I think I’ve mentioned before that our family has perfected Christmas.  We are all very, very good at it.   I’m sure you’ve got it just right for your family too, but around here how lovely it all is has so much to do with the way that our family is big on tradition.  We can all count on all the important things happening in all the same ways, every year, and that ritual holds the season together for us all.

Christmas eve we eat, we sing carols – we gather with Joe’s family and Joe’s mum makes egg nog so thick that it’s more of a pudding than a drink.

We walk home in the dark and the cold, looking at the lights everywhere – then put our stockings out. They go exactly in order on the couch, and nobody ever, ever tries to put them another way.  The next morning the kids (adults now) wake the parents, and Joe and I go downstairs and wake Ken (he always spends the night on the chesterfield.)   We make coffee,  and put on the kettle, and the girls sit on the top step, waiting to hear the music that means it’s time to come rushing down.  (It cracks me up that these mostly grown up ladies still do that. It’s like they don’t want it to change.)

(The ladies all got feather boas this year.)

After presents,  The ladies make us breakfast.  They’re really good cooks, the lot of them, and they churn out a wicked Eggs Benedict.  After that, it’s bath time- and then off we all go to Christmas Dinner.

There is always a fire, friends and food.  Hank dressed as Michael Jackson is new.

There are Christmas Crackers.

We play games.

We roast chestnuts.  (That was last night at home. It’s just in the stove and not over an open fire, but still very delicious.)

This Christmas we did all that, and some new things.  Thing the first, we turned off our internet for two days.  (This was regarded with skepticism by all… but turned out to be brilliant. Do you know what happens if you can’t google what year Bing Crosby died -right the second you want to know?  NOTHING.) Thing the second, we accidentally somehow turned off the furnace Christmas Eve.  It is believed that the culprit was Meg, who was actually trying to turn it up and something went wrong.  We do not recommend this, although it does make a hot cup of coffee the best thing ever. 
Thing the third: my brother Ian and I make the gravy every year.  It is a complex process of alchemy, and it takes us a long time.  Nobody else ever makes the gravy.  It’s something that Ian and I do and that’s the way it is. Until this year, when Hank asked if he could help.

Ian taught him the ways of the whisk, and we told him that he was now an apprentice, and could expect to make gravy alone in about ten years, when he is a master.  Hank took it all very, very seriously, and I don’t know why but it was one of my favourite things about this year.  It is the traditions and the rituals that anchor the season for our family, and to see Hank starting to care and to want the same things…  On Christmas Eve, Joe’s dad has always hunted his five granddaughters and convinced them to sing carols with him.  I know that there have been years when we’ve pushed them a little, asked them to take part. Reminded them that their grampa likes it.  This year,  they wanted to sing- even initiated the singing, and it was like Hank wanting to make the gravy.  It’s not about the singing or the gravy.  It’s about watching them come to value the whole thing, and like watching them agree that their families are important, and if you’ve raised a bunch of teenagers (or a ten year old dressed like Michael Jackson, for that matter) watching them want to do things the way they’ve always done things, even if they could do anything they want now?   Pretty nice, and a very Merry Christmas. 

Tomorrow, lots of knitting stuff.  Was your holiday wonderful?

174 thoughts on “Pictured

  1. Let me return the favor by saying Happy Holidays to you, Steph. 😀
    And mine was alright; nothing really spectacular happened. 🙂

  2. My holiday was totally different than yours, and not at all what I expected. But it was wonderful. Happy Christmas and a blessed New Year to you and yours.

  3. It was all we wanted and enjoyed it all and every thing was ENOUGH. Thanks for reminding me of that.

  4. Yes, my holiday was wonderful with family, friends and traditions. We always have crackers at dinner, take a walk after and then have homemade fruit cake, cookies and mince pies for dessert.

  5. Your holiday sounds completely lovely.
    I will have to try the no internet thing with a single exception. I can use it as my cookbook. I love internet as cookbook. It is like having all of the recipes.

  6. Thanks so much for sharing. Your traditions remind me of my childhood Christmas’. We were with my husband’s aging parents and four, also aging, brothers and their families. It is always wonderful to be with family.

  7. One of those rare years when virtually the entire family managed to get to the same city and spend serious quality time together … doesn’t get much better than this.

  8. We got the best gift ever this year: a boring holiday.
    Because at our house, Boring Is Good.

  9. Happy Christmas Steph, and to all your family.
    The plans I had to travel to Northumberland went south – my other half and I had flu/colds and spent the run up to Christmas feeling pretty ill. So a very quiet day for us. But I’m heading north Wednesday to see my new nephew – born on the 9th Dec, and named for my Dad who died nearly 20 years ago (I was 18 at the time).
    So feeling lucky that I’m getting better, glad it was only the flu, and that I live in a place where I can see a doctor, having a home of my own, and that my whole family is healthy (especially since I didn’t go visit when I was infectious!)and happy. Counting my blessings…

  10. What beautiful pictures! Tradition and ritual are wonderful. What a blessing to see family values passing down.
    Sometimes things need to be a bit different, a bit more flexible. Sometimes things are going to change forever, and happily the tradition and ritual will sustain through the challenges of additions and losses.
    I like that new one: turning off the internet!

  11. Your pictures are lovely. Wanted you to know you helped make a very special Christmas for my parents. My gift to them was inspired by your “ENCOMPASS” cowl design. It was so beautiful I couldn’t resist and made one for my stepmom with a matching hat for my Dad. If you’d like to see how it turned out, I have pictures here: http://www.knittedthoughts.com/2010/12/christmas-knits.html. Thank you so much for designing such an amazing, veratile AND WARM project. It was really fun to knit! 🙂

  12. Your Christmas sounds wonderful. I agree that having grown children who look forward to coming home to share in the traditions with their relatives is the best part of the holidays.

