Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories #21 ~ Christmas Music

Question # 21:
What songs did your family listen to during Christmas? Did you ever go caroling? Did you have a favorite song?

When I was little I can remember playing the Chipmunks Christmas record over and over again.  Others that were played often were Elvis Blue Christmas and one of my Grandma's favorites Conway Twitty's Christmas.
A favorite would be hard to pick as I love so many songs.  But Silent Night and Away in a Manger would be at the top.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories #19 ~ Christmas Shopping

I'm a little behind in posting this week!  Question #19 was:
How did your family handle Christmas Shopping? Did anyone finish early or did anyone start on Christmas Eve?

My earliest memories of Christmas shopping were always with the Sears Wish Book.  It would arrive some time in late October I think and everyone would enjoy looking through it.  As we lived in a small town Sears was the most popular way of shopping.
Us kids didn't real make a wish list, but we would circle things we really hoped for in the catalog.  Most years we would find it under the tree.
Now that I have my own family we do things a little differently.  I no longer order from Sears as I've found there quality has really gone down.  Some years I make all of our gifts and other years we pick out a few special things to give our kids.  Our focus at Christmas isn't on giving expensive gifts, but spending time with our family and building memories.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories #16 ~ Christmas At School

I have a few memories of Christmas time in school when I was little.  I can remember our Christmas parties.  They would normally be held on the last day before Christmas break.  Often we would get to watch a movie and  have snacks that must have been provided by teachers or parents.
I do remember most of December was spent making Christmas crafts and cards.  I don't think I have any of these.
The only Christmas play I remember just barely, was in early elementary.  Each class had to put on a song, I can't remember what song ours was singing.  But I do remember we all had bells, shakers and triangles to play.  I think I was playing a triangle.  I don't believe any photos were ever taken of these plays.  But I do remember being very nervous standing up on that big stage!

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories #15 ~ Holiday Happenings

There are a few Christmas time birthdays in my family, mine being one of them!  Some people dislike having a birthday near Christmas because your special day often gets combined with the Christmas holiday.  Some times as a child I felt that way, but most of the time I loved having a Christmas season birthday!  I loved the decorations, the beautiful music every where.
Peal & Eldon Chapman
When I was a little girl my Aunt Carol would make me wonderful cakes.  She loved to decorate cakes, something I would love to learn one day!  Some times they would be teddy bear cakes or a Christmas theme.  As for birthday gifts some years I got to pick out one or two Christmas gifts from under the tree to open early.  I thought that was really cool when I was little!  Then as I got older some times I would also get a special gift unrelated to Christmas.

Another relative who had a December birthday was my Great Aunt Pearl Chapman (nee Anderson).   Pearl was born 25 Dec 1919, yes a Christmas day birthday!  I have a feeling Aunt Pearl loved Christmas as she also chose Christmas day as her wedding day.  She married Eldon Chapman on 25 Dec 1941, in Fredericton New Brunswick.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories #14 ~ Fruitcake

Ok I have to admit it, I really DO like fruitcake!  We always had fruitcake in the house around the holiday times when I was little.  I do remember one year my mother made her own.  I can remember seeing them sitting in the bottom of the fridge being "soaked" and wanting so bad to sneak into them. lol
The cakes I remember having were filled with cherries, raisins, nuts and were a dark colored bread.  The bread was just a little firmer then most quick breads I've made.  We always had our slices topped with butter.  Yum!
I have never made my own fruitcake though, maybe I'll try it next year!
About 8 years ago we went to visit some dear friends for Christmas.  She had made fruitcake, but also another type.  It was more of a cherry pound cake.  Oh that was so good.  I have the recipe here some were.  We've moved since then but I should try and find the recipe.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Blog Caroling 2010

The FootnoteMaven has challenged geneabloggers to post the lyrics to their favorite Christmas carols.  I have so many favorites it was hard to pick just one!  But I decided on Silent Night, it has been a favorite of mine since I was a child.

Silent Night : Lyrics

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth "

Lyrics from Christmas Carols.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories #10 ~ Christmas Gifts

One year for Christmas my husband and I received a very special gift.  It was our second Christmas together and we were living on an off grid farm.  It was a very old homestead.   Our water was carried from a spring quite some distance from the house and you had to go over two hills to get to it.  It was also a long walk to the barns were our chores had to be done daily.
On our second Christmas there, some dear friends surprised us with a gift of snowshoes!  Even better these snowshoes had belonged to them for quite some time, so have many memories in them.  This wonderful gift made our lives so much easier back then.  It was a lot easier getting back and forth to the barns and much easier to carry water to the house.  No more sinking up to your knees or higher in the snow banks!
We also enjoyed many walks through the bush with these.  Now the lacings need to be shellacked again, hopefully I'll be able to get that done this year!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories #9 Grab Bag ~ Christmas Light Drive

Today's topic in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories is a grab bag/pick your own topic.  I'd like to share about a family tradition we started.

