By Jessica Pleger
Photography by Lisa Taylor Hall
As the holiday season rolls around, the nostalgia of traditions are all around us. I absolutely love traditions. They are special memories that are passed down from generation to generation and a time to share special time with family and friends. A few time-honored traditions stand out in my mind and hold a special place in my heart this time of year.
In Germany, the first Christmas Trees were decorated with edible things, such as gingerbread and gold covered apples. Then glass makers made special small ornaments similar to some of the decorations used today. At first, a figure of the Baby Jesus was put on the top of the tree. Over time it changed to an angel/fairy that told the shepherds about Jesus, or a star like the Wise Men saw. Artificial Christmas Trees really started becoming popular in the early 20th century.
With years of traditions past, our forefathers have set forth a pathway in which Christmas Trees are decorated. I find it lovely that no two trees are exactly alike and contain ornaments and decorations that have been homemade by little ones or handed down from past generations. No matter how you choose to decorate your tree, make sure to include special elements of Christmas past and present.
Cookies & Hot Cocoa
Nothing says Christmastime like cookies and cocoa! I knew once I had a child, this was a tradition that I would implement into our family traditions so gather your kiddos together for a delicious day of baking, decorating and, of course, eating.
Here are a few tips that will ensure a fun day of baking:
- Choose recipes that are age appropriate for your child. Younger children will be better suited for one or two types of cookies. Once they get older, their skills will allow for more cookie options.
- Once the recipes are selected, make a shopping list and purchase your items ahead of time. That way, when it’s baking day, all you have to focus on is fun in the kitchen.
- Crank up the Christmas music, put on a fun apron and let the baking begin!
A great addition to your cooking baking day is hot cocoa. While the cookies are baking is a great time so make a cocoa bar with all the fun toppings. My favorites are marshmallows, chocolate chips, candy canes, and whipped cream. Yum! And just a little tip for dairy free moms, coconut milk is a great alternative for regular and adds a nice touch of sweetness.
One of the main reasons we have the custom of giving and receiving presents at Christmas, is to remind us of the presents given to Jesus by the Wise Men: Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh. Christmas itself is really about a big present that God gave the world about 2000 years ago – Jesus! All over the world, families and friends give presents to each other. Most children around the world believe in the magic of Santa Claus and even track him on Christmas Eve. He travels through the sky on a sleigh that is pulled by reindeer, then he comes into houses at night and places presents for the children in stocking and in front of the family Christmas tree.
It’s also important to remember the children who are less fortunate and might not have many presents under the tree. There are many wonderful organizations dedicated to making Christmas magic happen so research opportunities in your area and make sure to help a needy child during this time of giving. My daughter and I select from the Salvation Army Angel Tree every year and have a special time shopping or our angel.
And remember to have fun when gifting. Secret Santa and White Elephant are two fun gift exchange ideas to play with your family, friends or workplace. There are great ways to bring the spirit of giving all around you.
Go all out! Make a special dinner, set an amazing table and put on your favorite holiday wear. In our family we traditionally prepare a Prime Rib accompanied by mashed potatoes, fresh local vegetables and dinner rolls. And no Christmas meal is complete without a slice of pie or cake and a cup of eggnog. I can just smell all the aromas wafting through the kitchen. I also love to read about traditional meals and celebrations of other regions. It’s such a beautiful time of family and friends, gathering around the table celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ sharing laughter and making memories.
When people Believe Christmas Magic happens. And being surrounded by and making memories with your loved ones is truly magical. If you haven’t already, start making traditions today. They can be as small as attending your local Christmas Parade, bake cookies for Santa or host your own Holiday Party. Sharing time-honored traditions with our children will spread Christmas cheer for generations to come.