Sunday, December 7, 2014

"Oh, Kaye!" chats about holiday traditions

There are traditions and there are traditions.

There's Johnny Mathis singing a beautiful version of O Holy Night

Or the newer tradition of Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band singing Santa Claus is Comin' To Town.

If you've ever seen Bruce Springsteen in concert during the winter months, you've probably danced along with this one.

I saw his winter show in Atlanta many years ago.  One of the best concerts ever!  When they started singing Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town, all the lights in the house were turned on. 

Everybody was dancing.

And I recall doing a few turns with an Atlanta police officer.

It was a night to remember.

I'm one of those people who loves Christmas.  I am a complete sucker for tradition, and love that the holiday season is filled with beautiful, meaningful traditions.

And, of course, there are those wonderful, fun, meaningful and oh, so silly family traditions that you alone own, and some other folks just will not understand - like our purply-pink Christmas tree I put up in addition to our more old tradition green tree.

Another includes Mother and Donald and I donning goofy headgear sometime during the holiday while we play a wicked hand or two of Canasta

Harley doesn't care much about playing Canasta, but we don't want him to feel left out

Actually, you may have noticed, some of us enjoy this tradition more than others.  This is not one of Harley's favorites.

Whatever we believe, however we celebrate, we all have ways of honoring our traditions.  They, in turn, serve us well.  They help us share a feeling of bonding with our own history and roots, and a sense of belonging.  Cultures are kept alive by tradition.

There's one pretty big Christmas tradition that has changed at our house.

While we do still celebrate and exchange gifts with our family, Donald and I no longer exchange Christmas gifts.  We started a new family tradition a few years ago when we agreed to do what we could for a family in need.  It's become a tradition of importance to us.

Truth be told, we could be that family some day.

A tradition that is, however, still alive and well at our house is the decorating.  For me, one of the best things about the holidays is having the house decorated.  Oh, how I love to decorate. 

 Admittedly, that too is less than it once was.  Packing it all up to put away reminds me I'm not as young as I once was.  And since I hate being reminded of that little fact in such a rude way, I get around it by not putting out as much.  

Every year I go through this - I start pulling old and much loved Christmas ornaments out of the storage boxes and I'm flooded with memories of where each piece came from.

Many have been given to us by friends and family.

Many we've bought while traveling.

And each has a memory.

I'm betting I'm not the only one.  How 'bout it, Reds?  Do you guys take a few trips down memory lane while decorating?

And, of course, there's the cooking and the baking.  While not much a cook, truth be told, I do love cooking during the holidays.  But I love to bake, and I love to make candy.

Another tradition I love is one of sending Christmas cards (although I haven't quite gotten around to doing that yet this year).  


I'm taking today as an opportunity to send each of you a big ol' virtual Christmas card to let you know how much you mean to me.  

And to thank you for yet another year of allowing me to come here each month sharing my words, sharing my images, my opinions and my feelings.  It's an honor and a joy.  

So, dear Reds - 

Here's your Christmas card filled with images from our house to yours -  

Merry Christmas and much love to you & yours!

This little angel tree topper has graced every tree we've had since 1985, which was the first Christmas Donald and I were together.

and now it's your turn -  

Let's hear about holiday traditions from your house, Reds!


  1. How lovely, Kaye . . . and I love the hats, even if Harley doesn’t. [But he looks so cute!]
    Sad to say, I am the queen of procrastination, so decorating is still an on-going process around here. But it will get done, and not get taken down too quickly.

    Traditions? Midnight Christmas Eve candlelight service . . . picking angels from the Angel Tree at Church . . . filling shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child . . . the Precious Moments manger in the front yard . . . playing Christmas music . . . burning bayberry candles.
    Christmas crackers on the table for all the children . . . the grown-ups groan and roll their eyes at me but the grandbabies love to pop them and see what surprises are hidden inside . . . .

