Ana’s Advent Calendar, Day 2: Christmas at My House

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Thank you to everyone who made yesterday such a lavish, welcoming, and loving space. I began my day at 7 AM and didn’t finish until well into the wee hours, and in between my phone didn’t send me notifications of non-approved comments. Despite the glitches and some panicking by newbies, I believe we’ve gotten everyone’s comments approved.

Please continue to ask questions in the comments if anything is not clear. Do also continue responding to other people’s comments. I love reading the dialogue and watching the community build each year, and already this year is no exception.

Today’s post comes from Cat at Giggles, Grins, and Reflections. Cat is well-known in our blogging community for her sharp tongue and soft heart. She loves to sass, likes to play tough, and tries to hide her tenderness.

You may or may not know that Cindy, Gemma’s best friend in Gemstone, is named after Cat. While of course Cindy in the book is my own creation and not a representation of Cat, the character does have Cat’s loving heart and fierce protectiveness of her chosen family.

Cat also loves to cook, which is why I asked her to share some of her cooking traditions with you. Cat has not had an easy life, but she works hard to care for and about the people she loves. For those she loves, it is a special gift.

We’ll be asking for favorite recipes a little later, but for today let’s pull up a chair and listen to Cat’s story of Christmas at her house. What’s it like? Let’s hear from Cat.

Christmas at My House

Christmas has always been a special holiday for me and so I tried to make it a very magical time for my boys no matter what was happening in our lives.  One thing I was adamant about was that my children would spend Christmas day in their own home enjoying their gifts…Christmas eve, day after, etc. were open but Christmas day as off limits.

My ex’s family had a tradition that all the men went hunting on holidays and they were used to not serving dinner until the hunting crew came in and cleaned their catch, usually well after dark.  This is hard on kids to wait on dinner and where is my holiday?

So I started a tradition of not cooking on Christmas.  I cook the week before, some things even further out if they freeze well.  On Christmas day, all hot food is put out in crock pots or the oven and all cold food is put out on ice…I do not cook at all.

Everyone can eat whatever they want, whenever they get hungry.  Friends and family can drop in whenever is convenient and grab a plate.  As my boys got older and acquired girlfriends, this made life a lot easier for everyone to not juggle multiple dinner times.  Oh and their friends always seemed to find time to come grab a plate or two. LOL  Even after my divorce, my ex was, and still is, welcome to come for Christmas so the children don’t have to divide their time.

When the boys were younger, I was fortunately enough to be a stay at home mom and so was able to invest a lot of time in Christmas preparations.

Here is a typical menu back then:

Sweets table:

Divinity, walnut clusters, peanut clusters, chocolate covered pretzels, fudge, mini popcorn balls, mini cheesecakes, chocolate chip cookies, monster cookies, and Christmas sugar cookies.

Tidbit and cold table:

Potato salad, cole slaw, deviled eggs, fruit and dip, homemade salami, homemade bread, Boursin cheese dip, clam dip, pumpkin dip, multiple types of cheese and crackers, veggies and dip, shrimp cocktail, chips and guacamole, homemade salsa, chex mix.

Crockpots/ Oven

Ham, sweet potato dip, homemade macaroni and cheese, Queso dip (more like nachos in a dip), meatballs and little smokies in barbeque sauce, baked beans, corn pudding, green bean casserole.

Drinks

Homemade egg nog

Hot Spiced cider

Needless to say, the menu has been trimmed down quite a bit, both in what I make and the quantity of each dish.  But I still have open house for all friends and family that want to drop by.

One thing really bothered me, and still does, is that Christmas has become so commercial.  I never wanted my children to forget why we celebrated and in whose honor it was.  So one tradition I started when they were very young was a special Birthday cake that was served on Christmas morning along with hot spiced cider.  If they woke before we did (and they always did, LOL) they were allowed to open their stockings and nothing else.  Once we were all up, we sang happy birthday to the baby Jesus, cut the cake and had cake and cider while we opened our gifts.  The cake is more like a very moist”coffee cake” with nuts and spices and my gang all love it.

Even though my oldest is giving me fits with his current ‘beliefs’, he still had me send him the cake and spiced cider recipes so he can continue the tradition of eating cake and drinking cider while opening gifts, with his wife and daughters.

Life goes on and now my children will take the tradition of their childhood and incorporate the parts they want into their own family tradition…which is as it should be.

