Monday, December 12, 2011

Newfangled Traditions And Easy Baking

Barbara: I’m not super-sentimental. I don’t keep old birthday cards (although Deb has a genius use for old Christmas cards), and I try to keep nostalgic trophies from amassing. This is probably one of those split-camp things where some of you are firmly in one camp (nostalgic) or the other (not so much).

I enjoyed wonderful traditions when I was growing up … and didn’t hesitate for a second to change them up when I had a family of my own. Of course, it turned out that my parents had also tweaked and improvised those "old traditions”. Turns out I come from a long line of tradition-tweakers. (Makes me wonder which of our own heartfelt traditions my children will change for their own families.)

As it’s the holiday season—here’s a peek inside my family’s adopted “traditions”:

We celebrate Christmas in the European tradition on Christmas Eve (both our families come from European families). The kids have never complained about getting their presents a full 12 hours early. And we get to sleep in the next morning!

My mother and stepfather often visit us for the holidays, and as my stepfather is Jewish and if Hanukah overlaps (as it does this year), we also enjoy some Jewish festivities (beef brisket and potato pancakes this December 23rd, mmmmm). I should mention here that my stepfather knows the Christmas carols and hymns better than we do!

Neither my husband nor I grew up with stockings, but we liked the concept, so we invented our own stockings tradition when the kids were about 4 and 7-years-old. We hang stockings and then for each of the twelve days before Christmas, we add one small item to each one. By the time Christmas Eve arrives, the stockings are bulging with the “12 Days of Christmas” goodies. Both girls still tease that when they were little they always cheated and fondled the stockings when no one was looking—and had no trouble identifying the “secret” roll of Scotch tape. The next day on Christmas morning, we lie in bed, all four of us and, one-by-one, reveal a stocking present. All this is followed by Christmas brunch and Christmas dinner. Mmmm.

We celebrate the four advents before Christmas. Not (I hope I don’t offend) as a religious ceremony, but as an excuse to gather various people around us and eat Christmas cookies and roasted chestnuts and popcorn and spiced pecans and sing carols. I did take this from my own family, just tweaking it a bit to include our other favourite foods (like cheese and salad and crusty French bread). This is a treasured tradition for each of us. Fond memories include when the kids were young and, fueled by a sugar high, would perform the carols for us replete with dances, plays, and puppet shows. To this day, they still adore Advent and many of our weekly celebrations include their friends—who always begin the celebration shy and tentative, but who end (probably also fueled by that sugar high) by singing and happily reveling alongside us. 

This tradition means that I need to have my Christmas baking done early in the season. And, oh by the way, I hate baking. So I’ve gathered a tried-and-true roster of baked goods that are a) super easy and pretty failsafe, and b) can be frozen for a steady holiday supply. As a new new tradition, through the next couple of weeks, I’m going to share with you my favourites among these recipes in case you’re looking for super-easy goodies that are freezer-friendly for your own traditional gatherings or last-minute shindigs! Enjoy.

Sweet Marie Bars
These are my biggest hit—I think I’ve shared this with just about every one of my buddies. They are delicious even straight from the freezer (although very hard). Soft, they are chewy and sweet and slightly salty. And they’re even vegetarian/vegan friendly. I don’t use my microwave for much, but this is one of my few exceptions.

This recipe is for an 8” glass pan, but to last through the season, I double it and set it in a 9by14” pan.

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips (if vegan: make sure your chocolate chips don’t contain whey or lactose; if you’re Canadian, the Loblaw’s brand is good)
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup corn syrup
1tbsp butter or oil
¾ cups chopped peanuts (salted)
2 cups Rice Krispies (or popped rice type cereal)
1cup semisweet chocolate chips
2tbsp peanut butter

In a large microwaveable bowl, combine the bar ingredients (without the nuts or Rice Krispies). Microwave uncovered at full power for 1min30, then stir well, then microwave for another 1min. You know it’s ready when the chocolate and sugar are fully melted (but not burned!). Remove bowl from microwave and stir in nuts and cereal. Press mixture into a buttered or oiled pan.

For the topping, use the same microwaveable bowl, but now add the topping ingredients. Microwave at HALF POWER for 2min, then stir and microwave for another 1-2min. Stir until smooth and spread over the bar base. 

Refrigerate until set (about 2 hours) and cut into very small squares. These are very rich, so be spare in size.

How to ruin these: it is very hard, but can be (and sadly, has been) done. Either by not cooking the bar mixture long enough, which results in a crumbly bar that doesn’t hold, or cooking too much (long or hot) and burning the chocolate. Keep checking the consistency and you’ll be fine.

