A Simple Christmas: HOW? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 46 Old 11-08-2005, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Amys1st
apple pies freeze ahead of time. Actually the pie filling is already in the freezer. We went apple picking in late sept and made the apple pie filling and froze it. So we will make up the dough the night before and refridge it and Thursday morning, roll them out and bake.
I think I might do that!!

Pretty much everything can freeze. Stuffing, rolls, gravy, anything that is already made. Some desserts don't freeze as well, but as long as it doesn't have icing on it, it should be okay.
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#32 of 46 Old 11-08-2005, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by OnTheBrink
Can you tell me more about this? I'm thinking that would be great for Thanksgiving. What freezes well ahead of time?
I usually do a mashed squash or squash/turnip or squash/sweet-potato thing. I put it in the freezer a few days before Christmas and it re-heats wonderfully. Cranberry relish (fresh cranberries plus sugar and oranges) stores pretty well in the freezer (better in the fridge, but it's okay in the freezer). I just pull it out of the freezer and leave it on the counter on Christmas morning. I do a veggie-and-pickle plate a day or so before and put that in the fridge. I cut up cheese and make a cheese ball and both those stay in the fridge. Broccoli I cut up a couple of days before. I blanch it until it's still just slightly under-done, then toss it in ice water, then drain and store in the fridge in a big ziploc or equivalent. It just needs to be warmed before serving.

For Christmas morning I usually do "cinnamon toast strata". It's basically French toast that you prepare the night before and pull out in the morning to bake:

In a small bowl, mash 3/8 cup butter with 3 T. cinnamon. Spread on both sides of a dozen slices of bread. Cut bread diagonally and arrange, cut side down, in 9x13 inch buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with 2/3 cup sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together 8 eggs, 2 cups of milk and 1/4 cup maple syrup, blending very well. Pour slowly over bread. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake strata uncovered for 45 minutes. or until puffed, golden and set. Serve with additional maple syrup on the side.

Last year I did cinnamon rolls, rolling everything out the night before and putting them in the fridge overnight before baking in the morning. (I must have felt unusually relaxed to have had the time for this, and I must have had more than the usual amount of fridge space available! Normally I find them too fussy and time-consuming to bother with on Christmas morning.) The tradition here, though, is just that there's gotta be something cinnamony baking in the oven first thing Christmas morning. We have it with sparkling orange juice (i.e. ginger ale and OJ) and fresh grapefruit halves decorated with two pineapple triangles, two raisins and a lurid maraschino cherry to look like little kitten faces. Same every year.


Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grown-ups
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#33 of 46 Old 11-08-2005, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by OnTheBrink
Can you tell me more about this? I'm thinking that would be great for Thanksgiving. What freezes well ahead of time?
This year my MIL is making mashed potatoes the day before, she says they come out great, just like regular mashed potatoes. She read part of the recipe to me, you can make it up to a week ahead. If anyone's interested I can get the recipe from her.
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#34 of 46 Old 11-09-2005, 06:24 PM
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corwinegall, I'd like the recipe! I don't like mashed potatoes, but SO does. I never learned to make them b/c I don't like them.. But I thought that I might surprise him this year with a big fat bowl all for him.

Starting on the 'donations pile' today. Good luck to me!
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#35 of 46 Old 11-10-2005, 10:24 AM
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Easy Cinnamon Rolls...

Though I've stopped making them this way because we're avoiding hydrogenated oils. But you might weigh it for yourself and find it's worth it once a year if it makes this tradition possible for you.

2 tubes refrigerated biscuit dough
ground cinnamon
some kind of dried sugar - Sucanat, brown sugar, whatever
a little oil
optional: confectioner's sugar

Open the tubes of biscuit dough and roll out flat, taking care to pinch the pre-scored cuts SHUT so you have one big rectangle of dough. Brush the dough with a little oil. Sprinkle cinnamon, sugar, possibly chopped nuts, raisins, or whatever you want to be inside the rolls. Leave about 1" on one end of the dough un-sprinkled. Roll the dough carefully, as tightly as you can manage without having it fall apart, and "glue" shut the un-sprinkled end (wet it with a little water if you need to). Repeat for second tube.

