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.
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.**
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?