Sunday, December 9, 2012

Borrowed Christmas Traditions

I asked some friends to share their Christmas traditions. I’m happy to spotlight them here. 

Peggy Stanley has contributed this story telling tradition from her family.

This craft preceded the story.
"My sister, Ann, was an enthusiastic elementary school teacher for 42 years.  As my sons and my brothers’ sons and daughter came along, Aunt Ann used to read a relevant story to them every Christmas Eve.  This tradition began in the late 1970’s.  Ann chose stories such as The NutcrackerThe Legend of the Candy Cane, The Polar Express, The Stranger in the Woods etc., and with each reading, she gave the children a symbol of the story.  My grown sons still have many of these such as the little wooden nutcracker and the bell that those who believe can still hear.  

Three generations sharing a story.
Now, we are too geographically spread out to all get together at Christmas, but Thanksgiving is the gathering time.  Aunt Ann has now included the youngest generation in her stories, and five little ones from ages five to one sit hypnotized as she carries on the story tradition.  Some of the older ones as well tiptoe in to catch a favorite story.  This year they all made nutcrackers before the story began.   What a very special way to link the generations, kindle the Christmas spirit, and create memories for children of all ages."

Janet Head has six grandchildren. When they were small she began the treasure hunt one of the nights close to Christmas. She explains, “the teacher in me wanted to come up with a new Christmas tradition for my grandchildren that would: teach following directions, cooperation, taking turns, and critical thinking.  A large order.  I came up with a treasure hunt.  The children (then ages 3-7) would follow a set of written directions to find their gifts.  They loved it and I felt somewhat successful in achieving my goals.  Now they are older (ages 8-13) and there are now 6 of them.  It's gotten harder and more expensive.  We keep changing it each year to suit everyone.  But we still do it and the children are all in agreement that we should never stop it.  Good luck.”

She’s looking for ideas for inexpensive gifts for the teens and tweens, so please contribute your thoughts.

She and the kids also prepare 400 decorated sugar cookies. She makes the dough a couple of days before Thanksgiving. The kids spend Thanksgiving night with her and then in the morning start rolling, cutting, egg-washing, and sprinkling and baking. I’ve eaten Aunt Alice’s yummy cookies. Here's the recipe:

Aunt Alice’s Christmas Cookies

4 sticks Fleishman’s margarine
2 ½ cups sugar
3 eggs
1 ½ Tablespoons vanilla
5 cups flour 

Cream margarine and sugar.  Add eggs, vanilla, and flour.  Beat until blended.
Refrigerate overnight.
Roll on a floured surface (needs to be marble) and cut with cookie cutters.
Make a wash of 2 beaten eggs and water.  
Brush cookies with egg wash and sprinkle with colored sugar.
Bake at 400 degrees until lightly browned.  Check after about 10   minutes since ovens vary.
Cool and store.

Grocery List for 4 batches:
( 4 batches will yield 36 bags of cookies)
1 5-lb. sugar
3 5-lb. flour
4 pkgs. Fleishman’s margarine ( each pkg. 4 sticks)
1 doz. eggs plus 2 for wash
red and green sugar sprinkles
plastic bags
Christmas bags and yarn or cookie tin

Thanks, ladies, for sharing.  Readers, I hope you enjoy your last weeks of preparation. Start a new tradition. 

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