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96 thoughts on “Ana’s Advent Calendar, Day 2: Christmas at My House

  1. Joelle Casteel says:

    Such wonderful traditions, Cat. I think that’s one of my biggest complaints from many people’s holiday traditions- meals that are planned for specific times or really late. I’m hypoglycemic and vegan, but it was my mother’s type 2 diabetes that was respected in menu times, not mine health issues. I’m thinking on holiday traditions for this year; so far we’ve had the first Thanksgiving since cutting ties with my parents. This will be the first Christmas; I want it to be as special as I can make it for my 17 year old. I like your no cooking thing; I may have to consider that since I do the majority of the cooking.

    Like

    • Lynn says:

      I went vegetarian at the age of 15 Joelle and my mum always cooked a delicious nut roast for me made with pine kernels, while everyone else had their turkey. We still have it today as the kids are veggy.

      Liked by 1 person

    • catrouble says:

      Hey Joelle…I’m so sorry your requirements and lifestyle weren’t taken into consideration. The fact that you want to make this Christmas special for your daughter means that you will…no matter what you decide to do. Prepping ahead and not actually cooking on Christmas day is really nice.

      Hugs and blessings…Cat

      Like

  2. Sassytwatter says:

    Omg your menu made me so hungry sounds delicious! I love your tradition of setting aside Christmas Day where it was at home for the kids. We try to do one day home over the 3 day holiday where it is just us makes us slow down and enjoy the spirit of the holiday. I hope you will share your cake recipe! And how lovely your son is keeping the tradition alive with his family. Happy holidays!!!

    Like

  3. Lynn says:

    No cooking on Christmas Day, Cat! What a good idea 😊

    As a kid we had a strange breakfast tradition. On Christmas Eve my dad would prepare grapefruit to be eaten on Christmas morning. He would spend at least half an hour cutting them in half and then separating all the segments, removing the pips and then replacing them in the skin and sprinkling them with loads of sugar. Overnight, the sugar would partly soak in and partly set into a sparkly pattern on the top.
    At the same time my mum would soak dried salt fish and cook it on Christmas morning. We would eat that after the grapefruit with lots of bread and butter. I think we also had the salt fish at Easter but never ate it the rest of the year. I’ve no idea where the tradition came from although I suspect it was something to do with my seafaring great grandfathers who sailed before the time of refrigeration and probably ate it at sea.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Julie says:

    What a great approach for food on Christmas. It seems like a perfect way to let the day be about friends and family. And I just love the birthday cake tradition. More than presents and decorations, I think it’s those type of traditions that we all remember fondly from our childhood.

    Liked by 1 person

    • afodom says:

      We don’t do a birthday cake on Christmas, but it’s become something of a New Year’s tradition for me. My grandmother’s birthday was New Year’s day, so we always had a cake with New Year’s dinner. My grandmother passed years ago, and we live far from extended family, but I still make a birthday cake every year as part of New Year’s dinner. It’s kind of like she’s there again with me.

      Like

    • catrouble says:

      Hey Julie…I love being able to focus on friends and family rather than cooking…so nice to sit and visit. If you would like to see the recipe for the cake, it’s over on my blog…just click the recipe link on the sidebar and then scroll through the different recipes. I agree, I remember the different traditions from my childhood but very few gifts.

      Hugs and blessings…Cat

      Like

  5. awesomesub says:

    Hi Cat, I love the no-cooking idea for Christmas day, so that there is plenty of time for our loved ones. Here, I do the cooking, but it is almost embarrassing to call what I do cooking, compared to what you do! I would need another table for all the food you prepare. However, it is wonderful to have the open house, when family and friends can come. This is something I love too, which means that we divide the cooking between family and friends then. Everybody brings something. 🙂 Our alone time is Christmas eve, when we have simple food (potato salad, some meat, veggies) and can have a lot of quality time. Christmas day would be when we either have family or friends here, or would go and meet at my parents’ place.
    Not sure if that qualifies as a tradition, but I remember decorating around the house with my mom every year, and especially decorating a shelf with Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Magi and lots of sheep. I was always pretty excited about that and my sisters and I played with the little figures for hours. My parents still use that as part of their decoration for Christmas. The one other tradition we had was that my dad always bought coconuts for Christmas and opened them near the table. 🙂 Yummy.

    hugs

    Nina

    Like

    • catrouble says:

      Hey Nina…I don’t cook nearly as much now that my boys are grown and all of their friends don’t come around as much. The cold food is set out on the table and all the crockpots are set around the kitchen counters. We set up trays for anyone who wants one, otherwise everyone just grabs a plate and a seat. 😉 I’m sure you will take your favorite traditions along with hubby’s and incorporate them into traditions specific to your sweet family. Tilda and baby will then have those to build on. 🙂

      Hugs and blessings…Cat

      Like

  6. Irishey says:

    Hi, Cat! I admire your stance on keeping Christmas Day at home for your children to enjoy, and opening your home and kitchen in welcome to visitors.

