Monday, December 22, 2008


Since it is the holiday season of 2008, and many of us take time out to be with friends and family, we would like to know what makes this time of year special for you. Each family has traditions- what are some of the ways that you celebrate?


Lizabeth said...

We celebrate Christmas and have a few 'signature' traditions...

--Christmas eve we have surf and turf (steak and shrimp) for dinner
--We also each open one gift (usually socks and underwear-- yes I still get socks from my parents, but they are far more cozy and warm now than the plain white crew socks I used to get!)
--Christmas morning we all read the Christmas story from Luke 2 as a family- each year someone different reads it and we pray before heading in to open gifts
--We each have a stocking (even my sisters in law when they are here at my parents for Christmas) and some gifts which are not wrapped that are just general gifts from mom and dad
--Then someone gets to play Santa and pass out the wrapped presents (its important to note that the big ticket items are not always wrapped- I remember years ago when I got a really nice TV it was not wrapped- just by my stocking. Same thing with my new computer monitor last year. Then again I got a hope chest that was wrapped, so its tough to tell where the good stuff is :)!)

I love having time with my family at Christmas-- while we see each other often we are all really busy, so its great to have quality interactions with each other.

Anya said...

Lizabeth. Thanks for sharing. What lovely traditions. I get such a warm feeling about your family from reading this.

One tradition I have practiced the last several years is going out shopping with my sister and daughter VERY early on the 24th. We usually have our big shopping purchases all done and just concentrate on stocking stuffers and smaller gifts (like socks and fuzzy jammies). There are always lots of last minute sales. We try and finish up before it gets too panicky and crowded (by noon-ish) with the true last minute shoppers.

We generally end the festivities with an early lunch of burgers at a local diner.

Theresa said...

Anya-That is a bit Twilight Zone for me because that is what my sister and I do, too! We usually do it the weekend before Christmas, though. It's the one day of the year that my sister and I get to spend time together without the kids and just enjoy each other's company and laugh at silly things. We went this past Saturday. Started at 7am and didn't get home til about 8pm. Good time for sure.

We always do Christmas Eve at my mom's. That's where we open up our family grab bag gifts and Mom opens all hers (from us kids and grandkids).

Christmas Day we spend with each of our own families and Mom is usually at my house.

Of course, a huge part of our Christmas tradition is making pizzelles, an Italian waffle cookie. Only Mom is the best at that! She cranks them out of her little sweatshop, uh, I mean kitchen and friends, family, neighbors all enjoy them.

Merry Christmas (Happy Hanukha, Happy Kwaanza)to all of you here. I hope you have a nice holiday and a really happy and healthy New Year!

FIONA said...

Oh this is fun!

We always have prime rib for Christmas eve dinner and I make red velvet cake!

We eat by candle light which my daughter always likes.

Over the years I have started putting our old 35mm video tapes on DVD, so we watch a couple of hours of home videos. That is so much fun!

Of course my daughter gets to open one present but Santa comes in the morning-still!

He brings the most spectacular present of all and Mom and Dad give the rest.

Stockings are so much fun...they have gotten a little bit like gag gifts over the years.

We all pitch in and make a big breakfast.

In the afternoon we always go see a movie.

All of our family is out of state so Christmas traditions have always been special.

I have to say I am a *little* like Kate in that I like the wrapping paper thrown away after you unwrap, but that doesn't last very long.

And last but not least, the Lab and the Springer each get a pigs year to munch on and a new toy!

cali-mom said...

We always have Christmas Eve at my house and its also my moms birthday, so we have a cake and presents for her as well.
My grandma reads the Christmas story from the bible and she also reads Twas the night before Christmas, and then we sing Christmas carols and open family gifts.
After everyone leaves, we let each child open 1 gift (a tradition my husband had when he was a child)

ON Christmas morning (my favorite part) my husband and I get up really early and put things out from "santa" that are unwrapped. This year we got the kids a pretty big gift, so we decided to do a bit of a scavenger hunt for them to find there gift. Then we'll sit down together and open the rest of the presents and stockings. For breakfast we eat coffe cake (a tradition I've taken on from when I was a child) and spend the day in our PJ's and enjoying each others company, watching Christmas movies and playing w/toys. I make a dinner for the 5 of us in the evening and thats pretty much our tradition.