Slice each roll into about eight sections and arrange in a baking dish leaving room for expansion. (if you want sticky, gooey rolls, add additional sugar in the bottom of the dish and place the rolls fairly close together - if you want drier, individual rolls, give them lots of space so they won't touch as they expand). Bake according to the dough directions but be forewarned that you may also need to bake them a bit longer to get them cooked all the way through.

If you want to ice them, mix up confectioner's sugar with a little water or milk (or soy/rice milk) until it's the appropriate consistency, maybe add a drop of vanilla or citrus extract, and drizzle over the top of the rolls. If you are icing them it's best to let them cool a bit before icing.

That's it!

Amanda, mom to Everest (12), Alden (10-1/2), Ellery (7-1/2), & Avery (6)
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#36 of 46 Old 11-10-2005, 12:48 PM
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I printed it out and did the reading and started lists. This will be our first Christmas home in a long time. We usually travel to family.

I like Flylady's idea of creating memories for the children. I think that is the best gift to give them. Since we probably won't have company for Christmas, I'd like to institute a nature walk and special treats for the animals. Also story reading of some special Christmas stories.

Now, gotta read the rest of the thread.

Amy at Stone Fence Farm
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#37 of 46 Old 11-10-2005, 01:28 PM
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Sooo glad I found this thread. I love the four gift ideas. Gotta remember that rhyme. I always get the kids their BIG MAIN want thing. One yr it was talkin Bubba, all my 2 yr ds could say, another yr was "a blue dress with flowers" solved that by making a flower pin.

Now to get my relatives onboard....my thread in TAO explains the insanity of the family.
We do have Christmas visiting sorted out finally. Early in Dec my sis comes home and we have gift giving/EATing with her, my brothers family, aunt and great aunt. Christmas Eve is always dh family, now at the sil house. Xmas Day morning, after Santa, my parnets come over and we have brunch. If we make it, there is another meal in the afternoon at dh's aunts. New Yr Eve one cousin has started a family friendly party! It's sooo much fun. She makes a scavenger hunt and the kids track down a pinata, eveyone bring food and lots of drinks! This yr my bil may be getting married to his Philipino internet girlfriend. ( i skewered that spelling) So thru Dec-New Yr we get to see ALL of the family. That is my favorite part of the holidays anyways, if we can scale back the gift parade on Xmas Eve, it'll be perfect!!

I love the idea of a cocktail adult party though, 12th night is Jan 6th? (my dad bday)
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#38 of 46 Old 11-10-2005, 04:18 PM
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Wow, this thread has really made me think about our future Christmas traditions.

Right now, I set up a "gift wrapping center" on an old study carol, scavenged from my college library. I put all of the wrapping paper, ribbons, cards, Christmas cds and anything else I might need for holiday organization! When I buy a gift, I sit it under the desk until I have time to wrap it. I also keep a box on top of my wardrobe that has little presents I buy all year long to make things a little easier.

My husband goes out and chops down a tree (from a tree farm) and brings it home the week after Thanksgiving. We decorate it together and listen to nonstop Christmas music all December long.

We usually walk or drive around the city and look at all the Christmas lights and we usually take some nice winter hikes with the dogs.

I start baking like a maniac the week before Christmas and the two nights before Christmas I usually stay up all night long baking so that everything will be fresh. Then I stuff over 40 baskets full of muffins, cookies, breads, tea and flavored sugar to give to our extended family. Somehow we also fit in going to my best friend's house for Christmas Eve dinner.

We wake up on Christmas morning and open our gifts to each other and the dogs. Then we drive to my mom's house, where we open more gifts. Then we drive to my grandma's house, where I help cook dinner and we have dinner with my side of the family. Then on Christmas night we drive 5 hours to Pittsburgh, where we crash at my MIL's house. The next two days are filled with more Christmas excess and his family throws a huge party. It is CRAZY...

