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    Family Traditions: The Great Christmas Extravaganza

    December 17, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    This year, we are kicking off a new tradition. It is actually an expanded version of something we’ve been doing for a while. We hope this tradition evolves as our children grow up. Basically, on the Saturday before Christmas, we have an all-Christmas activity day.

    Here is this year’s agenda:

    • Kids wake up painfully early
    • Breakfast/large pot of coffee
    • Make gingerbread house
    • Lunch
    • Nap
    • Have Granddad and Granmama over for dinner
    • Take a bath and change into PJs
    • Stuff the Suburban full of people and go look at Christmas lights
    • Come home and put kiddos to bed
    • Watch a movie with the 5 and over crowd {only one kid for now}

    Gingerbread House

    This year is Gingerbread Construction Training Camp. We plan to cover all the grammar-level issues surrounding gingerbread houses including, but not limited to: What is gingerbread? How does one best construct a gingerbread house? How does one make the frosting? How do the scraps taste? How does one decorate a gingerbread house? And so on and so forth.

    Classical education is so helpful.

    We plan to follow directions for a gingerbread house for the next few years so that they get it down. Then they will be making them on their own. Then we will have a contest. Then we will invite some of our good friends from church and have a contest with all the kids.

    It’ll just go from there until Si and I are very old and hosting Gingerbread House contests for our 49 grandchildren.


    Soup {kielbasa cabbage…my own recipe} and homemade buttermilk biscuits, of course. Simple, warm fare for simple, warm folk.


    This year we are watching this:

    Miracle on 34th Street

    I tried to get this:


    Noelle may or may not have been fitting. I’ve never actually seen it, though I’ve heard very good things about it. Netflix tells me it’ll be a “very long wait.”

    Incidently, Si and I watch this:

    The Family Man

    Every year. We own it…on VHS. I love VHS. And I miss it.

    Yes I do.

    Other Traditions

    There are millions of little things we do, right? Like that turkey-on-sourdough-with-lettuce-onion-tomato-and-mayo that I ate every day for just under four year during college. Some of our little Christmas things include brown paper packages tied with the prettiest ribbon I can find. I buy it on clearance every year on the day after Christmas, and I save it all year long. I also save all the ribbon that survives to use for the next year. Brown packages with big glittery bows sparkling under a tiny tree lit with white lights…it really is beautiful.

    Speaking of tiny trees, ours is about four feet tall. We put it on a card table covered by a velvety drop cloth thingie {I think there is an official name but it escapes me right now}. No child under two can reach it, which keeps me from having to play goalie for five weeks. All the gifts are on the table under the tree. The tree is fake. I’m sorry for that. I insisted on a real tree for many years, but last year they raised the price $10, and we were only buying tiny trees and yet it cost twice what the fake tree cost me. We decided we couldn’t afford not to. Anyhow, I do miss going to the tree lot on the day after Thanksgiving.

    What about you?

    What are some of the little things you insist on doing every year simply because they feel Christmasy?

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  • Reply Miriam Snyder January 20, 2018 at 9:38 pm

    I bought Noelle this year but was kinda dissapointed…

  • Reply Kristie December 19, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    I have already watched White Christmas twice this year. It’s even more fun to watch when it’s white outside! (I can say this after 25 years of brown Christmases…..) We also watch The Family Man every year, and I cry every year. It’s such a good movie. =) This is our first year “home” in Indiana for Christmas, so we’ll have to start out own traditions. Too bad the little one isn’t a little bigger….

  • Reply Brandy December 18, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    Rebecca, I was recently trying to remember who I knew that watched White Christmas every year. (On VHS no less!) I should have known it was you. Christmas Tree Lane sounds like fun! Of course, next year you’ll need a double stroller…

    Kimmie! I did that on purpose. Just for you, I think. 😉

  • Reply Dominic and Kimberly December 18, 2008 at 3:41 am

    You make me want to sing-Brown paper packages tied up with string…

  • Reply rebecca December 18, 2008 at 1:30 am

    We used to go to the tree lot too, but this year decided to get an artificial tree. Nick appreciated that it was already lit, because his job is usually putting the lights on while I say that it needs more lights. It’s kind of nice having a “perfect” tree.

    Normally, we watch “White Christmas” while decorating the tree, but I didn’t find it in time this year (also on VHS).

    This year, we went to Christmas Tree Lane on the night that was only for people who wanted to walk (vs drive). Fun, but cold! If we are here next year, we will probably do the same.

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