This holiday season is turning out to be wonderful. I love my children and grandchildren dearly, but Christmas is always a zoo because they all show up. That's 7 kids, 3 of their spouses, one fiance, one significant other, and 7 grandchildren. That's 19 stockings. Plus food, holiday treats, etc. We were together for Thanksgiving in Tahoe, and we will all be together the first week of January for a family birthday celebration in Napa, then we will all be together again the first weekend in March in Sundance for the wedding of one of my sons. We are all staying in our respective homes for Christmas, and that means I will have my daughter and her husband who live here, and his parents for Christmas Eve dinner. Then we will go to my son-in-law's sister's home for Christmas Day. I will do just 2 stockings, and a nice intimate dinner for 5 people. I already got gifts for all the rest sent off, and now it is time to relax and enjoy the season. My tree this year is a living cedar that will be planted in my garden after Christmas. Koka and I went snowshoeing a few days ago and the forest is so beautiful and quiet. No rushing around like a mad woman this year!
19 stockings surely would be something to pull off!! The most I have ever done is 7. The children (mine and the cousins) each had one of their own, and the adults shared.
I have been rushing around the last few days, getting a myriad of projects done for children in my class to take home.Their stories are finished, covers on and illustrated, pinatas decorated with tissue paper fringe, felt designs on spider puppets glued down (these go with a cute Christmas legend from Germany about the curious little spiders who wanted to see the Christmas tree), evergreen tree identification books complete with samples from around the school yard. I am lucky to work in a school with a forest surrounding the school yard. I am ready to go home and put my feet up before I start to clean the house for company.
Portland, I got exhausted just reading your post. Yikes. I can't even imagine filling that many stockings. I hope they are petite. I made the monumental mistake of knitting rather large very cool stockings for my boys when they were toddlers and a stocking was easy to fill with inexpensive toys. As they grew older, those dang things became the bane of Xmas for me. No matter how much crap I put it, the stockings would self-adjust and still look half empty. When older son married, I quickly handed over the sock to the new love-of-life, who was dewy eyed to receive it. Hah! One down, one to go. Younger son is in a long-term relationship and if he isn't married by next year, the sock gets passed anyway.
Bonehead you always make me laugh. I can just picture the dewey eyed bride. I get exhausted reading MHF's post! I can't imagine being a teacher during the holidays. Once again I wish I was a student in her class! The evergreen tree identification books sound wonderful!
My DD, who is a 6th grade teacher, took off for Cabo yesterday to spend her 50th Bday in a tropical environment. She will be back on the 24th and we will go to her house for dinner on the 25th. DHs DD just returned from Brazil and will be with DGD in San Diego for Christmas. So we will have it easy. No tree for the 2d year. Not so bad. LOL
Bone, I'm cracking up over your post. I can just see you shoving that stocking at the new bride.
Judi and Holly, your posts make me tired. Altho I love a big house full of people! You know, you didn't HAVE to do 19 stockings. How about having people bring their own stockings and fill their own stockings? Unless you love doing it, of course. But it kinda sounds like you don't. The fact that they all show up is a testament to the kind of mom you are. (I'm picturing Brothers and Sisters - LOL).
Holly, your students are SO lucky! I would have loved to be a kid in your class. Or have my kids in your class. It's so nice to see a teacher who cares and realizes what a difference a teacher can make. I really don't think most teachers realize the influence they are on someones life. From Kindergarten all the way up through college. My oldest son, when he was in kindergarten, whatever Mrs. Mathews said was the god's truth. One time he misunderstood her about something. I forget what it was, but try as I might to set him straight, he kept saying Mrs. Mathews told him so it was true. LOL I finally had to tell her to tell him whatever it was. I still keep in touch with Mrs. Mathews via yearly Christmas letters.
My method for filling stockings without breaking the bank is to put walnuts and oranges into them as well as a few small gifts, including things for school in the new year, like a box of sharpened pencils, a new eraser, or whatever might be in low supply. My son seemed to enjoy these, since he'd be all out of good pencils by December, though maybe he told his friends it was sometimes a drag having your mom be a teacher. I did always put in some little item that he really wanted too.
I recently found a great children's Christmas story that relates, "An Orange for Frankie" by Patricia Polacco. For those who might be reading to your children or grandchildren, I'd like to share the titles of some of my other favorites. "The Silver Whistle" by Ann Tompert, "The Beautiful Christmas Tree" by Charlotte Zolotow, A Cobweb Christmas" by Shirley Climo, The Christmas Miracles of Jonathan Toomey" (I'll have to look up the author), "The Trees of the Dancing Goats" by Patricia Polacco.