    Your menu would sound wonderful if I wasn’t so so stuffed from Thanksgiving! 😉 Seriously, it IS amazing and sounds very similar to our holiday feasts whether we were dining at home or at one of our extended family member’s home. Some of our family traditions (meaning my parents, their siblings, my siblings and cousins) have stayed fairly the same over the years, but most became more fluid as our family members aged. We also continue to break into various groups as we increase in number, although any of us are welcome to spend the holidays at any relative’s home. The one constant always has been spending time with family.

    For myself and my children, we rarely have been able to spend an entire Christmas Day at home. Both my ex and I usually had to work, and there often was tension between us that made it difficult to participate and enjoy a much as I wanted. Now, and for the past several years, I have lived hundreds of miles from family so we always travel over the holidays to see them. We put up a tree in my home only 2 of the past 5 years, and I am debating myself again this year whether to have a tree and decorate because we will be gone again for the week before Christmas, and not return home until a few days after.

    I wonder if I ever will spend another Christmas in my own home. As much as I love to go spend the holidays with my parents , siblings, my grown children and grandchildren, I also would love to be able to have Christmas here. All told, at least for me and mine , Christmas happens wherever we are, whenever we manage to make it happen, for however long we are together.

    Maybe I will come visit with you this year, Cat! 😉

    Like

    • catrouble says:

      Hey Irishey…traditions constantly change as family comes, grows and goes don’t they. You said it beautifully “Christmas happens wherever we are, whenever we manage to make it happen, for however long we are together.” THAT is what is the most important thing…celebrating family!

      If you are not going to be home to really enjoy it, why go to all the work to put up a tree? Take as much stress out the holiday as you can.

      You are more than welcome to come join in the celebration my friend.

      Hugs and blessings…Cat

      Like

  7. JoanneBest says:

    Add me to the list of the menu-salivating ones, my tummy is rumbling just from reading your post! I absolutely adore your Christmas Day stay-at-home, as a child we always went to visit my Grandmother right after we finished dinner, which was usually sometime around noonish. Don’t get me wrong, I loved seeing my relatives (back then, yes, now? Not so much, they’ve showed their true colors this past year and the colors are ugly) but when you’re a kid, okay, when *I* was a kid, all I wanted to do was stay home and play with my new toys or go ice skating. It wasn’t until we got older that we began to change that tradition.
    I also love the idea of your birthday cake to remind us the reason for the season, as they say. We would always go to Church on Christmas morning, it was the one day of the year my Dad would join us. I used to sing in the choir and it was always extra special singing Christmas Day.
    When my folks were still here, we began having Christmas dinner at my brother’s house because he had a huge house with several fireplaces and an extremely formal dinner with name cards and all the finery that goes along with the pseudo-rich so if I wanted to see my Parents I had no choice but to drive down to Rumson NJ where all the hoity toities (spellcheck does not recognize “toitie” so my spelling may be off 😛 ) live and eat ridiculous amounts of mostly catered food, a good portion of which was thrown out afterwards which made my do-not-waste-food self cringe when I thought of the people in need spending the day hungry. By the end of Christmas Day we were exhausted from driving all around the state trying to keep everyone else happy. My husband would always drive the first leg of our tour but I had to drive home because I was the designated driver (#boring).
    Now that most of our families are either no longer with us or too far away to visit, we usually open one Christmas present on Christmas Eve (usually something like pajamas so we can sleep in new Christmasy sleepwear 😀 ) then I always wake up earlier than everyone else and throw in a batch or two of cinnamon rolls, put on the coffee and tea and everyone slowly wakes up to those delicious smells floating through the house.
    We have a difference of opinion when it comes to opening presents, my sis-in-law lives with us and she and my hubby like to open one gift at a time but not me, I love to tear into those piles of presents and rip them open fast as I can. I love the craziness of ripping everything open at the same time then sitting with our cups of tea/coffee and cinnamon rolls as we slowly examine everything we got as our Christmas dinner slowly cooks. We used to have turkey and ham but the last few Christmases we’ve begun to switch things up a bit by making a rack of prime rib with Yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes and gravy and all the trimmings. I am so hungry right now I could eat my laptop 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • awesomesub says:

      Joanne, I am with you on the extremely formal dinner, especially in the family. The more relaxed kind is more like what I want. Haha, ripping through the presents is fun, though we have come to unwrap them one at a time. Something about being a good example for my nieces was mentioned. They would have loved the quicker way too. I know it! 🙂 Yummy, your Christmas food ideas sound awesome too. Reading so much about food makes me hungry too. Biscuit time.

