Starting New Traditions This Year

I was talking to a friend of mine who received a plant this holiday season delivered to her house. She decided to write a nice thank you and made another important decision in her life. She is going to write a thank you to someone, a friend, a family member, an aquaintance each day; 365 days worth. I thought this was very admirable for her. She has such a positive spirit, inspite of going in for cyberknife next week for a recurrence of brain cancer. We have often discussed the materialism of Christmas. Some of us spent way too much money on Christmas gifts and worry about what we are going to eat, as we over eat at the holidays.

Yesterday I got a book in the mail that I won from a short writing essay. The book is called “Chistmas Teas of Comfort and Joy” by Emilie Barnes; paintings by Susan Rios. The book is about family traditions, welcoming friends, caroling, old fashion fun, the season of giving, and an afternoon of elegance.

What about a starting a new tradition? I remember making “Three Kings Cake.” Who ever got the large almond in their piece of cake got an extra surprise gift. Why not change it to a Christmas pudding with a large almond in it?

In talking to my husband’s aunt, Eva Barnes Anderson today, who is almost 92 at the Masonic Home, she commented about the poor people and all the food  commercial shows on TV. Eva thinks it makes them feel bad when they may not know where their next meal will come from. Insightful as she is, she knows like I do, you don’t have to look far to find others in worse shape in this world. Elderly people who are alone in nursing homes. Starving children in the United States and other parts of this world are common place.

I can smell the spiced apple cider that I am making. It warms the house with wonderful smells and a true slice of sweetness. There are many kinds of wassil you can make such as red wine, black tea, orange juice and the list goes on. I like my recipe with broken cinnamon sticks, allspice balls, graded orange peel, nutmeg broken up, candied ginger, whole cloves and some anise flavoring. It makes a nice gift with a little muselin bag.

You can make your house smell extra special by giving every guest” A Bag of Christmas Herbs;”  pinecones, spices, twigs and dried flowers to take home. You can also bake some cinnamon in a pie plate and warm it in the oven for the spicy smell.

My daughter thinks Christmas  is Mexican or Russian wedding cakes/ tea cakes (those little powdery cookies). I decided to surprise her and drop the recipe off with some ingredients and the directions when she was out of town. Surprise, mom is not baking this year, she’s counting calories.

More than a week and a half ago a neighbhood church (The Anchor Church) came caroling. They gave us a tree branch all wrapped up to be planted in the spring. They must of gotten our address off of a check from the collection plate when we visited their church. I thought that was awfully nice of them. This church also teaches kids to play the guitar,  and they get free guitars. they could use a little more gingle for this project. They really put songs in children’s hearts and minds.

We had our children’s Christmas program today in church, and then everyone held hands all around the church and sung Christmas carols. That was pretty memoriable and full of sparkling memories.

Are those young ones driving you up a wall? Give them cranberries to string or 25 pieces of wrapped hard candy and some red twine. Popcorn is a little more difficult.  They could even draw and color the Christmas cards for next year. (Invitation envelopes are sold at Office Max.) I think children’s pictures made into tree oranments are great gifts for relatives.

Are you missing some of the Christmas spirit? You could watch any of these old movies: The Nutcracker, White Christmas, The Bishop’s Wife, Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, Holiday Inn, or March of the Wooden Soldiers.

If you don’t have much money but you want to make a homemade gift, try making “Three Apple Butter.” It is very simple to do.

What are some possible books to read to your children this holiday? The Gift of the Magi, A Christmas Carol, or The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. 

Start a new tradition with the Christmas stockings being more important than the gifts. You could draw names. An old Vicorian rule for filling the Christmas stocking is: “Something to eat, something to read, something to play with, and something you need.” I remember the fruit, the ribbon candy and nuts as a youngster filling the stockings.

Have you given boxes or bags to the needy or poor? Boxing Day gifts were given to people who carried the newspaper or even made deliveries in olden times. Boxing Day is December 26th, and is celebrated by the Brits.

Homemade Truffles: The secretary at church had made homemade truffles for church today. I didn’t realize there were so many different kinds and ways to make them. They would be fun to make.