Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Spirit of Christmas: Day 6

The Christmas Pickle

The Hamilton family loves to visit the town of Solvang, California. It's a cute little Danish town where the family found a fun new tradition. The Christmas Pickle is a much disputed German tradition. Why is it disputed you ask? Because no one can confirm its origins being in Germany. This article was pretty funny to read because the author has been trying since 2003 to prove or disprove the origins.

Here's the tradition as we follow it in the Hamilton home. Mom Hamilton hides the tiny glass pickle on the tree when no one else is home to see where it is placed. (Crazy thing about the pickle Mom uses, its only half an inch long.) Then, we all search for the pickle, all the way til Christmas morning. Whoever gets to the pickle first, gets the extra Christmas treat. Usually the extra present is a really yummy treat that the pickle finder shares with the whole family.

Here's the tradition as explained on most Christmas Pickle packaging.

Last year Mom Hamilton got each family their own larger Christmas pickle to carry on the tradition in the years we are apart.

Want your own Christmas Pickle? Just be careful that no one charges the Christmas tree on their way to find it.

Look forward to a Stocking for Jesus tomorrow.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Spirit of Christmas: Day 5

Christmas Jammies

Growing up in the Raymond home, we had a set of matching red Christmas nightgowns that were passed down from when Sarah, Jessiy, and Maggie were little. I thought it was so fun to wear the matching nightgowns because they had my sisters' names on them and as I got older I got to wear them in sequential order. Other than those nightgowns, we did not really have matching Christmas Jammies until I was in college.

These are the first matching Christmas jammies I remember. Gray bottoms and lime green tops. We picked more functional colors after that.

Christmas 2008 in Las Vegas. It's so fun to have all sisters.

The Christmas jammie tradition is one that they follow in Jon's family as well. They get their new jammies on Christmas Eve and some years they match, other years they don't. It is the one present from their parents that they get to open on Christmas Eve. Since we won't be with the Hamilton's for Christmas this year, Jon and I got matching jammies to wear on Thanksgiving Eve and we will wear them again Christmas Eve. Sometime I will have to post a picture.

Look forward to tomorrow with... The Christmas Pickle.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Spirit of Christmas: Day 4

Christmas Morning Train

This tradition is a fun and silly one that Jon and his siblings created when they moved to Poway. This is the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve at the Hamilton home.
You'll notice that there are no presents under the Christmas tree. At the Hamilton home, Santa arranges all of the presents under the tree when he brings his presents. He makes sure that none of them are stacked on top of one another and basically they fan out from under the tree to the middle of the room. It is a sight to behold.

Growing up, the kids did not want to peek at the tree until after they had waited patiently in their mom and dad's room. Mom and Dad's room is located at the top of the stairs across from the Christmas tree, so the kids would create a human train with their eyes closed and shuffle from the kid wing of the house past the living room, kitchen, and family room, until they got to the base of the stairs. Then they climbed up and waited patiently while their dad went down and got the camera ready to see their first Christmas morning reaction.

Even though the Hamilton kids are grown-ups now, they still have a fun time shuffling down the hallway and waiting in Mom and Dad's room until the cameras are ready. With Sam, Ben, and Charlotte's reactions, who wouldn't love this tradition?

Look forward to tomorrow for Christmas Jammies.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Spirit of Christmas: Day 3

Candy Advent

This tradition is one that comes from Jon's side of the family. Every year after Thanksgiving Jon's whole family would get together and make a candy countdown to Christmas morning. It's so simple and fun. The things you need are
  • about 2 feet of thick Christmas ribbon (for each countdown)
  • hot glue gun
  • 25 pieces of individually wrapped quarter size candy.
  • 4 inch piece of skinny coordinating ribbon
To assemble, glue the candies in a straight row down the thick ribbon, spacing them out a little bit to make it look prettier. Once all of the candies are attached take the skinny ribbon and cross it so it looks like this
Glue the part where it crosses together and then glue to the middle of the top of the thick ribbon. This is what you will hang it on the wall with. Now, all you have to do is take off one piece of candy for each day in the month of December leading to Christmas.

