We kick off the season by getting our tree usually around the week after Thanksgiving. We're a week late, but who's counting, right? The tree comes from a family who sells in our neighborhood every year. For every tree they sell, they plant one in a nature reserve near their farm. The tree goes up the same day. The Austrian spends about an hour getting it into our big stand, and trying to get it level. (not so level this year but who's gonna say anything about that, huh?)
One of my mom's choirs always has a wonderful concert to attend, so we get gussied up, pile in the car, and trek across town to enjoy one or the other soulful gospel arrangement of all the songs of the season. Sometimes it's even the gospel version of Handel's Messiah done live with full band and choral arrangment.
Another tradition is that the week before, I bake a truckload of cookies and at our family gathering, and provide goody bags for people to fill and take some home. But this is a modest description of that tradition. You'll see, I'll be posting the recipes. I usually make at least 3 or 4 basic cookie doughs with anywhere from 10-12 variations in extra ingredients. In the end, we're talking HUNDREDS of cookies.
what we did last year here. This year I'm going to be making homemade gourmet mustards, marinated olives, and a mini recipe book with recipes created, tested, and written by yours truly, and graphic design by the Austrian. Max will be making rosemary sea salt which can be used for cooking or in nice hot bath. We'll also be making whole wheat pancake mix, candied almonds, and a Korean style ginger honey tea. (basically fresh ginger is stored in a jar of honey for at least two weeks then used by the tablespoon full with hot water to make a delicious and very healthy tea.) Instructions for these are coming...
I am still determining what our traditional act of kindness will be this year, but that's another thing that's important to me. We choose someone who needs a friend and we do something kind that will help them in some substantial way. It's not something we talk about much. We just do it and keep it to ourselves.
We don't spend a load of money during this time, we don't focus on material things, and I make it a point to not go into any mall or major department store from Thanksgiving til after New Years. I watch the madness on the news and shake my head as the world outside our home is full of crazies who start riots to get into a Walmart store at 4 o'clock in the morning to buy tv's on sale that they can't even really afford to buy at the sale price. We stay home and enjoy each other's company, invite others to join us.
On Christmas Eve we gather with our loved ones for good food, games, and the ever-so-famous Feltus Family Talent Hour. Now THAT you should be a fly on the wall for! Ha!
For me, it's important to create a time of peaceful renewal, and reconnecting with family. I hope that wherever you are that you and yours have a warm, happy, peaceful, soul revival during this season!