The countdown to Christmas is 5 days! Thankfully, I am ready this year (there have been panic years when I didn’t have anything ready the week before Christmas) and can’t wait to be with family for the holidays. I love my sisters and brother and spending time with them is the greatest gift of the season for me. When you live half a country away from each other, being together in person to hug, sit next to each other, and see the person’s expressions when talking is the best.
I decided to keep things simple this year at home with decorations. I am paring down all of the holiday decor, just keeping the things that I really want or decorations that mean something to me. We have an artificial tree this year. Sometimes we have a real one and I love the way it smells. I don’t even mind the vacuuming and watering of the tree, it’s worth it to have a real tree. This year, we have our Walmart-purchased artificial tree with colored lights that my kids love. Me- I love white lights and matching ornaments, themed trees, and “special” trees with ombre decorations or patterned ribbons. Have you seen the Biltmore Estate Christmas trees? Those trees are my ideal. Reality, however, means that the majority of decorations on my tree are paper. Yes, I save all of the decorations my kids make and keep them each year. I think it’s a tradition I learned from my mother.
After I was married and came home for Christmas with my husband, my mom saved the tree decorating for the “kids” to do when they came home from college and jobs. I remember unwrapping the paper towel or newspaper wrapped ornaments and showing them to my new husband. “This ornament is Lemon Meringue, which is mine. Elizabeth has Strawberry Shortcake. Yes, it is broken and has been glued back together. Quite a few times actually.” James just looked at me as I handed it to him and he put it on the tree. I pulled out a grey piece of paper with a string attached to it. It was crumpled, rumpled and looked like trash with a string tied to it. I put it on the tree.
“What is that?” asked James, horrified. His mother has a Grand Arctic artificial tree that my father-in-law strains to carry up from the basement every year. The Grand Arctic is tastefully decorated with beautiful coordinating ornaments. The Christmas village at my in-laws house is carefully lit and has artificial snow surrounding the village. Some of the houses and buildings come from Germany and other countries that my in-laws have visited– it is a tiny international village of peace and good will. This is the household that my husband grew up in- it’s a Grand Arctic type of house.
Back at my house and Christmas tree, I hung the grey trash on my tree and smiled.
“This is a dove. I made it in preschool. It used to be blue and had glitter all over it.”
James nodded, he understood.
Now that James and I have our own house, we have a combination household. I have started my own Christmas village, complete with two tiny Christmas houses from Germany that I convinced James that we needed when we lived there. Our tree is also covered in paper ornaments that our four children have made. Some of them look like trash. And we hang it on our tree. It is all beautiful. I love all of it.
What traditions from your childhood baffle your spouse? How do you celebrate the Holidays? Share with me what you love about Christmas.
Merry Christmas, Friends!
If you love Gingerbread, I am including my mother’s gingerbread recipe, it’s one that can be made with very small children and tastes delicious. The gingerbread is soft and if done correctly, your gingerbread men will look like spiders. Or flowers. Possibly aliens, but nothing like men. No worries, no one cares because they taste so good.
5 Cups Flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Ginger
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Cloves
1 cup sugar
1 cup shortening
1 cup molasses
2 Tbs Vinegar, apple cider or white
Cream shortening and sugar. Stir in egg, molasses, and vinegar. Beat well. Stir in sifted flour and spices and baking soda. Chill for at least 1 hour. ( I usually only chill 1/2 hour). Roll into pecan size balls. One ball for the head, Roll one ball into a snake for the arms and one ball into a snake for the legs. Press together in the middle. Add red hots for eyes. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool and frost if desired. Susie, my mom, always frosted. Lots of frosting- it’s the best way to go.