(PS Deb won’t be able to vouch for these cookies as peanut butter and chocolate is a combo she abhors. Strange girl!!) Stay tuned for more easy goodies!

Deb: Barb, this is so lovely to see. I love getting a peek into the traditions of others. It’s wonderful to see the many ways we can celebrate, each making our own family unique in the midst of a tradition over 1/3 of the planet celebrates. I love your traditions, Barb, and I hear the joy in your voice each year as you recount the many ways the holidays light up for you and yours.

Here is what we do:

The four weeks of Advent we spend at church, lighting the candles and singing the great hymns and carols, and sharing the anticipation of the joy to come.  Each night of the four advents, we light one of the candles at home, on the advent wreath the boy was given by our dear friend, his first minister, Shirley.

We throw a festive party every year, some years we have 90 people and some years 15, but it is always a fun way to kick-start the season, as we always try to have it early in December.

Every December 24th for a good thirty years we have met with several dear friends for martinis and club sandwiches and it is a tradition we adore. It is so exciting to hear of everyone’s plans and I am always at the table stitching the last bell on a Christmas stocking.

Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember, my Mom and Dad have had a drop-in, complete with loving friends and family, hors d’oeuvres and spirits burning bright. As they have lost most of their friends, we now have a cosy gathering with present and absent friends. But we still do it. Only now, Colin and I throw it, aided by my brother and his wife, and our dear friends, Cheryl and Bill. It means the world to Mom and Dad and is a great way to tame the Christmas Day butterflies, which I am thrilled to say I still get.

I love the European tradition of Christmas Eve and had a boyfriend in my past whom I shared that with. Italian Mother and German father. It was glorious. But let’s face it, we all love the traditions we grew up with and, for me, it was going to bed with the tree bursting its branches with gifts as we turned off the lights. I loved as a child putting out the milk and cookies for Santa, confident that he would enjoy mine at just the right time in his journey. I loved waking up at three in the morning, all ten years of me and unwrapping the stocking and putting everything back exactly where it had been, then falling to sleep with visions of sugarplums dancing in my noggin.

As an adult, I loved a quiet midnight with a rum and eggnog, filling the stockings after boy had fallen asleep. Before I tucked him in, we would watch the news for the report of Santa’s journey across the planet and we would sing sweet carol lullabies till he faded off with his advent chocolate still clinging to his tongue.

Christmas Day in our home brings the opening of stockings, the champagne breakfast, nodding off in front of a Christmas movie, and the family gathering  for Christmas dinner. Grace is said, blessings are counted, and another Christmas winds down its magic.

Here’s to traditions of every faith and secular creature on earth. As Tiny Tim observed, “God bless us, everyone.”

We would love to hear all about your Christmas traditions. Tell one, or tell all!


  1. Growing up as a child my traditions were very similar to yours Deb. As I raised my own family of 3 boys (as a single mother) we developed our own traditions to accommodate two households. The boys and I shared Christmas Eve and Christmas morning , and then they shared Christmas dinner with their father.

    We had many Christmas Eve's with family and friends at our home. We would go to 7 o'clock mass and then all get together at our house for a buffet dinner around the fire. The menu was the same every year, Blanquete de Veau, Caesar Salad, Rice and Tiramisu . The deal was everyone had to leave by 10, at which time the boys and I would read the Bible Christmas story by the fire and the tree, all hold hands and individually say a prayer. This was followed by a split of Champagne served in little crystal Sherry glasses and then off to bed. When I was sure they were asleep, I would help Santa do his magic.
    In the morning, they waited until the fire was going, orange juice poured and came running down the stairs for Christmas Morning, followed by a big breakfast (Quebec style). A day of relaxing with toys, books and games and then off to Dad's for their Christmas dinner.
    It was always wonderful and they still love their traditions as grown men.....

  2. Mary-Jo, this sounds beautiful! Even with all the rushing and to-ing and fro-ing before the holidays, it seems that special days, once you get to them, can be breeeeeeeeathed in...

  3. I worked for a large software company. Each year different parts of the company held holiday parties. Over the years they became more faceless and less fun. So I started the anti company party. Folks I have worked with come by and we have heavy appetizers, egg nog, and drinks. We have a blast.