  13. I love your traditions. I love hearing the traditions of other families.
    Our family has done certain things certain ways until I can no longer remember quite when they were started. Definitely before I was born.
    Christmas eve is for immediate family – those who live in my house and those I grew up with in my house: mom, brothers, partners/spouses, their children… and it’s lovely and relaxed. We order pizza so no one has the stress of cooking that night. We order pizza and we talk and laugh and even sing. We play games that don’t exist outside our family and speak words that are unique to us, our own familial dialect; I think all families do this. And then the grown ups hurry the children to bed and the hasty wrapping and last minute assemblies begin.
    Christmas morning, at 7:00am sharp, we’re at Granny’s house, pajama-clad (everyone gets new pajamas for Christmas) and bleary-eyed, but present, for Christmas breakfast (with chocolate gravy and sweet biscuits), laughter, exchanging gifts, taking many pictures and appreciating that not long ago, 5 generations were present on these mornings. Now only 4 remain, but we value every one.
    It’s the thought of our rituals, our special Christmas times, that make it such a warm spot in the middle of a long, cold winter.
    I’m 31 now. It’s been going on since before I was born and I hope it will continue, in some form, long after I’m gone. Maybe one day, they’ll all gather at my house, pajama-clad and sleepy, but eyes twinkling with the joy of the season and the knowledge that this, at least, remains.

  14. How wonderful that your Christmas was richly celebrated. The memories most people have of holidays are of the people they spent them with, not the presents or decorations. I can’t wait to hear about the knitting project in your last picture.

  15. Yes. Very non-traditional this year but that was planned. We’ll go back to tradition when life resumes a more steady course. Great to see the family growing up and into your traditions. Hugs to them all and I know there was dancing at some point in the festivities.

  16. We too have many family traditions with our 4 daughters, but now that 2 of them are married, the traditions are changing. I don’t do change well, and have struggled these last 3 years with sharing my beautiful daughters.
    Cherish it while you can!

  17. What lovely Christmas traditions! The photos are great, too. I totally know what you mean about passing on traditions. I actually got choked up reading your post. My husband and I do not have children of our own, so we must live vicariously through our friends and siblings. We have three godchildren and a nephew who all participate in our Christmas rituals. They are all still quite young (all under seven), but I look forward to the day when they begin, “helping with the gravy” as it were.

  18. Merry Christmas 🙂
    We had all the right foods and family gatherings this year (We’re still working some of this out since my sister and I both got married just three years ago but it’s always fun). Today is our day to stay at home and not even unlock the door (I might get dressed – I haven’t decided yet).
    I wish my family would sing. I love it and have song books and everything but my sisters are too stubborn (I should have started it when we were smaller).

  19. My family pulled together and comforted each other after Minky, my companion Siamese (and my icon) had to be euthanized Christmas Eve. She had suffered with asthma for three years, and this time we couldn’t help her any other way. My friend Sallee says God has lots of lint rollers because he cares for our fur babies. She certainly will want to be in His lap!

  20. This year my family did something completely non-traditional. We spent the week all together on a beach in Mexico. It was completely lovely!

  21. It was… We have one tradition which has fallen by the wayside now that the kids are getting bigger, tho, and that’s the cranky-parent tradition. Only 4 grandchildren left who believe in Santa… fortunately one of them is mine (and another belongs to one of mine).. Guess we’ll have to enjoy the great-grandchildren when ours all stop believing.

  22. Thank you for sharing your Christmas with us. Ours was lovely too. Changing also, as the kids have grown and married. Some of my most happy moments were when my daughters and daughters in law opened the presents I had knit for them. You are a big part of my inspiration.

  23. Best line ever:
    “Hank dressed as Michael Jackson is new”
    Cracked me up! Pictures are beautiful, and your family is beautiful. Merry Christmas!

  24. My Christmas was perfect, thank you for asking! We had less money this year, and somehow it made everything a lot better than usual.

  25. Oh what a wonderful read! Yes, our Christmas was nice, but not having kids and not being with family (that went out the door when Mom died 18 years ago) means that our traditions are fewer, but still nice.
    Can’t wait to see the knitting!

  26. lovely.
    what i want to know is, what on earth were they freaking out for in that fifth picture? Sam looks like she’s coming unglued.

  27. my back went out again christmas eve so i was in pain on Christmas day. but i was with the kids and grand kids so it was still good – and my 12 year old grandson kept telling everyone that his favorite gift was the blanket i crochet for him!

  28. I was so touched by your family description. We are also big on tradition and there are rules about how and when things happen. We now have two grandsons, one aged 3 and one aged 1. Such a pleasure! Happy holidays to you and your’s and thanks for the gift of your blog…

  29. Merry belated Christmas! (I was going through withdrawl and read about three years’ worth of blog log these past two days. Eee.)
    The holiday was kind of bittersweet here; it was a tough year. But it’s refreshing to be reminded of how wonderful it still can be. These pictures are beautiful.
    Can’t wait for tomorrow’s update. xo

  30. Wonderful family gathering. Ham, potatoes, yams, butter, and salad. Gifts received, gifts given. Looking forward to the new year!

  31. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! Thank you for sharing your Christmas photos & what you did. Sounds wonderful. It was just me, my husband & dad but we had a nice day. It’s the spirit within!

  32. It’s wonderful to read about your celebration. And your pictures are lovely! I wish I could take pictures as good as yours to have for memories.
    Our Christmas was warm and happy and full of family. I made my sister a February Lady and am really excited that I knit well enough now that people actually love and want what I make. We used to have firm traditions, too, but events over the years have forced changes on us… and some have just evolved. As my daughter said, you know you have teenagers when they sleep in later than mom does on Christmas morning! The most important traditions survive, though: Swedish meatballs and rice pudding for Christmas Eve dinner, and stockings Christmas morning.

  33. We are missionaries living in Brazil. Christmas traditions, even in hot weather, have been what makes Christmas comforting and not so lonely. Its not that we aren’t surrounded by many Brazilian friends, we are. Its the distance from our family in the States and all the little things like catching snowflakes or making snow ice cream or Carols and hot chocolate that we don’t have that can make a person feel sad. So we have tried to keep as many traditions as possible. It works. Each year we have Christmas and each year its the traditions that close the distance between us and our family in the States. Merry Christmas and God’s blessings in the New Year!

  34. Lovely and well organized Christmas! Mine was lovely but less well organized. But, I think we have the same silver…Royal Danish? (My Great Grandfather, a Dane, designed it!)
    Happy New Year!

  35. Merry Christmas to you as well! We enjoyed some of our traditions, such as spaghetti on Christmas Eve following our Christmas service. Different, but then again, we all have our little nuances! Thanks for sharing yours special day!

  36. It sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas in all the right ways. I know what you mean about watching one’s children come to value the tradition-ness of traditions – this year when mine tried the pickled herring on Christmas eve (still don’t like it, but they willingly tried), and then snuck things into our stockings for Christmas morning, I can see the same sort of getting it. Your girls are looking amazingly grown up, by the way!!