    Christmas cards might be a tradition [I was good at it when the children were small], but the procrastination thing often gets me. New tradition: any time during the holiday season is a good time for sending out the cards . . . .
    Food traditions? Made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls . . . lots of homemade cookies . . . rib roast and plum pudding . . .

    And far too soon, it’s all done and over . . . . Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas . . . .

  2. Love how you've changed exchanging gifts into helping a family in need... I think that's what holidays are all about - and yeah, trying to keep up traditions... decorating, baking, etc. Christmas has become more of a challenge since my divorce because our kids have to figure out ways to spend the holiday with both of their parents, but we've made new traditions, so that's nice. I hadn't put up a tree in five years so this year I finally did... love it.

    I wish everyone a beautiful holiday season, however you celebrate. Thanks for this post, Kaye - it's fun hearing about traditions (and the photos were great too).

  3. Joan, I find it hard to believe you as the Queen of Procrastination! You always seem so organized and on top of things. And look at this list of things you're doing and planning right now, all of which sound lovely.

    Cathy, I'm so glad you put up a tree this year. Doesn't it feel magical? What does Meego think of it?

  4. We always put out milk and cookies forSanta. And I always loved the day when we got to unpack the ornaments-and saw all the little clay handprints, and the funny crystal horse, and the cornhusk angel for the top.

    And it was always a challenge to string more popcorn than we ate.

    (Yes, my family is Jewish, but we celebrated everything in a kind of a way....)

    Thank you, Joan, for the christmas card/new years card idea! Reprieve!

    Love to all!

  5. And darling Kaye, I LOVED the visit to your house! Thank you!

    (Now will you come decorate ours??)

  6. Little clay handprints. Oh my. This has to be the sweetest, most filling, feeling to see these little captures of time. I'm betting there are a few tears, Hank. Milk and cookies for Santa - Yes! And I'll come decorate if you'll let me play in your closet. Then we could scoot around W. Newton and the surrounding area to visit some some of Donald's family.

  7. What a wonderful Sunday morning visit to your house, Kaye! Love the decorations, especially the stained glass--beautiful!

    A tradition the boys and I do, pick a way to help someone else, besides dropping money into the Salvation Army kettles.

    A tradition I miss, playing dominoes with my parents on Christmas Eve--and whoever else was around. My mom would cheat outrageously and my dad's eyes would sparkle with mischief and joy.

    And the boys on Christmas day, doing a two-boy conga line through the house to Zydeco music as I cooked a feast.

    Happy memories and holidays to you all!

  8. Kaye, you are an American Treasure! Thelma Straw in Manhattan

  9. FChurch, aw, I love this about your mom and dad! Made me smile. Memories - aren't they powerful?!

    Thelma Church - you give me an opportunity every single first Sunday of every month to say "I love you!"

  10. Oooh, we're a made-from-scratch cinnamon roll house Christmas morning, too. And I give away homemade chocolate-covered orange rind to the special men in my life (husband and son-in-law). Otherwise it's very low key. No ornaments to pack and unpack.

  11. Kaye, I, too, love Christmas! There really is something magical in the air at this time of year. Unfortunately for me this year, there will also be a bit of drywall and paint in the air. My Christmas decorating is taking a big hit by my agreeing to let the painter come and fix the living room next week and getting the floors redone as soon as the flooring comes in. Well, I did say last Christmas that by next Christmas my living room would be in shape. Sigh. I do have a tree up in the dining room, along with overflow from items that needed to be removed from the living room. Luckily, we are having Christmas at my daughter's house.

    Kaye, I love all of your pictures you shared. They embrace all the charm of Christmas. Your hat pictures are a hoot, too. And, your house looks like the perfect setting for an amazing Christmas. I kind of imagine you as the Christmas fairy going around your house with your Christmas wand, touching tables and all, and, voila, it's a Christmas wonderland.