  4. Well, in my family, we HAVE to have at least one gag gift. These gag gifts have been as simple as a wrapped box of crackers and as elaborate as a fake golf club (which I was able to construct out of the role wrapping paper comes on a few other things I found around the house, then wrapped it all). I love the gag gifts!
    We also usually don't make it to Christmas day, we usually end up openning presents early. Having so many family birthdays in December makes it difficult to wait. I love seeing the faces people make when they open a gift, so if I can get that earlier, I do. I am one of those people that, unfortunately, try as I might, cannot hide my initial feelings when I open a present, whether I like it or not. My close family understands this and they buy the best gifts anyway, but with friends in the past I have learned to wait and open their gift to me until after they have left or are at least out of the room.
    It is also a tradition for me and my mom to watch "It's a Wonderful Life." I love this movie and so does she.
    We also have more than one tree in the house; I think there are four, all different sizes, this year.
    We have a certain order in which we open presents and I make sure that I am last because I can't wait for everyone else to open what I got them! I love buying presents!
    We don't have any candles lit in the house (we are somewhat absent minded so we would end up burning the house down). However, we do have one of those fake candle things...
    On Christmas day we all sleep in late, then when we finally get up we make a beautiful breakfast (breakfast is the one meal I can cook, and I'm not talking toast or cereal, I'm talking real food here!) and just spend the day together (since we most likely openned the presents on Christmas Eve). We have all of the rest of the cooking done the day before, so for the rest of the meals we just warm stuff up.
    I don't do any singing, not outloud anyway. My singing voice would be considered cruel and unusual punishment! I hum along though. ;)

    Barb, I am definitely going to try that recipe! I love anything with chocolate AND peanut butter! YUM!

  5. Almost forgot, it is also a tradition for us to buy at least one new ornament for the tree every year, usually it has something to do with that year, a major event or something, or one we just really love!

  6. My family's tradition, first and foremost, is that we always celebrate Christmas in our house. However, if people want to come celebrate with us they are more than welcome to do so.

    Holly and I always watch "A Christmas Story" sometime in December, usually it's been when we've come home for Christmas break. (sorry. my thought processes have been temporarily jumbled by a loud fire alarm). The third one has always been my favorite. It's something my mom's side of the family does (and IT'S of European origin as well...I believe Germany).

    Have you all heard of a Christmas pickle? Well it's an ornament...pickle. On Christmas Eve either mom or dad hides it really really well in the Christmas tree and one of us kids has to find it (I found it the first year we did it!). Whoever finds it receives a special gift. The funny thing is one year we tricked my brother b/c the "pickle gift" was a Play Station 2, so we tricked him into finding it. He found it finally, after Holly and I had found it over a dozen times. hahahahahaha.

    Another tradition we do is Mom, Holly and I always decorate the Christmas tree. This year though, since we're still here, Mom did it by herself. :[

    Barb, those bars look DELICIOUS!!!!!!

  7. AAH I love this! I love Christmas!

    At our house we cut out little pieces of paper in the four Kwanzaa colors (red, yellow, green, and black) and each paper represents a member of the family. We put them in a hat and someone draws a paper, and they can either open a present for themselves or give one to someone else to open. It makes the present-opening more enjoyable and everyone can actually see what each person got. We've been doing it for as long as I can remember! :)

    Something else we've been doing for a while, and other members of our family do it too, is the Christmas Pickle ornament. Mom and Dad hide it really deep in the tree and us kids (a-hem, younger adults) look for it, and whoever finds it receives an additional gift. Last year I found it and was the recipient of...a jar of pickles! lol! :D

    Also at some point we watch A Christmas Story. Absolutely LOVE that movie (was so stoked last year when it was in the $10 bin at Wal-Mart). We used to do the open one present at Christmas Eve ritual, but it's sort of phased out since all of us kids are grown.

    Now I want to go home.....

  8. ...but, alas, finals week in Berea beloved is upon us!

  9. Shawn, that's a great way to have your peeps and your cake too. Turn the office party on its ear! Love it.

    Steph, this sounds fun and cozy. We do the ornament thing too! There is something about giving and receiving all at one common event that makes celebrations like Christmas so special for me. And as for the squares, if you like chocolate and p.b. you will NOT be disappointed!!

    Kelly, LOVE the pickle game, never heard of that one!! And, oh yeah, I forgot to mention that tree decorating night is huge for us too -- it's always just the four of us and we have cheese fondue (into which we stick other yummy foods like broccoli and green beans and apples and sausage) and then we slowly decorate (over a glass of wine). So nice!

  10. LOL sister overlap!!! *high fives sis* :D

  11. Holly, we crossed posts too! We also love A Christmas Story here. And it's great you also incorporate the Kwanzaa element. Gift-sharing and beloveds-gathering and treat-eating translates perfectly over every demographic, doesn't it?