  37. I finished work about 10:30, my daughter and I headed to my mother’s–200 miles off, clear roads. We called about 15 minutes from home: “Gran, what we’d really like for Christmas is your scrambled eggs”–we arrived with a dozen fresh eggs, a pound of bacon, mushrooms to saute, oysters for scalloped oysters, good coffee beans. That’s most of our family’s traditional brunch. Mom was surprised, totally; we had a wonderful time. She still makes the best scrambled eggs in the world.
    And Hank makes a better looking Michael J than Michael J did. Thank you for sharing.

  38. Beautiful, lovely, thank you for letting us take a peek!
    Ours included being crowded around the little videoconferencing cam, waving hi at our new grandson, our first, born the 20th: three weeks early but stabilized quickly. Every new mother needs her own mom the first week, so we waved hi at the new Grandma S, too.
    But I can’t wait till Parker wants to help make his great-grandpa’s Christmas Dogskins! (His word for Yorkshire pudding.)

  39. My husband and I have no children and our siblings live far from us, but we had a lovely Christmas morning (just as we like it), full of our own traditions. We had invited two friends, both single, to share Christmas dinner with us — good food, great conversations, much laughter, and even a Christmas cracker at each place setting. Wearing paper crowns while eating steamed pudding for dessert was worthy of a picture. After reflecting on the day prior to turning out the lights that night, we agreed it had been one of our best Christmases ever.
    Brilliant idea of turning off the internet . . .

  40. We, too, have traditions. For many years, Christmas Eve was spent at my parents’ house, but they now hold their Christmas Eve a few days early. Dinner is in a local restaurant, followed by coffee/tea and cookies and pies at my parents’ place. It’s the time when last minute Christmas cards are handed out and the conversation is about friends, family and Christmases past. The youngest at the table is now 14 (hard to believe – she was 5 last year, I’m sure).
    Christmas morning for me is spent at my daughter’s farm. My parents come out, too, and we sit in the living room with the dogs and cat, a gorgeous Christmas tree and a fire in the fireplace to open gifts and chat, followed by breakfast of croissants and cheese, with chocolate, cookies and fruit salad for dessert. This year, my son-in-law’s daughter and her daughter (3 years old) joined us for presents and breakfast. My mother told us all that we shouldn’t have bought anything for them – that’s a tradition, too, and we all know she’s going to say it.
    We made bran mash with apples and carrots and cookies for the horses and ponies (18 of them), and a beet pulp mash for the cows (4), and put out extra feed for the chickens.
    My daughter and I assembled and cooked a traditional turkey dinner for the three of us (everyone else left about noon). We ate early, and I carved up the remnants of the turkey for the fridge (took some home) and brought the bones home to make soup. It was perfect – and the weather was bright and sunny so the roads were safe for all of us!
    Merry Christmas!

  41. Knowing the gravy will carry on to another generation is such a wonderful thing!
    Our tradition is playing cards (fortyfive to be specific) with all of us. We gathered at my brother’s house.. minus my folks who prefer to stay in warm florida and one brother who couldn’t mae the trip to new england. there were 18 of us… we had a lot of fun. This year, we also looked through old photo albums. The next generation saw pictures of the “great blizzard of 78″ when my parents made a ‘snow bar” complete with candelabra with some of the neighbors… that was in Boston.
    good family times are wonderful.
    Brilliant idea to nix the internet for a couple of days. that might be a new tradition for us next year!

  42. Thanks for sharing your traditions with us – it looks like a fun and cherished time was had by all.
    Here’s to wishing you a healthy and tradition-filled New Year.
    Blog on. 🙂

  43. What a beautiful holiday, and what a beautiful family! Honestly, I appreciated knowing that you had signed off before Christmas started, because I was trying to eliminate looking at the computer in my household, too, and this meant one more thing I wasn’t going to be tempted by. (I did end up looking at weather forecasts online, though. We’ve had rather a lot of weather here in the last two days!)

  44. This year was a little hard for me. I got married in October and we just moved to Canada in the summer, so we didn’t have the money to go home to my family (or his). But it was important to spend our first Christmas together and create our own traditions. It was the first year I had not spent the holiday with my family in my whole life, but I lived and I will have new traditions with my own little family.

  45. As Christmases go, this was not the greatest. I had ankle surgery 10 days before. We did not have our tree this year because of the surgery and because of a new puppy. I didn’t get much else in the way of decorations up before the surgery and we didn’t even have our stockings. My husband and I had a nice dinner and shared some wine and had an afternoon nap. Next year will be different.

  46. Well now, that IS the best Christmas. Hanging with all the crazy relatives and knowing your just another crazy. That’s how I view our Christmas, and I love every crazy minute of it.
    Fantastic pictures.

  47. Always had Christmas at our home, but this year our daughter is expecting our first grandchild tomorrow and she couldn’t travel out of town, sooooo we took Christmas to her. Food, bedding, presents and all. Time to add new traditions. The best tradition is being together. Our family is all over the U.S.
    Jane in WI

  48. We had a lovely holiday at our house and surprisingly enough, it was very similar to yours. Christmas Eve dinner, crackers, traditions that the now grown children refuse to let go. Somehow in those traditions I see my children as babies, surly teens and delightful grownups. My daughter was not with us this year for the first time in 32 years, but I was thrilled when she told me that she was continuing our traditions with her own daughter. I’m a blessed woman. And even more blessed because I know it.

  49. Lovely! Thank you for sharing.
    Traditions were very important in my family the first 50 years of my life, springing mostly from my mother and her siblings, whom she raised.
    As our generation aged and our children grew up and spread out, it became impossible to continue the all-family gathering and gift exchange. Really, really miss that, but we’re building some new traditions with our own family units.
    We were blessed this year that both of my children and their children were able to visit during the past week. Daughter and two boys (11 & 12) Monday through Thursday, son and his son (5) and lovely lady-friend (possible new daughter-in-law????) came on Christmas day and left the next day.
    Because the handmade stockings I created for the older two boys when they were infants did not make the trip a couple of years ago, I made some very quick, simple stockings from fleece left from the bathrobes I had made them. These stockings reside here, and have been used three years now.
    This year, when son and his lady friend came, I made two more for them, from other fleece I had, so the stocking-pile grows. Sorry, these are sewn, not knitted. Maybe one day I’ll progress to doing that.
    So glad you had a wonderful Christmas. Many thanks for sharing it with us.