I don't really know how I could simplify, though. My best friend and I are going to combine our baking efforts so that we can enjoy Christmas Eve more and we want to have a big football game for our friends that day.

Some traditions you have mentioned that I would like to incorporate...maybe doing one fun event each weekend, decluttering and giving away excess goods to those less fortunate, making a memorable Christmas breakfast every morning. Hmmm, somehow it seems like I am adding work to my holiday!!!

homebirthing organic mama to three crazy boys very blessed!!
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#39 of 46 Old 11-10-2005, 06:34 PM
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Sweetiemommy, You could always try freezing some of your treats in the weeks before, let them thaw, and then put them in baskets. If nothing else, you could freeze the dough and make your cookie baking time less.

This year I'm going to make everyone bath salts. Simple, handmade, and cheap!!! I'm not sure what I'm doing for the guys yet (Guys aren't big on long soaking bubble baths, most of the time.. Just my SO! ) but I'll figure it out. Maybe some jelly or something.
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#40 of 46 Old 11-12-2005, 03:33 AM
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One tradition we began last year (when my son was 2 1/2) was to read a book about a family that decorates a tree for the animals on Christmas Eve. Of course, I can't remember the title or author right now, but I'll try to dig it out. After reading that for a couple weeks, we took some stale bread, spread peanut butter on it, and dipped it in seeds. We hung them on couple of trees locally on C-mas eve and had a nice little walk. We hope to make different kinds of bird feeders as DS gets older.
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#41 of 46 Old 11-20-2005, 04:49 PM
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Dh and I have been together for a long time but we have never developed Christmas traditions. He often wants to make the big trip to visit his family at Christmas (expensive flight - very far away), but I don't know why as it's always stressful and focused on constant food preparation and consumption. I really want to have family traditions that suit us. But I have to come to terms with the fact that dh is just bah-humbug about the whole thing :.
Originally Posted by binxsmom
so often, christmas is a women's holiday. we do the planning, shopping, gift wrapping, cooking, decorating, etc. involve your partner as much as possible. sit down with your partner and discuss his memories of christmas as a child and try to incorporate some of his meaningful family rituals.
So true that it's often a woman's holiday. Frankly, though, I give up on dh. I have tried to discuss this with him but I've realized that celebrations of any kind are not important or meaningful to him. The only tradition that he really seemed to enjoy was having a real christmas tree lit my real candles when he was growing up. Cool, but not likely we'll be doing that. If I want to enjoy Christmas with my children, I will have to create a holiday myself and not have any expectations of dh helping, participating, or caring.

One thing that I would like to do this year is participate in an evening lantern walk in our city on the Winter Solstice. I would like to celebrate the natural aspects of the time of year (solstice, snow on mountaintops, etc.) as well as picking some "secular christmas" elements that I like (decorated tree, carols, lights, turkey, etc.).

Something that has been great in the past is an organized community potluck on Christmas night. So much less cooking and stress on the day of. We will do that again this year.

sharing life with | 10 yo ds | 8 yo dd | dh (since 2012)
"I am not what happened to me...I am what I choose to become." ~ Carl Jung
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#42 of 46 Old 12-02-2005, 01:20 PM
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Subbin' to this thread. Thank you! Getting lots of good ideas to back up my growing feelings about the holiday season.
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#43 of 46 Old 12-11-2005, 07:22 PM
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I think the book you were trying to remember is The Night Tree by Eve Bunting....our kindergarten centers its holiday celebration around this book. The kids make ornaments in class and at home for the animals and then come back one evening to sing, share treats and put the ornaments out for the animals. They have a great time watching the treats disappear over the weeks following.
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#44 of 46 Old 12-11-2005, 07:51 PM
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The one thing that makes things better for us is that I stopped trying to buy all of my brothers and sisters gifts(I am the oldest of 7) and instead get them something nice on their birthday.
We draw names in my husbands family.($20 limit too)
We only attend parties that we really want to.

