I. Love. Christmas. I love everything about Christmas from shopping for that perfect gift for a loved one to baking tons of Christmas cookies to listening to Christmas music from Thanksgiving on. OK, well, if I’m being 100% honest I don’t love the crowds that come along with Christmas, but if I do my shopping at home on amazon.com (or prepare by drinking a few glasses of wine before Jeff drives me around looking for presents) then I’m a-ok! Obviously I’ll be foregoing the latter this year…
During the Christmas season I have several “must dos” on my list. I also have lots of favorite things I watch, listen to, or eat every year. I thought I would go over some of those things today!
Favorite Christmas Cookie – Christmas Butter Cookies
Most of my food favorites I have been making or eating for as long as I can remember. Perhaps that’s why they are my favorites? My favorite Christmas cookie is no exception. Every year without fail I must make at least one batch of Christmas Butter Cookies. I can remember rolling out the dough and using those awful metal cookie cutters that were so detailed your cookie would fall apart before you even got it on the sheet. My favorite cookie cutter was one in the shape of an angel like this. Her wings and head fell off a lot, but she was still my favorite!
I had a love/hate relationship with these cookies for a long time because I hated rolling out the dough and cutting the cookies. Then I got smart. I would pick one design (typically something simple like a Christmas tree or a bell) and make all my cookies with that design. This way I would be able to quickly cut out the cookies and then I could spend my time decorating them with homemade icing! I can still remember sitting at the kitchen table for hours trying to get my cookies to look just so before deciding I was tired of being creative and would go all Jackson Pollock on them.
This technique actually made for some pretty neat looking cookies!
Favorite Christmas Appetizer – Sausage Balls
This, again, is one of those recipes I have been making for years and years and years. I almost always make them for our carry in at work on Christmas Eve. (In case you don’t already know, I work retail and always have to work on Christmas Eve. To make this day more fun, we have a big carry in where everyone makes things and exchange presents and the whole lot. It’s quite fun!)
This year, since I most likely won’t be there for Christmas Eve as I’ll be on maternity leave, I decided to make the sausage balls for our Black Friday carry in instead! They are always a big hit. I can’t have a holiday season go by without making these balls at least once. I even made them for my baby shower this year!
Favorite Christmas Eve Meal – Homemade Pizza
When I was little, we would go to midnight mass at our church. For this reason, we typically made homemade pizza for our dinner. It was quick, easy, and made terrific leftovers for the next day! I can remember standing on a chair putting the pepperonis on the pizzas under my mom’s watchful eye. I looked forward to this meal every year and continue to carry on this tradition any time I can. As I mentioned above, I work Christmas Eve every year. On top of this, every OTHER year, Jeff and I make the three hour pilgrimage to Cleveland to spend Christmas with my Dad, stepmom, and their family. Sometimes I don’t get a chance to make homemade pizza simply because I’m not home. This year, however, homemade pizza will be made! (Can you tell I’m looking forward to having the holiday season off? First time in 8 years!)
Favorite Christmas Meal – Standing Rib Roast
Yes, Christmas dinner is a splurge for us. My parents started having standing rib roast for dinner as far back as I can remember. My dad was in charge of the meat and he would carefully prepare and cook it until it was perfectly done. Seasoning it with salt, pepper, and other spices, he would let it hang out on the counter coming to room temperature (like a good cook would) while soaking in all the yummy seasonings. Then he would cook it in the oven until the outside was crispy and the inside was like buttah! Gosh, my mouth is watering…
When Jeff and I moved in together, I decided to treat us to my family’s traditional Christmas dinner one year. I made the rib roast, crab cakes (a new favorite of ours that year), salad, twice baked potatoes, and chocolate mousse. We stuffed ourselves silly that year and loved every minute of it! I will hopefully get to do the same kind of thing this year! Not only is this my favorite Christmas meal, it’s one of my favorite meals period. 24/7/365!
Favorite Live Action Christmas Movie – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
For as long as I can remember (I feel like I’m using that phrase a lot in this post!), this has been my favorite live action Christmas movie. I don’t know if it’s how hilarious Chevy Chase is, how crazy Uncle Eddie is, or simply because of Aunt Bethany. She makes the movie, I think! All I know is I have to watch this movie every year no matter what. In fact, I’ve already watched it this year! This is one of those movies my sister and I can quote to each other and get each other laughing hysterically in a matter of minutes. Love it!
Favorite Christmas Cartoon – Dr. Suess’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Oh, Maxie! This is, without a doubt, the best Christmas cartoon out there. Sure, Frosty is great and Rudolph is nice (though he’s not really a cartoon…), but the Grinch steals my heart every time. My sister is obsessed with Max the dog. Every time she sees him she says “Maxie!!!” I tend to watch this movie a few times every season because I love it so much. Other people must love it as much as I do, otherwise they wouldn’t charge $9.99 for a 30 minute movie on amazon.com! (This is down from the $14.99 it was last year…)
Favorite Christmas Album – Alabama’s “Christmas”
There are a lot of Christmas albums out there that are good…Barenaked Ladies “Barenaked for the Holidays”, the Elf soundtrack, and Josh Groban’s “Noel”, but the album that holds a very dear place in my heart is Alabama’s “Christmas” album. I remember riding in the car with my dad listening to this album as a verrrrry small child. It was released in 1985 and, since I was born in ’81, it’s been around almost as long as I have. Even now, when I hear “Tennessee Christmas” or “Christmas in Dixie” I have to stop for a minute and take it all in. And, buddy, if I’m listening to the album the whole way through, I have to have a tissue or two handy. I get very sentimental and emotional around Christmastime and this album is definitely one that makes me remember my childhood. I will always link this album with my daddy and the great times we had as a family during Christmastime in Tennessee. Love you, Dad!
