions. If we get together with my family, I make my sausage stuffing. My husband and I have a pile of Christmas movies we try to watch in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Other than that, we don’t do much. 😀

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Dec 09, 2011 @ 21:07:04

      That sausage stuffing sounds like a great comfort food to me. Yum. And quiet times with loved ones–now that’s a nice tradition. Happy holidays, Catie!

%d bloggers like this: