It’s been a funky day-before-Christmas, to be sure.
My partner and I are in the middle of a huge spat. (No worries, we’ve been doing this for decades. Neighborhood friends nicknamed us “The Bickersons” almost 40 years ago!)
I finally pulled out and went to my studio, my always-happy place. Twenty minutes later, I got a call from Jon. He’d left his wallet at the supermarket, could I drive him there to get it? (No driver’s license.) No luck. But when we got home, ready to call and cancel all our credit cards, he found his wallet. On his dresser.
Grumbling, I drove back to my studio. But I could only get a little work done before the cold and the dark got to me, and so I headed home again.
I’m sitting here, trying to think about why this hardly even seems like Christmas. Aha! Covid-19! No parties. No Yankee Swap, our biggest, most memorable Christmas event. Our Christmas tree was so last-minute this year. I wasn’t even going to get one, but Jon wanted a tree, so I got a tiny one. Then I couldn’t find my ornaments. It’s decorated with some small thrift shop finds, cat toys, a box of Christmas cards I found at the thrift shop (puppies in Santa hats) and colorful fabric masks….
Okay, so this will be a Christmas-to-remember-for-all-the-wrong-reasons. On the other hand, it inspired this article, so here goes!
All through my childhood, I wanted to open a present on Christmas Eve. It was a hard NO growing up. So guess what Christmas tradition I started with OUR family?
Yup. We all got to pick one present to open on Christmas Eve! It was great!
My husband’s father was Jewish, his mother was Catholic. Actual religious practices were few and far between, but our daughter is none-the-less very proud of her Jewish heritage. So I bought her a dinosaur menorah I found on Etsy a few years go. She loves it!
No Yankee Swap. In past years, this was quite the occasion. Everyone brings an unwanted gift, a White Elephant, (undamaged, not used, etc.) wrapped and beribboned, and placed it under the tree. Then everyone picks a number from a hat/bowl/bag. #1 person picks a gift and unwraps it. #2 person picks a gift, then gets to choose whether to a) keep it, or b) swap with person #1. #3 person does the same, only they can swap with anyone who already has a present. Obviously, the best number to get is the last one! And it’s amazing how someone’s White Elephant is exactly what someone else will love.
It’s also good for everyone to have plenty of Gary Spykman’s handmade “spoonable eggnog” (recipe at the end) because sometimes fights break out. (Well, not FIGHTS, exactly, but just sayin’, don’t get too attached to your gift!
And of course, my Grandma Paxton’s yummy iced brown sugar Christmas cookies. They are the best!
In another family we’ve known for years, everyone gets new pajamas, and wears them on Christmas Day. (I can’t remember if they were matching pajamas??)
A friend told me how their family would go to movies on Christmas Day. (Movies! In a movie theater!)
Why would you share this in your newsletter?
Because regardless of religion, region, etc., holidays are a time for family-and-friend gatherings. In the best of circumstances, there are plenty of laughs and hugs, joy and eggnog (LOTS of eggnog, and don’t forget the brandy!) Being human, there might also be lots of spats and tantrums, sadness and envy, some disappointment (DO NOT GET YOUR PARTNER A VACUUM CLEANER FOR CHRISTMAS!).
There are loved ones who will be missed, for this year, or, sadly, forever.
Family traditions can be sweet. Simple. Complex and frustrating. Unusual. Fun. Embarrassing. (Mistletoe? No thank you!) Informal. Or scheduled down to the last minute.
Sharing a family tradition in our marketing newsletters allows our audience a little peek into our life, outside of the art we make. It reminds us that we are connected in all the subtleties of being human…and that we are not alone.
Of course, we can also share a funny pet story, or a beautiful sunset, or a moment of insight, as I’ve suggested in this series.
But if you get a kick out of our Yankee Swap party, or fall in love with Gary’s eggnog, or find a new passion with my Grandma’s cookie recipe (which I’ll post on my blog), imagine how YOUR audience will feel!
SPOONABLE EGGNOG BY GARY SPYKMAN (Note: If the name sounds familiar, Gary is the person who taught me how to clean, repair, and restore antique and vintage wood boxes for my Shrine Series, and offered me the use of his studio, his toolks, and his expertise to make them! You can see his work at his website: Spykman Design
This will put a little (or a lot of) Christmas Spirit(s) in you! Thick, rich, potent… irresistible!
4 eggs, separated
2 cups heavy cream (whipping cream)
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup top-shelf rum or bourbon (really, the good stuff)
1/4 cup brandy
You’ll need three mixing bowls for this.
Bowl #1: Beat egg whites until stiff.
Bowl #2: Beat egg yolks, sugar, and salt until thick and lemon-colored, stir in the booze.
Bowl #3: Whip the cream.
Gently fold the egg yolk mixture into the whipped cream, then fold in the egg whites.
Chill for an hour or two.
Scoop into individual cups, grate fresh nutmeg over the top, and serve with spoons.
GRANDMA PAXTON’S CHRISTMAS COOKIES
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. butter
4 TBS. sour milk (you can add a teensy bit of vinegar to get it ‘sour’)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
4 c. flour
Preheat oven at 350 degrees
Cream butter and sugar.
Add eggs and vanilla.
Combine dry ingredients. Add alternately with milk.
Roll and cut cookies on a lightly-floured surface. (Keep your rolling pin lightly-floured, too!)
Bake about 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned.
Beat 2 egg whites till fluffy. (My recipe says you may need to add cream of tartar, but I’m not sure why…?)
Add enough powdered sugar to make stiff frosting.
Spread on cookies and decorate!
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