    Your helping someone in need instead of exchanging gifts with your husband is such a great idea. I try to give a little more each year to those who have so little. This year I've got a teenage boy that I've bought gifts for. There is always a clothing size on the cards for the kids and something that they've requested. This amazing teenage boy asked for drawing paper and oil paints. With that request it was so easy to go overboard. I got him a nice sketchpad, a pad with canvas texture paper, drawing pencils, a small oil paint set, and brushes. It was so much fun picking these items out and imagining that I was helping the next Picasso or Pollack get a start. Hehehe!

    Oh, and Kaye, I take trips down memory lane, too, when I get ornaments out, especially the ones from my mother. Envisioning the scenes from childhood with the same ornaments on the tree is such a lovely trip. My kids know which ornaments these are, too, and this year, I let the grandgirls help decorate the tree, telling them about the ornaments.

    As traditions change over the years, from my parents' house to my in-laws to my house and now to my daughter's, the one constant that make Christmas so very special is the gathering of family to enjoy the magic.

    All of the Reds and blog members here have become so special to me over this last year. I wish each and every one of you the merriest and most magical of Christmases. Clement Moore's Twas the Night Before Christmas encapsulates for me the joy and special charm of Christmas, so to end with today, Moore's final lines. "But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight, 'Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!'"

  12. Kaye, love all your cute ornaments; I can tell we're from the same era!

    Like Joan, we enjoy Christmas crackers, having gotten into them when my stepsister married a Welshman a decade ago. It's fun to see everyone acting goofy at the end of a nice family dinner, with colorful paper crowns.

    With my kids scattered all over the world it's not as easy to claim something as a "tradition" any more. And I'm hoping they can make their own now, independent of ours. So I'm willing to let go of some of the things we've "always" done, to make way for their own new ideas.

  13. Hallie, you and Joan now have me contemplating made from scratch cinnamon rolls, which I've never made. Recipes, please?? I have the fragrance in my head and it's making me a little nutty, and very hungry!

    Kathy, you are sweet and kind beyond words. Thank you. And I love the image of me flitting around with a magic wand. I was meant to have a magic wand, I'm sure of it! I was also meant to have beautiful hardwood floors and wondering why we don't! Your gifts for your young artist made me cry. so, so thoughtful and so, so lovely.

  14. Karen, there's just something about funny hats that can make most any occasion fun, huh?! And now I want Christmas crackers too!

  15. What a lovely post and wonderful way to start a Sunday. I love the memories when I look again at all the goofy decorations I have saved. In addition to everything you mentioned, another tradition of mine is to watch almost nothing but holiday movies starting the day after Thanksgiving. There are some new ones that are pretty good, but the classics are the best - The Bishop's Wife is keeping me company right now.

    (And Hank, you should get the Title Selection Award of the Century - I can never read or hear "and truth be told" without thinking of the book!)

  16. I've made from-scratch cinnamon rolls only once. The kids turned up their noses at them, and whinged at me that they liked the ones in the can better!

    So... I'm no dummy. If they want the easy kind, that's what they get. I can't eat any of them, anyway.

  17. Dear Grandma Cootie - THE BISHOP'S WIFE! My favorite! I swoon when I catch the first delicious glimpse of Cary Grant in this movie (or any other movie, truth be told). see how I did that . . . HA!

    Karen, No! They didn't! They probably just did that to keep you from working so hard. You think?

  18. Lovely, lovely, lovely, Kaye!

    Very inspiring. And I love seeing Harley in his hat and out in the snow... Would love to meet all of you in person someday. Happy Merry!

  19. okay. So. I have talked and talked and yammered and yammered about these Christmas cards that aren't getting addressed unless I actually pick up a pen and get busy. So, off I go. Later, Sweet taters! I shall return . . .

  20. Susan, I hope we get to meet soon. I think I've asked, but don't remember your answer - will you be coming to Raleigh for Boucheron in October?

