Happy December, all!
This is the month most anticipated by many children, and for those adults in touch with their inner child. It’s a time of faith and magic. Unfortunately, the holiday season can also add stress to an already busy schedule. To relieve the pressure to get everything done, I find it helps to focus on family traditions. Some of our friends attend cookie exchange or ginberbread house decorating parties, and they sound wonderful. Our traditions are simpler and quieter, usually involving only our immediate family, due to my son’s autism.
After the holiday cards have been mailed and a bulk of the presents purchased, the joyous part of the season begins. My son and I make dozens of sugar cookies. Here’s a recipe from Bon Appetit magazine:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 9 cups (or more) powdered sugar (about 2 1/4 pounds)
- 4 1/2 tablespoons Just Whites (pasteurized powdered egg whites)*
- 12 tablespoons (or more) water
I mix, cut out, and bake them while he ices and adds colorful sprinkles to the santa, star, and stocking shapes, although we both agree our favorite part is eating a few–still warm out of the oven.
When our daughter arrives home from college, we seek out a Christmas tree and bring it home to share in the happiness of the season. My husband wraps it with lights, and the kids and I decorate it. They love to hear each ornament’s story as we place it on a branch, especially the ones they made long ago in preschool or were given as gifts.
Once the Christmas tree is decorated, it’s time for our family’s favorite activity. The four of us eat a leisurely dinner one evening–usually pizza or another meal easy to clean up–and then we pile into the family car with contented bellies. My husband tunes into a local radio station known for it’s holiday songs. As we pull away from the driveway, singing along with Jingle Bell Rock or Frosty the Snowman, we happily anticipate our neighborhood’s celebration of the season.
We are never disappointed. Each year, our village outdoes itself. Christmas lights cover homes and greenery. Nativity scenes and other seasonal lawn decorations are proudly displayed. Apparently, we aren’t alone in our fascination with our neighborhood displays. HGTV’s “Light Up the Holidays” features what it deems the most amazing front yards across America. Check out their great website and photos here. I also like to peek at other beautifully decorated homes on YouTube, like the ones from Melbourne, Australia:
Others are even more inventive, their lights synchronized to music. If you watched the video above, click on the “Holdman Christmas Lights” video next. These homes remind me of the music/water show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Good times!
After trolling around town for festive displays, we head home. We end our family evening in front of the fireplace with hot cocoa and sugar cookies. After the kids go to bed, my husband and I cuddle on the couch. We each sip a margarita or another favorite adult beverage and enjoy watching It’s A Wonderful Life late into the night.
What family traditions are a relaxing part of your winter holiday?