When I think Christmas, I smell warm candied yams, delicious ham right from the heat radiant oven, and the ambiance of good conversation. Music playing in the background enhances the warmth of this time of year. One of my favorite songs to listen to would be Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Music has a way of touching the soul in ways that create lasting memories.
Take a seat. Make yourself cozy. The Anchor Drop Crew wanted to share with you a few of their favorite holiday and Christmas traditions. To get you in the mood, check out this playlist we created just for YOU! Thank you for joining us on the journey called life.
My family has several traditions to which we have created memories. One of my fondest memories growing up was being visited by Santa Clause. Stan was a very dear and near family friend of ours who always enjoyed planting the joy in a young girl’s heart that early eve of Christmas morning. Stan has since passed away, but we are starting a new tradition. My father, being a first time grandfather, will be dressing up as the torch will so dearly be passed another man. Reliving the memories of my youngest siblings reactions vicariously through the reaction of Carolyn (my niece) will be so enjoyable. Whether she reacts with fear, curiosity, or just simply going with the flow, that might be the best memory and tradition I have to date.
My family laughs now looking back on those delightful years. Santa’s payment of a case of beer with the sack of presents positioned so carefully as for little eyes to gaze upon what other gifts might be received! We always believed that it was Santa coming until our eyes viewed the front porch set up. In older years, Santa became Stanta when we realized what a joyous charitable man he was.
There are three things that make my heart smile and think of the holiday season with joy. Christmas cookie making with friends, the candlelight service at church, and whip cream fights with family. I recently spoke about my Christmas cookie making tradition in my Sugar Cookie recipe post.
The candlelight service happens on Christmas Eve. I think my favorite part is the peace and calm that comes over the whole church in that moment. There is so much going in the world, but for that moment all seems quiet.
On the day following, during Christmas celebration with my family there is inevitably someone unexpectedly smashed in the face with whip cream. Even as my cousins and I have grown into our adult years, the tradition has continued. It is our “initiation” for those married in, and it is just a fun time for all around. It is one of those times where I can sit back and say ‘yep, this is my family and I’m beyond thankful for that.’ After all, Holidays truly are the time to be thankful for our loved ones.
Christmas in our house has changed so much in the past few years since we have had kids. We are really getting a chance to develop our own traditions, which has been so fun. One of our girls’ favorite things is seeing the lights. We are lucky that in San Diego there are so many places with big huge light displays. The girls ‘ooo’ and ‘ahhhh’ at them and it is adorable.
We also love sharing the story of Christmas with them, which they are starting to understand more and more. They are excited to celebrate Jesus’ birthday. We are even starting a new tradition of baking Jesus a birthday cake this year. Along with all of our other holiday baking, we thought it would be a fun addition.
There are a few Christmas-time traditions that stick in my mind from my childhood. Probably the oldest is my family’s Christmas Eve celebration. Every year on Christmas Eve, my family (parents and two brothers) would order Chinese take-out and eat it while watching George C. Scott’s version of A Christmas Carol before opening our gifts. As kids, it felt like torture, watching this old movie with my parents, knowing there are shiny boxes full of toys and treats to open in the other room. My parents, I’m sure, loved keeping us in anticipation. Sometimes, if they really wanted to make us wait (and laugh to each other) they’d take us all on a drive through the neighborhood after the movie to look at Christmas lights on houses.
My newest holiday tradition includes my fiance Kaleb and his parents. Kaleb and I have been together for three and a half years and recently became engaged (woohoo!). This time of year always brings us such joy. When we started dating, we began a yearly tradition to make a trip to Wagoner Tree Farm (Greencastle, Ind.) and pick our Christmas tree’s with his parents on the weekend before or after my birthday (mid December). After we find the perfect trees, we then go to this little cafe nearby to eat lunch, share in delightful desserts and open gifts (which is super embarrassing, but K’s mom loves it and I love her)/ Now that we no longer live in Indiana, it makes it even more of a treat to see his family and makes me feel right at home.
For as long as I can remember, I have watched the movie White Christmas at least a dozen times during the month of December. This honestly was the only old movie I was exposed to as a child, and I fell in love with everything about it! The words of Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby, Vera Ellen, and Rosemary Clooney are branded in my mind and the fondness I feel for those characters is full of warm runs back at least twenty-five years.
For the past two years, I have gone to an old-fashioned, one screen theater to see my beloved Christmas movie on the big screen. The experience starts out with entering under the marquee, traveling through an adorned box office entrance. Then, after stopping for popcorn, and upon entering the wonderfully ornate theater, I join with the rest of the audience in singing carols along with the accompaniment of an elderly organist.
My body twitches as the characters swagger and execute professional dance moves because I know all their moves. I mouth along the words. Tears flow at all the same parts and I don’t care to compose myself. This movie has been a holiday staple that has trumped baking cookies and wrapping presents. Honestly, I would be more upset if I didn’t get to see it than I would if I found out Santa wasn’t real. Joking aside, it is a classic film that exudes romance, and promotes generosity and acknowledgement of the ties that bind. Do yourself a favor and watch it today!
When I talk to my friends about their traditional holiday meals, they often talk about their Christmas hams and turkeys. They have stuffing, sweet potatoes, and maybe a casserole or two. I, on the other hand, have bobalky, kolache, oplatki, nut roll, and mushroom soup. When I say these names to people, their responses range from, “what’s that?” to “that sounds awful!” While theses names might be a little odd, they are synonymous with the rich traditions that have been handed down from one generation of my mother’s family to the next.
Every Christmas Eve, my mother’s side of the family gathers for a big meal. Our first course is oplatki, a communion wafer that has various scenes of the nativity depicted on it. We dip the oplatki in honey. In Czech tradition, honey is used to guard off evil. We then dine on mushroom soup. It is basically a beef broth with lots of butter, mushrooms, and parsley. We serve this over small square noodles. Mushrooms are said to give health and strength. Then we dine on pork roast, mashed potatoes, a vegetable, and bobalky. I never liked bobalky when I was little; however, now that I’m older, I love these bread balls that are scalded with hot water and then tossed in a sweet nut sauce. Trust me, they may sound gross, but they are truly delicious. No Christmas meal would be complete without kolache. Filled with apricot, these buttery and flakey cookies are a delicious accompaniment to a cup of coffee.
Our meal may sound crazy to some, but that is precisely the reason why I love it; it is our meal and it is unique to us. For all of us, I believe the traditions of the holidays bring us together and link us back to the generations before us. We remember and honor those that came before us by keeping these traditions alive. For those that have children, the holidays give parents an opportunity to give a unique gift to their children.
This season, as you sit down to enjoy a meal with your family, all of us at Anchor Drop hope you can appreciate the beauty of creating memories and traditions with your family however odd they might be.
Have a very merry Christmas and have a wonderful holiday season from our Anchor Drop family to yours!