Friday, October 31, 2008


Mid October, just about when the leaves are at their peak of screaming fall colors, I start thinking about what I call the “End-of-the-Year Slide”. This is the time when we get pummeled with holiday after holiday after holiday. At times it can make us feel exhausted, overrun and not very festive and cheerful. But just remember, while we are driving to yet another holiday obligation or errand, we are doing all these things for a reason: We are trying to making memories for ourselves and our families.

Holidays and festivities are often deeply-rooted in traditions; things we always do every year on certain occasions that make our lives and holidays richer. The constant errands, projects, and parties are all ways of creating, adding to or maintaining traditions that, in the end, add to our family's mental memory books.

Now Halloween is almost upon us and one of my personal tradi
tions is to procrastinate with the kids’ Halloween costumes. What makes my procrastination particularly bad is our family's tradition that we make homemade costumes. This tradition allows us to spend quality time with each child discussing what they want to dress up as and why. It also affords us the opportunity to get creative with the kids in discussing how we will make the costume with the clothes and supplies we have on hand. Since my daughter is a hockey fanatic and a hockey player, many years her costumes are hockey related. This year, we added a little gore to the hockey gear costume and made her into Bobby Hull of the Chicago Blackhawks. My son is a Star Wars character so we took some old black adult t-shirts and cut them up into capes and hoods and stapled them all together.

Once Halloween is over it seems Thanksgiving comes rushing at
us like a defensive lineman! It is only about three weeks, but it feels like one week. I often rush and scurry to get things just right so that our Thanksgiving is just perfect: groceries, cleaning, setting up the guest room, etc.

Our Thanksgiving traditions:
  • Dad & Grandpa Make the Meal – isn’t that a great twist on tradition! This year we are going to add a new Thanksgiving tradition; the main chef will be wearing my Thanksgiving apron, which you can view on under holidays.
  • Mom (me) Makes the Traditional Dessert – the same ice cream pumpkin pie I have made since I started having my own thanksgiving. Another interesting twist on traditional Thanksgiving rituals. My family requests it each year. See below for recipe
  • The Fight About the Meal TIME – since the men are making the meal, the timing of the meal is always built around the football game.
  • Dress Comfortably – No dressing up this day. We have a casual relaxed day wearing just jeans or whatever we are comfortable wearing.
  • Dog Thanksgiving – The dog gets a delicious plate full of do-friendly scraps after the meal. The best part is we get a stopwatch and time how long it takes him to eat it.
  • Never Shop on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving shopping frenzy) - But I do get out the gift-giving list I have been creating all year and start to edit it. I also check my wrapping paper, ribbon and gift tags.
Check out www.fineline-antiques for some darling, vintage-inspired gift tags for your holiday hostess gifts or your Christmas gifts. While you are there take a look at our Holiday category for Thanksgiving decorations and supplies.

If Thanksgiving came at me like a defensive lineman, Christmas comes at me like a linebacker!

Shortly after Thanksgiving, we get our family Christmas Tree. We like to go to t
he one of the local farms and cut down a fresh tree. This way the cut on the trunk is fresh when we come home and we can set it up right away and we don't need to bring the chainsaw into the living room to make a fresh cut. (That was a childhood tradition for me - my parents would always fight about my dad bringing the chainsaw in the living room in order to make sure the cut was fresh on our lot-purchased tree). We have cut down our own tree for many years and it is now a solid family tradition. Every year there is something memorable about our tradition.
  • One year we had a baby in a backpack on our backs.
  • Another year my daughter was sick but insisted we go so she was wrapped in many blankets and miserable but happy.
  • Every year dad has to lie down in the snow and crawl under the prickly branches to cut down our tree…our hero!
  • We ride out to the grove of trees on trailer attached to a tractor. We are wrapped in blankets and can see our breath in the air as we chatter about what kind of tree we are gonna get.
  • Last year was truly picture perfect. There was a nice covering of snow and the section of the farm we went to had many mature trees. Many trees had their boughs dusted with snow. It was so beautiful and quite, I felt like we were in a make believe world.

Although the last quarter of the year is crazy busy and, quite frankly, exhausting for me, I also love this time of year. I love the spirit and ritual of it all and look forward to each and every one of our traditions. But more importantly, our traditions help to give our children very vivid memories of their childhood. And that END is worth all the headache and exhaustion.

Frosty Pumpkin Pie Recipe
I think this recipe is from Southern Living, but I cannot recall.

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • ½-cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/8-teaspoon salt
  • 1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼-teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8-teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1-quart vanilla ice cream softened
  • 1 ½-cups gingersnap cookies finely crushed
  • ¼-cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/3-cup melted butter
First make the gingersnap crust.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a 9-inch pie plate, combine gingersnap crumbs, powdered sugar and butter.
  3. Stir well and firmly press mixture along bottom and up the sides of the pie plate.
  4. Bake for 4-5 minutes.
  5. Let cool for at least an hour.
Then make the filling.
  1. In a very large bowl, combine pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir well.
  2. Fold in the ice cream and combine gently.
  3. Spoon filling into prepared pie crust.
  4. Cover and freeze 8 hours or overnight.
Then eat the deliciousness.
  1. Remove from freezer and let stand at room temp for 10 minutes.
  2. Add slices to plates with a generous topping of fresh whipped cream.
Special Addition.
Our special touch on this pie is to add whip cream with a special flavor. When making our whipped cream, instead of using vanilla as the flavoring, we add Bailey’s Irish Cream. Give it a try, you will be wowed!

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