December is always a busy time, steeped in rituals and favorites. Lots of holidays, family, friends and gift giving. It’s also time to reminisce about days gone by, fun memories and remembering those who have left us too soon.
I think about how we would visit my Grandparents and I would always go with my Grandfather to walk the dog. There was the one neighbor who always had the outside of his house decorated (one of the few in the neighborhood) and had speakers outside playing the Nat King Cole Christmas album over and over. To this day, it’s the only Christmas music I own.
I generally do a lot of crafting for the holidays. During the year I try to stock up doing a little bit each month, doubling batches of things like candles and bath salts, so that I can put together gift baskets. This year I was really off my game due to family issues and moving so needless to say I’m a bit behind schedule.
In addition to the crafting, there are certain personal traditions I like to partake in as well.
First there’s the tree. I generally don’t use traditional ornaments. I prefer mine to resemble its traditional Pagan origins to celebrate Yule (though I am neither Christian nor Pagan). I dry apple and orange slices, string popcorn, add sprigs of berries (I use fake ones, they’re easy to handle), pine cones. Then I have a few clear glass ornaments that I’ve filled with fake snow so I have snowballs on the tree. A few of them I’ve painted on snowman faces as well.
Simple, pretty, outdoorsy and inexpensive. I dip the apple slices in hydrogen peroxide before I dry them in the oven to keep them from discoloring before they dry. When they’re all dry I use hot glue to add simple ornament hooks to the backs (150 for $1 at Family Dollar)
This year with moving to Creekside Manor, it is now a two-family holiday. It’s a combination of “yours” and “mine” making a whole new “ours”. It’s like getting married again, only with more people! We’ve all been friends for almost thirty years and our kids were raised together.
I’m not a cookie baker. I cook and I make cheesecake, those are my norms. When I was young, I remember my Mom making about 15 types of cookies to give out as gifts to neighbors and such. It seems like most people have gotten away from that. I do miss the Springerle (German anise cookies) that my Mom used to make. They were my absolute favorite! In fact I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately. While I don’t have her specific recipe, I’m thinking that I’m going to try my hand at making them. I’ll let you know how they turn out.
Then I have my “have to watch” movies that make it holiday time for me. My favorites are a mixture of the traditional and well, non-traditional (in no particular order).
- How The Grinch Stole Christmas (the original animation from 1966, narrated by Boris Karloff).
- A Christmas Story (“You’ll shoot you’re eye out!”) a great film that really captures life back in the day.
- Miracle on 34th Street (They new one with the girl from Matilda and Dylan McDermott)
- White Christmas (actually not my favorite, but my daughters so I watch it with her every year)
- A Charlie Brown Christmas
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
- Die Hard
- Lethal Weapon
I’ve traditionally held some sort of open house for friends and family to stop by when I was living in town. Now that I’m living in the boonies, there will be a different plan. The weekend after Christmas is when we’ll celebrate together with family, exchange gifts and eat our fill. My parents originally started the tradition when I was little to have an open house celebration on Christmas Eve. All their friends were young with small children so would wind up hopping around town to visit all sides of the family, so it was easier to just become one of the stops. I was the oldest of all the kids, so I was always the designated “babysitter” when people stopped by.
When we would have our open houses I would fill two crock-pots… one with hot chocolate accompanied by peppermint schnapps, amaretto, whipped cream and marshmallows…. the other I filled with apple cider. To the cider I would add orange slices stuck with cloves and a few cinnamon sticks. This one I’d put on a little early for the flavors to blend and there would be Southern Comfort and peach schnapps for those interested in jazzing it up a bit.
I just found this recipe graphic from The Drunken Spatula that I’m dying to try this year! Check it out!
No matter whether you celebrate Christmas, Yule, Hanukkah, Bodhi Day or any of the other wonderful holidays that occur this month… I hope that you and yours have a wonderful time making great memories with you and yours.