Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Annual Holiday Madness: McKinlay-Orf Style by Jenn McKinlay

Last April, I blogged about the infamous bunny cake. How a cake pan on sale began an annual bunny cake tradition for Easter that I could not seem to break until my frosting shooter died. Well, the unexpected December tradition in our house began after we took our first family picture for our annual holiday card.


The McKinlay-Orfs at the (then) newly installed Robert Indiana statue.
It was fun so the next year I thought it would be 
cool to make a pop up card. 


That's when the madness began. People started expecting over 
the top cards from us and we didn't want to disappoint anyone, so...




It just kept getting crazier and crazier...




Zoom in on the candy cane. Yes, those stripes are 
people - us - in fact.


Every year I am convinced we'll never top the year before, but so far so good, although I do have a few that are forever favorites. It's become our family tradition to plot out the card and designate a day to put it together. In fact, I just sent the order for this year's card today. 

You'll have to check my Instagram or my FB page if you want to see it (it's the only time I ever put current pictures of the Hooligans on my professional page as I do try to respect their privacy and all). With Hooligan 1 headed off to college soon, I imagine that will be the end of it, but it has been a lot of fun for us and when I look back at the cards, I always smile.

So, how about you, Reds and Readers, do you have any family traditions that caught you by surprise? What are they?





51 comments:

  1. Oh, goodness, what a talent . . . and how adorably cute. I’m properly impressed . . . .

    Our holiday traditions are fairly predictable and none of them are particularly surprising [and we’ve held onto most of them despite the fact that the children are grown and have homes of their own].
    We never decorate until after December 4th so that that birthday day gets properly celebrated; we always put up an Advent calendar; we always go to the midnight candlelight Christmas service; every child, no matter how young or old, will find at least one book under the Christmas tree with their name on it . . . we always have a house full of family . . . .
    We have lots of traditions around food: made-from-scratch [from my mom’s recipe] cinnamon rolls for Christmas breakfast; prime rib roast for dinner; plum pudding for dessert . . . .

    But no traditions that managed to catch us by surprise :(

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    1. Joan - the traditions around food are my favorites.

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  2. WOW, those holiday pop-up cards are so unique and fun, Jenn! I love the Candy Cane one with all the faces. But like you said, it must be a challenge to try and better your creation from the year before!

    Our family did not celebrate Christmas once I became older than 12, so there are no holiday traditions to share. Before that, I was the first grandchild, so we were spoiled by both sets of grandparents who sent "New Year's parcels" from Japan filled with hard-to-find Japanese treats (fresh Mandarin oranges or snacks) and a unique toy for me. I still remember getting the battery-operated Godzilla monster that "breathed" fire!

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    1. Curious about why no celebration after age 12 Grace? and hope you are healing up quickly!

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    2. Lucy/Roberta: I shot up in height during Grade 6 and towered over both my parents. They thought i was no longer a kid that needed Christmas gifts. Sad, I know.

      And thanks for asking about my broken ankle. It will be a longer road to recovery than I would like. I am immobile in a foot to knee cast until the New Year and then rehab. I hope to be walking like normal by late February or March.

      That's why I am back on-line on social media. Being housebound for the next 6 weeks will drive me crazy!

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    3. Oh, Grace, I am so sorry about the ankle. The cast sounds so uncomfortable. Hugs.

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  3. Years before I met him, Warren started a tradition of hand-making his Christmas cards. By the time he and I became a couple, he was hand designing them but having them commercially printed because he was sending them out to not only his friends, family, and former students, but also to a list of bookstores, book distributers, and who knows who all else to promote his books. When we added in my family and colleagues, the list eventually grew to more than 600 addresses. He would start planning in September, have the design finished in October, and over Thanksgiving week we would fold, address, stuff, and stamp the whole dang lot of them to have them in the mail by Black Friday.

    Somewhere in there the book people fell away as Warren's health issues came up and he turned to a different career. He became a Buddhist and I was a long-time pagan, so the cards morphed into Winter Solstice cards. After he died, I got out one last card to tell everyone he was gone--it seemed a fitting tribute. The next couple of years I tried cards of my own, but they became too expensive, and then I moved, got a really demanding job, moved again, and let the tradition die. Do I miss it? Not so much, but it was fun while it lasted.

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    1. What a journey Gigi! I bet the winter solstice cards were pretty...

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    2. The cards can be a lot of work - I’d be happy just to do the photo instead the crazy photo stuff but no.

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    3. Gigi, what a lovely memory of the time with your husband. Do you have copies of all the cards or the originals? I can imagine a wonderful framed display to put out at Christmas.

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  4. My husband and I send out a photo card, though it doesn't come close to Jenn's in terms of creativity. Years ago we wondered if family and friends would be interested in a photo card featuring just the two of us since we have no kids. We decided that we're still a family of two, and the recipients always seem pleased!

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    1. I subscribe to your family-of-two theory, Ingrid. Any two adults who live together in love and companionship are a family in my books!
      As for cards: I create collage cards throughout the year, because I love playing with paper and corresponding the old fashioned way with friends. This holiday season, for the first time, I’m repurposing received cards for collage cards to send out. Such fun to do!