      Nina

      Like

    • afodom says:

      Opening one present on Christmas Eve is a tradition that my husband brought with him when we married. At first, I was against it – SAVE EVERYTHING FOR THE MORNING. But after a couple years of arguing about it, I realized I was being a bit disrespectful of traditions that mattered to him. I embraced it with my own added touch of those Eve gifts being PJs. And then it wound up being 2 Eve gifts – one PJs, and another someone gets to pick for you from under the tree. That second one is usually the one someone else is just TOO EXCITED TO GIVE TO YOU SO THEY CAN’T WAIT UNTIL THE MORNING.

      That’s the magic my husband brings to my home during this season – traditions all about celebrating how much fun it is to give to others. I extra EXTRA love him during this time of year.

      Like

      • catrouble says:

        Growing up, we also had a Christmas Eve tradition of opening one “small” gift after coming home from Christmas Eve mass. I started letting my children open their “small” gift before going to bed on Christmas Eve…when they were younger, it was usually a book that I would then read to them.

        I love learning about different traditions. It’s great to take your favorite traditions and blend them when you blend your lives isn’t it.

        Hugs and blessings…Cat

        Like

    • catrouble says:

      Hey Joanne…growing up, my mom, grandmother and aunts took turns hosting Christmas dinner but whoever hosted, we had a bunch of unhappy kids since everyone wanted to stay home and play with their new stuff. If they were at our house, we couldn’t play with our new stuff unless we shared…same for the cousins when we went to their house. Now tell me…what kid wants to share their brand new gift they haven’t even got to play with yet!

      I like your idea of cinnamon rolls…I love the smell of the yeast and the cinnamon which lingers long after they are eaten.

      I love to watch everyone else open gifts so I’m usually the last to open mine. I love savoring the anticipation so open them very slowly. 😉

      Ooh…rack of prime rib with Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings sound awesome! Now I’m getting hungry. LOL

      Hugs and blessings…Cat

      Like

  8. SH says:

    Cat, what a wonderful post! I cook Christmas Eve and then again smaller for Christmas Day but I certainly don’t have your menu, whew! High five on your menu! I can so relate to spending Christmas day at home. We started doing the same thing when our children were small because who really wants to leave brand new toys and presents or have to get dressed to go out?! Now that our children are grown they all come to our house Christmas Eve in pajamas 😀 My husband and I then spend Christmas morning visiting our grandbabies at their homes because my adult children are carrying on that tradition.

    Liked by 1 person

    • afodom says:

      I love that you go around and visit your grandbabies at their homes on Christmas morning! What a treat for your kids, who don’t have to do all that “get the kids out of the house” on Christmas Day. And what a treat for your grandbabies, who get to see you in the comfort of their own home. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • catrouble says:

      LOL SH…I have cut back on the menu over the years but according to my mom, I need to cut back more. Of course, she doesn’t object to taking home ‘care packages’ of food. 😀

      Once I had the boys, mom started hosting Christmas Eve so we could all get together and then she and dad, like you, would come to my home to watch the boys open their gifts…awesome tradition! Wish I lived closer to my grandbabies so I could do that. Doesn’t it make you feel good to see your children carry on some of your traditions. 😉

      Hugs and blessings…Cat

      Liked by 1 person

  9. afodom says:

    I’m loving the food-out-all-day tradition. The extended family on my side still does the “everyone cooks all day, gets out the formal china, and sits for a meal at a certain time” approach. There’s a magic to that, as everyone is cooking together, the house is warm, and formal china is REALLY pretty. It adds a little “this day is special” to things.

    That said, my husband brought a completely different tradition to our marriage. His family always did a big dinner on Christmas Eve, and opened one gift while everyone was there. On Christmas Day, everyone opened presents at their own homes, then they all went to his grandparents for simple breakfast – biscuits, eggs, bacon, gravy. There was no cooking for the rest of the day, and everyone hung out at his grandparents all day playing with whatever gifts they had brought along with them.

