How can it possibly be Thanksgiving NEXT week? Is it just me or did the holiday season sneak up on you as well? We have been so busy in the office and in our personal lives, that it seems the holiday season snuck up on us. You are probably feeling the same way! For those of us in Pittsburgh, tonight is Light Up Night. Last night’s snowfall definitely makes it feel like winter here in Pennsylvania. I have to be honest … I absolutely love this time of year! I enjoy planning the menus, creating the décor for the tablescapes and of course, some festive cocktails (see below for an amazing apple cider sangria recipe from our friend, Jessica Merchant of How Sweet Eats).
In fact, all of the ladies here at DCC love the spirit and traditions of the holiday season, so we wanted to share some of our favorite holiday traditions from our families to yours.
One of Lauren’s favorite holiday traditions is something she shares with her Mom. On Thanksgiving morning, the two of them grab their coffee, enjoy a beautiful fire and make themselves cozy on the couch to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. They peel themselves away from the television about halfway through the parade to prepare breakfast for the rest of the family.
A little fun fact about Lauren: During her senior year of high school, she danced in the parade. It had always been on her Mom’s bucket list to attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and that year, she had a front row seat!
For years, my family and I have “adopted” children in a “Kris Kringle” program. The concept is that you become that child’s Santa Claus and shop for these children whose family can’t afford clothing or toys for their children. During the Thanksgiving weekend, my family and I go to shopping with a wish list that is provided by the parents. It’s hard to explain the joy it brings us to shop for these children who we will never meet, but it is absolutely one of my favorite holiday activities! We buy them several outfits, shoes, winter coats, pajamas, shoes, educational items, toys and stocking stuffers. That night, we wrap all of the gifts and bundle them up for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning. And, I can promise you that on Christmas morning, we always think about these children and their excitement unwrapping their gifts.
Another one of our traditions is sponsoring “WreathsAcrossAmerica.org.” This is an incredible program that places wreaths on graves in National Cemeteries across the country. For years, we have purchased a wreath in honor of my Uncle Harold Dickerson who was killed in action in Vietnam. This will be the fourth year that Kurt and I will also sponsor a wreath to be placed at his Father’s gravesite in Sarasota National Cemetery. This year, we will also be attending the ceremony with Kurt’s Mother.
The one constant between all of us ladies at DCC is that we talk about family when we talk about the holidays.
Constance is the perfect example … she has an amazing, large family, who I have had the pleasure of celebrating birthdays and other events with … this Greek family knows how to throw a party! And, I also know from personal experience, no one leaves her parent’s home hungry! Her family attends Church on Christmas Eve and then heads over to her sister’s home for great food and a party. On Christmas, Constance and her parents do all of the cooking for a huge dinner and gift-giving celebration with aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. I’m just hoping there are some leftovers!
Lauren has many fond memories of visiting her grandparents every Sunday, but specifically during the holiday season. Her great grandparents would always display a beautiful glass ice-skating figurine set under their Christmas tree. She and her sister would play with it for hours until their parents would drag them away from it for their Sunday family dinner. She remembers that she felt like her time with this delicate and beautiful figurine set was limited so she didn’t want to leave it for dinner. Those are memories that she will cherish forever.
For my family, we kick-off the Christmas season with our annual “tree hunt.” My parents (Okay, let me be clear … my Mom) search for the most magnificent tree at the tree farm. It’s an adventure when we can all be together to “hunt for the perfect tree.” As we are driving, my Dad always reminds my Mom that we don’t need the “biggest, fattest and heaviest” tree on the farm and that this is the year that we scale down on the size of the tree. My Mom simply smirks, nods her head and says, “Let’s just see what we find.” Ladies reading this already know what I’m about to write … the tree on the top of our vehicle is typically one of the tallest and fullest trees my Mom could find. 😉To give my mom credit, we are always stunned by the beauty of the tree when it’s placed in the house (despite the hernia that my Dad, Kurt and I typically suffer).
We attend church on Christmas Eve and come home to enjoy champagne and dinner before we start exchanging gifts. Because of my German heritage, my parents always maintained some of the traditions that my Mom grew up with, including opening gifts on Christmas Eve. As children, my parents always kept an extra gift and stockings for my sister and I to enjoy on Christmas morning. As an adult, I spend most of Christmas morning in the kitchen with my mom as her “Sous Chef” as she creates a wonderful meal for family and friends to enjoy. She cooks with so much love that our meal is truly a gift in itself. After friends leave their home, Kurt and I typically take Hope for a hike to enjoy the peace and beauty of the day.
We love hearing about family traditions, fond memories and special moments. We count our blessings for the people (and creatures) in our lives because they are what matter most. From the bottom of our hearts, we wish you and your family a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving.
One final note, if you are looking for a festive cocktail to serve on Thanksgiving … we highly recommend checking out Jessica Merchant’s Apple Cider Sangria. It’s the perfect Fall cocktail … and yes, we taste-tested last weekend ;-) And while you are there, take a look at her amazing book, The Pretty Dish, it’s an awesome holiday gift for the people in your lives who enjoy cooking!