Passing Down the Good Life with Baking Cookies Holiday Traditions
When I was a kid, I always wondered how it was possible to celebrate Christmas in a place where there wasn’t even the slightest chance of snow. If you live in Honolulu, does Santa come down the chimney in a Hawaiian shirt and lei? If you live in the American Southwest do you decorate a cactus?
As a kid, I was confused about the whole warm weather Christmas thing. I asked myself, how do you celebrate Christmas when the weather is more fit for beach volleyball than dodging reindeer in your snowmobile?
The Christmas forecast in my hometown invariably turned out to be cold rain, sleet, or just overcast and grey. But even if the weather was dark, windy, and cold, at least the roaring flame in the fireplace fit the season well.
With giant stockings hanging from the banister, a brightly-lit tree with wrapped gifts underneath, and the smell of cinnamon and eggnog in the air, it wasn’t difficult to get into the Christmas spirit.
The True Spirit of Christmas
But as I got older, it became clear to me that the true spirit of Christmas did not depend on the weather, but where our hearts and minds resided. The glad tidings of Christmas Day are universal in Alaska and South Padre Island alike.
Wherever you are, it’s safe to assume that colorful lights will adorn the lampposts on main street, and store windows will be filled with toy soldiers, silver snowflakes, and gold lace.
You could be sinking your toes in the sands of South Beach, but Christmas will be Christmas no matter where you are.
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Whether your holiday season is spent on beaches or in blizzards, it should be filled with family, friends, and tradition. Want to start some new holiday traditions this year? We’ve got a few ideas to get you started.
In the days leading up to Christmas, our family always finds a Friday or Saturday evening to hit a Chinese restaurant before spending an hour or two driving through the neighborhoods looking at houses whose light displays risk putting the whole city into blackout. Afterwards, we come home, hungry again, and eat dessert in front of the TV.
After the Chinese food and Christmas light sightseeing, pull out your collection of Christmas specials and have the whole family sit around the TV to watch them together. I guarantee your children won’t fight you on this one.
Make gingerbread houses with the family for an easy and delicious holiday tradition. All you need are gingerbread cookies or graham crackers, marshmallow whip, gumdrops, and a butter knife. They can all be easily acquired from your local supermarket, except for the butter knife. That should already be in your utensil drawer. You don’t have to be a mechanical engineer to build a gingerbread house, but if it seems like rocket science you can find a YouTube video with foolproof instructions.
Twine Thou Popcorn and Cranberry
String together popcorn and cranberries to decorate your family room. Fishing line is perfect twine (and it rhymes!). Remember, don’t butter or salt the popcorn or you may tempt the vermin and the kids!
“I Am Thankful For” Board
Buy a large poster board and put it on an easel. Title the poster board, “This Christmas, I Am Thankful For…” Have everyone in the family fill up the poster board with what they are thankful for in 2014. When your little girl is glum because she didn’t get to be the teacher’s helper, maybe seeing mommy’s “I Am Thankful For ” that says, “I am so thankful for my sweet and wonderful little girl” will turn the frown into a smile.
Have the whole family make an advent calendar. Depending on the day your tradition officially starts counting down to Christmas, it will be great fun to fill your calendar with drawings and special quotes, or even stick on little ornaments and candies.
Advent Calendar Reading
To go along with your advent calendar, read your children a special Christmas book like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Polar Express, or The Night Before Christmas. For extra fun, wrap the books and let the kiddos take turns opening one each night.
Participate in a toy drive. Just about every local fire department has one, and they make sure these special gifts go to children in need. Set a budget and walk through your Walmart, Target, or Toys R’ Us to fill a basket full of toys, then stop by the station to drop them off. Your kids will love passing them on to a first responder to give them to less fortunate children. You can also participate in your local Salvation Army Angel Tree Program or Operation Christmas Project.
Charlie Brown Christmas Tree
In the tradition of Charlie Brown, buy a sad sack of a potted tree at your local hardware store, wrap its base with an old tattered blanket and decorate it however you’d like. Make it a centerpiece in your living room. Put a placard at its side and call it your “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.”
Lastly, here are a few of our favorite Christmas cookie options for you and your family to try this season. Make enough for your neighbors and surprise them with a “goodwill toward men” tin full of them. Don’t forget to leave a plate for Santa on Christmas Eve!
Classic Sugar Cookies (Make sure to have plenty of decorating supplies!)
Make your Christmas celebrations special this year by adding a few traditions and making memories that will warm you and your family all winter long.
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