    We don’t live near extended family now, so our traditions are all our own to do with what we will. I have to admit that I was GUNG HO not cooking on Christmas Day. So our tradition has evolved to be dinner on Christmas Eve, and we invite any local friends who don’t have anyone to spend the holiday with and are looking for a gathering. We open two gifts on Christmas Eve – one from the Pajama Elf (pajamas!) and one that someone else just DESPERATELY WANTS TO GIVE RIGHT NOW.

    Then, on Christmas Day, we pretty much don’t do anything. I’ll put on a pot of grits in the morning, and if anyone wants eggs with it, they go ahead and make their own whenever they want to. Mike usually throws some canned biscuits in the oven. Depending on how lazy we’re feeling, someone might cook bacon. We never change out of our PJs all day. All meals are leftovers from Christmas Eve dinner whenever you want to eat.

    Lazing around in PJs all day, playing games, and eating leftovers has become my favorite way to celebrate Christmas ever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • catrouble says:

      Oh I hated the formal china sit down dinner route. After a big dinner, all those dishes had to be hand washed and dried while whoever hosted (mom, aunt, grandmother) watched nervously.

      Ooh…I do like your husbands tradition of going to the grandparents for a simple breakfast and visiting.

      Christmas eggs and grits sound awesome! Love grits! Ya know, when Mike gets the oven preheated for the biscuits, he could put the bacon in the oven for about 20 minutes before adding the biscuits…they should both come out about the same time. Less work! 😉

      Reading everyone’s posts, I realize I really missed out…never had the pajama elf bringing new jammies…will have to start that with the grands…sending them new nightgown and robe so will ask son and DIL if they can open on Christmas eve.

      Love your Christmas day tradition.

      Hugs and blessings…Cat

      Like

        • catrouble says:

          It looks lovely Ana but after a long day of cooking, to hand wash and dry each piece is a lot of work. We were never allowed to leave dishes until morning and never, ever could we let china drip dry. Not so much fun. 😉

          Like

  10. Amy says:

    I’m drooling too! And I LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of putting things in crock pots and just letting people help themselves as they come and go. That feels so welcoming. Plus, what a neat idea if you have multiple people to visit. I mean, who hasn’t had to endure at least two or three BIG holiday dinners because of having to go to several different houses? I seriously want to start a no-cooking tradition too! (Might just happen this year, since it’s the first time we’re home at Christmas in more than a dozen years.)

    Cat, that’s really awesome that you maintained the kind of relationship with your ex where he could stop by too and make things easier on the kids. I know it doesn’t always work that way for everyone, but that warmed my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • catrouble says:

      Hey Amy…it does take a bit of organization and prep but it is so worth it. My boys really loved it when they got older and had girlfriends…to try to get a dinner time planned around multiple dinner schedules is crazy. If you decide to start the no-cooking on Christmas day tradition and have any questions, feel free to email me…will be happy to help.

      It’s been a lot of hard work to maintain the relationship but at the same time, it is so much better for my kids. We are actually good friends now.

      Hugs and blessings…Cat

      Like

  11. Monica Wiant says:

    I love the idea of not cooking! My mother was often too busy and distracted with cooking to sit down and enjoy the holiday meal with the rest of the family. That doesn’t seem healthy for anyone. All that prep work is for a good cause – time together.

    Your home sounds so warm and welcoming. Friends, neighbors, even your ex… We should all aspire to create such an inviting space for the holidays.

    Like

    • Sarah Bennett says:

      Monica

      When I was growing up, my mom and grandma were always too busy and stressed to truly enjoy the holiday. I always swore I’d not be that person.
      I try hard to plan ahead and make things ahead of time if we have guests. Helps me to be able to relax and enjoy the company.

      Like

    • catrouble says:

      It’s a rewarding tradition and the prep work does pay off Monica. I think my family and friends like the idea that we can all visit whenever they arrive and they don’t have to adhere to a schedule.

      Thank you for the lovely compliment…I love have friends and family over.

      Hugs and blessings…Cat

      Like

  12. Sarah Bennett says:

    Hi Cat

    I love reading about your holiday traditions. It sounds amazing!!

