I love the holidays, not because it smells good or the decorations around town are fun to see, but because there are so many holiday traditions. I love traditions and could probably stand to let a few go, but which ones? I’ve got a few favorite holiday traditions that I hold dear and will probably never let go of:
1) Decorating the House – I love decorating the house inside and out – with plenty of lights, little trees, the kids artwork and ornaments from pre-school, and all kinds of other things. I put up garlands and hang crystals and snow flakes because we don’t see snow where we are in California. I have a designated place for each type of decoration. I decorate a door with the boys’ artwork from pre-school – all the little candy canes and trees. I kept all of the ones with their pictures and their handprints. Now that they are gargantuan teenagers, it seems even more special to have those little hand and feet prints decorating the house. I have a separate area where I hang a garland and ornaments that the boys made. These gems include the macaroni framed pictures and the glitter decorated frames containing pictures of the boys with goofy smiles and their cherubic cheeks. My absolute favorite hand-made ornament is an angel that Bryce made when he was a little over 2. It contains a picture of him with tousled hair and a half smile, half grimace on his face. The angel ornament is complete with a gold, pipe-cleaner halo and a little footprint as the angel’s body and little hand prints as the angel’s wings. The picture alone is enough to make you laugh out loud, but the whole ornament is a pre-school craft project at its best! I have another area of the house that I decorate with silver lights and trees of different sizes. I love it because it shimmers, glows, and looks magical. I used to put a little tree in each of the boys’ rooms but they protest now…
2) Decorating the Tree – I have collected Christmas ornaments from all over the world and there are way too many ornaments to put on one tree unless it was a 20 foot high tree, then maybe it could work! So, I resort to theme decorating (bears, cats, music, ornaments from around the world, antique ones, hobbies, cut brass, or crystal and glass). It makes for a fun and different tree each year. Even with the theme decorating, I always put the picture ornaments on the tree. When the kids were little, I would make all the grandparents and uncles photo albums of the kids for Christmas and I would accompany the present with a little picture frame ornament showing our family picture from our Christmas card. It’s fun to see how the boys (and us) have changed over the years! When the boys were born, I started a box of ornaments for each one. These boxes contain ornaments that we have collected over their lifetime and include the family picture ornaments too. One of these days (sooner than I think) they will be able to take these boxes with them and decorate their own trees! Some years, when the kids were very little or when we got new kittens, we had to leave a two foot high ornament free zone around the tree which seriously cramped my ability to put all of the ornaments on the tree! We’ll see how Elvis (our newest cat) reacts to the tree this year!
3) Making Cookies – I love making the same 6 kinds of cookies each year during the holidays. I also throw in a couple of new recipes to try out. Sometimes these new recipes become keepers, sometimes not. The peppermint fudge we tried last year was fabulous enough to try again this year! I love having a cookie party and inviting others to come over and help roll and bake cookies and then to really enjoy eating them and taking them home – otherwise I would just eat all of the cookies and weigh 300 pounds! It’s really fun to do this with the kids and give them their own batch to make. Sometimes that works perfectly, other times it is a work in progress that needs supervision – depends on what other distractions the boys have at the time! A few years ago, I started making the cookies in early December and then I found myself having to make more cookies throughout December for various events, because the teenagers are like a band of locusts with the cookies! Good thing I love making cookies!!!
4) Seeing Friends & Family – I love seeing friends at their parties, year after year. I especially love the caroling parties. Not that it is snowy and cold out here but it is fun to sing and hang out with others who like to sing! One set of friends hold an open house pizza party and they make tons of different kinds of pizzas. It’s always fun to see what they come up with each year. I love holding our raclette and fondue party. We used to host a party on New Year’s Eve and play games and do puzzles along with drinking a lot of champagne, but we haven’t done that for a few years; instead, we’ve rotated where the raclette party is. I love seeing family that we haven’t seen all year long. I love having visits and house guests. It mixes things up a bit. Makes things interesting. One thing I always try to do (throughout the year, really), is to include people who may not have family in the area. Holidays aren’t always easy for people and being inclusive and kind can go a long way. I love hosting a Christmas party and playing incessant Christmas music (Canadian Brass, anyone?), serving all those cookies we make, finding new recipes to share, and making new dishes. I also love switching out my regular dishes and using my Spode Christmas China all December! It’s very festive!
5) Cruising Around Town to See the Christmas Lights – There are several places in town that are overly decorated with Christmas lights. I always love driving by and seeing the twinkling lights. But my favorite is to go to our very own Christmas Tree Lane (in San Carlos, it is Eucalyptus Street) and walk around. Driving down this street doesn’t do it justice and it is blocked off on the weekends to vehicle traffic. I love that everyone gathers in their driveway to drink hot chocolate or other warm drinks and visit and hang out. I love that one neighbor brings in snow and makes a mini hill for little kids to sled down. I love that one family has a gazebo in their front yard where you can take a picture with Santa. I love the house with the giant tree decorated like a tree at Macy’s or Neiman Marcus. I love the kids running around exclaiming,”Mommy, look at this one!” I love the jeep up on blocks with render pulling it. I usually try to walk down this street a couple of times through the month so I can really enjoy it. I like walking it alone at least once and just people watching. It’s all fabulous.
What is your favorite holiday tradition?