holiday-Traditions-picEarlier this week I wrote a post for my blog about holiday traditions and promised to share any new ones I got throughout the week.  You can read that post here.  I didn’t get a lot of feedback in the comments section but I did get a nice note on Facebook from one of my new friends and I had someone share one of hers a couple of weeks ago, so I wanted to give you two new traditions to think about and possibly weave one or both into your holiday somehow.

My New Friend

Carol wrote: “Ya know one thing that I really miss? When I was little we would go to my ma and pa’s.. not only would we have a small Christmas present that santa left for me, my brother and two sisters but there would be a box under the tree wrapped on the outside with Christmas wrapping paper..but inside there were apples, oranges and all kinds of nuts. we would sit by the fireplace and eat from this box of special goodies that our grandma made for us as my dad played Santa and my grandpa read a Christmas story…. that was 50 years ago and oh how I long for just one more night sitting with my family under that tree and in front of that old fireplace…Merry Christmas Phyllis and Jon!”

What sweet memories these simple, but loving acts from her Ma & Pa have left her with.  A tradition doesn’t have to be a full-blown, all expense barred event.  It can be something as simple as gobbling up fruit and nuts by the fireplace and hearing a familiar Christmas story.  I can feel the warmth of the love in the room as I imagine the kids snuggled up with grandpa as he reads the story.

A Long-time Special Friend

A couple of weeks ago, I got this one from another friend for a Thanksgiving tradition her family shares but this one can also be used during ANY holiday, even a birthday celebration.

Cindy writes: “Our family gathers in the family room after dishes are done and we give each person a pen and paper to write what they are thankful for. We then put them in a bowl and a designated person pulls one from the bowl and reads it. We all then try to guess who wrote it. Then that person who wrote it elaborates a bit on why they wrote what they did. We all come away feeling like we know a little more about each person attending. Happy Thanksgiving!”

How cool would that be if you were sharing the holiday with a new family member present or people visiting that you didn’t know all that well?  Cindy and her husband have been Missionaries for many, many years so I know they have shared and passed this tradition along to many different people.  Probably more than they know. That’s the beauty of it.

Our Son

I asked my son the other day which traditions our family participated in that he recalled most fondly.

Here’s what he said: “Sleeping in.” I laughed when I read this because EVERY year…every SINGLE year…from birth to present…Jon and I anxiously get up and sit…and wait…for Justin to get up!  What kid can sleep in on Christmas morning?!?!  Ours did.  Still does.  Haha.

He said that the conversations around the dinner table were special to him.  We’re a family that lingers around the dinner table.  After all the effort that goes into preparing a big meal, it’s a shame to jump up and put it all away without lingering for a while and conversing with each other.

Justin also has fond memories of each of us cooking our own little something in the kitchen.  Justin has been interested in cooking from a very young age so he always had something he wanted to make for our special dinner so we would all three be busy in the kitchen.  It’s always rubbed me wrong when the men are all on their butts on the couch while the women worked their tails off in the kitchen, before and after the meal.  I never understood that and when I married Jon, he LOVED to cook and me, well, not so much.  So, it has always worked out great that he and Justin liked to cook.  I help of course when there’s a big meal to prepare and insist on cleaning up when I haven’t.

We deep-fried our turkey for a couple of years and Justin really enjoyed that whole process and the result was well…incredibly delish!  Unfortunately, dad was never up to cleaning up the mess after the oil had cooled so I would keep finding the deep fryer still sitting in our barn where he cooked it, covered in and full of oil even weeks after the holidays were over.  Needless to say, the fryer is no longer part of our collection of cooking gadgets.

So…let’s hear yours.  What are some of your family traditions at this time of year?

Christmas-cookies1Happy December my friends!!

This week, I’m going to talk a bit about Holiday Traditions.  If you’ve followed along the last few weeks, you should be on a kind of auto-pilot mode where you’re working on things like:

*Finishing up your decorating.

*Taking small chunks from your holiday card/newsletter list and addressing envelopes.

*Gift shopping for friends and family and picking up grocery items needed for those big events like cookie exchanges, parties you’re hosting and parties you’re attending.  As a side-note here, I hope you never accept a party invitation and show up empty-handed. (?)  Even if your host says, “Just bring yourselves!” You should still bring something small…a simple dessert, a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of wine, etc.

This is the beauty of starting  these Holiday Missions so early in the season.  By now, you should be feeling “ready” for the remaining events of the year.  If this is your first time doing this with me, I hope it’s been worth pushing yourself through each week and making plans FAR in advance.  I know, it’s hard to start thinking about Christmas in October but isn’t it worth it now?!  Even if you’re a little behind…get caught up this week and sail through the next few weeks stress-free!  Here’s a link to last week’s Missions to help you stay on track.


We all have them.  Some were probably started as we were kids and maybe we’re using those with our own kids.  We have likely picked up a few along the way as well.  Some traditions last for a lifetime, while others may be just for a few seasons due to whatever circumstances.  When we lived in Germany, it was fun to adopt their most common traditions but we don’t do them now.  It was fun at the time though.

