Preparing for the holiday can be stressful. It can take a lot out of you. Hopefully, the stress and preparations will all pay off on Christmas Day. As you prepare there are several obstacles you may run in to; traffic, busy stores, sold out items, and the most frustration, miserable people. It is easy to become overwhelmed in preparation for the holiday. Just remember to take a breath and try not to let the obstacles overwhelm you. Make sure to take care of yourself by enjoying quiet time or by engaging in practices that allow you to calm down after a hard day of shopping.
Receiving gifts has been an uncomfortable feeling for me in the past. I am not sure if anyone else feels that way. I am always afraid that I won’t be able to demonstrate my appreciation enough. However, as I get older and have more life experience, I really appreciate the gifts that are given to me. I know that my family and friends are trying to demonstrate their love for me and who I am as a person.
The best gift I have ever received is difficult to pin down. My circle is great at gift giving. I am extremely fortunate to have such a caring family. They know me very well. I do my best to try to make sure they receive gifts that are meaningful to them.
Christmas brings many gifts. Not just the physical gifts that are given and received. Also, the gifts of happiness, family, and love. Gifts have the ability to show the ones you love that you understand and appreciate those things they enjoy. It gives the opportunity to demonstrate your appreciation for the receiver of the gift. My favorite gifts to give are to the kiddos in my life. They are at the age where they are struck by the wonder and excitement of everything. I know that this time is limited for the wonder that Christmas brings for the kiddos. Maybe that is why I love this time with them, because I know I need to savor it because it is limited.
I have a love affair with white lights. I think they are so beautiful and classic. My husband loves color. He would put colorful lights up everywhere if he could. And so, we learn to compromise…white lights everywhere. Just kidding, of course. We have mostly white lights around the house. Our front porch has blue icicle lights, which are very pretty. We also added a cool snow fall effect this year, which I was able to get for a steal at LTD Commodities. Tell me about your lights.
When I was younger (not that I am ancient now, but less experienced) I used to complain about the fuss over Christmas. All the stops we would have to make and people I would complain about seeing. I would think about how taxing all of this was instead of recognizing the love that was expressed on this day. I was immature and ungrateful. Time has a cruel way of revealing the truth. I look around now on Christmas and I am so thankful for my family and for the opportunity to show how I love them and spend time with them. It isn’t until members of your family start to disappear that you understand their importance in your life.
Growing up I was fortunate to have both sets of grandparents and a network of extended family. These people helped to shape me in to who I am today. Now I look around and their numbers have dwindled. Time has taken them away. I believe the old saying “youth is wasted on the young”. Wisdom and appreciation arrive with experience and it is sometimes too late. There are times I wish I could go back to years that I wasted thinking about what an inconvenience it was to spend time with my family. I know now that the only thing that I can change is the present. Live in the now and show thanks for what and who you have. Sometimes the present is the present.
One Christmas Tradition that our family observes every year without fail is Wigilia dinner. Our family is of Polish and Slovak descent, so this tradition Christmas Eve Dinner is a practice that has been occurring for generations. My mother has been the host for as long as I can remember. She always sets the most beautiful table complemented by the Christmas flowers my father sends her each year. Prior to the meal we break bread called Oplatki. This tradition is meant to symbolize the unity of the family. It also symbolizes forgiveness and reconciliation which can be particularly important this time of year.
This dinner is meat free and typically begins with mushroom soup. Although this dish may not be a favorite of everyone, we still eat it because tradition, right? Additional
dishes include shrimp, fish sticks, pierogies, and pagach. It is very carbohydrate friendly. Often times my grandmother will make homemade nut roll for dessert. Which is delicious, particularly warmed and smeared with butter.
Wigilia dinner is a great tradition. Though we celebrate our family with weekly family dinners, Wigilia is special, and it feels special.
I cannot say that I have a favorite ornament. Though I very much enjoy looking at the ornaments that my sisters and I created when we were kids. I think it is heartwarming that my mother continues to save and place those ornaments on the tree. I have my own daughters ornaments on the tree and I see how her eyes light up when she pulls it out of the box. The ornament sparks a memory within her, “I remember when I made this.” She smiles and proudly places the ornaments on the tree.
This prompt really made me look at my ornaments. I realize they tell our family story. There are ornaments marking many milestones in our lives such as our first year of marriage, babies first Christmas, dog and cat ornaments. The also chronicle our likes; baseball and Philadelphia Phillies ornaments for my husband,
Halloween ornaments and birds for me, Elsa and Disney characters for my daughter. As I take the ornaments out and place them on the tree I am reminded of our life and family. It is a visual representation of us.
My earliest Christmas memory is coming down the stairs to find a cabbage patch doll! I loved these dolls and was so happy to get it! My sister got a brass vanity that year and I believe this may have sparked my love for desks! My Christmas memories are happy. Christmas was spent with family. We would have breakfast at home, lunch at my grandmother’s house, she lived just across the street. We would stop at a relatives house to visit on the way to dinner at my other Grandparent’s house. And the last stop of the evening would be time to have fun and play at our cousins house. There were many stops and always lots of laughs. At dinner, my father would talk about his childhood memories with his brother, sister, and parents. Those stories were never dull. Particularly the time he crashed the car! I hope these memories never fade. I also hope that I can fill my own daughter’s mind with fond memories like these.
My favorite Christmas cookies are my mothers. She makes two that I love. Peanut butter kiss cookies and butter horns. Butter horns are her specialty. She makes them for the holidays but also for special occasions at her craft shop. Butter horns are sweet and crunchy. They are a classic holiday treat. I have included her recipe here.