Merry Christmas to all.

Anya said...

Theresa said...We went this past Saturday. Started at 7am and didn't get home til about 8pm. Good time for sure.

Girl, I admire your fortitude! :-)

I am usually only good for about 4 hours at a time.

Lizabeth said...

Fiona, I LOVE red velvet cake :). Its my dads favorite so we have it here at times also.

Theresa, the Pizzelles sound wonderful-- do you have a recipe you can share?

cali-mom, the coffee cake sounds wonderful :). My mom makes pigs in a blanket (the real kind with homemade biscuits wrapped around good sausage) and pull apart cake (aka monkey bread). Maybe I will petition the powers that be for a coffee cake too though lol!!

I forgot to mention before (but scanning and uploading over 70 pics from my childhood onto my Facebook reminded me :)!) that when I was little we would listen to this great old LP of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. We still have the record, but the player is broken and we all prefer our ipods now. I remember many Christmas eves falling to sleep (or at least trying to!) while listening to the song and story of Rudolph...

Rufus said...

I'm Jewish, but my husband isn't so we celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, the kids and Daddy bake cookies for Santa. When the kids go to bed, there are no stockings hung and very few gifts under the tree. Once they're asleep, I bring out all the gifts and load them up under the tree - gifts from Santa. Often, we leave one or two really special things unwrapped so it's the first thing the kids see in the morning.

Once I've gone to sleep, my husband pulls out the stockings and loads them up with treats for all of us (it's great that I get some surprises too!). Sometimes, Santa leaves a note too. The best thing is seeing the kids' faces in the morning when they see that Santa came because everything is so much different from when they went to bed.

FIONA said...


You are lucky....2 holidays!

Rufus said...

And my birthday is the 27th! December is fun galore for me :)

nc resident said...

Wow Fiona a springer I have 3 goldens and I've always wanted a springer.

Our kids are grown so no tree here even. Yeah its sucks. I find myself 50 yrs old and without some family members each year. If you can cherish your family set a tradition and keep it, nothing except memories last forever.

Merry Christmas everyone

CincyMom said...

What a fun topic! It's been fun reading the traditions. I just got back from early returns at Home Depot, Target and Borders.

We do every other/ year at my husband's family and my parents on Christmas Eve. So Christmas Day afternoon is the "other" family for the year. It gets tiring, but someone else said it, "good thing we have family."

We always make gingerbread houses with the kids and we also go to the Dollar Store so the kids can buy eachother a present (they are 5 and 7) and a present for mom and dad. Last year, I got glass pineapple earrings from my son : )

We also always have cinnamin (sp?) rolls for breakfast on Christmas Day (like Kate's sticky rolls but completely commercial).

I LOVE the ones who said they eat surf/ turf or prime rib. Yum!!!
We always do lasagna when it's my mom's night for Christmas Eve. Yummy. I think there's so many traditions on C. Eve because with Thanksgiving and Christmas Day people need a switch from ham/ turkey.

MonicaW42 said...

We spend every Christmas in CA at my parents. On Christmas Eve we go to Christmas Mass with my Dad's side of the family. When we get back we eat tamales and each open one gift and have finger foods. On Christmas morning we get up and have a big breakfast buffet and open gifts. We have family members coming and going throughout the day. We also go visit family that can't make it out of the house. We still do the stockings as well.

This year is our first year staying home for Christmas as we went last week to visit my parents. Needless to say, we will be doing Christmas with my family again after this as it is all about family to me. I have invited my in laws over for Christmas dinner this year. Even though I am in my 40's, I will admit to watching all the Christmas shows on dvd starting on Christmas Eve. I watch everything from Rudolph to Christmas Vacation.

Happy Holidays to everyone.

Guinevere said...

I don't think I have that many holiday traditions, not of the real specific sort, anyway. I have started a tradition of watching "Elf" as I wrap presents on Christmas Eve. I looove "Elf".

Linda said...