  50. This year, we didn’t BUY Christmas gifts for the adults, only the two little ones. A couple of us made LITTLE gifts (like things to eat) for the others, but it was not expected. Instead, we all donated the money we would have spent to charities. In my case, I knew a family who had lost everything they owned in an apt. fire right after Thanksgiving, and we found or bought things for them the whole month of December. It was one of the nicest Christmas’s ever….

  51. It was, thank you! The 38 members of my dad’s immediate family (counting spouses and offspring) got together, with three friends joining us, for the first time in about ten years. We don’t have really set traditions anymore, except the one where we get together and spend hours eating and talking and playing games and occasionally jamming on our various instruments. Your Christmas looks lovely, as well, and I hope your recuperation goes smoothly! 😀

  52. Mine was wonderful, thank you. We usually try to get the relatives together (especially my hubby Joe’s side) at some point during the holidays. Last year, almost everyone on Joe’s side traveled to Hawaii, where two of the grandparent generation live. We had great fun, especially with our newest tradition, a white elephant gift exhange (everyone’s favorite moment was when our teenage niece opened a big box filled with unopened packages of toilet paper and paper towels from Costco).
    This year my husband and I hosted at our home. There were 32 in total, ranging in age from 2 to ~87 years. It was such great fun, and even though the house was a bit of a disaster from the festivities, we are hoping to do it again next year (we already host a daylong party every August with the same crowd).
    All three of my kids (14,22, and 22) have gotten terrific at choosing gifts that the recipient truly loves (and not just for the thought involved). They have also perfected the art of acting like they love (or don’t already own) gifts from grandparents and aunts and uncles. When they also perfect the art of writing a thank you note for a gift that none of us has any idea what it is to some aging distant relative, I will know that my parenting job is complete.
    Thank you for sharing the wonderful pictures of your festivities.

  53. Happy New Year to you. Glad your Christmas was good, with no unwanted surprises.
    Ours was good, and followed 28 (I typed 82, but really it’s only 28) years of doing the same thing. It’s just the two of us. We collect presents for months, each swearing we are cutting down this year. We put them under the tree a little at a time, and sneak the stockings out Christmas Eve when the other isn’t looking. Christmas morning we drink something warm with our coffee cake and then open presents. Christmas dinner is different each year, sometimes good, sometimes, uh, not.

  54. So glad your celebrations rocked! Our family celebration’s venue and timing changed due to a hospitalization, but we made it work and everyone was merry.

  55. Growing up, my family always had our set of traditions, too. We never lived near any of our relatives, so it was just my parents, my sister, and me, but we still created the traditions that mean so much.
    It looks like you and yours had a wonderful Christmas! I know Hank is going to be a WONDERFUL gravy apprentice, and it’s so charming that all the grownup young ladies want to be kids again. So lovely for them to recapture those delicious anticipatory feelings of childhood!

  56. broke my wrist this year on the 24th, still the happiest, most joyful xmas yet. looking forward to seeing next year’s fun too 🙂

  57. We kept some old traditions and started new ones this year. Christmas supper with our son, his wife, her folks, Mom, and us. A “tailgate” Christmas during yesterday’s Packers game with a white elephant gift exchange. I got a gargoyle snow globe–way cool! Next Wednesday our daughter and her fiancee will be here so we will all gather again for gifting (only bike helmet earmuffs to finish yet) and feasting.
    It’s been the loveliest of Christmases for me in years. Love the pictures of your. Thanks for blogging all year. You keep me a tiny bit saner.

  58. Happy holidays to you and yours. We had a wonderful Christmas this year, made best by the fact that my mother (our only remaining parent) was actually with us this year. She had health issues earlier in the year that made us wonder … Good friends and family and traditions. It’s the best

  59. Glad you had a great Christmas! Like you, I love the traditions we have including lefse and other Scandinavian yummies. This year, though, one of my favorite events was impromptu…my nephew called at about ten in the morning on Christmas Eve and asked if we had lunch plans. No…we were all getting together for an evening meal, not lunch. So he showed up with a bunch of walleye filets from Lake of the Woods (sits between Canada and MN) and invited about 20 people over and we had a fish fry in the garage! It was the best.

  60. That is soooo funny you should say that about Bing Crosby because we watched White Christmas and that’s exactly what I did, my mother wanted to know so I Googled when he died!!! May 3, 1903 – October 14, 1977!!!!

  61. Looks like you all had a lovely Christmas. I agree about the traditions. It is what makes the holidays with family the best. I’m glad you tried turning internet off-it’s amazing what we can truly live without.

  62. Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day!
    We had a white Christmas for the first time in 17 years! We may have been strapped for cash this year, but we were overjoyed with family and friends. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

  63. This year North Carolina got snow on Christmas. I know it’s something you take for granted being in Canada, but for us it hasn’t happened here since 1947. Great white stuff made our Christmas great!
    Carolyn in NC

  64. Having just moved a province over for work a few months ago (then finding out at Thanksgiving that I was expecting, and losing my new job because of that at the beginning of December), we weren’t planning a big “Santa Claus Day” this year. We celebrated the Solstice with the lunar eclipse (beautifully clear–but cold–night here), and had my brother, his wife, and their new baby over to join the 4.5 of us for dinner on Saturday. Despite all the set-backs, we had a wonderful holiday, complete with our own little traditions that we started with our daughter 11 years ago. Santa presents are marked with an ornament with each kid’s name on it as a tag…this way, when the kids are grown, they’ll each have a collection of ornaments that they *know* belong to them 🙂

  65. The description of your most lovely Christmas warmed my cockles so much that I almost reconsidered this Jewish thing I am so wrapped up in…almost. I have am wired for tradition on a cellular level. It’s a wonderful and marvelous thing!

  66. We have traditions too, although some of ours have changed over the years as my parents get older and can’t do as much. The ones that remain constant is that presents aren’t opened until everyone is there – no matter how late that is. All the womenfolk play a game in the living room after dinner and all the menfolk sit by the woodburning stove in the family room and… Well, I don’t really know because I’m always playing a game.
    I’m also always the first one to come and the last to leave. That has made it easier on my mom in recent years because I can do the hoovering, carry packages to the living room and afterwards take out the trash

  67. I have 3 girls and until this year they always sat at the top of the stairs until they were told to come down. I am now down to 1 living at home and sitting by herself did not seem right 🙁
    The tradition that we love the most is beef stew for Christmas Eve dinner, the 7pm carol service at Church followed by watching “Love Actually” and eating chocolate cake.