I have always loved Christmas lights, they are one of my favorite parts of holiday decorating.  When our daughter was a baby, hubby and I decided to start doing a Christmas Eve drive to look at all the Christmas lights in town.  We would all get dressed up warm as by Christmas time it's very cold here!  We would go to McDonald's for supper and then get some hot chocolate from Tim Horton's.  Then we would slowly drive through all the side streets in town.  The roads were fairly quiet, just a few travelers out heading to visit family.  We just took our time driving around looking at all the beautiful displays.
By our second year doing this our oldest daughter was 20 months old.  At this age she just LOVED the lights!  She would shriek and giggle and just loved this.   
We still do our Christmas light drive each December, but not normally on Christmas Eve any more.  We prefer to have a quiet family evening now.  But we watch the weather closely and try and pick out a nice evening for our drive.  Now we have an early family supper at home then pile into the van, drive to town and get everyone some hot chocolate and enjoy the beautiful lights.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories #8 ~ Christmas Cookies

When I was little cookies and treats were always a big part of our Christmas holiday.  Starting in late November our house was always filled with the smell of baking cookies!
The main types of cookies we made were peanut butter, chocolate chip, sugar cookies, macaroons  and one of my favorites Snickerdoodles!
The peanut butter cookies were sprinkled with colored sugar, some times we put chocolate kisses on top to.
Every year we would make up many batches of cookies to make gift trays up for family and neighbors.  This is a tradition we still keep today.
I don't remember a time when Schickerdoodles weren't part of our Christmas season.  Traditionally a German cookie, I wonder if this favorite was handed down from Grandma Hilda.  Her husband Grandmother was Elsie Mae Schuler born in PA, USA.


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix butter, eggs and sugar together until creamed.  Mix in baking soda, cream of tartar and flour.
Mix 1/4 cup of sugar and 2 tsp of cinnamon together.  Roll dough into walnut size balls, roll in the cinnamon sugar.
Place on a baking sheet and bake at 400F for 6 to 10 minutes.
Cookies will be light brown and soft on top.  They will crack a bit on top as they cool.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories #5 ~ Outdoor Decorations

I grew up in a small town, our street was very quiet and mostly retired seniors so there wasn't much in the way of outdoor decorations.  I always wanted to decorate the outside of our home!  But we didn't have any hydro outside so that ruled out lighted decorations.  I do remember one year we put out a big plastic frosty the snowman.  We did often string lights around the inside of the windows so they could be seen from outside.  Our Christmas tree was also in front of Grandma's huge living room window.  It looked quite pretty from inside and out!
Today we still don't have outdoor decorations, but maybe next year!  In the mean time we enjoy driving around and looking at the pretty houses in the evenings.  My favorite lights of all are the light blue icicle lights.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories #4 ~ Christmas Cards

I do remember our family receiving Christmas cards when I was a child.  We didn't get a lot, but did receive ones from close family.  I remember my Grandmother Hilda always sending cards to her mother and sisters.  I wish I had some of the cards she received back then.  I have no idea what happened to them over time.  Knowing my Grandma I'm sure she saved them for a long time.  She always treasured letters and cards from her dear family spread so far apart.  
Today I still send some cards out, my list is slowly growing a little each year.  I always keep cards that I receive after the holidays they are tucked away in my storage box or files.  They are all dear to me, especially ones from loved ones no longer with  us or the beautiful hand made cards.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories #3 ~ Christmas Tree Ornaments

The photo I have of my Grandpa and Grandma Law's tree is from the late 1970's.  I can see the decorated it in red garland with silver tips, huge red silk balls, small white silk balls and candy canes.  On top is a light up snowflake that I remember from my childhood.
I remember having some of these pretty silk balls on our Christmas tree growing up.  Until our cats destroyed them that is.
I don't know how my other ancestors decorated their Christmas trees.  Although I wouldn't be surprised it they did make ornaments or string popcorn and cranberry's for garland.  I wonder what kind of ornaments decorated my Grandmothers tree when she was a child.