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    2. That’s brilliant! I may have to borrow the repurposing idea, Amanda! And, Ingrid, I love that you two do a card every year.

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    3. And I re-purpose the last years' cards as gift tags! Do you do that?

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    4. That’s a very creative idea for re-using gift cards, Hank. I’ll have to start doing that!

      Jenn: Go for it. Some cards are so lovely I can’t bring myself to toss them into recycling.

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  5. I'm afraid our holiday traditions are sparse on the ground. My husband, fabulous cartoonist, draws me a Christmas card which I love waking up to. And we have everyone here for Christmas breakfast which is usually something like homemade sticky buns or jelly donuts, with the help of my daughters. And of course potato pancakes for dinner, even when Hanukah is over as it will be this year.

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    1. Hallie - the cartoons sound hilarious - what a great tradition to have. Also, potato pancakes - yum!

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  6. FOR ANYONE HAVING TROUBLE GETTING THEIR COMMENTS TO "STICK" - I've heard from several of you out there who try to enter and comment, hit PUBLISH, but then it just vanishes. I had that happen this morning and switched to Firefox browser (from Safari) and got it to work. We don't want to lose any of you...

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  7. Jenn, love those cards so much, they get more and more clever. And so much easier than writing a book! But listen, our kids are long out of college and they still like to be in our cards (not send them out themselves, mind you!) So this year we're waiting until after Christmas when everyone will be together and taking a group shot. I guess they will be three kings cards by then....

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    1. We’ll see. I will only keep doing them while everyone is on board or perhaps I’ll let them take over.

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  8. My Christmas tradition is thinking well, I should get special holiday cards this year! Then I don’t. This year, I am doing it! I promise. (Any of you who would like to be on my list, contact me through my website)! Jen, hint hint. How do we get on your list?

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  9. Yes, my comments didn’t publish it all, suddenly, until I switched to Google. I can’t come in through Safari anymore.

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  10. Jen, what adorable cards.

    We gave up cards a while ago. Too much trouble and expense - and the list got really small. But we bake oodles of cookies and now The Girl has taken over the decorating. She is a decorating fiend!

    Mary/Liz

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    1. Cookies rule! I bake tons of cookies - I need a decorating fiend.

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  11. Jenn,

    Relatives of mine started sending out photo Christmas cards after the birth of their first child. They had a large family and it was fun to see the new additions to the Photos every couple of years. Everybody thought that after the children started getting married there would be no more pictures. But no, they started adding grandchildren to their family Christmas photo. So keep this in mind!

    DebRo

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  12. Jenn, the cards are crazy-fun! And you can tell that everyone is having a great time making them--I'm betting Hooligan #1 won't want to be left out of the fun even when he's a 'college man.' My oldest sister loves to bake at Christmas, and one year she'd hurt her shoulder so the three of us--her younger sisters--pitched in to help her. It's become a new tradition, we have a little wine, a lot of fun, throw in 'A Christmas Story', and divide up the goodies!

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  13. The only traditions we have are: waking up to stockings, mince pies and sausage rolls. Then on Christmas afternoon we have tree presents... The Christmas tree gives everyone a gift ( and guess who has to shop for 14 extra gifts)

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    1. Ha! I love stockings! And tree presents sound lovely, Rhys!

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  14. I stopped sending Christmas cards years ago except to a few old friends with whom I wanted to maintain contact. Those cards were individually chosen and contained a written message. Now I don't even do that! Most of them have died anyway. What a Grinch, huh? The only recipients left are those who also receive cash/checks, grandchildren-wise. Which reminds me, time to get busy.

    Unfortunately my finances have decreased as my family has grown exponentially! When I win the lottery, which I won't, since I never enter, I plan on relieving all my children and grandchildren of commercial debt, mortgages, educational debt and whatever else they need. With what little is left, I shall send out holiday cards to all the Reds xox

    However Rhys, we will have sausage rolls, mince pies and, later in the day, Christmas crackers with our Christmas ham/turkey/beef roast/whatever. Julie and I will exchange "small" gifts, because we each think the other would be disappointed if she had nothing to open! Stockings here are only for the animals who get treats and toys.

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    1. Ann - that sounds lovely. I love Xmas crackers! Hub and I stopped exchanging gifts except for small tokens during the recession and we’ve never gone back. We realized we can’t put a ribbon on the love and support we give each other every day and that really is the greatest gift.

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  15. Jenn, I love your cards! We've made our own cards for about 25 years, too. We started out with hand-made (the year I was on painkillers from dental surgery and hand-stamped a hundred cards with gold pears from a wood cut we'd made...) and then moved to photos. Usually something Christmasy around the house, sometimes the dogs or cats. It's always a challenge, but fun, and we wouldn't give it up. But we did switch to e-cards a few years ago, as sending folding paper cards to our 100 plus list just got too expensive. We use Paperless Post which does fabulous cards that open like real cards. For the few people who don't have email, I write some cards by hand.