  68. Oh! Your babies are all grown up! And so beautiful. Also – I LOVE HANK! More Hank! He is really growing up too.
    Glad you had a great day.

  69. YES!! Happy Hols to you and yours! We had a first grandson to celebrate with, just a perfect Christmas!

  70. I like the ‘no internet’ idea. Don’t think it would wash with DH though, he is a 15 – 18 hour a day internet gamer.

  71. Merry Christmas to you, Ms. McPhee – thank you for the pictures from your home. We live far from our families and so have created some of our own traditions. One is a bit of a rebellion: Our Christmas dinner protein of choice is… meatloaf. My husband and I both love meatloaf (+ mashed potatoes + peas) and I have a wicked good recipe for it. It’s easy to make and Christmas Day (IMO) should be all about easy. I knew we’d turned a happy holiday tradition corner this year when our 13-year old was actively excited about the meatloaf; my present was that my husband and son made the entire dinner while I took a really long walk in the snow. Heaven!

  72. Paul Kelly has a Christmas song about making gravy. It’s probably not a song for Hank. Yet, but what a nice tradition!!!
    Merry Christmas.

  73. Your Christmas traditions sound wonderful and perfect. I initiated my 2-and-a-half year old nephew in the tradition of opening a Christmas stocking in bed at the crack of dawn. And my brother took over from my dad, and it was all perfect.
    I love Hank’s outfit. At first, I thought he had a bit of a Sargeant Pepper thing going on! 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  74. My holiday was happy as well, filled with new and old traditions alike. Should Hank be able to create the mystical conglomeration of gravy, he should pass the skill onto me. I’m gravy (and pastry) impaired!

  75. Your Christmas sounds absolutely magical I would love to have traditions like that. Mine had it’s own traditions mostly consisting of the in-laws bragging about their gifts being the best but I suppose it wouldn’t be Christmas without it!

  76. I have a technical question: what is a chesterfield and how is it different than a couch? I though that a chesterfield was a(n american-styled) couch until I read that the stockings were on the couch and the Ken was on the Chesterfied. Please help!

  77. yes, tho very different. children and family spread out all over the globe, and me snowed in on a mountain top. a phone christmas and I’m grateful for it.
    knitting a sock based on my daughter in chile holding her foot up to the web cam!

  78. Christmas was wonderful. I always feel having family around makes any occasion great! What are you knitting in the last photo? It looks beautiful.

  79. What a beautiful family you have, and warm, wonderful, inclusive traditions to share with all.
    My Christmas traditions were changed dramatically, as my snow-bird mother stayed home this year due to health issues and I stayed with her rather than traveling to be with a sister and her husband and 4 children. We had a good time at home, but it’s a bit disconcerting when the whole of the tradition is turned upside down.

  80. With 2 children in the military we keep hoping for everyone to be together every holiday. We had one miss Christmas this year but all will be home for New Years… I will take whatever I can get! This will be one happy momma come Thursday night when they’re all 5 under roof for a few days!
    Thank you for sharing your holiday with us! Many, many blessings to you and yours in the coming year. 🙂

  81. Thank you for sharing. Brought tears to my eyes as I also value traditions so much and it is the one time of year that I regret moving to Thailand.
    Thank you again – for keeping traditions alive, for bringing up children that appreciate traditions – and for sharing with us.

  82. Thank you for sharing your wonderful traditions! We had many when I was a child but our children’s traditions are that things change year to year when Daddy works the ambulance. We did have our children and their spouses here on Christmas Eve and it was a lovely day and evening. Midnight mass followed closely (it seemed) by on-duty time at EMS. I just went out there and cooked while our children spent time with their inlaws. It all works out and we surely love each other.
    I’m knitting a pile of glomitts (see Ravelry for pattern) by request after knitting my own for Christmas. Joyeaux Noel and wishing you and wonderful new year!

  83. Lovely Christmas stories! And yes the best thing about grownup daughters and their sweethearts is their leaning into how things are done in this family, that has a past and is weaving a future. Living rituals.

  84. Thank you for sharing your traditions. It warms my heart to read all of the comments, and all of the different traditions. Ours includes coffee and bagels, slowly opening our stockings in which every little thing is wrapped, playing with the dog (two dogs this year – long story), and opening most of the presents. We take a break, have a nap, and come together to have a Christmas dinner of tortiere and spinach lasagne, with pumpkin pie. My daughter enjoyed the real tree, though it made her sneeze. It was wonderful and peaceful and to be treasured. All the best to you and yours this Christmas season. (and I can’t wait to see what knitting delights we’ll see in the next posting).

  85. Happy Christmas! Loss of loved ones this year changed our standard; however, one of my cousins started a new one. It’s nice to see families where the traditions stay alive.

  86. Any Christmas tradition involving Hank is one to keep! I love that kid and am shocked to hear is ten already! Do you think his mom will let him go on tour for the new book? At least to Northern California? I would even provide playmates for him!

  87. this christmastime i learned a valuable lesson: just because it’s 32F or a bit lower doesn’t mean that you can safely leave an ice cream cake in a vehicle overnight!
    nephew’s b’day is the 24th and grandgirl’s is the 26th, so we celebrate those and christmas together. this year, the dessert was a little more “interesting” than usual: it had sagged and flowed to fill the entire bottom of the box it came in; when the near-disaster was discovered on the 24th, i popped it into the freezer and hoped it could be salvaged.
    well, the writing on the cake was a little blurry, and the cake looked melted, but it had firmed back up nicely and all present said it tasted just fine. so now 2010 will be remembered in family annals as The Year the Birthday Cake Melted.
    good times!
    and glad to hear that your christmas was so lovely.
    happy new year!

  88. Wonderful pictures! One of our traditions is making a gingerbread house. One year it was the Massacre House with lots of red icing, but this year was pretty traditional. Best wishes to you and yours!