One of our pre-Christmas traditions is to ring the bell with the kids for the Salvation Army. Each year the kids seem to understand why more and more. Especially in these rough economic times, the importance of thinking of other less fortunate is even more important.

We also have the kids throw some oats mixed with glitter on the lawn which is "Reindeer Food" and set out a plate of cookies for Santa.

Then the weekend after Christmas, we have a party with my side of the family. Over 30 people come and it is a great time.

SamanthaNC said...

On Christmas eve e go to our church's candlelight service and my daughter and I make cookies for Santa and food for the reindeer (it kind of looks like monkey munch!)she opens one gift- and begs to open "just one more". We sped Christmas morning with my husbands family (my family is 6 hrs. away) and Christmas evening we have a huge bash with my father in law's side of the family. On the 26th we get together with my mother in law's side of the family and on the 27th we travel 6 hrs. to spend a week with my family! My husband's birthday is the 28th so it's a busy few days!

Daisy said...


My daugher's watching Elf right now.

We go to our church's Christmas Eve service at 5:00. We come home to a prime rib that has been cooking on the rotissire and have that with garlic potatoes and popovers. Dinner is served on my special Christmas dishes. My parents will join us this year.

My kids both asked for new Bibles with their names on them for Christmas and my husband and I were happy to comply and overjoyed that they asked for that.

Christmas morning we open our presents and spend the morning together. I recently had a hot fruit dish with with a syrup made from brown sugar,butter, cinnamon & cloves smelled and tasted wonderful. We'll be adding that to our traditional stollen. In the afternoon we will go to my sister's and have ham. I'm bringing the ham this year.

Two days after Christmas we will drive to my husband's family. They live 3 hours away. Most of them are elderly. This year we'll be exchaning ornaments (thanks Nina!). We drive home the same day.

We'll be going back 3 weeks later for my mother in law's 90th birthday.

Saint said...

This year, my nephew, now in the US after a tour in Iraq, will be arriving at the airport on Christmas Eve. Most of the family will be greeting him there. Can't wait!

My little family goes to midnight Mass beautiful, on Christmas Eve. Sometimes we have a special dinner before, but sometimes we have hoagies! Santa sneaks in after we've all gone to bed and he always leaves too much. We think he also puts the baby in the manger when he comes. He never cleans up after himself, and he prefers the oatmeal raisin cookis at our house. This will be our first Christmas without a "true believer" but we're not acknowledging it.

We open presents in the morning and I get to eat Hershey Kisses with my coffee. Later, we go to Bethlehem for Christmas! Bethlehem, PA that is, where my parents live, as does other family. Mom makes a ham and all the fixings, and we all eat far too many cookies and play board games with the aunts, uncles, cousins, and Nan and Pop. It is crowded and loud and a bit of a madhouse with present exchanges there. Wine dulls the noise. Most of the in-laws end up staring into space all lined up on the "in-law couch." That's when we know it's time to go. ;)

Thanks for sharing your special traditions. I was a little teary-eyed reading them.

Happy Hannukah and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays for all.

Lizabeth said...

Saint that is adorable how Santa puts the baby in the manger so when you awaken Christmas morning, Jesus is there. What a neat idea :).

My older brother spent a few tours overseas and was always very homesick at Christmas especially. This spring he and his family are moving from upstate NY to Kentucky (or Kentuckeney as my 4 year old niece calls it) so we hope they will be able to join us next Christmas. I am so glad for you that your nephew will be home soon, even for a little while!

jace said...

It's fun reading about everyone's traditions for the holidays.

Early on Christmas Eve, we have a simple supper with a birthday cake for Baby Jesus. We read the Christmas story from the Bible at the table. Then we go to the Christmas service at our church. On the way home, we drive around and look at Christmas lights.

At home, each child gets to open one present. Then we put out cookies and milk and toss the reindeer food on the lawn for fun.

After the kids are asleep, my husband and I get out the stockings and any last minute presents we have to wrap. The last thing we do is put the Baby Jesus in the manger of our nativity scene so he "arrives" on Christmas morning.

At some ridiculous hour of the morning, my son wakes us up to open presents. We send him to get his stocking to tide him over and sleep for another half an hour or so. Happens every year so I guess it's now a tradition.

