Oh, Fuuuddgge! Did You Let Christmas Traditions Slide?
No Christmas Traditions?
There’s Never Been a Better Time to Start Some or Bring Some Back
By Lu, OTL City Guides & Seat Fillers
I typically post blogs that have to do with our unique seat fillers club or share some local city information like events, food, etc. But I decided to focus on Christmas traditions as I feel my family’s customs fallen by the wayside. Well, at least some of them.
Without boring you with too many details, let me just say that I grew up in Syracuse, New York (home of the best food in the US – sorry, everywhere else, but it’s true). The small city embraces global cultures. We even have a stoplight that’s green on the top in front of Coleman’s Irish Pub on Tipperary Hill!
The Clock Strikes 12
Growing up there, my Christmases would really start at midnight. We’d go to midnight mass and then to my Aunt’s for a traditional Italian feast of sausage and peppers, fish, and plates of cookies that were seemingly endless.
Now that doesn’t mean our Christmas traditions were exclusive to the night before. For weeks, we’d bake cookies, decorate, and head out to gift shows, the museum, and other holiday festivities. And, when Christmas day rolled around, we’d start with my Mom’s cherry coffeecake (recipe included below) and cocoa while opening presents. Then another huge feast was on tap later in the day. My cousins and I had our traditional Christmas poker game for pennies and just enjoyed being together and laughing at the silliest things.
How Life Has Changed
Time passes, we lose cherished family members, and things change, especially if part of the family moves out of state as ours did. We’ve let quite a few Christmas traditions go because our group is so much smaller. But this year, we’re doing our best to get back in the swing of things. So, I thought I’d share a few ideas for new Christmas traditions you can start or maybe resurrect some of your own.
My goal is to inspire you to focus on what truly matters (regardless of what’s happening in the news or even at your local grocery store!). We’ve all had a few really challenging years. So, making some joyful memories at the end of 2021 could bode well for 2022.
Christmas Traditions Before the Big Day
Instead of just racing around or burning up your keyboard to buy the perfect gifts, why not embrace the holiday season in other ways?
Christmas Lights or a Christmas Lights Drive Thru
I remember my family piling into the car and driving around our neighborhood. We had a station wagon so that backward-facing seat was the coveted position.
It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s fun to see how creative and festive some people can be in December. We’d debate about the best displays or the odd ones with the crazy-looking gnomes. I know some cookies and cocoa factored in at some point, too!
Some things don’t change over time, as there will always be those homeowners who love to go over the top at this time of the year. But if your area is ho-hum, then your new tradition could be a Christmas Lights Drive Thru.
CHRISTMAS LIGHT SHOW TIP: Check on Groupon, LivingSocial, or other deal sites before loading up the minivan. You can usually find some good deals on Christmas Lights Drive Thrus. In Las Vegas, we have the Glittering Lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (yes.. no more Syracuse and snow; now it’s Christmas in the desert). If you don’t know about one near you, google “Christmas light show near me” or “Christmas lights drive thru.”
Two Words – Christmas Cookies
No. I’m not talking about buying Archway or Pepperidge Farm (although there’s nothing wrong with those!). But we’re talking about Christmas traditions, so homemade is so much better.
You can get the entire family involved. Or, contact your friends and have each of the
em go overboard making their best recipe and do an old-fashioned Christmas cookie swap.
I’ve got a family recipe that I’ll share here. It’s part of our family tradition, even though I’m sure it originally came from an old cookbook. What makes it special, though, is the unexpected spices and whiskey flavors. If you’re a chocolate purist, these aren’t for you.
Italian Chocolate Balls Christmas Cookie Recipe
Start Some Christmas Eve Traditions
If your family or friends put your eggs in one basket, reserving traditions for when Christmas day rolls around, you’re missing out on a great opportunity. Christmas can be hectic with presents, family visits, dinner plans, etc., but Christmas Eve is kick-back night.
One of my family’s Christmas Eve traditions that we’ve maintained most years is all about Fra-gi-le, soap poisoning, and an Ovaltine mystery. If you know what I’m talking about, then this might be part of your tradition, too.
