Virtual Advent Blog Tour 2011 – Small traditions.

Welcome to the Virtual Advent Blog Tour 2011!

Question: This calendar traditionally helps count down the days until Christmas, and behind each number it contains a prize.
Answer: Advent calendar.

Christmas and the holidays have always been understated in my family. I’m afraid you won’t be finding a post about a lot of big Christmas traditions here. My family is small with just my nuclear family (mother, father, and brother) and only a few extended family members (maternal grandparents and my uncle and aunt). When I was a child, we went to my maternal grandparents’ house for the holidays. Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving were all marked with days at their house and meals taken together. I’ve never really thought my family very big on traditions and have often felt a little disappointed by this.

But I realized that even if they were small, my family had traditions too. Meeting at my grandparents’ house in itself was a tradition. It was always a very serious decision to decide which day we were going to go over. Would we meet on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Then my mother and my uncle (her brother) had to decide who was going to bring what to the holiday feast. Who would bring what pie and if my mother was going to bring Russian tea cakes or not. My grandmother cooked. Boy, did my grandmother cook.

My brother and I in 1987.

Question: In what country did the Advent calendar originate?
Answer: Germany.

My grandmother made the best chicken and, try as I might, I can never make my chicken taste the same. I will always remember going to her house and walking into the kitchen to find all those pots and pans bubbling on the stove and both of the double ovens fired up. Her kitchen had a green tile backsplash and a green stovetop and green doors on the ovens. There was even a green rug in front of the sink. She used to pull a stool into the kitchen so I could get up on the counter and sit to watch her cook.

My grandparents, 1987.

Question: How do you say “Merry Christmas” in French?
Answer: Joyeux Noël.

Another tradition we had was my grandparents’ Christmas tree. It wasn’t that we all helped decorated it or anything. It was always up before we arrived. But the tree’s mere presence was a tradition. You see, it had green lights. As a child I never realized how strange our tree was but friends often exclaimed how odd a Christmas tree with green light was when they saw pictures. My grandmother had these curious little red and white ornaments. To think about it, the tree must have clashed horribly with itself but I loved that tree. As a child I remember sitting in front of its soft green light and pretending I was on the moon or in fairyland.

The green tree. The picture doesn’t do it justice. 1988.

Question: How do you say “Merry Christmas” in Spanish?
Answer: Feliz Navidad.

I miss those little traditions that I didn’t even know were traditions until they were gone. There is no grandparents’ house anymore these days. There is just my parents and brother now. We’ll probably have dinner together on Christmas and exchange a few gifts. Nothing special, nothing really big. But that’s a tradition now too.

Merry Christmas big and small!

Presenting! My grandmother’s recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

Sift together and set aside:
2 ¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Blend together:
½ cup softened butter
½ cup Crisco (shortening)

Add to this:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon water

Beat thoroughly, then beat in 2 eggs.

Slowly add flour mixture you set aside before.

Remove beaters and add 12 oz. package of chocolate chips plus 1 cup chopped pecans if desired.

Drop by ½ teaspoon on greased cookie sheet (or on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper).

Bake 375 for about 8 minutes. Watch for burning on bottom of cookies if using a dark pan!

Remove, cool slightly, and enjoy warm and gooey!

Thank you for joining me!



About Patricia @ Lady with Books

I'm a 34 year old female. Brown hair. Blue eyes. I spend a great deal of my time surfing the internet and blogging. I enjoy cooking. I make a mean sautéed vegetable dish. I write. I read.

Posted on December 1, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. That is so interesting with the green lights on the tree! I bet it did look good though! Even though you might not have a lot of traditions as a family, I’m sure you have the love of a family and enjoy time together with the holidays and that is all that matters! Merry Christmas!


    • Patricia @ Lady with Books

      We had awesome Christmases, even the ones where we barely tolerated each other. Provided I don’t burn the rolls again, we’ll get through this Christmas just fine too. Our tree with the green lights was the oddest one I knew as a child and that’s why I loved it so. I’ve seen pictures of when my mother was my age and they had one of those silver tinsel fire hazards that were popular in the 50’s. I almost wished they still had it. That would have been fantastic.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. You know, your first paragraph could almost have been written by me. That’s one of the reasons why we started this tour and kept it going!

    I hope you enjoy your Christmas with your family! Thank you for participating in the tour.