I'll post pictures after we make ours. They are super fun and easy.

Look forward to the Christmas Morning Train tomorrow.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Spirit of Christmas: Day 2

As I've worked on my list of Christmas traditions to share, I realized that almost all of my traditions relate to Christmas Eve. I love Christmas Day also, but I think Christmas Eve was the memory making evening. Today's tradition involves books.

The Aunt Ida Book

I think this tradition began before I was born. My mother's Aunt Ida would send some money to my parents every year to get each of us girls a Christmas gift. I am not sure if she was the one who came up with the book idea, or if it was my mother. But, every year on Christmas Eve we got to open one gift at home with my mom and dad. Every year, that Christmas Eve gift was a Christmas book from my Aunt Ida. We would curl up on the couches, all 5 girls, the two cats, and my parents, with a million blankets and read. Some years the TV was on for those people who got chapter books that would take longer to read, but most of the time I remember us just hanging out with our books all warm and cozy. Even after Aunt Ida passed away, we carried on this tradition in her memory.

I am pretty sure that my mom has one of the largest private Christmas book collections. My favorite book from her collection though, is The Gingerbears First Christmas. It may seem weird, but all of my favorite books in general seem to have only been published for one year in the 1980s.

This year I had my eye on A Christ-Centered Christmas by Emily Freeman, but Deseret Book beat me to the punch. I guess it's one of the perks of working for a bookstore. So this Christmas Eve, I'll wrap up my copy and probably this book for Jon and we can curl up on my parents couch to read yet again.

Look forward tomorrow to Candy Advent calendars.

P.S. To the readers who are in my family. Yesterday was my first Thanksgiving with the Hamiltons. We had a really fun time, but watching them do their Thanksgiving traditions made me miss ours. And by ours I mean, I really miss Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa Raymond's house. Sitting in the TV den at the card table on the wooden folding chairs. Jessiy goofing off and doing the "paper shredder" with mashed potatoes. Laying on the front room couches with multi-colored knitted blankets. Playing with the old school phone in the basement laundry room. I guess I'm just a little homesick for Michigan. I hope we can all get together again for a holiday some time soon.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Spirit of Christmas: Day 1

Let me first begin with Happy Thanksgiving to all!!! And to all a tummy-ache free night!!!

Like I mentioned before, for the next 30 days, I am going to post about a Christmas tradition that I have enjoyed, or those that I love have enjoyed. So to start off the season, I will mention my favorite of all of my family's Christmas traditions.

Jesus' Birthday Cake

Growing up, my family loved to make homemade hard candy. My dad was in charge of melting the sugar and checking the temperature. We just had the all important job of picking the flavors and cutting the candy. My favorite taste of the candy was always Wintergreen, but the way the Anise made the whole house smell delicious for days was really fun also. For those of you who have not made hard candy before, here are the basics. You follow this recipe choosing flavors and colors that match well. When the candy is cooked, you pour it out over a buttered, cold marble slab. My dad would then fold it until it became firm. Then he would cut manageable ridiculously hot pieces and toss them to my mom and sisters and myself on a pan covered in powdered sugar. It was our job to cut the candy with scissors into suckable sweets and roll them in the powdered sugar. Rather than throwing out the used powdered sugar, my mom would save it in a bag for Christmas Eve.

On Christmas Eve my mom would bake up the most delicious white cake. Then using the saved powered sugar with extra candy bits, she made pure white frosting. Then as a family we would gather around and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and enjoy the white and pure cake celebrating the purity of our Savior.

This year we probably won't be making the hard-candy, but a white Birthday Cake will be enjoyed on December 24th.

Look forward to tomorrow with Christmas Books.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Haircut and Nephew

Check out my cute new haircut here.

Jon and I are excited to be heading to California bright and early tomorrow morning. Hopefully the "life threatening storm" can hold off a bit so that our flight can get out of here. We are so glad that we can spend the holiday with family, including our brand new nephew James Owen Mason, born yesterday at 3:28 pm. I'll post more pictures this week.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christmas Spirit

So.... I know Christmas is 37 days away, but I'm way in the Christmas mood this year.