  12. I never realized how important some of our traditions were until this year when so many are being cicumvented or changed because of everything being in such an uproar with my family.

    Christmas eve we have a dinner just the 4 of us and then go to evening service at our church. When we come home Santa has come and we open our stockings and santa gift. After the kids are in bed I would normally go pick up my Mom and go to midnight mass with her.

    Christmas morning we have a big breakfast while the kids vibrate in anticipation of opening the rest of the gifts. We do gifts lounge around watching cartoon Christmas specials for awhile then head out to my parents for the rest of the day for more family time, gifts and food.

    I likely won't be taking my Mom to midnight mass this year and dinner is a week ahead of Christmas now and not at their house. We also missed one of our biggest traditions which is our annual Christmas party held the first Saturday in December. It's before the tree goes up but also when the first of the decorations go up. We usually have a brimming full house and it's the kick off for the season for us and many of our friends as well.

    I didn't do it this year. I didn't have the time or energy and it has bothered me even more than I expected it to. It's been hard to get into the season without it.

    Another one were going to miss is mine and my Moms birthday dinner. I can't help be a little sad at all the small and big things were going to or have missed this year.

    A Christmas story as well as I'll be home for Christmas, a Christmas carol and the polar express are our must watch movies. We also usually go to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet for the nutcracker, another thing we msised this year.

  13. Being Jewish we have none of the hoopla as Hanukkah is really a very minor holiday but has been elevated to compete with Christmas. Before my older son moved back here i did almost nothing. I went to a few friends and mooched Christmas food from them. Now that 3 of my 4 grand kids live here I make a Hanukkah dinner with brisket, chicken and potato pancakes (latkes). I get some type of dessert and then we watch the kids open their first present and then it continue every night for 8 nights. I usually get them way more than 8 as they are sometimes just small gadgets and always a couple of "good" gifts (not clothes or socks or underwear). My tradition really is buying gifts and finding things I love for my friends. For most of my gift giving we have stopped among most of my friends but to some they wanted to continue. I mentor two parolees (actually they are both off parole and we are not just great friends) so I do it up with a dinner at a restaurant and we exchange gifts. We all love it. Once a month throughout the year I take them to dinner and we continue the friendship all year long. Really all of December is the gift of just loving and appreciating the previous 11 months.

  14. Erin, thanks for sharing your treasured traditions. It must be tough with so many shifts this year. I wish you many lovely unexpected surprised in this year of change. xoxo

    Madge, and thanks! So glad you shared your experiences with us. LOVE that you have established a cherished tradition with the parolees-now-dear-friends.

  15. forgot about the colors. thanks sis *high fives back*

  16. We typically have multiple holiday gatherings each year. The intimate immediate family gathering usually takes place on Christmas Eve. This year one of my sister's won't be home (due to her current deployment in Afghanistan), though we will be Skyping with her in the evening on Christmas Eve. Of course, as I'm sure everyone does there will be far too much food to consume. I don't think there's been a holiday celebration without plenty of leftovers. We usually go to my cousin's house (the next city over from where I live) to celebrate with my dad's side of the family. We'll do a gift exchange among the adults which typically gets a bit out of hand. The amount limit of purchasing a gift for the exchange is usually $30, though some people in the family clearly spend more. Basically all of the adults will bring a gift. We'll draw numbers to determine the order of who picks a present. Once all the gifts are open there's another drawing to determine who gets to either keep the gift the have or swap with someone else. We only have one round of swapping, though my uncle likes to try and change the rules until he gets the gift he wants. Which leads to a bit of family drama, what's a Holiday without a little drama? We usually watch the 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story as it's on every year. Thanks for sharing your traditions with us as well! -Apey

  17. This was when I was about 12 and my brother (Mark) was 10 (ages are estimates/guesses):

    We'd be home from school by 2:30. My parents wouldn't get home from work before 5pm. Mark and I would move the presents around under the tree, to make a path for the cat, and to make room for us to sort of lay under it. We'd turn the tree lights on (~7 foot live tree), and set up the Atari games. We played this one game called "Maze Craze," and listen to the Ray Conniff Singers' christmas cassette. It was probably one of the few occasions that we didn't fight, and that we actually agreed on the activity.

    While writing this, I forgot the name of the singers. I just called my brother to ask and he said, "Ray Conniff, why?" Just like that. So I guess it's memorable for him, too.

    This is the game.

    This is one of the songs.