  21. Kaye,
    Whenever anyone in our family says they would like to have cinnamon rolls, they really mean, "Please make Grammie's cinnamon rolls." So here is my mom's treasured recipe:

    1/2 cup scaled milk
    3 Tablespoons shortening
    3 Tablespoons sugar
    1-1/2 teaspoons salt [I use freshly ground pink Himalayan salt]
    Cool to lukewarm
    Add 2-1/4 teaspoons dry granular yeast dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water [that’s one of those little packets]
    Blend in 1 egg
    Gradually add 3-1/4 cups sifted flour; mix until well blended.
    Cover and let stand for 15 minutes

    While the dough is resting, melt 4 Tablespoons butter; add 1/2 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon; mix and set aside

    On well-floured board, roll dough out into a 12x18-inch rectangle
    Spread butter/sugar/cinnamon mixture over the dough
    Roll up as for a jelly roll; cut into 1-inch slices
    Place in well-greased 12x8x2-inch pan or in muffin pans
    Let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, about one hour

    Bake at 375 for 20 to 25 minutes

  22. Sadly no, Kaye.

    Thank you for sharing your Grammie's recipe, Joan! That sounds much easier than the one I made last time.

  23. Joan - Thank You! Don Barley is going to be SO happy! (me too!)

  24. I love everything about the season whatever the tradition! Your photos, Kaye, quickly became a part of my tradition. xoxo

  25. Our little Christmas tradition that got started about 20 years ago, and I don't know how, is to make prime rib and Yorkshire pudding for Christmas and French onion soup with the leftover au jus, baguette, and Gruyere cheese the day after. Later in the day we have Apple pie straight from the oven with our favorite vanilla ice cream accompanied by a fresh press of coffee.

  26. Reine - thank you, m'dear! I'm so glad you enjoy the photos.

    And oh my GOSH, does your holiday eating sound delicious! I love all those things to the moon and back.

  27. "not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse."
    The mice were alive and well in my pantry, eating their way through sealed bags of chopped macadamia nuts, white chocolate chips, and bars of cooking chocolate. They ignored the inexpensive crackers and dry cereal. My new tradition is packing all the baking ingredients in a plastic tub with a sealed lid.

  28. I gained a lot of new Christmas traditions when I married a Danish-American. For most of the last 42 years (barring a few visits to Maine at Christmas) we've had roast pork with apples and prunes for Christmas Eve dinner, and ris a l'amande for dessert with an almond in it (whoever finds the almond gets a prize). Then we dance around the Christmas tree singing carols (similar to, but a bit less strenuous than, the scene in Fanny and Alexander). I have introduced this custom to my family of origin and they seem to enjoy it.

  29. What lovely photos, Kaye! That stained glass heart makes my heart melt.

    wishing you all the holiday blessings

  30. Margaret - oh, my. I can sympathize with you about a greedy mouse. We had an incident just a few weeks ago. Ugh Ugh. Ugh.

    Auntie Knickers - you and your family are endlessly enjoyable with your delightful traditions. I have missed reading about them at your blog and need to check it out!

    Leslie - that little piece was made by an artisan here in Boone, isn't it great?

  31. Margaret - oh, my. I can sympathize with you about a greedy mouse. We had an incident just a few weeks ago. Ugh Ugh. Ugh.

    Auntie Knickers - you and your family are endlessly enjoyable with your delightful traditions. I have missed reading about them at your blog and need to check it out!

    Leslie - that little piece was made by an artisan here in Boone, isn't it great?

  32. Kaye, what a lovely post. Sorry I'm so late chiming in. (I started the day working on the Christmas tree--still not finished--and then tackled a major kitchen clean-up...) I love your decorations and your house and Harley (and Donald and you mom!)

    Now I'm going to go get our own ornaments. There are so many special ones. Those my daughter made in grade school. My great-niece's and nephew's baby hand prints. Two hand-painted by my friend Diane. And then there are the glass double-decker buses and Big Ben and all my Santas... The list goes on. I'd better get busy! Love to you and all the REDS and readers!

  33. Debs, Hey there! I hope you're going to share pics of your tree - I know it's going to be beautiful! xxoo