There’s nothing better over the holidays than the feeling of nostalgia you get as that smell - the one you’ve been smelling come late December since you were knee high to a grasshopper - floats out of the kitchen and fills the house up with its homemade, one of a kind, take-you-right-back, deliciousness. Whether it’s baking grandma’s traditional gingersnap cookies, or playing that weird, battered 60s parlor game they don’t sell in stores anymore till 3 in the morning with the entire extended family; traditions never fail to give us the warm and fuzzies. And what better time to start your own traditions than the first holiday of an engagement or marriage? So for all the new lovebirds out there, here are some of our favorite traditions, and a few suggestions to get you going with some of your own:
Caroling – Grab your spouse, your friends, their friends, your parents, your pups; fill up some thermoses with eggnog, hot toddies, cocoa; leave your self-consciousness at home and treat your neighbors to some old-school cheer! We think this tradition is due for a well-deserved resurgence and are more than willing to lead the charge!
Cookie baking and decorating party – Gather some loved ones together, put Michael Buble on the stereo, mulled wine on the stove, and let your creative juices flow with gumdrops and sprinkles. Even better? When you’re done decorating you can pop the goodies in pretty little bags and spread the merriment around your neighborhood or, even better, the local fire station or police headquarters – those folks work hard to keep our holidays safe and merry!
Christmas Tree Campout – Make a pallet on the living room floor, turn off all the lights except the Christmas lights, cue up a couple of your favorite holiday movies on Netflix, stock up on festive snacks, exchange cute new holiday PJs for each other, and spend the night cozying up with your own Mr/Mrs Claus.
And now for what our loving mothers would consider a "real treat..." - a few holiday pictures from our youth and favorite traditions of our own!
Chelsey’s Tradition – Justin and I are both fortunate enough to have families close by. That means a lot of bouncing around from house to house, though, so our Christmases are often a whirlwind! Christmas Eve we attend an early church service with his family, and often times the 11pm candlelight service with my family (one of my favorite things!). Christmas Day we open presents with both families, and a group of family friends, among lots of food and drink. My dad's famous sauerkraut balls always make a brief appearance before they're gobbled up. But my favorite part of Christmas is coming home late Christmas Day with my hubby, snuggling with our hound dogs, popping some bubbly, and opening presents just the two of us. If you can manage to sneak away, I highly recommend having a time like this for just you and your sweetheart on Christmas!
Kat’s Tradition – It just isn't Christmas without our traditional Christmas Eve dinner with our dear family & friends. We have shrimp parmesan (with a super, top-secret Italian gravy recipe), oyster stew and vino, of course! After all of the hustle and bustle, my husband and I come home, watch a Christmas movie and exchange ornament gifts to be hung on the tree. We have a new niece and nephew to spoil this year, so I'm sure this year's Christmas morning will take on a life of its' own! While old traditions are wonderful, I encourage you and your loved ones to embrace new traditions. It will bring tons of Christmas cheer for years to come!
Fay’s Tradition – Because I live so far away from my family now, my most cherished tradition is the Christmas Day Transatlantic Skype Session (yes; you have to call it by its full name). From my in-laws house full of his family I video chat with my whole family back home. It’s usually pretty emotional for me, especially talking to my little niece and nephew, but soon turns into a hilarious game of “let’s see how many people we can fit in the frame at once while maintaining a coherent conversation” – it’s not many, if you’ve never tried!
We hope you've enjoyed our traditions and plan to create some of your own this season. Happy Holidays from the Gather Together family to you and yours!
Til we Gather Together again,