    • Patricia @ Lady with Books

      I felt a little weird writing about my family exactly because you don’t see a lot of blog posts about small families. It was always just our little group and as a kid I felt that everyone around me had huge families and tons of things going on. TV Christmas specials and movies did not help. I didn’t even know I should have had two sets of grandparents until I was a teen. It confused me when I saw people arriving at my neighbor’s house and more than one old man got introduced to me as “Grandpa”. Small families have great Christmases too and that’s what I wanted to say.

      Thank you for hosting the tour! I know it must have been a huge amount of work.

  3. That’s a lovely tree and you guys look so happy! Did you wrap the present with color-coordinated paper? 😉

    • Patricia @ Lady with Books

      That’s my grandmother’s weirdness. Great Depression and all that. She would buy only two rolls of wrapping paper and would refuse to get any more until every scrap of what she had was gone. My mother inherited the same mentality to some degree. Both of them also reused bows. Lol!

      Thank you for stopping by!

  4. Lovely post advent post. Your Grandm’s recipe looks great. What is Crisco? Presumably a US brand?

    • Patricia @ Lady with Books

      Oh! Crisco is shortening. The Crisco brand became so popular in the United States that many of us just use the word Crisco as a synonym for all shortening. I should probably put that on there for non-American readers, shouldn’t I? Lol!

      I’m glad you enjoyed my post!

  5. I know just what you mean about taking traditions for granted until they disappear. Also, I love the sound of your grandmother’s cookies!

    • Patricia @ Lady with Books

      That’s the way of the best things in the world. We don’t know what we have until they are gone. My grandmother’s cookies are the bomb. I see recipes for chocolate chip cookies now and they cut out the brown sugar and Crisco (shortening). They aren’t nearly as yummy, in my opinion.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  6. Thanks for sharing your traditions with us – even if they may seem small. It sounds like they were beautiful Christmases. 🙂

    • Patricia @ Lady with Books

      They were the best Christmases of my life and I was too young to realize they might disappear. Ah, youth. We might not have had a big ta-do but they were ours and I miss them.

      Thank you for reading my blog!

  7. The small traditions are the most memorable of all traditions and the best!

    • Patricia @ Lady with Books

      Yes they are! It’s the little things we don’t realize how much we loved until they are gone.

      Thank you for stopping by!

  8. I can relate to small holiday celebrations – my Mom’s family is all in Ireland and my grandmother on my Dad’s side was the only one here so it would always just be my parents, my brother and sometimes my Grandmother (don’t ask – she was tempermental!) But like you, as the years have gone on, I realize we had traditions nonetheless and have learned to cherish those and add to them myself. My brother is now married with two young kids and they do make Christmas so much fun!

    Great post!

    • Patricia @ Lady with Books

      I was very young when health issues began to disturb our holidays among our family and those early Christmas gatherings are my favorites. I didn’t realize how much I loved them until they had to stop happening. I hope that when I have a family of my own I can create Christmas celebrations like those I remember even if there aren’t a lot of people.

      Thanks for commenting!

  9. That tree looks pretty! Even the smallest of things can be tradition. Many of yours sound a lot like mine. We also have a small family and my grandparents’ tree was the best tree according to my sister and I. It was fake, sparse, yet so well loved. My grandfather used to tie it to the wall so it wouldn’t fall. Ha ha! We LOVED that about it though, and when both my grandparents passed away recently, my sister and I both said how much we miss them and their tree at Christmas. Hey, we had them around for 30 years, so we were lucky. 😉

    • Patricia @ Lady with Books

      My grandfather used to tie the tree to the wall too! He was afraid my brother or I would tip it over when we were small. I miss the big green tree. I don’t even know who ended up with it after my grandmother died. I think it went to one of her younger sisters, my great aunt.

      Thank you for stopping by!

  10. I love reading about the traditions! Thanks for participating in the tour. The recipe for the cookies reminds me I am hungry. 🙂

    • Patricia @ Lady with Books

      Everyone could use more chocolate chip cookie recipes. You can never have enough chocolate chip cookie recipes.

      Thanks for the comment!

  11. Love your remembrance of the tree. My memories of Grandma’s aluminum tree (it was the 60’s) with the revolving color wheel are some of my fondest Christmas thoughts. Hope you have a Merry Christmas.