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    1. Oh, I like the e-cards, Deb. Very environmentally friendly!

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  16. Impressive creativity and fun! My flint-knapping friend often incorporates spears and atlatls into their cards. I've begun sending few and receiving fewer, but I always look forward to his . . . and a couple of newsy newsletters for catching up.

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    1. Oh, I like the newsletters, especially the well written ones.

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  17. Customs have changed as we have moved around. Now we take Mom for a ride through a posh part of town to view the decorated houses and Christmas lights. Some are quite incredible. We put on an open house with all kinds of snacks Christmas afternoon to evening at Mom's apartment. Family stops in and some of us exchange gifts. We have a fun evening and eat too much. I'm afraid most Christmas traditions have fallen by the wayside as circumstances have changed.

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    1. I love looking at Christmas lights and your open house sounds lovely.

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  18. Jenn, your cards are fantastic! And what fun it must be making them. Since our kids are grown, the Christmas traditions have slowed down, but when we had some I really enjoyed when they were growing up. We always made chocolate fudge either on Christmas Eve or a couple of days before Christmas. This was for Santa, as well as for us. On Christmas Eve, the kids would set out a few pieces of fudge and a glass of milk for Jolly Old St. Nick before they went to bed. I enjoyed eating those as I put out the presents for Christmas morning. Also on Christmas Eve, my daughter and son would receive a couple of gifts to open, a book and a pair of Christmas pajamas, which they would put on to sleep in that night. We would also read some Christmas books that evening. Then, Christmas morning would be Santa Claus and stockings filled with the traditional orange, apple, and banana plus candy and a couple of little surprises.

    I still send out Christmas cards, the snail mail kind. Last year I knew that I had ordered ahead and had Christmas cards put back, but when it came time to send them, I looked high and low and couldn't find them. I've ordered some to come this next week, since I'm not counting on finding those others until one day when I do a complete house throwing out. I have a tradition of using Lang Company cards, beautiful and well-made cards. A friend of mine, actually my first real boyfriend who is a journalist now, uses the Lang cards, too, and we laugh about it.

    Our Christmas tree, artificial, goes up Thanksgiving week, but it seems it's getting decorated later each year. It's up now, but I doubt I'll start decorating it until tomorrow. I do still have the countdown calendar shaped like a Christmas tree with the Santa that goes from pocket to pocket from Dec. 1st to the 24th. I do it even without the kids.

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    1. Ha! Our tradition is peppermint bark! It doesn’t feel like the holidays until we’ve made a batch!

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  19. When our boys were young, we alternated holidays between my parents and my wife's: one year to mine for Thanksgiving and hers for Christmas, next year the opposite. Once in a while we would stay home from exhaustion, especially when my wife went back to gradual school. We used to do newsletters to update friends whom we didn't see often, but those went by the way with social media keeping everyone more updated. This year we went back to the newsletter since we're having so many changes. And the pictures are now of our grandkids. Our main gift tradition is for the folks in my generation to "give" each other charitable donations; this year I asked for donations for aid to Puerto Rico, and my sister asked fro help for their church in Houston. We still have great fun picking out things for the younger ones.

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    1. I love the charitable donations. When we travel, our pet sitter takes care of our furry kids out of friendship and a love of animals. When I insist on paying her, she has great fun picking out the animal charity the money will go to. Win-win!

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  20. I celebrate Christmas with joy. I will join friends at church this year, and worship on Sunday evening before the holiday. No special traditions. However, I will also celebrate Chanukah by lighting my Chanukiah on all eight nights. When I lived in New York, you could always buy packages of 45 candles in the supermarkets. Living in Bucks County, PA you can not count on that. So keeping the tradition, requires me to go online (usually in October) and purchase the candles mail-order. The candles I order are hand-crafted in Israel and are blue and white. This year, I am trying something new, having ordered a tin of wax to put on the bottom of each candle to make sure it remains stable in the menorah. I am a bachelor and live in a small apartment. I don't really have a good window to display the menorah publicly. So, in lieu of that, each night, I post my photo on Facebook and maybe this year on Instagram. Several years ago, I used an online calculator to discover I was born on the first night of the holiday. I don't think my mother noticed at the time. Nevertheless, it is a season to celebrate that light ultimately overcomes darkness.

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    1. I love this, David. How wonderful to have two holidays to celebrate and I really love celebrating that the light ultimately overcomes the darkness!

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  21. I adore your cards. They sure are amazing. I always get my cards made up through free coupons, lol. Everyone thinks they are wonderful and expensive, little do they know. So let's keep that between us. Tyler, my dog is always front and center and I always quote either from It's a Wonderful Life or the song I believe in Father Christmas. Don't know how that started but it has stuck. Our one tradition for the Christmas celebration is my older brother plays a loop of Christmas songs that incite us all to cry. Crying is the big thing, lol.

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    1. You are so smart. I order them early to get a discount but that’s as savvy as I get! I love that you cry together :)

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