    My wife and I are in the process of making our own traditions here in Finland. I’ve been here just shy of a year. Last year we celebrated solely with her family a couple of hours north of where we live.
    It is fun to mix Finnish and American Christmas traditions and cuisine.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • catrouble says:

      Hey Sarah…how fun to marry the traditions from two different cultures and cuisines! Would love to hear more about you two have accomplished that. Happy you enjoyed reading about my traditions.

      Hugs and blessings…Cat

      Like

  13. Mary Mccoy says:

    I love the idea of a no cook Christmas day. As most of our extended family lives in the next state, we have a family Christmas Eve with casual comfort foods. Then we get in the car on Christmas Day and drive with our family and hot dish to the relative hosting Christmas dinner. Everything is very informal and fun. We never know who all is going to show up, and for many it is the only chance to see each other until next Christmas.
    When we were younger, all of us kids sang in the choir, so we all went to church on Christmas morning. That was the emphasis in our house, not the shopping or elaborate formal dinners.

    Like

    • catrouble says:

      Hey Mary…I love casual comfort foods…makes everything better doesn’t it. How far do you have to drive with a hot dish? It is fun to gather together and catch up on everyone isn’t it. How fun to sing in the choir and I love that the emphasis was on the fellowship not the things.

      Hugs and blessings…Cat

      Like

        • catrouble says:

          You could always invest in one of those travel crockpots that are guaranteed to keep food hot for a certain amount of time…have even seen some that have a locking lid so nothing spills. 😉

          Like

            • catrouble says:

              Three years ago, a manager I did a favor for sent me the cutest little trio crockpot with a travel bag. They each hold one quart so that’s what I now put my hot dips in. Then two years ago, my ex gave me a triple crockpot which takes up less space on the counter than 3 crockpots. So now I have 3 individual crockpots (1 rectangle, 1 round, 1 oblong) along with the large and small triple ones. They all come in handy. 😉

              Like

  14. renee200 says:

    Wow, how cool is that? No cooking on Christmas day. Wonderful post Cat. Your system really allows people to focus on the season and family. Christmas day in our house has developed into a time of shared cooking. We work together over the weeks before Christmas picking out recipes. Then either the day before or the day of each child (not so child anymore) prepares at least one dish that will be served on Christmas day. This way I am not doing all the cooking and they are not only learning to cook but also to think about others. Our oldest is vegetarian and you never know with the next one in line. The younger ones have some very limited food options. I have found it interesting to hear the conversation between siblings concerning whether there is enough of this type of food for each specific dietary restrictions. I do the turkey and mashed potatoes but even with those our youngest has been really helpful. It might be that I cook the turkey in champagne and she just loves to taste a little bubbly but either way its nice to see everyone pitching in. Blessings, Renee

    Liked by 1 person

    • catrouble says:

      Hey Renee…I do like the idea of shared cooking. I insisted that both of my boys learn to cook and they each ended up having to teach their wives…the oldest DIL could at least cook basics but couldn’t even make deviled eggs. *sigh* How lovely that your children are concerned with making sure there is enough food to accommodate everyone’s dietary restrictions/choices. Ooh…never heard of cooking turkey in champagne! My dad would have gone nuts for that…he loved cooking with any kind of wine. You’ll have to share that recipe with us!

      Hugs and blessings…Cat

      Like

  15. pieclown says:

    Hi Cat, Pieclown here, you know the winner of the Having Fun All Night
    Prize for Advent Calendar 2014. It still hands in my living room. I do thank you for the donation last year. I would like to day I have had similar adventures at holidays. On New Years, my grandma ( was raised by my dad’s folks) would do plates with meats and cheeses so we could have sandwiches when we wanted them. My ex-wife has had me over to her place for Christmas and other holidays. Not sure the plan this year, but I was over there on Thanksgiving.

    Well it is getting close to my bed time, yes only 530 pm, but I am at work at 430 am.

    pie pie 4 now

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    • catrouble says:

      Hey Pieclown…yes I remember. I’m so happy you are enjoying your painting. Your grandma had the right idea didn’t she…that’s one reason I have different breads out…so that people can make sandwiches if they prefer. So happy that you and your ex-wife get along so that you can enjoy holidays together. Hope you share Christmas. Get a good night’s sleep…sweet dreams.
      Hugs and blessings…Cat

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  16. Loralynne Summers says:

    I am SO stealing that “no cooking” idea when it becomes our turn! Of course, that’s if my wonderfully skilled and amazing cook of a husband will let me, lol! My mother was the same way about no traveling on Christmas. She’s always been a stickler for having her family together on Christmas, so luckily for her, both her children married Italians who do everything on Christmas Eve. 🙂