    Ahhh, memories.

    Over the past 3 years, it's been just me and my parents, and, with the exception of some unwrapping of gifts, it's like every other day. We get up, unwrap presents, and either go back to bed or turn on the "A Christmas Story" all-day marathon. (I've yet to watch the entire movie.)

    Later, Mark and his family will be over, in between their family house-runs. My daughter may be over late Christmas day, or even the 26th. Her dad is part of a big Italian family, so Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day are both big with them. I used to go when we were married, and damn, did we eat. It was a bit overwhelming, but at least I could say I did something, and I quite understand why my daughter wants to stay there throughout the day.

    I once had a black santa hat that said "Bah Humbug" on the white trim. The Christmas season no longer has the fun positive side to it anymore; rather, it worsens my mood. A far cry from what I remember it to be.

  18. Just got home and read all the great comments brimming with traditions and stories. Thanks so much everyone!!!

  19. Oh, that sounds really lovely! And I will try that recipe! :) Looks yummy!

    I love christmas!
    We are a catholic family, and my Mom and I go to church regularly. We do have an Advent wreath (well it's more a branch this year...but with four candles on it. I made it. :), and try to light the candles every day. I also have an advent calendar, which I love to open every day.

    Unfortunately, my Dad and my brother don't care about such we cannot really celebrate Advent.

    My birthday is on Christmas Eve, so we always celebrate my birthday first. Usually with a big breakfast.

    After that we put up the christmas tree (and I decorate it, because I love that!), and the nativity set.

    When I was a kid, my grandparents (my father's parents) came over. We locked the "christmas" room, and my father and my granddad lit the candles (we only have real candles. Looks so beautiful). We could "see" it through the glass door (it's not clear we could only see the light), and it looked / looks magical. And I just love that.

    I did believe in (it's not Santa here) the "Christkind" (Christ Child). I always wrote a list of wishes, went outside and placed it somewhere for the Christ Child to find it. And I swear, every year it was gone.

    Then my father jingled a little bell, and opened the door.

    Then we opened the presents.

    Nowadays, my grandparents don't want to come again, so we celebrate alone. At least we can take our time, and just sit together, and eat christmas cookies and stollen (you aren't allowed to eat them before christmas - another tradition), which is rare, because we are a strange family...(and sadly it feels all wrong...)

    And we go to church (Christmas Mass). I love that. The church is only lit by candles, and at the end we always sing "Silent Night", which makes me cry every time...

    On Christmas Day we usually went to my other grandparents. They were very religious, too, so we sang some carols, had dinner and opened the presents.

    But they are dead, and we now have lunch with my still living grandparents. And I cook. :) I looooove to cook! I always make duck.

    On Boxing Day we go to church again, because there is this special service for young people. It's so popular that the church is bursting. A band always plays, and it's just fun. We always do that.

    I finished the last cookies yesterday. We do have like 8 different kinds. :) I love to bake.

    I thought about christmas a few days ago...I would love to celebrate it with my whole family. I miss that warm and cozy feeling, but they are not living here, and rarely can come together...

  20. So fun to read about everyones traditions. All of ours are being thrown out the window this year since we move 2 days before Christmas. But, one of my favorite parts of Christmas is the music and we've been playing Christmas music non stop for weeks now.

  21. It's so great reading about everyone's Christmas traditions... I'll share some of ours!
    On Christmas Eve, we attend our church's Candlelight Service. (We attend a Baptist church.) A lot of the kids perform special music during the service (I myself have done so), and at the end, we all stand in a circle, holding lit candles, and sing "Silent Night"- absolutely beautiful!
    We come home, and my sis and I open one present... which is almost always pajamas. At any rate, pajamas are big tradition with us! Christmas morning, we get up, open our stuff, and then chow down on my mom's breakfast casserole. It's like a sausage, egg, and cheese quiche without a crust- I look forward to it every year! We have dinner, watch some Christmas movies, and chill the rest of the day. This year, since Christmas is on a Sunday, we'll go to church in the morning, as well! :)
    Deb, I CANNOT believe you don't like peanut butter and chocolate together. I love it... oh well, different stroke for different folks! ;)

  22. Don't worry. There's balance in the universe. My son eats enough Reese's peanut butter cups for 2 people so he's taking care of Deb's share. ;)

    No Christmas traditions here.

  23. I love hearing all these traditions! I have heard of the pickle ornament and know many people who use it! Before I share my traditions I have a question. Do most Canadians not see Christmas Eve as a holiday? From your posts Deb and Barb it seems like a sort of optional celebration. Here in the US or at least New Jersey Christmas Eve is its own holiday, just as fun and important as Christmas Day! Maybe it’s just us!
    On a side note we aren’t very religious….