We take our time opening presents, then eat a late breakfast. At some point, we head over to my parents or my in-laws for more presents and merry making. :)

I hope everyone has a wonderful time celebrating the holidays this year.

nc resident said...

If can say yall have some very wonderful ways of celebrating. Heading to Cincinnati myself so Cincimom hold the snow till Christmas.

merryway said...

What a fun read to get in the holiday spirit!

Because we're all so busy on Christmas some of my friends always get together on Yule for a dinner and an exchange. That way we can get to all the kids in time instead of running all over. That was yesterday, had duck with apple glaze. Yum Yum. It's always a nice break from the rush.

We do advent calendars. The chocolate kind and the Avon mouse calendar.

We make gingerbread houses and go look at lights.

Pics with Santa of course.

The kids pick out a donation for Toys for Tots.

We do the one present on Christmas Eve.

Santa always takes the time to write a thank you note for the cookies.

You guys have made me so hungry. I love the steak and lobster idea. We snack on all our goodies and watch Christmas shows throughout the eve. We always read The Night Before Christmas and check the radar. On Christmas morning everyone can come in as soon as the camera is on. We do stockings after presents. After the morning, we have an easy breakfast but the highlight is that we're eating mom's biscuits and gravy. We do the traditional ham, etc. for dinner. In younger days we all played board games. Now we just all play with the last little kid until some grandchildren come along.

Up until about five years ago, my dad played Christmas songs and hymns on the guitar in the background all day. He's not able to play anymore and it's missed.

I found out I have to work this Christmas, with the little one being five we are able to pull a fast one and magically Christmas Eve has changed to the 25th.

merryway said...

I'm not working Christmas, it's Christmas Eve that I have to work. I don't mind. We were all glad to have one more day. :)

Anya said...

Merryway, sorry you have to work!

I think having a five-year-old in the house just about guarantees a very special and fun Christmas. I remember the days of advent calendars with my little one....


FIONA said...

Our kids are grown so no tree here even. Yeah its sucks. I find myself 50 yrs old and without some family members each year. If you can cherish your family set a tradition and keep it, nothing except memories last forever.

Why no tree?

I have to admit I am curious about you.

Hope you have a wonderful holiday.

Saint said...

We LOVE Elf. We have added it to our holiday list, too. My husband and I always watch the Chevy Chase Christmas movie and laugh every time. The kids are welcome to join us, but are not necessary for the tradition to be met.
We never miss the one with Ralphy the BB gun kid, either. Obviously I prefer the comedies. It's a Wonderful Life is OK, but it can't hold a candle to the three mentioned abve, IMO.

FIONA said...

This thread has kept me thinking about past Christmas memories.

I remember one year my daughter, age 5 or 6, left Santa a note asking him for a picture! We left the camera out and took a pic of just the red on the stocking.

When we got it developed, she was sure that Santa had taken a picture of himself.

We also have kept all of her old letters to Santa in her stocking and reread them each year.


Rufus said...

OH MY GOSH! I totally forgot!

We always take one of my husband's boots and cover it in ashes from the fireplace. Then we "stamp" it onto the hearth so the kids can see Santa's footprint in the morning. They LOVE it!

Theresa said...

Lizabeth-here's the Pizzelle recipe we use:

makes 3 dozen (we double dose, and triple dose this basic recipe)

1/2 cup shortening
2/3 cup sugar
3 egs
1 and 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp anise extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Cream the shortening and sugar. Add eggs and mix til smooth. A little at at time, add flour, baking powder, salt, vanilla, and anise. Mix til the texture is similar to that of a drop cookie.

Spray your pizzelle iron with a bit of Pam and you're good to go.

Good luck! Hope they turn out as good as my Mom's!

Lizabeth said...

Theresa thank you so much for the recipe! My mom just made homemade cinnamon rolls (from a recipe a friend sent me-- I'll post it on the recipe thread :)!) and these sound great as well. Where is the best place to get a Pizzelle iron?

nc resident said...

Going out of town for Christmas so didn't even bother with a tree.