I'd love to hear any titles of really good holiday books you folks know of, as I'm always looking for more.
I'm truly flattered that some of you like my teaching ideas, though I would be the first to admit not everything I do is absolutely fun and inspired, and I am frequently guilty of trying to pack too much into a day. The kids fairly groaned when I announced we were finishing our tree identification books before the party last Friday., even thogh they did like hearing the story of how the Douglas Fir cone got mouse tails and deer hoofprints in it. (Look closely at one and you will see that this is so).
Regarding believing your teacher as a source of important information, I am called upon every year to resolve a certain dispute that arises this time of year. I hear the argument escalate from across the room, "Yes he is!" "No he isn't!" Soon both parties have agreed that the teacher will know the correct answer, and both are certain I will side with them on the question, "Is Santa real?" I usually give a philosophical, but probably confusing answer to this one (taking neither side ).
I have a very large stack of Christmas books, most of which are in a box somewhere awaiting grandchildren. One of my favorites is Santa's Favorite Story. I also really like Jesus' Christmas Party. Both of those bring in religion, so maybe not possible for you to use at school. I always enjoy Jack Prelutsky's holiday books, so you might see if your library has his "It's Christmas."
Holly, we have large-ish stockings, but I also toss in an orange, some candy, and for the guys a bag of coffee beans from Marshall's which takes up a lot of space. Also sometimes I add a small paperback book. For the females I do a lot of practical stuff, like chapstick and cute kitchen utensils and pretty magnetized shopping lists for the refrigerator. For younger kids I get pencils with their names emblazoned on them; that's always popular.
I don't have any Christmas books per se, but I do have some children's books that I think are wonderful and that my older granddaughter loved. I'm looking forward to sharing them with the seven-month-old when it's time. Among those are "Forest Fire" by Mary Ann Fraser and "Pond Year" by Kathryn Lasky. "Forest Fire" depicts the way fires renew forests and is very soothing for a kid because it helps them see that even something that appears to be a disaster is really just a natural force which is part of the life cycle. "Pond Year" is similar - it's the life of a small pond as viewed by two small girls. They catch tadpoles and watch them grow into frogs; when my granddaughter was five or six we did that too after rereading the book.
One of my fondest memories is from kindergarten -- the class walked about 4 blocks to Thornton Creek (north Seattle) to catch polywogs which we then put in an aquarium and watched grow into frogs. Most of that creek is now paved over although I believe I read recently that the city is working on restoration.
We do stockings differently every year. I never feel I have to fill them all the way. When I was growing up, we used our regular stockings, not special christmas ones. I only got my family christmas stockings recently one year when I wanted to decorate the mantle and have everything match. They seem to have mostly been lost and we're in a different house now with a different mantle, so we just use whatever. All the stocking hangar things I bought also seem to have been lost in the move, so I just lay the stockings across the back of the couch, which is what I did before anyway.
This year my son's girlfriend will be coming home with him so I got stuff for a stocking for her and had so much fun getting girlie stuff. I also discovered a site called american scientific or something like that and got a bunch of super cheap stuff to put in stockings - nail clippers, silly putty, funny bandaids, and stuff like that. My mom always put either an orange or a clementine or some satsumas in our stockings. Sometimes I do that for my kids too.
One of my favorite traditions we have is that everyone gets a stack of books. I wrap each book separately (when the kids were small I put them unwrapped in a large christmas bag) and then tie each person's books together with ribbon into a bundle. We have more than one tree and the books go under the kitchen tree. We open them on the night of the 25th before everyone goes to bed. We're a big book family and it started when the kids were little so they'd have something to look forward to at bedtime and as a way to get them into bed because they'd take their new books to bed with them. Now each person doesn't get so many books (except for me because usually the only things I ask for are books). This year everyone is getting two books. They were all under the tree looking so festive and we had a little disaster with the thing that fills up the christmas tree stand. It leaked everywhere and I didn't discover it til the evening when everything was soaked. I had to run all the books into the dining room ripping off their wrapping and yelling for everyone to keep out of the dining room until further notice. The paper covers are now amazingly waterproof and only one of Danielle's books (a cookbook) had any damage at all and it was slight (but she won't be returning it). But now I have to rewrap all of them just when I thought I was done wrapping! Anyway, it's a fun tradition that we all look forward to.
Back to stockings, we always have candy in our stockings too and everyone gets a candy cane. When the kids were little, I always had a stuffed animal (usually a teddy bear) peaking out of the top. This year I was in Pottery Barn and they had a cute white bear with a tag that said "Danielle Bear" so I had to get that for Jeff's girlfriend's stocking since that's her name.