  89. Your Christmas sounds lovely! We have had a very strained Christmas this year, but I am very thankful. My mother had to have Emergency Surgery on the 23rd and is still in the hospital. My two sisters came in from out of town and we were unable to do our usual Christmas traditions but instead, my sisters, my four sons, my BIL and my father crowded into my mom’s hospital room to celebrate as a family. We are so thankful that my mom is going to be ok and this has turned into a Christmas that we will never forget.

  90. When I was in college, I remember telling my Mom to be sure that I always was in bed before Santa came…

  91. Aha!!! Stephanie said COUCH! LOL
    Is that different from the Chesterfield?
    Just kidding, our Christmas was simplified, easier, and just perfect. Thanks for asking, and sharing your own.

  92. Love the pics!
    Ours was very nice…. boys loved their handknit socks and afghan… my nephews loved their handknit mittens (in Buffalo Bills colors… they asked their dad to take them to Buffalo next month just so they could go and wear their mittens LOL!)
    Happy holidays!

  93. I would never be able to say “no” to Hank. What a lovely and charming Christmas! I like the Christmas crackers, and the caroling. 🙂

  94. My holiday was fantastic and you were mentioned! I ordered some ice cream treats to be delivered from Jeni’s Ice Cream. After reading your post a while ago (don’t ask me to recall when things happen on the internet!) I have always wanted to try it. I asked people’s opinions: is it too weird to give gourmet ice cream for Christmas? Most people supported me and some even envied this gift. The night after Christmas leftovers were spruced up mightily by Jeni’s Bourbon Buttered Pecan!
    Your Christmas Eve sounds fantastic and your family looks happy. Thanks for blogging this year and I hope to continue reading in the next.

  95. Yes, the traditions. The same order of things. Is it me, or do my now-grown children actually like it that way? I’m afraid to ask! I did ask if they wanted to go on a skiing vacation instead this year, and the answer was no. Maybe there’s hope for tradition.

  96. What a lovely, relaxed Christmas your family has had. Ours was wonderful, too. Dinner at a Chinese Restaurant on Christmas Eve before leaving to perform in the annual Christmas Pageant. Christmas Day included my mother and my mother-in-law with us for the day. It was perfect. Blessings to you and your family for the rest of Christmas and into the New Year!

  97. We are big on tradition as well, which was why this Christmas was so hard. My brother and his family are in St. Louis, as my 2 yr old nephew had a lung transplant last month. While we know that this is a gift in itself, we still missed them terribly. Traditions are wonderful, until the time comes that something beyond our control makes it impossible to do things the way they have always been done.
    It seems as if you had a lovely holiday-and here is to a wonderful new year.

  98. Yes – my 10-year-old still wanted to leave out some cookies and milk for Santa as well as a carrot for Rudolph. I’m not sure it was a continuing belief in Santa as much as a belief in tradition – it was very nice to see. As you did, we had a nice Christmas – just enough, not over the top this year which was perfect in itself.

  99. Son, Daughter-in-law, grandchild and other unmarried son all home for the holidays! We had a busy but grand time! Yours sounds perfectly wonderful!

  100. So many kinds of families and so many traditions! All special and silly and memorable. Wonderful photos. Glad you and everyone in your tribe could share in a lovely time together. Especially loved the ladies in boas!
    Eve from Carlisle

  101. “(It cracks me up that these mostly grown up ladies still do that. It’s like they don’t want it to change.)”
    Your girls are not alone. Right into our twenties my sisters and I gathered at our mum’s house for Christmas Eve. Off we’d go after dinner to the Christmas Eve midnight service at church (LOTS of carols), then back to her house, hop into bed and insist Mum read the story of the Nativity from the Bible and “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Clement Moore. Just like when we were kids. Then some of us would get up to finish making our Christmas presents…yeah, good times, lots of tradition! Still lovin’ it even in my 50’s!
    Happy Holidays and best wishes for 2011!
    Cheers, Barbie O.

  102. What a lovely post – thanks for sharing your holiday with us. Stephanie, please tell me what type of camera you’re using. I’m in the market for a new one and the shots you’ve posted are very very nice, so I might just like to get the same.

  103. This posting warms my heart and truly makes me believe that there really is a good life without everyone on some kind of machine, thank you .

  104. Thanks for sharing Steph. Yours was lovely and the young ladies are beautiful. We also have Christmas rituals and traditions. We do Christmas Eve dinner at our house for family and family we chose for ourselves. We are growing as the kids grow and have kids so there were 18 of us this year. We didn’t do traditional food. We did New Orleans Christmas with jambalya, chicken fricisse, cornbread, veggies and salad and bread pudding and bananas foster for dessert. We eat and visit and drag all the willing off to midnight mass. I sing in the choir and we have community sing along before mass. Then we come home and crash. Josh our youngest at 27 always gets up and puts the egg casserole I make Christmas Eve in the oven and makes hot water for tea and coffee, seperates the presents and put Christmas music on and then if it is 0800 or later, he can wake mom so Christmas can begin. He is engaged this year so we will see what happens as new parts of the family are incorporated. I will hang on to the most I can. Our Christmas was less this year too- unemployment and bad economy but we also had enough and more than enough and were able to contribute to charity as usual inspite of all the neg things. God is good and we are all blessed.

  105. Alas, my Christmas was very low-key due to the fact that I’m down with a sinus infection that won’t go away. Me, my husband, and the dog were pretty much snuggled up the entire weekend. Today I’m on a stronger antibiotic as the last one didn’t seem to be as effective as it could have been. And I have laryngitis, now. In other news, I got a lot of knitting down in between blowing my nose. 🙂

  106. This was the first year for my American family to try crackers. I bought a set with little musical whistles in them, eight in all, one for each note of the scale. And, while wearing the paper crowns, we all took turns either directing or tooting Christmas Carols played on these little plastic whistles. It was great fun and a lovely new tradition to add in with all of our old ones.

  107. My holidays have been very nice, thank you. My family (at large) will be getting together Christmas eve for a big brunch and white elephant gift exchange…It ends the season for all of us.
    Thank you Steph for sharing your family holiday.
    Peace and blessings for the new year and always

  108. Sounds lovely! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Did you really have the furnace ON? How was the furnace war this year?