Last week on my day off I decorated the house for Christmas, this week I worked on finishing up the last few gifts. I also had a fun time watching Bones season three. I just finished the Christmas episode of the show and it was adorable. It made me think about what makes a "real" Christmas. For me Christmas is only Christmas when I am with my family. That is the number one most important part of the season. Jon and I get to start our Christmas season next week when we fly down to San Diego for Thanksgiving with his family, the first of three family gatherings we get to enjoy this season.

In thinking more about what makes Christmas real for me, I realized that my list is probably very different from Jon's list. I grew up in the nice cool climate of suburban Detroit and Jon grew up in sunny San Diego. Starting on Thanksgiving day and ending on Christmas day, once a day I will post about a different Christmas tradition that my family or Jon's family enjoyed over the years.

I got the idea from an awesome new book that they are selling at Deseret Book. It's called Christmas with the Prophets. It's all about the different Prophets of my church and the ways that they celebrated Christmas with their families over the years in all of the different places they lived.

As all of our siblings' families are expanding we know that Christmas with our extended families will get more and more difficult, so it will be fun to decide which Christmas traditions to keep for our own little family in the years to come.

Christmas 2008, our first Christmas together

If you have any wonderful family traditions that you'd like to share, I'd love to hear about them.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Try Me Tuesday

Well everyone, you can be shocked and amazed as you read yet another blog update from yours truly. But, I am here to announce that I joined a group blog with a few of my best friends and I will be posting there at least once a week. I'll try to do the same on this blog, but no guarantees because I feel the pressure to put actual photos on this blog rather than ones that I steal from the internet.

So... speaking of pictures, here's a few manly pictures that I meant to put up for Manly Monday but never got around to. Jon was really excited for his car to hit 100,000 miles, so we took pictures.

99,999 miles

100,000 miles!

This weekend Jon and I were also manly in the fact that we tried to get the yard ready for winter. Jon finished putting up most of the trim on our shed and I "broomed" the yard because when I went out to find the rake it was missing. And if you are wondering if I jumped in those leaves, the answer is yes, of course I did. It's on my list.

Jon working on the trim.

The leaves wouldn't all fit in our garbage cans. P.S. We grew all of those pumpkins.

Leaves galore.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Furry Friday

If you ever had a chance to ask my family what type of animal I would be if I were an animal, I am pretty sure they would all answer, a cat. The whole idea of napping all day, basking in the sun, having warm fur everywhere, getting massages all of the time, who wouldn't want to be a cat?

Well, being the cat lover that I am, I asked Jon if we could get a cat when we got married. The answer, no way. He said he was allergic. Then Curt moved in, and his cat Paws was going to have to live with his sister. So, only being concerned for the well being of the cat, I mentioned to Jon that maybe Paws would be happier if she could live with us too.

Introducing... Paws the wondercat. She is so named because she has 6 digits on every paw. Curt's had her since she was a baby and now she's about 8 years old. She's chubby, reminds me of a bunny rabbit, and really likes to yell at us when she gets locked out of the house. She sleeps in the bed with whoever goes to bed first and that usually means she sleeps at my feet. For your viewing pleasure, here she is.

Paws curled up on my lap while Jon and Curt were at work one day.

Sometimes she sleeps in the weirdest positions. But only before the bed is made.

See, when the bed is made she sleeps like a normal cat.

Oh, and sometimes she pretends she's a hunter and blends herself into the surroundings.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Jumping on the Bandwagon

To the few people who actually read this blog... I didn't start blogging to join any bandwagons, but I did join the dayzeroproject just for that reason. The idea of completing a bucket list of 101 things within 1,001 days just seems so fun to me. If you want to join me and a few of my friends, Anna, Ruth, Sarah, Emily, and Jaime, feel free. Share your list with the url in my comments.

You'll notice from my list of goals that one of them is a 30 day themed blog. Look forward to that (a daily post) from Thanksgiving day through Christmas day. I've been awful at blogging this year, and rather than trying to catch up, I am just going to do better from here on out.

And, since no one likes a blog post without a picture, here is a picture of me and Jon in our amazing Charlie Brown and Lucy Van Pelt Halloween costumes.