    So this is how our celebrations work:
    We always get a real tree that we cut down ourselves from a Christmas tree farm about two weeks before December 25th. My dad is in charge of lights on the tree, after he is done my mom gets out all the ornaments and sets them out on every possible surface in our living room (we have lots of ornaments!). Then it is up to me and my little brother to hang all the ornaments and decorate the tree.

    On Christmas Eve during the day we host a small group of people here at our house. They are usually just a few aunts and uncles and cousins from my dad’s side of the family. We exchange gifts among the few of us. These gifts are the only ones we are allowed to open before Christmas!
    Then that evening we head to very close family friends. We have known their family for generations and all consider each other family. It is just our families but everyone comes! This is the highlight of our Christmas season. Especially as I have gotten older I appreciate this gathering so much more. We are a giant family of night owls so this party has been known to last until midnight, more so as all of us kids get older and realize we don’t need to be home and in bed for Santa : )

    Then Christmas morning!!! My brother and I tend to sleep in due to staying out the night before. We have even gotten home so late that once my mom and dad didn’t put the presents under the tree until Christmas morning while us kids were still asleep!! But once we wake up my mom has this rule where we have to eat breakfast before we can see the tree and our presents….. this rule has never pleased us kids. Then while my brother and I are trying as fast as we can to inhale the smallest meal that mom says counts as breakfast…. Gram and Grandpop arrive. Finally we can begin to open presents!!!
    After all of the gifts have been opened and we have all chatted and cleaned wrapping paper from everywhere, people begin to disperse. Usually my dad and brother have some sort of toy or project to start putting together. I usually take to organizing my gifts under the tree and getting dressed for the day. (my brother and I open gifts in our PJs. Everyone else is dressed for the day since they have been up longer) Mom usually is preparing food for dinner later. And Gram and Gramp head home to start on Christmas dinner.
    Then around late afternoon cousins, aunts, uncles, kids, brother, sisters, nieces, and nephews all gather at my grandparent’s house. Here is where we get that pile of coats on their bed : ).
    We start all over again with gifts!
    Then we have a wonderful meal and relax and call it a day!

    Wow this has turned into a long post.
    I love hearing all these different traditions from all over different regions and countries as well as different religions!
    Have a wonderful holiday season everyone!
    -Kelly from NJ-

  24. Dawn, not trying to "buck you up", because of course there's never a need to revel if a person doesn't feel like it, but on the other hand, if there's a part of you that would like a positive vibe around the holidays (or any day, for that matter), is there something special you could give yourself? Something positive? Even a small thing? I have no idea what for you that would be, but it might be nice to shake things up a bit this year...

    Becki, I've seen some of your baking, so I'd say your family is in for a treat!

    It sounds like a lot of you are in transition this year (Molly, good luck with the move!!), so "traditions" have to be more flexible than ever! Reading these made me wonder what changes might be in store for us when my kids move out. I know for me, it'll mean doing things that make me feel good -- "cozy" more than festive probably. For me, it always comes down to good food.

    NJ Kelly, your traditions sound wonderful! To answer your question, I think Christmas is generally the same in Canada as in the US -- most people do something special (but this is different for almost everyone) on the Eve and then open presents on the Day. For my family, the Eve is also the presents night, but the dinner is mostly nice cheeses and cold fish and soup (simple but extra-nice). Christmas Day dinner is still turkey, etc.

    Thanks for sharing, everyone!

  25. Barb,
    My mother paid for a few tickets for me to see Colin and Brad, and "Whose Live Anyway?" This covers Christmas and my birthday, which is next month. So I do have those. And usually those are enough to keep me going for a while.
    This is always a tough time of year for me, particularly this year. My mind isn't a good place. and the general "happy shiny people holding hands" kind of thing becomes overwhelming. It's "disappointing to the nth degree" to know that, even if we were going to do anything more exciting than watch paint dry, I don't want to. It's just a really tough time of year. INCREDIBLY bad timing for everything. Just really tough to stay positive.

  26. Okay, Dawn, I hear you. (and I think a LOT of people have trouble actually being shiny this time of year - which is why the rituals and little nurturing things are so important. Short days are hard for me; I need something.) Your parents could not have given you a better gift, so that's worth a lot.

    Take the onus off yourself to be shiny, happy, festive, etc, etc. This year, I will do it for you. xoxoxo


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