Christmas Is

Mom’s Village: About 15 years ago, I bought my mom her first piece for what is now a village with about 25 buildings including a post office, a fire house and a cannery, several different kinds of trees, an ice skating rink and a sledding hill. I wish I lived in this village.

The Advent Calendar: My aunt made this for me when I was a baby. For the last 26 30 few dozen years, we have been putting up an ornament on the tree each day, in anticipation of the big day, December 24th, when the Santa goes up and the next day is Christmas. My brother and I had a deal every year. One person got to put up the star (Day 1) and the other person got to put up Santa (day 24). Each year we would forget who put Santa up the year before, so it would always be a discussion about who got to put it up this year. 

Getting Santa’s Sleigh Ready: My parents (who are very crafty; I don’t know what happened to me. I guess those things skip a generation) made these wooden figures of Santa and the 9 (including Rudolph) reindeer. This year we screwed them to some old wooden chairs we had lying around. It’s really fun to look out the window each day and see Santa and his reindeer, about to take off into the Christmas sky! 

Homemade Ornaments: Like I said, my parents are very crafty. My Dad draws the annual Christmas card. My Mom sews and paints and makes things. When we were kids, we always had mostly homemade ornaments on the tree. We would make them, using wooden cutouts or my favorite, the salt, flour, water mixture, which you shaped and then cooked in the oven until it was hard. Then you could paint it. My mom also took goose eggs and blew out the insides and painted the outsides. We still have many of those ornaments now (you can see the little boy; he is made out of flour.)

The Tree: Naturally, this is a big part of Christmas. But. Did you know that where I live, we go and cut down our own? It’s a tradition. Each year, we buy a permit ($10) and then drive up higher into the mountains (where we live is too low; the branches are not as straight) to find the perfect tree. When we find it, we take an axe to it. It was always such an adventure chopping down your own tree every year. I even got to have my own small tree in my room! Afterwards, our socks would be wet and we would be very chilly, but it was okay because that meant hot chocolate and a roaring fire when you got home. **You may notice our trees are not as bushy as some of the ones in the Midwest or Back East. They are Doug Firs, and we like them a little sparser, as this makes it easier to see all the (homemade) ornaments. My boyfriend, who is from Back East, thinks they are a little spindly, but personally I think the bushy ones are a little ridiculous.**

Wrapping Christmas Presents: I almost enjoy wrapping presents more than I enjoy unwrapping them! It is so fun to put something smelling of cinnamon in the oven, turn on the Christmas music and get to wrapping! We always listen to the Messiah (Hallelujah!) as well as a variation of other albums, such as Bing Crosby, Charlie Brown Christmas, Muppets Christmas Carol Soundtrack, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Elvis. 

Stockings: Even though we don’t have any little young kids left in the family (although there are babies now so it’s only a matter of time) we still do stockings every Christmas. We each contribute by buying a few little things (paperback books, chapstick, socks) to put in the stockings each year. It is fun to wake up and see “what Santa brought”. At the bottom, there is always a mandarin.  All our stockings are handmade (wow, this is becoming a theme); some by my grandmother, others by my other grandmother and some by my aunt (the one who made the advent calendar). 

Mandarins: Speaking of, these are the fruit of Christmas for me. Not only does the mandarin signify the end (or bottom) of your stocking, but in our area, there are tons of orchards and so we get them fresh every year. They are so good, I have been eating at least 2 a day, and some days more like 10. I love it that they don’t have any seeds and that the skin comes off as if it were just waiting for you to peel it! Yum. I am going to go and eat one right now. A close second to the mandarin is the persimmon, but not the baking kind. Never eat that kind unless you want your mouth to taste like sawdust. Always get the Japanese (Fuji) persimmons.

Making Cookies: There is something about winter that just makes you want to bake. It keeps the house warm; it is something to do since you can’t go outside in the cold; it fills some void that I don’t seem to have as much in the summer time. In November it’s cakes and muffins and bread; in December, it’s cookies. We give the cookies away as gifts to the neighbors. We try not to eat too many ourselves. We have few regulars and I always try something new each year, some of which are good and some of which will not be making another appearance next year (pictured: overcookedchocolate chip, oatmeal, pumpkin no butter chocolate chip, Russian kisses).

What is Christmas to you? Do you have a bushy tree or a skinny one? Do you put out stockings every year? What song do you listen to every Christmas?


  1. I absolutely love this post! All of your decorations and traditions are beautiful.

  2. I love your sparse tree, actually!! I have a full fake one, as do my parents. :)

    We also have a Christmas village! My favorite part of my parts is this car that says just married & has cans tied to the bumper. It's so perfect since my parents got married on Dec 20th!

    For me, Christmas is seafood on CHristmas Eve, the manger scene under the tree (we fought over who would get to set up the manger scene and the various characters got moved around ALOT), sugar cookies, singing christmas carols while my mom played the piano, and opening gifts on Christmas eve!

  3. I love those little villages! My friend's mom has one and I always loved going over there around the holidays and looking at it. Rather exciting, I actually just purchased my first of what I hope will one day turn into a little village. I just think they're great!!

  4. I used to make those flour ornaments, too, but boy they don't last well in NOLA. Too humid! But those ornaments are lovely!

  5. I've seen those villages at stores and every time I stand there for ever and can't stop staring, they are so cute! Great post, just in time to get us ready for fun weekend, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  6. Your tree is pretty awesome! I've never seen one so sparse, really! We're big and bushy down in Florida. :)

  7. I've always liked the bushier trees and I'm from the west. But in recent years I've gained an appreciation for the Douglas Firs.


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