Favorite Christmas Carol (Classic) – “Carol of the Bells”
Hark how the bells,
sweet silver bells,
all seem to say,
throw cares away
I used to say “O Holy Night” was my favorite Christmas Carol, but one day I was listening to a bunch of Christmas music and this song stuck out to me. I love the melody and the fast paced lyrics. Like I said, it just stands out to me as my favorite carol. Really, there’s no one reason I like this song more than the others. I just like it best!
Favorite Christmas Song (Modern) – Kenny Chesney’s “All I Want for Christmas is a Real Good Tan”
There are so many great modern songs I like, but this one combines two of my favorite loves into one: Christmas and tropical weather. Honestly, I don’t know that I would really like to spend Christmas in a tropical climate seeing as when I think of Christmas I think mittens, hot chocolate, and snow, but that doesn’t make me like this song any less. I think it would be neat to spend one Christmas on the beach soaking up the rays. You know…at least to try it! Either way, this is one of the first Christmas songs I think of when I think modern Christmas music. I look forward to listening to it every year.
Favorite Christmas Song (Instrumental) – Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas Eve Sarajevo”
Who doesn’t like this song? I mean, really? When I’m listening to it while driving, I have to make myself slow down because it revs me up and gets me in good spirits! I remember when my high school boyfriend introduced me to this song during the holiday season one year. I loved it and made him play it over and over and over again! I’m pretty sure I made him sick of it. I can still listen to it over and over again. I love it!
Favorite Christmas Ornament – Disney World 2009
Jeff and I got this ornament while we were in Disney World in February of 2009. I knew I wanted to get an ornament, but couldn’t find any that really spoke to me. I like simple, classic pieces (like these James Avery ornaments), so when I saw this silver Mickey ornament, I knew it was perfect. I love that it’s engraved with “2009″ on it so we will always remember when we got it and will be able to relive the memories we shared while on vacation there! We are both looking forward to taking our little Peanut to Disney World when he’s old enough.
Best Christmas Memory – Christmas ’89
One of the most fun Christmases I remember is when my mom’s entire family came for Christmas in the winter of ’89. My grandmother, two aunts, two uncles, and three cousins migrated northeast from Texas to spend a week with us in our Tennessee house. I have Christmas morning on tape and try to watch it every year at least once. I was 8. It was one of the best times I’d ever had, especially because it snowed that year! Snow in Tennessee is like rain in the desert…infrequent and magical! I can still remember playing with all my cousins in the snow after opening scads of Christmas presents and “outing” Santa Claus!
Side story: How I Found Out Santa Wasn’t Real
I had a bad habit of snooping around for Christmas presents when I was little. A very bad habit. In fact, my siblings even taught me how to open my Christmas presents and retape them without our parents being the wiser, though Dad swears he could tell… This year, after my mom and Aunt Anita came back from shopping, I sneakily snooped in the trunk of the car and found a pair of white, frilly barrettes. I still remember what they looked like…white, circular cloth with pink ribbons on them. I made a mental note of this and went on my way. Wouldn’t you know, I got those same barrettes in my stocking from Santa. I even make a special effort to point these barrettes out to my mom on the video I have. While we are opening presents, I keep my little secret to myself. Only while we are getting ready for breakfast do I announce, in front of my two younger cousins mind you, that Santa is not real and I have proof, clutching my barrettes in my 8-year-old hand. My parents quickly shoo me out of the kitchen and speak quietly to me about Santa and how we will have a discussion later. Luckily, my cousins did not hear my announcement, but from that moment on, I knew the secret.
I recently read this article about how one mom explained Santa to her child. I thought it was a very sweet way to explain things and I am considering doing the same thing in (hopefully) 10 years when my little guy starts questioning things.
Best Christmas Present – Our Little Bundle
Now, I don’t know for certain, but I have a feeling my favorite Christmas present of all time is arriving this year. He’s going to come a little earlier than most Christmas presents, but I’m ok with that. Spending Christmas with our little guy is going to be one of the most magical experiences of my life and I look forward to it every day. I know he won’t understand the magic of Christmas this year or probably even be awake for much of it, but being able to cuddle him and kiss him and marvel over him will be enough for us. I don’t think that any other present, past or future, will ever replace the one we are getting this year. Unless of course we get another little miracle around Christmastime, but please let’s not get that far quite yet!
I hope my Christmas favorites have put you in the holiday spirit. I would love to hear about some of your favorite memories and traditions! Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year and I look forward to it the whole year long. I love being around family and creating memories that will last a lifetime. I am so excited to start a new chapter of my life during the most magical time of the year. I hope your Christmas season is wonderful! I can’t wait to hear about it and share my experiences with you guys as well!
Also, don’t forget to check out my Healthy Hydration post and enter for your chance to win a Crystal Light prize pack! Entries must be submitted by this weekend!