But if you’ve never watched A Christmas Story, then I implore you – please make it part of your plans this year (and every year to follow!).
Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, it’s a must-see. The movie is clever, funny, full of optimism, and has plenty of memorable lines. I don’t want to give anything away if you’re a newbie, but “Oh, fuuuuddgge!”
When Christmas Day Arrives
You probably have some must-dos every year, right? You open presents, maybe have some hidden treasures in your stockings hanging by the chimney, and a big dinner planned for later.
But don’t just rip into those packages – make an event of it. In my family, we don’t open anything (despite my nephews’ pleadings) until my Mom finishes her annual cherry Christmas coffee cake. She makes it once a year, and it’s different every time because her recipe is just throwing in a bit of this and a bit of that.
I asked her for the “non-recipe-recipe,” and I’m going to share it here. But the measurements are rough because my Mom doesn’t believe in measuring cups. So, if you give it a try, do a bit pre-Christmas experimenting and make it your own. Or, maybe there was a regular Christmas morning dish from your past that you can bring back this year. It’s the little things, isn’t it?
Mary Lou’s Christmas Cherry Coffee Cake
(I didn’t do a recipe card because these are just guidelines)
Mix the following ingredients in a large bowl. You don’t need a mixer (although it’s easier with one).
Remember, these are approximates. So, tweak things as needed until you end up with a batter that’s “gloppy” (my Mom’s word) and similar to biscuit batter.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8” x 8” pan.
Combine 1 ½ c flour, half-stick of soft butter, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 egg, ¾ c sugar, a dash of vanilla
and… enough milk to get that “gloppy batter.”
Spoon it into the greased pan, and then top it all off with a can of cherry pie filling.
Bake for approximately 35 minutes – until everything is set.
As an option, you could top off the cherries with a streusel of your making – some brown sugar, butter, etc. But it’s not necessary as the traditional Christmas coffee cake is sweet enough.
More in OTL City Guides
More Christmas Tradition Ideas
I’ve shared a few of my family traditions. Some have lasted even after moving from snowy Syracuse to sunny Vegas, and others we’re resurrecting this year. But the possibilities are endless.
So, embrace the holiday season this year and get out there and do some things you’ve said you always “should,” and make some memories!
See the Nutcracker or another live holiday show – buy your tickets early every year, so you don’t miss out (and you get the best seats!).
Build a Gingerbread house or visit a Gingerbread house display – many non-profits use the idea for fundraising.
Visit a museum or other venue with holiday displays – the Bellagio in Las Vegas has a beautiful conservatory that’s Christmas crazy every year (see the image above)
Open one gift at midnight or… serve a particular food, go to midnight mass, or plan another activity as Christmas Eve becomes Christmas.
Volunteer at any of your area charities or… clean out your closets and make a large donation. There are plenty of ways to give back during the giving season.
Sing! – Go caroling, be part of a choir, or belt out some tunes with Mariah Carey as you make cookies or trim the tree.
You get the gist. Set aside the electronics, pull out your ugliest Christmas sweater, and find joy everywhere you turn this December. It’s something everyone could use now more than ever!
I wish you a Merry Christmas or a happy celebration, regardless of what or how you celebrate!
Closing Out Christmas Traditions With a Toast
Oh, before I go, though, one more recipe to share (adults only!). This is another of my family’s Christmas traditions, and it’s yummy! Once again, it’s a bit of this and a bit of that, so do some experimenting. You can’t go wrong with any combination, I assure you.
We call it “The Festive Christmas Drink.”
1. Grab your handy dandy blender and pour in about a cup of heavy cream and blend it until it’s like whipped cream.
2. Then, add the following:
- About a cup of ice
- Two shots of Kahlua
- One shot of Vodka (or Whipped Cream Vodka)
- One shot of Crème de Cocoa
- Some Hershey’s syrup
- A few scoops of vanilla or chocolate ice cream
3. Blend it until the ice shards are completely gone – it’ll be like thin milkshake consistency. If you don’t have Creme de Cocoa, you can also use Trader Joe’s Cocoa Cream.
Pour in festive glasses, and be prepared to make another batch quickly.