  109. Did anyone bother to sing Happy Birthday to the One important left out guest – Jesus – after all its His birthday we are supposed to be celebrating in all your family parties, seems no-one remembers Him any more amidst all the Dinners and the rest of it.
    I had a sad Christmas I was all alone as I have no family to share Christmas Dinner with, I only have my cat but not for long Vetinary told me my little Knitting cat has cancer, sad news it may be but we enjoyed a bit of chicken dinner cos I can’t afford a big Turkey. I sang my heart out all Christmas Day the carols the silly songs so maybe it was not so bad after all. Some poor people have no home or food so I Thank the Good Lord for what little I do have. In a rush of festive cheer, I am taking most of my clothes to the Heart shop, at least someone will benefit from the sale of my threads. That homeless guy who sits on the ground every day I won’t forget him either I think I’ll knit him some socks or mitts to keep him warm.
    I wish all of you a very Happy Knitterly New Year good Health and lots of beer.

  110. Steph, your Christmas was wonderful and thank you for sharing. We were so blessed this year with our 20 month old grandson. He was a Christmas pro. Got right into the swing of things and even helped clean up the wrapping paper after opening gifts. Our tradition is a family Christmas Eve dinner at my home that includes my oldest son’s oldest friend. My mom was here and we were blessed to have her. My dad passed away in Oct. so that was very bitter sweet remembering his sweet smile.
    Christmas morning we all take pot luck breakfast to my son’s home to see the little one get his Santa! And this year we instituted a new tradition, Christmas night at son’s house with chili and tamales. That way the children (there will be more, right??) can play with their Christmas toys and go to bed when the spirit moves them! We had a good time!

  111. Merry Christmas Steph, to you and your wonderful family who let us all into their lives (albeit from afar). Thanks for keeping us company and entertaining us right round the world. You, your humour and your outlook on life (and the fact that you share all this) is one of those things to be grateful for at Christmas!
    Happy New Year too!

  112. Seasons greetings Stephanie! It sounds like your family had a wonderful Christmas. Your traditions sound wonderful!
    I am finding as my kids have grown up and started lives of their own that we have had to change our traditions somewhat. Something we have added is a New Year’s Eve “cook-off.” We pair everyone up and assign a food category. What ensues is chaos, laughter and, in the end, lots of delicious food.
    Thank you for your blog this past year. May 2011 treat you well!

  113. First , let me say, the Ladies are gorgeous! Our Christmas went smoothly, all the food was wonderful, except my new potato dish, could have cooked a little longer. We did not get in the visit with my Brother and his family, we got Blizzarded on! We will have that visit today Tuesday, then all the presents will be gifted and all the hugs and kisses given till next year, God willing and the creek don’t rise. Happy 2011.

  114. Stephanie,
    There really isn’t any place like home for the holidays! Even at the end when you so eloquently pointed out “enough” and I think ahh wouldn’t a chaise on a beach be grand instead of this dashing about….there is no way I could do that and be content. Glad yours was wonderful, as ours is also, we are set to enjoy our first grandchild. Our daughter is at the hospital right now and we are anxiously awaiting the call to come and see him. Have a wee sweater all ready for him when he gets home…So, our blessings are many and we are thankful. Thank you for sharing yours. Peace. Rebecca

  115. Yes, my holiday was not as terrible as it had been anticipated. I visited with my husband’s family, finished my lace sweater, made 4 pairs of Duffers (from the ravelry site)and got most of my husband’s book work done. The latter I really hate and as I was avoiding it, oddly, it never got done despite my protests. Sigh.
    I am now making a scarf to go with the finished sweater, started the next sweater, a jacket style from Pure and simple in my favorite color…purple!
    At the beginning of the month I am returning to the designing and knitting of two shawls for Simply Shetland.
    Did you know you inspire? thanks.

  116. I’d like to hope that every family has perfected Christmas. That’s the best way to have a wonderful time for the holidays.

  117. Your holiday was beautiful- thank you so much for sharing it with us!
    My family’s holiday was quiet but very nice…we had everyone together (with both my sister and I married we have to share with in-laws, but this year we had everyone for Christmas morning). My mom made a lovely meal. I brought all our favorite holiday cookies, having taken over cookie-baking from my mom some years ago. My sister made one of her outstanding pies. Everyone had lovely surprises they could really use (the pre-Christmas gift espionage while we trade top-secret intelligence on who can use what is a big part of our tradition).
    And then we headed home and spent the rest of the weekend reading Christmas books, knitting and watching the snow fall softly down- the first real storm of the year for us, and the frosting on our Christmas weekend!

  118. This was a wild knitting Christmas for me.
    I knitted my first dpn mittens and some scarves, finished some, not others, felted a cape that I love–but I’m giving away-sob- and for my great niece’s 18″ doll there were knitted doll clothes with hats. Big hits, spawning a written ‘order’ for a matching outfit for Grace. In her dreams- until I finish the other stuff.
    I found out my two grown nieces have started to knit. They will be wonderful new cohorts. They eyeballed the clothes with that new knittter’s awe. I tried to sell them on the fact that is is easy to jump from first scarves to other things. Especially little things, which is true.
    It is my sister and her big family I thank for this happy Christmas. While watching over her very sick mother-in law, she managed, yet again, to have us all, it boggles my mind.
    And after dinnner, as if she hadn’t had enough to do, she flabbergasted me with a huge wooden yarn swift.(My brother told her I said I was going to buy one someday–God love him.)
    It is stunning, like a strange all-season, geometric Christmas tree, I swear I’m leaving it up all year, decorated with yarns to be wound.
    And thank you, Stephanie. You have given your readers much pleasure…with your writing and with the interconnection to the knitting community at large. Have a Happy New Year. B

  119. sounds perfectly lovely and i’m glad you had a wonderful time. my holiday was also great- thanks for asking! 🙂

  120. What a lovely Holiday for you all. So glad for you and yours.
    Christmas was fine here in the middle – we even got a dusting of snow. Family and friends – that’s what it’s all about!

  121. Best Christmas ever…found out we’re going to be first time grandparents!! Newest member of the family is due in July and NOW so much knitting to look forward to!! Let the new baby patterns begin! 🙂

  122. Wonderful! Your daughters are stunning! Your whole family affair seems perfect in every way . . . what blessing!

  123. Wonderful! Your daughters are stunning! Your whole family affair seems perfect in every way . . . what a blessing!

  124. Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful Christmas! I understand your feelings about traditions. My grandchildren(18 & 21) are now looking for and looking forward to the things we’ve always done in other years. Your girls are simply gorgeous, and such nice people too! You and Joe are truly blessed!