Here are a few of our family’s favorite traditions:

  1. When our son was growing up, we never placed any gifts under the tree except those that came via USPS from extended relatives.  When he woke up Christmas morning, ALL of the gifts were there under the tree and most were usually wrapped by mom and dad during the wee hours of the night between Christmas Eve and Christmas morning after he had finally gone to bed!  Even though he lives in another state now and on his own, we continue this tradition when he IS with us for the holiday and he laughs as we squeal with delight as he emerges from the bedroom…”Look!  Santa came!”  As gifts are passed out, it’s fun to read who the gift is supposedly from…sometimes of course it’s Santa, sometimes Rudolph, sometimes Mom & Dad, and who knows who else…the family pets are not exempt from giving all of us gifts either.
  2. On Christmas Eve or a couple of nights before Christmas, we always enjoyed driving around all the big neighborhoods to look at the lights.
  3. Going to church on Christmas Eve for the candlelight service is always special.
  4. We always look forward to watching several of the sappy Christmas shows on TV, especially “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story.”
  5. There was a period of time, for several years, that I lived with my older sister & her family when I was in Jr. and Sr. High School & she always made a birthday cake for Jesus.  Christmas morning, we would all sing Happy Birthday and remember why we were celebrating.
  6. Reading “T’was the Night Before Christmas” to our son on Christmas Eve and the days leading up to it.
  7. We have an Advent calendar to help count down the days.  There’s a star hanging from a string that slips into the pocket for each day counting down.  It’s fun to watch as the star rise higher and higher into the sky each day.
  8. We always open our gifts one at a time, taking our time to fully appreciate the thought that went into the gift and seeing what each person gets.  Although, one tradition we’re trying to break is the one where my husband and I already know what we’re giving each other and still wrapping it up and pretending to be excited in front of our son.

Here’s a tradition passed on from a dear friend of ours (Cindy):

“Our family gathers in the family room after dishes are done and we give each person a pen and paper to write what they are thankful for. We then put them in a bowl and a designated person pulls one from the bowl and reads it. We all then try to guess who wrote it. Then that person who wrote it elaborates a bit on why they wrote what they did. We all come away feeling like we know a little more about each person attending.”  How cool would that be if you were spending the holidays with people you don’t know really well or when new family members are joining?!

I found an excellent book on Amazon called, “The Joy of Family Traditions – A Season by Season Companion to Celebrations, Holidays and Special Occasions.”  If you’re looking for new traditions or just wanting to add some fun alternatives to what your family already does, Check it out if you’d like.  As the title suggests, it doesn’t cover just Christmas either…it covers seasonal celebrations and every occasion you might think of in addition to Thanksgiving and Christmas, so it’s handy for all year!

This week, I’m going to post a new tradition each day based on comments left by my readers.  But, in order for this to work, I need YOU to post a comment telling me one of your favorite or most memorable traditions so I can continue to post and share the great traditions that make the holidays such a special time for all of us.  Without these traditions…just imagine what the holidays would be like.  Now, don’t be shy.  Hit that “Comment” button and share away!

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Happy Tuesday my friends!

Yes, I know, it’s Tuesday and I had planned to post my Holiday Missions on Mondays each week to help us all slowly get ready for the fall and winter holidays with little or no stress, but heck, things happen and I’m not going to beat myself up over it.  As a matter of fact, if you’ve been following along and looking forward to my posts each week, you probably noticed that I skipped last week completely!  I know I skipped a few weeks back too and gave you a pretty heavy week on week 7, so by skipping last week’s Missions (week 8), hopefully you had time to get everything accomplished. If not, no worries! We’re going to re-cap our last list of tasks and sail through this Thanksgiving week…stress FREE!

Yes, you heard that right. Stress Free! At this point, we should already be on top of the game for Thanksgiving day and any entertaining we’ll be doing for the holiday so take this week to enjoy the people around you. Family, friends, co-workers, store clerks and strangers.

I chose the horn-of-plenty as my main photo today because I think it says a lot about our lives when we slow down and stop for a minute to reflect on our many blessings. It’s so easy to get caught up in the negativeness of day-to-day activities and negative people tend to wear us down and even suck us into their world of complaining about what we don’t have.

I’m challenging you today to break away from the negativeness and complaining and be a beacon of light to all the people you encounter on a daily basis this week. It’s a choice we make. Choose to be happy and thankful for the abundance that we are blessed with. We have WAY more than we need and there’s so many people out there struggling just to stay alive. Hungry, cold, scared and alone. What are you complaining about?

With the knowledge that Thanksgiving is just 2 days away and Christmas is a mere 29 days away…

Your Missions this week, should you choose to accept them:

We’re basically just going to continue to prepare for Christmas and wrap up Thanksgiving plans.

  • Put the final touches on your Christmas Newsletter if you’re writing one.
  • Take another section of your card list and sign and address those and set them aside.
  • Finish any online and catalog shopping. Don’t wait for Cyber Monday. I don’t believe the sales will save you enough to make it worth the headaches when an item is sold out or back-ordered.
  • Wrap as you go.  Are you logging your purchases like I showed you on week 7?
  • Are your salon appointments made through the end of the year?
  • Schedule your family portrait session.
  • Is your December calendar posted in a central location for everyone to see and use?
  • Wardrobe check.  What are you wearing for Thanksgiving dinner? Does it fit? Need ironing or cleaning?
  • Think about your Thanksgiving table.  Locate linens, dishes, flatware etc. and see if you need anything additional.  If so…get it!
  • Have you reserved babysitters for the rest of the year?

Before you rush off, I need a favor. Would you help me with another post coming later? I’d like to know what your fondest Thanksgiving tradition is. Please leave a comment at the bottom of this post and help me compile an article about family holiday traditions. I won’t use your name or any other way of identifying you, it’ll be generic. Thank you in advance.

That’s it! Now, go and enjoy your family, friends, co-workers, store clerks and strangers!

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