    My sister-in-law has been doing Christmas dinner for several years, but my nephew is 16 now. My baby is just one year old, so we’re good with traveling for this year, and probably next, before the torch gets passed on to me. I know my mother will be happy with that, my SIL always makes ham, and my husband likes prime rib for Christmas dinner. 🙂

    One thing I remember from childhood is SO MANY cookies! My mom would bake tons of cookies. We’ve scaled it back to just a few, but my MIL still makes a ton for Christmas Eve dinner. Christmas morning, (and Easter morning) we have a tradition of ham sandwiches. My mother makes babka (Polish raisin bread) and then we get fresh ham at the deli and fry it in the pan with some butter, and put that on toasted babka- yum!!! This past year my mom got the recipe the closest she’s ever gotten to my grandmother’s since taking it over years ago. Soon I’ll be the one making the bread.

    We also did the one present Christmas Eve thing, but now that I open so many with my husband’s family (my MIL has a bit of a shopping addiction), I’ve stopped doing that at home. Sometimes we bring a gift for each other to his parent’s house, but the past few years we’ve just waited until the morning for each other.

    Like

    • catrouble says:

      Hey Loralynne…I’m sure you can talk your wonderfully talented husband into putting his cooking skills into getting everything read for ovens and crockpots so that everyone can just visit and enjoy each other on Christmas day. So much fun to play with the little ones and their toys rather than cooking. Ooh yummy…that bread sounds awesome and then toasted with fried ham? Heavenly! Hope you’re gonna share that recipe. 😉 I do love lots of cookies for Christmas…have already baked the ginger cookies have them in the freezer. 🙂

      Hugs and blessings…Cat

      Like

  17. Minelle says:

    Cat this was perfect! I have stolen your Baby Jesus cake as one tradition I keep now. I think I have baked it 3 years in a row. I love it! One day when I have grands I will add singing Happy Birthday to Jesus!
    I am one of the families that gives new PJs every Christmas Eve. We open the jammies and then those of us who go to Midnight Mass head on out!
    I think I may cut down on my work this Holiday by using throw away plates and silverware!

    Like

    • catrouble says:

      Happy you enjoy that tradition Minelle…it is awesome isn’t it. Oh I forgot to mention that I buy those heavy duty paper plates small and large. We do use the regular silverware (which can all just go in the dishwasher) but in some years have run out of clean so I always keep the heavy duty plasticware on hand as a backup. Definitely cut down your work woman! 😉

      Hugs and blessings…Cat

      Like

  18. larachristine2112 says:

    I would love to have been a part of your family. For the most anyway, I would not enjoy a birthday cake on Christmas morning. Not that I am against the whole idea just the cake. I have had this life long feud with Christmas being my birthday is 4 days prior. Everyone always told ” wow you get double presents” in your dreams. Yea I got the cake, the song, but no presents. Those were combination gifts not to be opened until Christmas.
    I guess we had the typical Norman Rockwell type sit down dinner. The ham, yams, the green bean casserole etc etc etc. My dad alwYs had the bottle of wine which I was given a little, hey I was only Mogan David.
    When I was married the Christmas tradition changed, for the better. We started having the big family meals on Christmas Eve. And a different good item, pasties. That way Christmas you could spend it with just ourselves. We would prepare breakfast for the kids so that when they would get up they could eat and open their presents and I could sleep in.
    Unfortunately after our parents passed away we all kind of scattered around the US. The one constant and my personal favorite is the Pasties.
    Even now with most of the children grown, a divorce it remain the one thing they all hold on to. It simple like Cat’s Birthday cake for the saviour. I hope it will be something they pass on to their children.

    Like

    • catrouble says:

      Aww LaraChristine…at my house, we have a birthday tradition that you get a cake or pie on your birthday (my boys preferred pie to regular birthday cake) as well as your choice of dinner menu and no matter how close your birthday is to another holiday, you receive separate gifts. To give you an example, my mother’s birthday sometimes fell on Mother’s day…always got double gifts. Even though my youngest son’s birthday is only 3 weeks before Christmas, he receives gifts for both.

