Tag: Christmas Traditions

December 2019 Wrap-Up

December 2019

The last wrap-up of the year is always difficult and the December 2019 Wrap-Up is no exception. So much is crunched into the last 31 days that I don’t know quite where to start. Perhaps a chronological account is best.

I arrived home to the High Plains just a few hours before December 2019 began. The first few days back from an extended stay in Florida were ones filled with chores and catching up with local based family. A home inhabited by a workaholic for five weeks without his faithful sidekick in residence is a home needing just a bit of TLC.

Keeping Traditions

Bowl with Spode TreeAs discussed in an earlier post on Holiday Traditions, I pull out the Spode Christmas Tree china on the first of December. This year the familiar task helped ground me. These same dishes will return to storage New Year’s Day during breaks in watching parades and football games.

I detoured a bit from tradition with the Christmas tree. Over the last few years I had experimented with both a white and a gold artificial tree, the latter a table topper to mixed reviews from family members. The December 2019 tree was a real tree. I went a step further and used family made ornaments and multi-colored lights. The decision was a positive one. My only offspring able to make it home searched the tree with delight to find the personally made ornaments.

Christmas Tree lit with multi-colored lights
A new look for Christmas

Christmas parties are always a part of the year end festivities. This year was no exception. Needless to say, lots of good food was consumed. The relatively mild weather has allowed me to counter the calories with long walks.

Update on Breast Cancer Treatments

Breast Cancer Ribbon
Not for Women Only

My Dad started his radiation treatments this month. It was quite a process as those who have been through it well know. His biggest complaint so far has been the tattooing. There was some difficulty with the breathing (or holding it) during the early sessions. He is retired Army and his hearing has taking a bit of a beating. Fortunately this issue has been resolved with the use of a technician with a lower, deeper and perhaps louder voice.

Dad remains upbeat about his prognosis. I think he is past the stigma, if any on his part, of being a male with breast cancer. I appreciate the fact he allows me to write about his condition and progress. Breast Cancer is best fought when caught early. Since most men do not get routine mammograms, the detection is more difficult. Just knowing it is possible could be helpful to someone out there.

Book Reviews

I released a second annual book review only to be very impressed with the next two books I read. Click here for the 2019 recommendations. I love the week between Christmas and New Year’s. It is perfect for binge reading. In addition to This Tender Land just reviewed, I have read the latest Janet Evanovich and am working on the first of a new series by Patricia Cornwall. The former was a delightful fun read, the latter is quite technical and centered on our potential journeys into space.

The Garden

The extended stay in Florida coupled with some other fall trips meant I missed my fall planting of garlic. So I popped some cloves in the ground on Boxing Day. The weather was sunny and mild with a forecast of rain turning to snow for the following days. We will see what happens next summer.

I also cleaned up some of the raised row garden and put down a straw mulch for the remainder of the winter. A little bit of the Swiss chard remains green under a hoop tent. But not enough to harvest. My experiments in the garden will most likely continue for a couple more decades.

In the Quilt Room

Quilt strips before sewing in mauve, blue gray and off white
Beginnings of a quilt

Winter weather means a return to the quilt room. I am currently in the cutting stage of a new quilt. The quilt will have grays, mauves, pinks and a few greens and blues in the marbled Bali prints I am including. I love the feeling that comes along with creativity.

Since I will have another great nephew in the summer, I need to start the design process for another small quilt. I love designing even more than the process of quilting. I am not sure what pattern I will choose yet, but it may be in the form of transportation, just not another Train Quilt like I made for his brother. He will need his own. Click here to see the Train Quilt.

2020 Resolutions

I am still working on my New Year’s resolutions. In 2018 I was successful in fulfilling those resolutions. But I fell a bit short in 2019. Perhaps the difference was not making the goals public. So I plan to post my 2020 ideals next week. That gives me a few more days to make my final decision on just what I should strive for next year.

I hope your December 2019 was merry and bright. I admire those who stay upbeat even in the face of adversity. Perhaps I can come up with a concrete way of measuring tenacity and include that in my 2020 resolutions. Happy New Year everyone.

Christmas 2019

Christmas 2019 is upon us. This holiday season, shortened in the United States by a late Thanksgiving, is almost over. The next eight days will be full of baking, feasting, and visiting with friends and family. A frenzy of activity before the quiet days of winter march on toward spring.

Last Christmas I was fortunate to have all my offspring around me. Only one will come home for Christmas Eve. Another will join us for Christmas Dinner. Although attendance on Christmas Day will be smaller than usual, we anticipate spending time with the newest and youngest member of the family.

Shy of seven months, without a doubt she will have no memories of her own. But, she will absorb the love of family. By good fortune, both sets of grandparents live in fairly close proximity. So both families will create an abundance of memories.

Holiday Traditions

I love traditions. This year I continued a long tradition started many generations ago in my mother’s family. A Christmas stocking was made for the newest member of the family. You can read about the project by clicking here. Other traditions revolve around the dinner itself.

