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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holiday Traditions from our Smarty Moms and Dads

By Rachel H

Today is our final day of sharing Smarty Traditions. Thank you to all the Smarty Moms and Dads who we have profiled over the past year. We thank you for sharing your traditions with us this week! If you missed them, scroll back through this week's posts to see all of the wonderful traditions these families share throughout the season.

Jessica Robb - My grandmother started this tradition. I am guessing it is because the kids in our family tend to be early risers - especially on Christmas morning. We were not allowed to get out of our rooms until we heard Santa's bells. Later I learned that my grandmother has bells that resemble (by look and sound) something that Santa could have on his sleigh. My sisters and I would wait for what seemed like forever until we heard the bells and then we would run to open our presents. As a child the sound was magical. For parents, it gives us a few extra minutes to do the last minute things to make the morning special.
* Photo taken by ZoeZen photography.

Katie M - It’s funny that we are writing about holiday traditions because this will be the first year our family will not be traveling to either New Jersey or Minnesota – trips that have been tradition for years. Combined we have a large extended family, and it’s always been important for us to be close to family over Christmas – more than any other holiday in the year. In New Jersey, it was always tradition to go to NYC and see the big tree in Rockefeller Center (see picture). In Minnesota, it’s always been tradition for us to go sleigh riding or ice skating (on real frozen ponds outside!) since we can’t do that in NC. So, this will be the first year we create traditions of our own and we’re really excited about it. We’ve already decided that a trip to the Nutcracker at the Stevens Center in downtown Winston-Salem is a must tradition each year. And we’ve already had family discussions around the dinner table about other things that should be tradition. Top of the list is opening one gift on Christmas Eve (a tradition my husband always followed growing up). Plus the downtown holiday parade. Attending the children’s mass at our church on Christmas Eve. Making my mom’s yummy breakfast casserole on Christmas morning. And just hanging out in our pajamas all day on Christmas. Those are our plans, and we’re hoping they’ll become tradition!

Chanel James - I would say that our family definitely has some holiday traditions... some that the kids are aware of, and some not so much. For example, my parents always had us pick one lucky gift to open on Christmas Eve. We do the same with our boys now-- and they amazingly always pick the same one we used to as kids; the pj box. And I give the traditional response, "Oh my Gosh! You get to wear cool new pajamas to bed tonight!" Can't have the boys wearing old, faded, Race For the Cure t-shirts on Christmas morning while the cam is rolling!

The tradition they know about... which is rather new; they get to decorate a gingerbread house sometime after Thanksgiving-- thanks to allergen free Gingerbread house kits, this is one I hope they will continue to enjoy for years to come!

Jenna Guldberg - Our family tradition is something that
I assumed every family did...until we moved to the south. On the night of December 5th, we place our shoes next to the door in anticipation of St. Nick's arrival. If we have been good, St. Nick leaves small gifts in our shoes for when we wake. If we've been naughty, there is only coal. After mentioning this to several friends in the triad, and no one having any idea who St. Nick was, I decided to do some investigating. Turns out that many cities with strong German influence (like Milwaukee, where I grew up) still celebrate St. Nick's. I know it is one tradition my family will celebrate wherever we live!

Marybeth Barrett - Our first tradition is making my Great Grandmother's Sugar Cookie Recipe. Yum.
It’s a process, but a fun one. I have memories of making these with my Grandmother as far back as I can remember. My Grandmother made these into her 90’s. She was right there with us frosting, sprinkling, etc. It was always a fun and welcomed family project. I personally like the decorating of the cookies better than the baking, but that is the artist in me. Be sure to get plenty of sprinkles to create your one of a kind cookies. We always put one cinnamon candy on each one. They get hard, which is why we only were allowed to put one so we wouldn’t break our teeth, or maybe that was intended more for the older folks!

Here is the Sugar Cookie recipe:
Buttermilk Mixture: Combine 1 cup buttermilk with 1 tsp baking soda. Set aside to rise.
In large bowl add 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup white sugar (I did mention these were sugar cookies didn’t I?) & 1 cup shortening (Crisco or Margarine).
Blend until smooth
Mix in 2 eggs

Flour Mixture: In a separate bowl, Mix 4 ½ cups flour with 2 tsp baking powder & ½ tsp salt
Alternate adding the buttermilk mixture with the flour mixture
Add 1 tsp vanilla
Mix until well blended
Roll dough to about ¼ thin (or thick depending on whether you are a half full/half empty type of person)
Use cookie cutters of choice
Bake at 375 for 7 minutes until a light golden brown.

2 TBS soft butter (I never said they were healthy!)
¼ tsp vanilla
Alternate adding milk and confectionery sugar
Beat until creamy and spreadably smooth
Separate into two different bowls.
Tint one bowl with red food coloring and the other with green.
Decorate with holiday sprinkles until your heart is content.

Note: We make these for all holidays and cookie cutters appropriate to the season.

My other favorite tradition is trimming my tree with the Hallmark Ornaments given to me each year by my belated Grandmother. Since her passing, they mean even more to me than ever. It is a stroll down memory lane as each ornament is lovingly placed on my tree by me or my boys. Gram would give each of us a Hallmark ornament that somehow reflected who we were at that time. We always knew it was coming and saved the best for last to open each year. It was a mad dash to see who could rip open the paper to see which one we got! Hallmark Ornaments are great because they come in a box to protect them and all have a date. I have everything from Curious George, Fairies, Dr. Seuss, etc. It is fun to review them each year and see “what I was into” at that age. In 1999 I dressed up as Cat in the Hat, so guess what ornament I got that year? My boys love it because they always want to know how old I was when I got each one. My mom gave me my personal ornament collection when I moved out on my own so I could have it displayed on my own tree. She has already started the tradition with my boys! So, tell your parents to listen up. Suggest that they start giving their Grandchildren a collectible ornament and trust me, it will be a gift that keeps on giving many years to come.


maythi said...

where did Chanel get her allergen free gingerbread kit? my sister would love to have one - her son is allergic to all tree nuts and eggs. is this one egg free too? thanks!
everyone's traditions were so fun to read this week! thank you for sharing. lots of great ideas - we may start some new traditions!

chanel said...

Amazingly, we found this kit at Sams! It is egg and nut free. The only allergen in it is wheat, which we can tolerate these days. Hope you guys find one!

I loved reading the tradtions this week as well-- cannot wait to try some new ones next year!!!!

maythi said...

thanks chanel! i will let her know. hopefully she can find one next year :)

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