This Christmas will be very quiet. Just DH, mom and me.
We had our Christmas last Saturday. Our youngest and his wife were in from Houston, another son's family from Annapolis, one around the corner (we were at their house), and the son's family from Portland via SKYPE. It was awesome! We drew names and took turns opening our gift. Then had brunch.
We decided not to do stockings this year as a big group.
I like the way people are free to move holidays around a bit to accommodate everyone's schedules! Quiet Christmases can be very nice. What will your nearby son be doing on Christmas Day; does he have in-laws that he needs to visit?
We do books for Hanukkah, and then also some for Christmas, too. It's a little harder this year because I have a Kindle but I still noticed some bookish packages under the tree with my name on them. My DGD was here this afternoon and was checking the parcels under the tree and noticed that there was a bit of dampness on some of the wrappings. We picked those packages up and put them up so they would dry. Funny - that's never happened before!
I have found within my family that once we create a tradition - woe to anyone who tries to change it! We have eggs benedict for Xmas breakfast and one year I fixed something different. Oops. Wrong move. I heard about that until the following season. We also have crab louie on Xmas Eve and traditionally each child opens a book and pjs, and the whole family opens a new game which we then play. Same idea as Gwen, when it's time for bed, they went down easier with a new book. The pj idea was for Xmas morning photos - I have two sons and made them matching or coordinated sets each year. I still give a book for each (now adult) kid, but the pjs have morphed into something warm (slippers this year) and rather than a new game each year, we just play one we already have. The crab louie is a carry-over from my husband's early childhood, which makes it all the more special as both his parents have long passed.
That crab louie sounds lovely, as does your eggs benedict. I know what you mean about traditions; my daughter insists that we always have fried eggs and scrapple for breakfast on Christmas Day, and I forgot to buy any. Whoops!
We should do a book thread and compare books that we buy; I run out of ideas for everyone!
Traditionally I served my family ham on Christmas Eve but this year some people who will be with us do not eat pork. So I'm going to break tradition and make paella, a green salad with citrus fruits, and a pavlova for dessert. Oh, and of course vodka martinis and wine. And roasted olives with lemon and almonds.
Since I am doing stockings for only 2 people I filled them to the brim. Books have been a staple Christmas gift in our family for so many years - it seems we all have that tradition! I love reading about everyone's traditions and customs.
We mix up the food. A lot of times we have soup, crab, or swedish meatballs on Christmas eve. Then something more substantial on the 25th. Lately we've been having hot oil fondue (beef and chicken) on the 25th. But we also do turkeys, ham, tenderloin, or prime rib. The kids don't really care as long as it's something good.
I always make a peppermint dessert and a gingerbread dessert for the 24th and then we have it on the 25th as well. No one really cares except for me tho.
My son will be working on the 24th and 25th and doesn't get off work til Tuesday morning. He works graveyard shift stocking the freezer at Walmart. They live in Walla Walla. So they'll drive up on Tuesday morning when he gets off work. His gf's family is in Hawaii. This is her first Christmas not going home. Hopefully she'll feel welcome here. She's been around us a lot so it should be fine.
We had a fun tradition when the kids were little. I made a big blank calendar with just the days of the month written on it. I did it on butcher paper and the kid decorated it. Then I made up little slips of paper the same size as the squares. I decorated them with stickers. I'd write activities for each day on a slip of paper. Things like watch a Christmas movie, read a Christmas book, open a gift (usually a game or a Christmas movie), drive around and look at lights, bake cookies, make presents, wrap presents, etc. Each morning I'd choose which activity we could do that day and I would hide the slip of paper. The kids would go looking for it. I'd say 'hot' or 'cold' depending on where they were in relation to the hiding spot. Then we taped that piece of paper to the calendar. So the calendar slowly filled up as the month progressed. They loved this. They liked finding the paper way more than the activity! I still have all the calendars. Most of them I had photocopied onto smaller pieces of paper and if I ever get to catching up on the photo albums, I'll put them into the albums.
I loved to drive around and look at lights. Now I can't get anyone to go with me. :( I'd go by myself but there's really nothing on the island. I hear there are fun spots in town and in Seattle. I have a friend that actually mapped some of the good places and put it on his blog. We always took a thermos of hot chocolate with us. I really miss doing that.
We used to go caroling too. I tried it once after we moved here. No one came out of their houses to listen. People we were friends with didn't even come out of their houses!
