It’s Not Christmas Unless…

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Centsational Girl posted about her family’s Christmas traditions, and I loved it so much I thought I’d do the same.  I always enjoy reading about how others celebrate the season, so I hope you’ll either comment about a tradition you have or link up blog entries with your family traditions!  Here’s my answer to Centsational Girl’s prompt-

It’s just not Christmas in our family unless we have…

1.  A “Real” Christmas Tree: despite the fact my husband has allergies, he still insists on getting a real tree each year.  I love how the scent fills up the living room!  Each year he wants a bigger tree, but I told him he can’t have  one until he is able to get it into the stand, into the house, and standing straight without uttering a cuss word or getting frustrated {he’s one of the most passive people I know, which is why the tree frustration is always hilarious—for ME}.  He worked really hard on that this year, so maybe next year we’ll see a tree that’s a little bigger!  As much as I love thematic trees, ours is filled up with meaningful ornaments.  I’ve been given over 30 Lenox ornaments over the years, so those are the main decorations…
 But there’s also the laminated tree my husband made when he was in second grade:
and the angel made by my great-aunt:
I always loved these engraved ornaments…
An angel of love and remembrance…
I found a box of antique ornaments years ago in the perfect shade of blue-ish green… I still love them!
and so many more, but I won’t bore you with the details.  😉

{side note:  I typed this first part in the parking lot of a local grocery store because Noodle is sleeping in her car seat and we are having work done in our home.  I guess I didn’t notice the “No Loitering” sign, because as I was getting ready to leave a police car arrived and pulled right into the spot I just vacated!  Guess they got a report of a loiterer with a laptop; probably they weren’t expecting a pregnant mom eating a bagel and blogging while her baby sleeps in the back.  See what I do for you guys???}

2.  Our Family “Flag”: I’m going to post this one very soon (with a tutorial) but when I was little my mom used to make a felt banner each year for our family.  I started this tradition last year; it’s a bit time-consuming, but I’m thrilled that we have something very special to record the family events of that year.  I’ll try to post the how-to ASAP!

3.  Cookies:  Do you have “old standbys” that you make?  Each year I try to make Peppermint Pinwheels, Church Windows, Chocolate Fudge Thumbprints and Oatmeal Lace cookies.   Tonight is Baking Night, so I hope to have some to show you tomorrow (with recipes).  My husband is laughing because I always mess up my cookies!

4.  Christmas Carols:  We’ve been streaming them since Thanksgiving through iTunes and Pandora.  There’s just something about Christmas Carols that perk up even the dreariest day.  Add cocoa, and you’ve got a recipe for happiness.

5.  Cards: 
I’m late with them every year.  That’s my tradition: late Christmas cards!  I’ve got them picked out (I love Less Ordinary Designs on Etsy) but haven’t taken our photo yet so it looks like it will be at least two weeks before they get sent.  My goal is to get them in the mail by Jan.1st.  Wish me luck!

This isn’t my family… the image came from Less Ordinary Designs on Etsy!

6.  Staying in our Pajamas:  When I was younger we stayed in our p.j.s all Christmas Day, with a casual brunch in the morning and then leftovers for the rest of the day.  It’s been rough the past 7 years because we’ve had to drive 6 hours on Christmas Day to reach both families, but this year we are HOME and whomever wants to visit us is more than welcome.  Jammies are encouraged.

One of us in this photo is still in her pajamas (hint: it’s not Noodle)

7.  A Christmas Eve Party:  I miss this one the most.  Since we no longer travel to New England to visit my family, we no longer have a wonderful Christmas Eve get-together.  It was great when we were younger: the town Santa came and gave us a gift (up through our teen years; my mom didn’t want to let go, apparently) and we’d get to see family and friends and eat Ole dip {one of the yummiest dips EVER!}  It’s my dream to eventually continue this tradition in our own home, but for now all our friends are visiting family and we don’t know many people our age in our current town.  I’m having a small gift wrapping party/ cookie exchange this weekend to get my fill of festive fun with friends!

8.  Displaying and Preserving Christmas cards:  My friends have the cutest kids.  I’ve been saving the photo cards each year, and someday will make a scrapbook with sections for all the photos from each year.  It’s been fun to look back and watch each family and all those kiddos grow!  This blog may be the motivation I need to finally get going on this project.  As for the non-photo cards, after the holidays I cut them into gift tags and reuse them.  They have a second life that way.

9.  New Pajamas on Christmas Eve:  Noodle can’t appreciate it just yet but we give her a new pair of p.js (pre-washed) each Christmas Eve.  I’m hoping to extend the tradition to myself this year, since I could really use some maternity pajamas.  That way when we hang out in our jammies all day (#6) they aren’t ratty in case there are photos!

10.  Popovers:  Admittedly, this is a family tradition year round– but since my husband is off from work Christmas through New Years we have lots of time to make real breakfasts.  They almost always include popovers… those yummy pillows of fluffiness that absorb jam and butter so well.  I’ll post the recipe with photos over the vacation if you’d like to make them {a popover pan is recommended, so if you are interested you might want to put it on your Wish List this year—hey, Amazon offers free Super Saver Shipping with delivery by Christmas through tomorrow…}

I know there’s more, but that’s a good start.  Next year, I think the tradition that would mean the most to add would be giving to Toys for Tots.   I’m hoping Noodle will be old enough to help pick out toys to give to this wonderful charity! Now it’s your turn: what traditions do you have that make the holidays special?  Please share!
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