Love your neighbor. Say yes to vax.
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#45 of 46 Old 12-12-2005, 01:13 AM
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Wonderful thread

I LOVE Christmas. Absolutely adore it. My mom hates all holidays though, and so many Christmases of my childhood were marred by her getting stressed out about stupid things, trying to make everyone happy (and instead making no one happy), fighting with her mom, etc. When I grew up and had kids of my own I was surprised to find that Christmas was becomming stressful for me. So I fixed that I started simplifying a few years ago and have been slowly doing more every year.

The first thing I did, after the birth of my first (7 now) was to complain and whine til my family agreed to institute a gift lottery. The year she was born we had to buy 18 gifts for my side of the family including a few people we only had contact with once a year on Christmas (and that was just my side - then there was his side and us). So I pushed for a lottery and now we only buy 3 for my side (and now my mom remembers it as her idea, whatever makes her happy )

A few years ago (after the birth of my second who is now 3) I decided we would not be doing more than one visit a day during the Christmas season. Something had to give. Christmas Eve we do my side of the family and Christmas Day we do his. We were trying to also squeeze in my Grandma on Christmas Day, after our family morning but before the in-laws. Everyone thinks this isn't a big deal since everyone is close, but it's still the stress of getting the kids to leave the house and their new toys, getting them in and out of the car, leaving that place, in and out of the car again, on to a new place, and just going here there and everywhere, yk? I put my foot down and said we'd visit Grandma on another day, not the 25th. My mother (the one who tries to please everyone and subsequently stresses herself out) thought I was being mean but I've stood my ground and it's really cut down on the stress for us.

Then last year I didn't send out Christmas cards because I was just too busy. Turns out I liked it that way. I still feel a little guilty about it because, to be honest, I *really* enjoy getting Christmas cards from other people so I *should* reciprocate but . . . . I just decided the other day that I won't send any out this year either and I felt such a wave of relief when I made the decision. It just drove home that it was the right decision for me. At least right now.

The other thing is wrapping gifts. My mom always put it off til the last minute, often causing us to be late to Christmas Eve as she wrapped hastily, swearing and yelling as she did it. Instead, I wrap things as I buy them. I just wrapped a whole bunch today, including most of the kid's presents (they were at my mom's for the day). If we have any last minute wrapping it will be a gift or two, not the whole thing.

The tradition we started that I most like is to take walks looking at lights around the neighborhood. Really low key We do it for weeks, but make an effort to do it the evening of the 25th.

I feel like I'm reclaiming Christmas bit by bit We had the first grandkids on either side so for awhile there was that feeling of having to make everyone happy and "do it all". I saw how well that worked for my mom : (sarcasm alert!) so I sat up and took notice when I saw I was falling into the same trap with my family. So yeah, I get called cold hearted sometimes, but they can kiss my I wasn't put on this earth to martyr myself to everyone else's wishes
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#46 of 46 Old 12-17-2005, 09:27 PM
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We get almost all the gifts we give from our own house (things we don't use, but that would be perfect for our family member or friend in question) or from the local library's book sales. We can generally get everyone something they'll like for under $20 total. Shipping is a bit more because books do weigh more than other things, but it's still cheaper than buying new things for people.

My family lives 3,000 miles away so we don't visit them too often... dh's family lives right down the road so we see them whenever we want to and don't feel bad about not visiting them when we don't want to.

We've never done cards though this year we might do an e-card with our pictures (since we had a baby... folks might want to see her ). Those family members who have no internet are very few and can get copies printed out from those who do.

We're planning on having stockings for immediate family gifts. Books, fruit, nuts, and the like. Small things. My extended family goes all out so our dd will have more than enough presents (WAY more than enough ) without us having to get her more than small stocking-type gifts.

When dd gets older I'd like to focus on giving to others who don't have much. Maybe go to Seattle with a bunch of dollar bills and food to give to homeless people. Our church does a thing called angel tree which is for families of men in prison. So we'll probably participate in that.

I'd rather Christmas be more about giving than getting. And I'd rather it be not at all about buying anything NEW or commercialism...

love and peace.

mama to two girls and due in November!
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