      Ooh…your tradition of Pasties sounds lovely and very yummy. Oh and BTW…the Christmas cake is not a regular birthday cake…bet you would love it. 😉

      Hugs and blessings…Cat

      Like

    • catrouble says:

      I think you could…sort of like a per-emptive strike. 😉 Of course this is just my opinion, which, along with $1 will get you a cheap cup of coffee. 😀

      Like

  19. nerdgirl1115 says:

    I’m not a religious person. I’d say I’m spiritual, but not religious. Christmas for me has always been about our family coming together. My Uncle, who had Down Syndrome, would come home for the week. Time was spent making sure he had a grand time. We would ride around and look at Christmas lights. Get his picture taken with Santa at the mall. See as many action movies as we could. Christmas Eve we all got together for dinner. We could open one present if we wanted to. Christmas Day would start off with opening stockings and presents. We all wore Christmas pajamas. We ate a big breakfast and watched the Disney Christmas Parade. The rest of the day was spent lounging around, playing outside, watching football or movies, and munching on snacks. Christmas night we all got together again for a grand dinner. The holidays were always about making my Uncle as happy as possible. A little over 6 years ago our traditions ceased to exist. My father died, and 8 days later my Uncle died. I haven’t enjoyed holidays since then all that much. Things are very different than they used to be. My Mom and I go to friends houses for holiday dinners. While it’s a slow process, my Mom and I are developing new traditions. Things will never be like they were, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be wonderful again.

    Like

  20. nerdgirl1115 says:

    I’m not religious. I would say I am spiritual though. Christmas to me means more about family time. At least it did until about six years ago. My holidays have always been about bringing our immediate family together. My Uncle, who had Down Syndrome, would come home for a week. He lived in a group home where he had a better social life than most folks. Anyways, he would spend a week with us at Christmas. My time was always spent doing things to make him happy. That meant going to Target (where we would find out he conveniently left his wallet at home), going to the movies, eating out, watching football, watching ABC soap operas, and whatever else we came up with. One of our traditions with him was to always going riding around to look at the Christmas lights. Sometimes more than once. Christmas Eve we would all come together to have dinner. Everyone could open up one present if they wanted to. Christmas morning was spent, first, seeing what Santa brought my Uncle. He never stopped believing. We would all wear Christmas pajamas. We would have a big breakfast after opening all of the presents. When the Disney Christmas Parade would come on we would gather around the TV to watch. The rest of the day was spent watching football, movies, or playing outside. We would all come together again for Christmas dinner. The holidays were my favorite time of the year. I loved making them special for my Uncle. About 6 years ago, my Dad died after a 3-month illness. 8 days later my Uncle died. Since then I haven’t really liked the holidays. They were really just another day of the week for all I cared. Nowadays, my Mom and I go over to a friend’s house for the holiday. While I have a sister and a niece, we are not close. My friends have become my chosen family. My chosen sister has a 3-year old who I love with everything in me. We are starting to make some new traditions. I am starting to enjoy the holidays again. While it will never be the same, I’m starting to feel it can be wonderful again.

    Like

    • catrouble says:

      Hey Nerdgirl…I am spiritual not religious also…religion and I came to a parting of the ways many moons ago. 😉 I do understand your problem with celebrating Christmas after losing your Dad and Uncle…that is tough. I lost my Dad and Uncle within 2 months of each of and if it hadn’t been for my boys, I probably wouldn’t have cared about Christmas either.

      I really loved how special you and your Uncle made the holidays for each other. I hope you can recapture some of those feelings of wonder and joy as you celebrate with the sister and niece of your heart.

      Hugs and blessings…Cat

      Like

  21. catrouble says:

    Thank you Ana for allowing me to be a part of this wonderful Advent Calendar and share a few of my memories with everyone. Thanks to everyone who commented and shared some of their memories and traditions.

    Hugs and blessings…Cat

    Like

  22. Laura says:

    No cooking on Christmas – I love the idea but I think the rest of my family would protest. We always had Christmas at my parents and when they passed we decided to let each of us host Christmas so that one person wasn’t swamped with work every year. As for opening presents on Christmas Eve we got to open one and the rest were saved for Christmas Day. One year the five of us made such a racket about opening more than one that my Dad told us to go ahead and open all of them but he didn’t want to hear any whining the next day. Needless to say, we never did take again because getting up on Christmas morning and having noting to open was awful for all of us. Lesson learned.

    Like

    • catrouble says:

      LOL Laura…your dad sounds like a very wise man. That is a lovely tradition of rotating hosting duties. Celebrating the season together is what is important isn’t it.

      Hugs and blessings…Cat

      Like

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