  125. Christmas Eve always involves the family service at church and I was the Scripture reader for the entire service. My minister, knowing how I love the language of the King James’ version, let me use it for all 4 readings. Luke 2: 1-18 rocks. I memorized it when I was 10 and it’s stuck with me for 58 years.
    Our Christmas Day was smaller this year because one son, significant other, and his daughter(my granddaughter) were out of town visiting the inlaws. However, everyone else was here and many of your traditions echo ours. Those crackers look very familiar and I got to wear a pink hat. Dinner? Well, the gravy is my favourite part, especially covering the mashed potatoes. Once Jamie, Michelle and Sarah return to Sudbury, I can have another dinner and a second present opening. Christmas continues(and there are 12 days to consider).
    Blessings on you all!

  126. I loved your description, rituals, and pictures. We’re readjusting the traditions and expectations, now that first daughter is married and we won’t always all be together. But second daughter came “home” from her new home, and we maintained many of our traditions, including raclette Christmas Eve dinner, late service at church followed by cookies with other returning-home young folks, and Christmas dinner here with whatever family members are local. Very cozy and nice.
    Funny about how important tradition is to the younger ones, though: daughter was aghast that the Christmas Eve service format changed this year, with a new minister!
    Happy new year to all of you.

  127. Forgot to mention two other things: first daughter knit me and her sister lace scarves!
    And, my facebook post (with link) on Christmas Eve:
    Most Christmas-spirited I’ve felt today was making my annual donation to Knitters Without Borders – an awesome fund-raising effort among knitters that has raised $1,062,217 since it began after the 2004 tsunami. Check it out.

  128. Sounds wonderful. Our family has its traditions too. This year was a little different, as I’m now a single mother of 3, and was working 3 part-time jobs this Christmas. I had to take a step back and let others (my Mom and sister help and do things a bit their way) Still, it was good, and the most important traditions were held.
    One thing I’m wondering though….
    How do vegetarians make gravy???

  129. Lovely traditions, all of them.
    The new one of no internet is wonderful. We will try it next year, or maybe at the next holiday.

  130. Thanks for the stories, and happy holidays. We have few traditions compared to yours. In fact, it makes me want to explain (blog) how my daughter has distinct memories about the year we…insert a special event. Short Explanation: Church musicians, dictated to and exhausted by midnight Dec 24! (I don’t regret it at all!)

  131. Thanks for sharing your Christmas traditions with us! You have a lovely family. Bless you and yours, and may your celebrations continue for many years!

  132. Did you have Boxing Day at your house? I love that you had spent every Boxing Day for your whole life at Aunt Helen’s and their perpetual dog.

  133. I’m glad you holiday was a dear one. We visited many friends and particpated in our town square food/clothing give away.

  134. Your Christmas sounds wonderful. Mine, not so much since my mom is in the hospital, but we had lovely plans. Next year.

  135. That all just sounds so lovely – and it must be lovely to see the next generation embracing the traditions, and gathering of family. I hosted for my husband’s side, and more and more it’s like his brother’s family just shows up long enough to collect their presents….and the teens spend the entire time on their iphones. It made me feel a bit Grinch-like.

  136. Christmas sounds wonderful. I’m Ukrainian and Christmas is January 7 (with the big meal on the 6th). I have started making an army of varenyky (what you think of as perogies) in potato and then some with buckwheat kasha. I have also fried a bigillion onions. I still have borscht and cabbage rolls to make (and a bunch of other stuff). Nice thing about Christmas in January is that it is non-commercial. We will take the children carolling for 12 days afterwards. Much fun!

  137. we also have pretty set traditions. Makes Christmas easier – I really don’t have to plan – everything just happens just the way it is supposed to. Really helps (but doesn’t eliminate!) the stress

  138. Your Christmas sounds wonderful, almost makes me tear up. I only say almost because I’m trying to cook supper and tearing up and cooking don’t always mix.

  139. That sounds like the true spirit of Christmas to me! And very touching. Mine was peaceful and lovely, with close family and friends, and one huge musical blow-out on Boxing Day, as our tradition requires!

  140. That was a beautiful post. So beautiful, I got teary-eyed. Thanks for that! Happy New Year to you and your family.

  141. A bit late but, Christmas was, wrap presents, put them on the table as there was not tree this year, decorate the fireplace with neat Advent Wreath, prepare for midnight mass. Go to mass (extra ordinary form), sleep for 5 hours, rise and make waffles for the son, his wife, my hubby and my oldest son, sing Christmas carols in 4 part harmony, light advent wreath and sing more carols. Have a Christmas toast with very good whiskey, cook a prime rib I snagged on sale, taters, salad, bread and veggies. Christmas bread and ice cream for desert. Open presents, and watch football by the fire in the fireplace.
    Excellent time this year. No tree or extra Christmas stuff, but the singing and going to mass made Christmas real.
    Happy New Year everyone and knit a lot more!

  142. Okay, a few days late to this party, but I have to tell you, your holiday posts consistently move me to (very happy!) tears. You have a beautiful family, and the traditions that you keep are wonderful. I must say, Hank is my favorite of your bunch. I have a son who looks enough like him that they could be brothers, and I “squeee” whenever Hank pops up in the blog. And the thing is, I knew he would sometime in the Christmas news.
    When you started talking about Hank wanting to help with the gravy, and your girls with the singing, and sitting at the top of the steps until it was time…that’s what the holidays are all about. Really. It’s obvious from the way that you write that you get it, and you have the rare gift of imparting that to the rest of us. Thank you.

  143. My parents live at the lake. While it’s not impossible to check the internet, it’s frustrating. I rarely use our web email interface, which is ancient and clunky. (It’s that or change webhosts.) The line drops now and then. My blood pressure rises. Mom points out that her grandkids are doing something neat or asks what to make for lunch. Dad asks for help on his computer.
    I’m the advertised contact for a local performing group, so I really should check sometimes. Usually, I check email and voicemail mid-week, and resent it. This week I couldn’t convince myself to check them even once. Bliss.

  144. Thanks for sharing your lovely Christmas. Mine was family, friends, music, Church and a COLD! I too am a huge believer in and supporter of MSF. Church is a big part of my Christmas and am I not fortunate to be able to worship without fear?

  145. I’m playing catch-up here, so you probably won’t be reading this, but I just want to mention how beautiful your three girls have grown up to be.

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