CincyMom said...

nc resident:
Safe travels. We just had a weird three-hour ice event so the roads are very slick in Ky and southern Ohio. Hope you're driving Christmas Even. You should be good, then.

Happy holidays everyone. I enjoyed sharing some time with you via this site.

Theresa said...

Lizabeth--I bought mom's latest one at the local Italian store, but I believe you can get them at any specialty store (Williams Sonoma, any kitchenwares store, maybe even Kohl's). The iron I bought her is a Palmer. Her original one (which lasted for about 35 years)was a Dolce. We can't find those anywhere and the hubby tried online and couldn't find any. But, the Palmer works just fine. It was about $30 when we bought it ten years ago.

Mmm homemade cinnamon rolls! I'll be on the lookout for that! Cinnamon is big with the men in this house.

Merry Christmas!

Lizabeth said...

Theresa, I will be on the lookout for that iron then :).

The recipe for homemade cinnamon rolls is posted in the Christmas cookie post here:


Theresa said...

Awesome! Thanks Lizabeth!

merryway said...

Rufus, I love the idea of the boot print. I don't have a hearth, but I might do something to the affect.

Elf was the first holiday movie I let my little one stay up late for, we did the popcorn curl-up thing. She was very excited because she saw it as the start of the season.

Linda, I like the glitter and oatmeal for the reindeer. I'd so like to do it, but I'm going to pass on it because I hate to deal with the glitter and it's one too many.

Anya, It is special and that's why I decided better to move it. I have to drive for my parents, last minutes stuff, etc. She is very much focused on the advent calendars and has been diligently counting down. It was a little tricky adding another day. She is one of those who remember everything and can recite, but she is flighty and can be easily distracted by shiny objects. I told her I missed a day when she spent one night at grandma's. It was a while ago, so she wasn't exactly sure she was remembering correctly. Luckily, she's very trusting of her mother and decided to let it slide,

Fiona, that's so sweet about the letters to Santa. I never saved any of my kids' lists, just their projects. I did save some drawings my little one did last year. She drew pics for Santa and left them out every night for him for about a week after Christmas.

We like to make press cookies, but that old recipe just doesn't do it for me. We made these and they have just the right flavor to remind you of eggnog and they go good with any beverage. We sprinkled sugar on some and pressed the trees into chocolate. They are really good and I wish we had made two batches, but we were already in excess.

I bake a lot of the Betty Crocker bag cookies throughout because they are good and inexpensive snack / treat. So here's my helpful hint for the holiday season.

To keep cookies fresh or to freshen stale cookies:
On the bottom of the container or plate for the cookies, place 1 or 2 pieces of bread and lay a couple of paper towels over top of them. Then proceed to put the cookies in the container or lay them in the plate and cover. The moisture that makes the cookies stale will go into the bread first. Your cookies stay fresh and softer much longer.

Happy Holidays To All!

indianprincess said...

Merry Christmas everyone. Hope everyone has a great and wonderful holiday.

MoreCowbell said...

We really don't have formal traditions, but there are things I try to do every year, such as watching "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" as I decorate the tree. I think it's important to channel your inner Clark Griswold as you haul the boxes out of the basement and decorate the house. Unfortunately, all I can think is "on New Year's Day, I have to clean all this up and put it all away." That must be my inner Kate Gosselin rearing her OCD tendencies.

And of course, there's TNT's 24 hour continuous loop of A Christmas Story! That's good for at least three viewings. I also tend to leave it on all night while we sleep!

We always go to a friend's house on Christmas Eve and another on Christmas morning for breakfast. But, to tell the truth, I like to just curl up at home on Christmas, enjoying the tree and a warm comforter, and this year, plenty of snow outside.

merryway said...

I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas Eve. For me, I'm sitting here knowing that moving it over one night was a wise decision. I felt bad for all the people who worked with me who didn't have that option. One of the ladies kept saying she was sure her kids were ripping into everything without her being there. Since this was only seasonal, it's my last night. Most of my immediate family is out of state and we all make Thanksgiving our get-together so they can be at home with their own families at Christmas. Wishing you all a great Christmas morning. Hope there's lots of smiles.