When I was a little girl our decorations changed from year to year.  Some years the tree was decorated in homemade paper chains we had made in school.  But most years it was red or silver garland, blinking lights and red silk balls.  Latter we switched to brightly colored glass balls.  The tree was topped with either a Santa, star or snowflake that had belonged to my Grandmother.

My first Christmas together with my hubby money was very tight.  Still we had a HUGE tree. lol  Many of the decorations were given to my by my family.  I don't think we have many of them anymore, long destroyed by hubby's sneaky cats.  They would always wait until we went to bed to attack that tree!
I did buy a few new ornaments for us that year.

This ornament I picked out as a gift to my hubby.  We lived on an off grid farm and did all of our cooking on an old wood cook stove.  That stove had belonged to him for along time.  This is his ornament to place on the tree every year.

I picked these two Cardinal since we both love birds.  Cardinals are hard to find around here, but this way I can enjoy them all Christmas long.

I do have other ornaments our children have made, but they are still packed away.  We will be putting our tree up on Saturday.  I will take some photos and then post some of their favorites.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories #2 ~ Holiday Foods 2010

Our Christmas dinner growing up was very typical North American style.  We always had a big roasted turkey.  Our Christmas turkey was almost always a gift from my Aunt Carol every year.  Oh she always gave us such a big beautiful turkey!  There was always lots of left overs to enjoy.
The rest of the meal was mashed potatoes, roasted carrots, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce and biscuits.  There was always a large selection of cookies and fudge to go around to!
Sadly I don't think we ever took photos of Christmas dinner growing up.

Since I've been married we still continue the traditional turkey supper.  Our menu is basically the same although I've added coleslaw salad to the menu, dinner rolls in place of biscuits most years.

I already have some of my holiday recipes posted on my other website, so I'll just link to a few of them here.

Grandma's Biscuits
Cranberry Sauce

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories ~ The Christmas Tree

It's my favorite time of the year!  Christmas has always been a special time to me, visiting with family and friends.  The beautiful decorations and lights.
Grandma & Grandpa's tree late 1970's
I don't remember what our family did for a Christmas tree when I was very little.  After my Dad's passing we moved in with my Grandmother.  She had a beautiful artificial tree, it had been the tree her and Grandpa had used.  I'm guessing that it was bought in the late 1970's.  It was tall reaching almost to the ceiling, there was just enough room to place a decoration on top.  Some years we used an old light up Santa, some years a star or snowflake.
I remember it took us a long time to put together that tree each season.  The trunk was made up of 3 pieces that had to be pushed together.  The base was made up of plastic legs that had to be pushed, some time hammered into place.  Only then could you start putting each branch into the trunk.
Each branch had a number and you had to carefully line up the branch with the row number on the trunk.  After they were all in place you could fan out and bend them to fill in nicely.
Decorating the tree was done by everyone in the family.  Each year the theme was different.   I remember some years the tree was done up with blinking lights, silver garlands and glass balls.  Other years it was all silk balls.  Some years all hand made ornaments.  I still have a few of the decorations we used when I was little.

Our first tree, notice the top bending over!
When my hubby and I first got married he was not a Christmas person.  But he humored me  had a great time anyway.  He decided we should go and find a real tree, living on a farm at the time that was not a problem!  There was a little snow on the ground but it wasn't to deep.  So he hooked the wagon up to the tractor and we headed down to the back fields.  Some of the fields were over grown and there were quite a few spruce and pine trees.
We walked around for quite some time trying to find the perfect tree.  Finally I found one, nice and full.  Hubby cut it down and loaded it into our wagon and we headed back up to the house.  But that was the easy part!  Once we got up to the house, we realized how BIG this tree was!  We could NOT get the tree into the house! LOL!!
Hubby had to trim it quite a few times before we could fit it through the door.  That tree looked much smaller out in the bush then it did by the house.  Finally after taking about 2 feet or more off the tree he got it inside.  Once set up in the living room, it took up a LARGE corner of the room and still touched the ceiling.
Hubby still teases me about picking out such a huge tree, but it sure was pretty and full. LOL

Christmas Tree 2009 decorated by our kids
A few years later we were living in an apartment with our first child.  We bought a small artificial tree, that I lovingly call Charlie Brown's tree as it's not very full.  Eight years later we are still using this little tree, it's starting to get worn but has many memories.
Maybe next year we will replace it with a new artificial, or maybe a real one.  I wonder how many times we'll have to cut it to get that one in the house!