Last year in an article I wrote for WWE I said,
“No matter the holiday traditions someone observes in their home, they are beautiful, they are sacred, and in the end, they honor love.”.
I strongly believe in that philosophy. Homes celebrate different traditions; some light candles, some light trees, some mark the solstice, while others simply quietly observe. There are repeated activities we have formed without knowing they would one day be treasured traditions.
Growing up my family went to the same Christmas tree farm each year in the Santa Cruz mountains. We would hunt and chop down the centerpiece of our living room, my mother’s famed Christmas tree! Literally, Girl Scout Troops would come to see her spectacular tree. We lived in a very middle class neighborhood but come December, her living room was as spectacular as Rockefeller Center. I can remember sitting on the flight of stairs that led directly to that glorious tree and squinting my eyes to blur the colored lights in my dark house at sunset. The feeling that encompassed me in this homespun splendor is one I can never aptly describe.
Becoming a wife and mother I made sure to create evergreen experiences in our home. These traditions start each season with Thanksgiving. I’ve gathered ten beloved traditions from our home to share. It is easy to overlook the fact it’s the smallest things mean the most in every home; but it’s the truth. I would love to hear about your traditions too.
10) We eat pumpkin pie for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. Once Indiana decided she did not like pumpkin pie I found a pumpkin cheesecake recipe with a ginger snap crust that fit her taste. Ever since the girls were itty bitty they’d wake to the Macy’s day parade, a set table with a breakfast of steaming hot chocolate, pumpkin cheesecake and pie, along with full control over the redi-whip can.
9) Christmas music is only turned on after Thanksgiving dinner has been eaten and Elf is the first holiday movie watched along with dessert.
8) The weekend after Turkey day we choose our Christmas tree and get a fresh cut before setting it in its stand. The tree settles outside in the courtyard a day or two as we decide between colored or white lights. We bring that noble fir inside with trepidation wondering if this is the year it will not fit... it always does although there’s often the need to rearrange furniture. There’s such unabashed joy stringing lights, placing garland and ornaments that recall each happy year.
7) Holiday lights outdoors ARE MY JAM!!! I never had these growing up so I made sure the girls did. One day I’ll do my entire yard in shades of blue. Every time I see that I ohhh and ahhhh. A beautifully lit yard is so magical. I’ve always thought those who did it gave the neighborhood a wonderful gift.
6) There’s no such thing as an ugly Christmas tree. Period.
5) Rankin and Bass holiday films are the best. I once sobbed so hard as a little girl I hiccuped uncontrollably for having missed Rudolph; I was absolutely inconsolable. Something about the production of those films and the humanity of their characters touched my very soul. The Island of Misfit Toys, Nestor, all of the sweetness despite rejection or despair spoke to me and still does. Kris Kringle’s wedding to the school teacher, Ms. Jessica, remains the most beautiful wedding I have ever seen 😊. I truly do cry through a smile every year, including this year.
4) I make a theme of the year in gift shopping. One year I found everyone hats and gloves, another cashmere scarves, handbags or wallets, pink champagne, a favorite was books and a cozy blanket. Instead of worrying about “outdoing” anyone else I think about what could be meaningful and singular to my friends and loved ones. I take the time to hand write a note and speak my appreciation. Gifts might be forgotten but words of love and encouragement rarely are. Thoughtfulness is uncommon and genuinely appreciated.
3) Christmas Eve Day is the time to shop outside in small town squares. It’s goodwill and good cheer to smile at passing shoppers and do last minute things that remind you Santa’s magic is real. There is such excitement recalling the anticipation of his visit to all the good girls and boys across the globe on a single night. We always bundle up in warm coats, gloves, and a new hat to stroll Canyon Road. Santa Fe’s famed little road is lined with farrolitos and dotted with piñon wood fires. We stop at the same outdoor stand for the girls’ hot chocolate to toast my glass of champagne. Each year I bring marshmallows and watch my daughters delight over the fact I never forget. We sing along to Christmas carols and slowly walk amongst the sea of our community. We feel part of the greater love the season is meant to deliver. Oddly we have NEVER missed Rudolph’s shining nose in the New Mexican night sky on the way home♥️.
2) Christmas Eve requires It’s A Wonderful Life. This is my favorite movie. I think Jimmy Stewart’s portrayal of George Bailey is one of the single best performances on film. This movie reminds me each year that I matter, that we ALL MATTER, that we might not be the most important person in the world but we are the world to those who love us most. This movie was based on the book, The Greatest Gift that was passed to family members as a pamphlet. The movie adaptation reminds me what actually matters. I always goto bed with a sense of purpose and gratitude, recalling heroism of the mild and what it means to be, “...the richest man in town!”.
1) Christmas morning is about belief and magic. We’ve not always had “the most” but both my girls have independently reported they thought we were “rich”. We were not. I always helped Santa with his wrapping so packages shone bright with ribbons and bows. Stockings were stuffed with nostalgic treats, and the girls could smell cinnamon goodness of Warrior Reindeer bread wafting through the house. Santa’s cookies 🍪 were eaten, the reindeer’s carrots 🥕 chomped. Jingle bells could be heard in the distance. Attention to detail cost very little and required only thought, love, and adherence to belief.
There was nothing in our home but peace, gratitude, and grace. If I could impart heartfelt advice it would be to observe and marvel over the simplest things. The smallest gestures add up to the most. Money is a stresser in the world today. I understand this but encourage you to learn to let that go.
Replace stress with time honored traditions and if you don’t have some of your own set out to make them. In time children love experiences far more than high priced gadgets or the latest toy that will be outdated by spring.
The greatest gift you give your family, loved ones, and friends is the beauty of your heart. Never forget you are irreplaceable and valuable for simply, yet miraculously, being YOU!!!
I wish you the beauty of peace and joy this holiday season. I wish you friends and family. I wish you kindness received and given. I wish you forgiveness and grace. I wish you a heart right with the world. I wish you belief.
I believe in wishes granted and the gentle magic of tradition...Always!!