My husband will make a corn casserole for dinner. The recipe was passed down to him by his father. We love it so much we make it about once a month during cooler weather. The holidays don’t seem complete without it.

I will make a cranberry-orange sauce. The freshly made sauce is one both our maternal grandmothers made.  Also on my list are baked goods. The pecan pie is challenging for I have not mastered pie crusts. Truth be told I am tempted to cheat. I need to make one more run to the grocery store and I might, just might, buy a roll of pre-made pie crust.

Baking For Christmas 2019

However, dinner rolls are best when made from scratch. I will not be making my gluten free rolls, since the family member with allergies will be elsewhere. But if you need a recipe for Soft Gluten Free Dinner Rolls click here.

Instead I will use a recipe that will allow me to do most of the work today, keep overnight in the fridge and then pop in the oven tomorrow morning. Thus, fresh rolls without waking in the middle of the night! I will endeavor to take pictures so that I can later post. Bread Illustrated was reviewed a couple of summers ago and it is still one of my go to cookbooks. This make ahead recipe for dinner rolls was adapted from the honey-wheat dinner roll recipe found on page 133.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree lit with multi-colored lights
A new look for Christmas

I did break with tradition in one area, the Christmas tree. Usually, I decorate an artificial tree with white lights. The ornaments are themed. Lots of angels, wise men, nativity scenes and even crosses. But this year is a departure from the norm.

For starters, we bought a real tree. Yes, falling needles and all. The pine smell is wonderful. And the watering has not been too much of a hassle.

I decided to use an array of light strings. So the white is accompanied by red and green. Some of the lights have covers. Peppermints, hot peppers and poinsettias along with Ohio Star quilt lights make the tree pop with color.

The ornaments differ as well. Truth be told, I am feeling very nostalgic this Christmas. Instead of the themed ornaments, I dug out family oriented decorations. A few date back to ones I made during summer vacations at my grandmother’s house. Others can be attributed to my kids. Masterpieces made at school, either Sunday or secular. Each are treasures and treasured. Perfect for my needs this Christmas.

Felicitations to All

Many readers of this blog are from overseas. Traditions vary from country to country as well as among the many different religions. If you are celebrating a holiday now or in the near future, take time to treasure both the present and the past. For my fellow Christians, I wish you a very, merry Christmas 2019.

 

 

Economical Christmas Traditions

Economical Christmas Traditions

We have many traditions throughout the year. December is no exception. Our Christmas traditions begin on December 1st and continue until the big day. The first of these traditions is the changing of the dishes.

Spode China

Many Christmases ago I was given Spode Christmas Tree china. Instead of just bringing out the china for the big day, I bring the dishes out December 1st. Therefore, my regular dishes are put up for the month and the Spode fills the cabinet. Thus instead of special Christmas plates enjoyed once a year, they are utilized 31 days. Since the dishes were a gift, my direct cost is zero. However, they were not free-someone in my family paid good money. Since I reuse them each year, the average life time cost continues to decrease. Durable gifts/decorations like the Spode Christmas Tree plates are a great value over time. I have had the pleasure of using mine for over twenty years.

Bucilla Stockings

Another of my favorite Christmas Traditions is the hanging of the stockings. We do not have a fireplace, so I hang them on a half wall at the front entrance. My grandmother made my stocking. She also made one for my husband and gave it to him the first year we were married.
Once I started having kids, the tradition passed on to my mother. She made each grandchild a stocking. As you can see from the pictures, each has a different design. Since I do not have grandchildren, I have not made any.

Research over the Internet repeatedly brings up Bucilla Felt stockings available for sale through numerous retail avenues. However, I could find very little history of the company and no direct links. If you are interested in making a Bucilla stocking ask your local craft or sewing store if they carry the kits. Most of the stocking kits I found listed on-line were under $30.00. Again, spreading the cost out over the years yield a very economical Christmas tradition.

Holiday Decorations

Outdoor decorations are wreaths on the doors. This is one of the few expenses of the season. I buy a fresh evergreen wreaths from one of the local youth fundraisers. Sometimes I buy from the Boy Scouts and sometimes from the high school. In each case I feel the money is well spent.

Indoor decorations are treasured family heirlooms. Nativity sets and ornaments which have been in the family for generations are on display. Some of the nativity sets are kid friendly so they can reenact the story. Others are displayed atop the china cabinet. Most of the kid friendly nativities were found at auctions or yard sales.

Many of the ornaments were acquired through another of our Christmas traditions. Each year I would take the kids downtown and they were allowed to pick out one ornament. I always looked forward to that Thursday night of ornament shopping. It truly is the one thing I dislike about being an empty-nester.

I love the holidays and have many Christmas Traditions. Most do not involve spending large amounts of money. Please feel free to share some of your favorite traditions.