Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Christmas traditions

Christmas was always big in my family growing up. I can't tell you about any of the gifts I received (except for the year I received my American Girl doll - what up, Samantha?!), but I can go on and on about the fun things we did as a family. My parents made family traditions a big part of Christmas and I have fond memories of all of them.

Two in particular we have continued doing in our married life: yearly Hallmark ornaments and decorating gingerbread houses.

Every year since 1995, my parents took us to Hallmark to pick out an ornament. My dad actually boxed mine up this year and sent them to me - apparently I went through a puppy phase in the 90s. Cool. This year's selections include:
Funny story. We went to pick out our ornaments on the day we were supposed to pick up my brother from the airport, after his trip home for Thanksgiving. We thought we'd go to Hallmark first and then the airport. He called to say his flight got in early, and I told him where we were and what we were doing.
J: Oh, Umm... just put Emma's back.
Me: Why?
J: Well, when we went to go get ours, Dad got one for Emma.
Me: Well, that's ok. She'll just have two this year.
J: Ya, but put back the one you're holding. I guarantee it's the same one dad picked.
Sure enough, it was. It was kind of a no-brainer: 2014 was the year of George.
So we hid George and let her pick again. And, of course, her next choice would be the Pooh character.
I wanted a classic one, so I went with Santa. Another funny thing: When the box arrived from my dad with all the old ornaments, I discovered I had chosen an eerily similar one probably a dozen years ago. I guess Hallmark recycles ideas?
Hans' pick. Can't go wrong with claymation Rudolph.
Obviously, Em is in love with both her ornaments. Every day she would run to the tree to check and make sure they were still there.
And to see if maybe today, she could read the George book.
So, the gingerbread houses. Oh, man. Growing up my mom had the house pattern traced out on an old cocoa puffs box. We had to lay it down on top of the rolled-out dough and use a knife to cut it out. The icing was always too runny - it wouldn't hold the house together until the icing completely dried. We'd have to use every single mug we had in the house to prop up the walls and roof for a couple hours before we decorated. I also remember years we weren't so thrilled to decorate - but we always did.

I've honed the process a bit in adulthood - I talk about it a little here on my old blog. 
Her favorite part was moving candy from one bowl to the other. Silly girl.
As you can see, this went on for some time...
We found the best tactic was to just slather icing thickly in one spot and just let her stick candies into it.
That toddler has mad decorating skillz.
Unfortunately, I under-baked the gingerbread this year and the walls caved in. Thus, no pictures of the finished products. Sad! I promise they were pretty. And tasty...

Maybe Em is too little to remember these traditions, but I hope not. And I'll certainly always remember them. So grateful that my parents took the time to start these things with us.

1 comment:

  1. Although she is young and may not remember each and every tradition you shared with her this past year, the pictures will last a lifetime. I don't remember everything from when I was younger but I love having photos to carry with me!