We moved here when the kids were around junior high age. It was really hard to continue traditions in a new place, esp one so rural, and it was a time of their lives when they didn't really want to do stuff like that anymore anyway, so a lot of traditions fell by the wayside, which was disappointing to me. I feel we would have kept more of them had we stayed in California.
Gwen, you should just see the lights across the street from me, its enough lights for a whole Christmas on one house! I thought it would bother me at first, all the flashing and blinking, but it doesn't shine too much in here so it's just kind of a friendly glimmer. Still, it is quite the show!
My Christmas this year is totally discombobulated due to having just moved and still not feeling quite "assembled" (Maybe the instructions didn't get translated correctly? LOL!) But I am enjoying it in a kind of low key way.
One favorite Christmas book (seeing up earlier in the thread, that question) is Dylan Thomas "A Child's Christmas in Wales". It's a lovely long poem that is perfect for reading aloud. It's published in a small chapbook... not too hard to find this time of year, but I have an old copy that was in my family.
In my family growing up, we always had an orange in the toe of the stocking, to make it look full. then nuts (in the shells of course) and candy and little gifties filled the rest -- there would always be an apple in there somewhere too.
Thanks for the great book ideas. "Forest Fire" fits right in with the mouse tails in the fir cones story, since the mice were rescued from a fire by the fir tree (which was unharmed because it was a big, old-growth tree with thick bark). In answer to GHG above, I teach first grade. I'm always on the lookout for good books to read there, but also at home to children of friends now that my own kid is grown up, and perhaps some day to grandchildren. I have some favorite Hannukkah stories too: "Latkes and Aplesauce" about a kitten and puppy who were invited inside during a blizzard, "The Chanukkah Guest" about a bear mistaken for the rabbi and invited in for latkes, Herschel and the Hannukkah Goblins" by Eric Kimmel and a more serious book, "One Candle" by Eve Bunting. As a part of our study of celebrations from different cultures, I also tell a portion of the Ramayana when I teach about the traditions of Diwali, the Indian festival of lights. The kids love the exploits of Hanuman, the monkey king, a kind of ancient super hero character.
My family has a rather unusual menu which is a conglomeration of family traditions, often including such disparate dishes as oyster stew, pilav, smoked salmon, red cabbage slaw, along with the more common ham and sweet potatoes, with both pumpkin pie and baklavah for desert.
Holly, you should check out "Pond Year" too, then. The girls in it are six years old. My GD loved "Forest Fire" because a large forested area near her home had burnt and she found it somewhat scary-looking until we got that book.
I'll have to check into the Hanukkah books. It would be nice to have a couple for our little granddaughter who is now seven months old. Our thirteen-year-old told me yesterday that she was watching something on television and there was a joke about latkes; she figured she was one of the few people who would "get" that!
Along with Hanuman, don't forget the many adventures of Coyote, the Native American trickster!
Kyla, I'm glad that your neighbor's Christmas lights are turning out to be a nice thing rather than a hassle!
I am so enjoying everyone's traditions. This year I got calendars of our favorite place to camp - the Adirondacks and had the DILs open them at the same time. Then we all added family birthdays. I filled one out for the OR kids. This way we all know the important dates in the family.
GHG- the sonaroundthecorner's family left this morning early for Kentucky until Jan 5. It will really be quiet around here, but I do hear renovating noises in the kitchen.
>> My family has a rather unusual menu which is a conglomeration of family traditions, often including such disparate dishes as oyster stew, pilav, smoked salmon, red cabbage slaw, along with the more common ham and sweet potatoes, with both pumpkin pie and baklavah for desert.
I love the melting pot! It reminds me of one science fiction author who names his characters things like "Abdullah O'Leary" and Mikhail Wu.
Our only intersting culinary tradition didn't evolve until we kids grew up. Bloody Marys as we opened presents around the fireplace and tree.
Did I tell the story about my sister's college roomate who came to share Chrstmas with us Coreys and Ennises? The punchline was that she never PRAYED so much and DRANK so much in her life.
Happy Amaterasu celebration, Beiwe Festival, Bodhi Day, Chawmos, Christmas, Deus Sol Invictus, Goru, Hanukkah, Hogmanay, Inti Raymi, Junkanoo, Karachun, Koleda, Kwanza, Lenĉa, Lohri, Lucia, Khoram Ruz, Makara, Meán Geimhridh, Midvinterblót, Modresnach, Perchta, Shab-e Chelleh, Şewy Yelda, Soyal, We Tripantu, Winter Solstice, Yule, Zagmuk and Ziemassvētki to one and all.