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Christmas Traditions

We have a lot of Christmas traditions in our family.

When I was young I loved all the great fun that went on during the Christmas season. My dad, who was a baker, would let us come to the bakery and put smartie ‘buttons’ on the gingerbread men, make long paper chains from the adding machine paper rolls and help out with the really fabulous gingerbread houses that would go in the display window. We watched him make countless cannoli rolls, shortbread with little plastic holly for decoration, yule logs, petit fours, boterkoek, black forest cakes. . . . oh my, the delicious things that he could make!

Christmas was a time for family get togethers, a chance to play with all the cousins, to go to school programs, and sneak around the house trying to discover where the presents were hidden (my sister Lisa is the All Time World Champion when it comes to sniffing out gifts. I always had to hold her back or she would have had those things unwrapped before I would have time to run and tattle!)

This to me was what made Christmas great. The present aspect never meant a whole lot to me, but. . . there were a few times when the adults around us really made magic come alive. ( I loved the mystery of magical things. . . fairies, elves, brownies. . . I read every Brother’s Grimm book I could get my hands on.)

One night, when we lived in a tiny little village on a tiny little acreage in a tiny little house, my sisters and I heard a thump. We raced to the back door, nearly tripping over a big bag of presents and heard the sound of sleigh bells fading off into the distance. When we went out to the street there they were. . . tracks in the snow from a sleigh!

Magic! Then there was the year I was able to spend Sinter Klaas at my Aunty Jenny and Uncle Henk’s. We didn’t celebrate this at home so I was pretty excited about the whole thing. Everyone crammed into their tiny living room that night, wiggling in anticipation, when suddenly. . .

The lights when out! It was chaos! Kids were screaming and running around banging into everything We were being pelted with hard little . . .somethings. . .

What in the world was going on?

The lights came on and the screaming, banging and pelting became clear. All my cousins had fists full of little papernoten cookies!

But that wasn’t all. When we looked out the window, there, under a big light, was a wheel barrow full of presents!


I really wanted to pass those kinds of memories on to my kids and it turns out that they hold on to their traditions tighter than I do!

Each Christmas season we like to have a party with friends and decorate the tree. We make gingerbread houses and fill Christmas stockings with a Mandarin orange at the toe and chocolate letters and Archie comics to help fill out the rest of the stocking. If I can find Pez dispensers, all the better.

It’s getting harder and harder to keep those traditions the same. The kids are getting older, the girls don’t live at home anymore and for the first time Holly won’t be here for Christmas. As you may remember we didn’t have a tree decorating party this year. The boys and I decorated it ourselves. But they still like to remind me that that’s not the way it’s supposed to be done.

I mentioned to Crystal that we wouldn’t be bringing all our gifts over to her and mom’s apartment but would open our own at home.

That did not go over well at all! As long as she was living in the city she wanted to be right there for all of it!

Sunday after the second service she came over to decorate gingerbread houses with the boys.

My sweet lovely grown up boys.

Who some how, through a mixture of pleading and good use of puppy dog eyes, managed to convince me that we should open presents then and there. After all. . . why wait? Everything was under the tree, Crystal didn’t want to miss out on anything. . . and if we opened the gifts now then we could spend the rest of the week focusing on what Christmas is really about!

Hmmm. . .They really are good, aren’t they?

Once Henry threw in his two cents (“Well, it’s about halfway between Sinter Klaus and Christmas so why not?”) they got their way.

So here’s a bit of holiday fun. . . Presents and gingerbread houses. . .

The boys are pretty pleased with themselves!

I figured I might as well get a bit of work out of them first.

Boys never really grow up do they?

This is what I found when I opened my present from Henry. 4 of them. . .?????

Whoo Ho Hooo!! Lee Valley’s garden wagon! How long until spring?!

The boys put theirs together. Teamwork! A few years ago that would have been unthinkable.

Crystal is much more meticulous than the boys. ( Okay. . . Morgan.)

The great thing about traditions is that, if you let them, they can change when circumstances change.

Holly and Glenn are carrying on the tradition even though they are far away. Glenn decided to go the whole nine yards and made everything from scratch. Can you tell he’s taking engineering?

Holly’s turned out beautifully as well. Jesse was very impressed with the professional quality of her work.

I’m going to miss them this year but it’s wonderful to know that they will be sharing in Glenn’s family traditions.

Here are the pictures they sent. The detail is just amazing!

Enjoy. . .

Glenn made this fabulous castle.

Holly went a little more traditional and used her favorite rolled cookies as pillars.

I’m thinking she probably enjoyed the leftovers. . .

I hope you all enjoy your own Christmas traditions!

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