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This is a series of posts that I wrote back in 2013. I was going to update them, but they were primarily perfect the way they are.
Beyond spending time with the kids, The Cinnamon Girl and I look forward to this time of year in part because we are creatures of habit and there are wonderful routines and tropes we anticipate renewing this time of year. They are what makes the Christmas Season feel like Christmas.
One cannot always count on the weather. On December 21, 2015 as I update this post, it’s sunny, so one must generate the Christmas Spirit in other ways.
It isn’t hard to do.
Christmas Things We Enjoy
12. Decorating the House
Right after Thanksgiving, we love to get the Christmas lights and Christmas tree up and running. We did this when Stretch and HJ jr were home for their Thanksgiving Breaks. Our outdoor lights are white icicle and we added a Christmas Fox to our yard this season.
The tree is trimmed. It shines all day. I love this time of year.
11. Making Christmas Cookies
The kids are older now, so some of the overwhelming excitement about butter, flour and sugar may be a bit lessened, but we spend an evening this week making and decorating our cookies. Everyone gets to do just what they want to, make and decorate for as long as they wish. We put on a movie or Christmas Carols, break out the cookie press and bake. These are times to enjoy!
10. Listening to Christmas Music
Also immediately after Thanksgiving, I begin listening to Christmas music. I have a playlist ready to roll all year for this event and I even change my running routine (I’ve been listening to audio books for my runs this year) to Christmas classics. The song below is my newest favorite…
9. Christmas Kringle
When I married the Cinnamon Girl and we began to combine Christmas traditions, I can say that the best thing I gained in the bargain was the eating of the Christmas Kringle! Never heard of it? Here’s what wikipedia has to say: “In the United States, kringles are hand-rolled from Danish pastry dough (wienerbrød dough) that has been rested overnight before shaping, filling, and baking. Thirty-two layers of the flaky dough are layered, then shaped in an oval. After filling with fruit, nut, or other flavor combinations, the pastry is baked and iced.” Um, yeah. That description doesn’t do the Kringle justice! It’s a delicious (and calorie free!) delight that I wait all year to eat!
8. Holiday Shopping
Each year, The Cinnamon Girl, the kids and I go out for a meal and shopping for Christmas presents. The day begins with breakfast, brunch or lunch (depending upon the shoppers’ mood!) at the Cheesecake Factory and then we wander the mall while the kids point out things they want from one another and we do the same for them. It’s a lovely tradition that we’ve been doing for years and it is clear from these young adults that they want nothing about this tradition to change – don’t even mention it!
Once home, the kids retire to their rooms and wrap their gifts and then get them under the tree.
7. Holiday Calendar
We love to plan the month… and plan the season. We love to work everything in that we want to do. With three teenagers and two households to consider, that gets a bit challenging, but we make it work!
My dad was Italian. A little. His mother was Italian. A lot. Italian families celebrate Christmas Eve with the Feast of the Seven Fishes. In our context, this meant only smelts. Smelts need to be cleaned – de-boned and washed. That task has fallen to me for the last decade. It’s a tradition… perhaps not the most joyous one!
In case you don’t know what that is: from wikipedia: “The long tradition of eating seafood on Christmas Eve dates from the Roman Catholic tradition of abstinence – in this case, refraining from the consumption of meat or milk products – on Wednesdays, Fridays and (in the Latin Church) Saturdays, as well as during Lent and on the eve of specific holy days. As no meat or butter could be used on such days, observant Catholics would instead eat fish, typically fried in oil. The meal may include seven, eight, or even nine specific fishes that are considered traditional. The most famous dish Southern Italians are known for is baccalà (salted cod fish). The custom of celebrating with a simple fish such as baccalà is attributed to the greatly impoverished regions of Southern Italy. Fried smelts, calamari and other types of seafood have been incorporated into the Christmas Eve dinner over the years.”
5. Sponge Bob and the Christmas Moose!
Each year for the last few, Sponge Bob and the Christmas Moose have been a part of our celebrations. They turn up when we least expect them… they scare the animals, they frighten the children, the make us laugh!
They haven’t made their annual appearances yet, but I am sure they are coming…
4. Christmas Cards
Is it a dying tradition? I don’t know. I certainly hope it’s not. There is much to be said for the act of writing, the act of signing one’s name, the act of putting a stamp on something and putting it in the mail. I love sending cards as much as I love receiving them.
3. Christmas Eve Celebration
With the extended family on Christmas Eve, we always feel as though we are home.
2. Cinnamon Girl Makes Christmas Dinner
No matter what she decides to make for us, it’s always delicious. This year, it’s likely to be crab and mashed potatoes with asparagus. She might even make homemade cheddar biscuits to go with along. She’ll give us champagne cocktails. She’ll make it perfect. The Cinnamon Girl is actually the best gift I got this or any year. Period. End of discussion.
1. Time with the Family
The Cinnamon Girl.
Family makes Christmas. My family makes Christmas great.