|Sparky's first Christmas, last year!|
|Lighting the candles. |
Little ones need help.
smell it throughout the whole house. And since our current house is the first to have really high ceilings, we do indulge in an eight-foot tree. My sister and I split our mother's ornaments years ago, so every time we decorate our tree, it's a trip down memory lane. We need that big tree to hold all the ornaments, new and old alike, and even then each year we have to make hard decisions about which ones are gong to have to sit out for a year.
I have a history of, uh, appropriating Christmas trees. When I was in third grade, I volunteered to bring one for the class, without consulting any adults. We lived quite a way from the school, and they didn't bus, so the school contracted with a local cab company to transport me and a couple of other people. Needless to say, Frank, our regular driver, was not happy to see me lugging a four-foot Christmas tree that simply had to go in the cab. But we made it. (The second incident was at college, and I still feel I should send them a check to plant a tree.)
LUCY BURDETTE: I can't do without the Christmas Eve church service of lessons and carols. Preferably with a gorgeous solo rendition of O HOLY NIGHT.
Since we've been spending winter in Key West, a lot of our traditions have had to change. Instead of snow and white lights, we attend the lighted boat parade, and the Conch train tour of lights around town, and the hometown holiday parade. It's been a lot of fun really, and makes me miss Christmas in Connecticut a little less. This is me in the parade this year with one of the "three kings." Merry Christmas to all of you lovely readers!
I loved my Aunt Mary with all my heart. She helped raise me and always believed in me. Her encouragement is one of the reasons I'm a writer today. As for the holidays, they were always incredibly busy with friends and family dropping by at all hours. That's why the "good" tablecloth was always on our dining room table from early in the mornings till late in the evenings, along with plates of cookies and trays of delicious liqueurs (more on that below).
The Italian cookies were (of course!) homemade. The baking started right after Thanksgiving.
I remember helping Aunt Mary roll out dough in our chilly, unfinished basement, where we had a second kitchen. So many amazing foods came out of there: homemade pastas, gnocchi, wedding soup, and brasciola. All of those years of cooking with her continue to inspire me today.
And (shhh) my father even distilled his own brandy and whiskey down there, quite illegal, but he shared it with our neighbors, who had no desire to rat him out (the payoff was too delicious).
I continue to make the foods my aunt taught me, and celebrate, with love in my heart, all the years we spent together cooking and baking side-by-side. God bless you all this Christmas Day. May you always cook with love and eat with joy! ~ Cleo
A few years ago, I was on a panel of authors who had written Christmas mysteries. One of the questions the moderator planned to ask was what our family traditions were on Christmas Day. Oh no!
My family has always followed the German tradition of celebrating on Christmas Eve. We have a big dinner, and everyone receives a little gift at the table. I think that tradition started when I was very small and couldn't sit still knowing that Santa had already left presents in the
living room! Sometimes the "table gifts" are gag gifts and sometimes they're something very special. There's usually at least one that's good for a laugh. After dinner, we open our gifts. So when you're getting up early on Christmas Day, we're sleeping in. Later on we feast on leftovers.
So back to the panel – well, don't you know that three of the four mystery authors on that panel had German or Scandinavian backgrounds and had their big celebration on Christmas Eve, just like me!
Our Christmas traditions have changed over the years, but I'm a little bit of a Christmas diva. I love the lights, and the Christmas Villages, and pine swags everywhere. This is the first year that Sunny hasn't tried to climb the tree. I'm still a little bit leery, though. Next year, I'll dare to bring out more of the old treasured ornaments again!