    • Patricia @ Lady with Books

      My parents’ tree when they were first married was a silver aluminum tree. I’ve seen pictures of it. It’s very beautiful with red bulb ornaments. They called it their Christmas fire hazard. Lol!

      Thank you for commenting!

  12. Although I’m a multi-colored-light girl myself, I like the idea of a tree covered in green lights. It seems fairy-like in some respects.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Patricia @ Lady with Books

      When I was a kid, I really liked the multi colored lights too. My grandparents’ tree was a fantasy, unreal. I’ve never found green lights anywhere else. As I got older I really fell in love with the clean, classic look of just white lights. Now-a-days I just have white lights for decoration. They are my favorite.

      Thanks for reading my blog!

  13. Hi Patricia – what a thoughtful post you have given us for the Advent Tour. You are right, it is the things we do together that make the traditions, big and small, that are meaningful at this time. I really enjoyed looking at all your photographs. I do wish the green lights had come through, green is one of my favourite colours!

    I hope you have a very Merry Christmas this year.

    • Patricia @ Lady with Books

      Somewhere in the depths of the thousands of pictures my grandmother had and we have inherited, there should be a picture where the green lights show up better. The picture shown is from the late 80’s. Photography was better in the 90’s and my grandmother put up the tree up until my grandfather died in 2002. But it was the only one I could find. Every family has traditions, even small ones.

      Thank you for the comment!

  14. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

    What a lovely advent post and tradition is often about the small things!
    Merry Christmas!

    Shelleyrae @ Book’d OUt

    • Patricia @ Lady with Books

      My small family was creating small traditions and I didn’t even realize.

      Thank you for commenting.

  15. Small traditions are just as big ones. Love the tree, it’s very similar to my late grandma’s style (which I partially adopted).

    • Patricia @ Lady with Books

      I always felt a little weird as a child because my small family didn’t do those big holiday parties I always saw on TV or heard about from other kids. It took my years to realize my small family had traditions of our own. I loved my grandmother’s tree so much.

      Thank you for reading my blog!

  16. Christmas was never a time when my extended family got together much, primarily because most of my extended family on both sides have lived elsewhere and have made their own traditions. So the small amount of family that was here we had our own celebrations. When my paternal grandpa passed away a number of years ago, that kinda put the kibosh on that side, even though there are members of that side still living here in town.

    • Patricia @ Lady with Books

      It took me many years to realize I should have had two sets of grandparents and then many years on top of that to be told the history of my father’s family. Most of them had passed by the time I had been born, not all of them very nicely. I do have more family on my mother’s side, mostly my grandmother’s siblings and their children, but they live “back home” (farm country) and it was impossible to make the drive or flight every year. We got by with just us for the holidays. When my grandparents died, we got even smaller. Now, it’s just my parents and my brother for the holidays. (Although, my brother did gain a girlfriend this year. I wonder if we get to meet her for Christmas?)

      Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  17. Very sweet post. Sadly, I am the LAST member of my family name. At 35. No sons left to carry on the name. So if I marry and change my name that is it.
    My Dad had me when he was in his early 50’s.
    My Aunts&Grandparents on my Dad’s side all passed away. My significantly older than me cousins are still around but we never talk.
    As a kid the Christmas’s were large and awesome! Either one of my 2 Aunts or my Nana would host them.
    My Nana had life size (to me as a kid) carolers in her house that lit up and I would sit and stare at
    My Aunt Joan had a nice home in the woods & opened her fancy living room for the holidays (her white rug could not stand year round traffic nor could her nerves when we ate on the table above she made a stuffing I wish I had the recipe to.
    My Aunt Jackie’s house was more loud and rambunctious but I loved it!
    All the food and cheer and love was awesome.
    Its been YEARS since I saw a loving, warm, family Christmas.
    I am going to my BFF’s home this year. I am pretty excited for it actually.
    I love her and her 3 kids. Her family is cool. It will be a great time.
    I had a great Christmas in 4th grade when my Nana bought me soooooooo many great books!
    I just wanted to stay home and read.
    7th grade I got spoiled! New tennis racket, Benetton sweatshirt, radio, tapes, makeup, etc.
    A 13 yo girls dream Christmas!
    I always got gifts for my pets.
    This year Hercules(chihuahua) and Bella(pitt bull) got matching Christmas sweaters and the cats got little toys to bat about.
    <a href="Advent Tour Day 11

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