My Favorite Holiday Traditions

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As soon as all of the Junior Mints are consumed and my go-to monarch butterfly costume wings are stashed safely back into the closet my mind is finally free to turn, guilt-free, towards the winter holidays. Below I’ve shared my top ten favorite annual traditions that I look forward to all year long:

10. Making Aunt Kara’s Ambrosia
I inherited Aunt Kara’s Thanksgiving Ambrosia duty when CK and I began dating five years ago. This sweet concoction of pineapple, mandarin oranges and coconut always rings in the start of the holidays for us and CK proudly totes the colorful side dish into the enormous Kelly Family party each year. Recently we’ve begun making homemade marshmallows to use in the dish as opposed to store-bought and I think it’s really helped to make this dish our own.

9. Holiday Cards
I obsess over choosing my holiday cards each year. It’s a very big deal to me and I always find myself standing in the card aisle at various stores picking up boxes and putting them back forever before I finally decide on the perfect one. When I finally make my selection I then have to cross my fingers that they’ll have the amount of cards I need. Then I have to actually address and mail them. My yearly goal is to have them mailed so that they arrive as close to December 1st as possible. I always want my card to be the first one you receive.

8. Wrapping Paper
After I’ve obsessed over the holiday cards, I then stand in front of the paper and ribbon aisle pawing through tubes of gift wrap and yards of trim looking for the perfect paper to wrap my family’s gifts in. Some years I’m more ambitious than others.

7. “Christmas” Wish List on the TiVo
One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is watch every absurd, obscure, and ridiculous holiday themed television episode and made-for-tv movie that comes on. So I create a TiVo wish list that uses “Christmas” as a keyword. That way I’m sure to not miss the opportunity to see the great 90210 episode where Brenda brings home Santa or any of the Brady Bunch specials that involve the kids being all grown up.

6. Annual Ornament
Each year I like to purchase an ornament to add to our collection that reminds us of an event, trip, or other special memory that occurred in the last twelve months. One year it was a Bainbridge Island Ferry decked with holly after we took a trip to Seattle, and the year I started writing CK bought me a cute kitchen-themed ornament. It’s always exciting uncovering each item, reminiscing, and then hanging them on the tree.

5. Christmas Cookies
I was the type of kid who made Christmas cookies in July. Thankfully my mother always let me do it but she still complains to the day about the unbelievable messes I would make in the kitchen. I’m a little tidier these days but I still have many fond memories of making simple sugar cookies dusted with red and green sprinkles to set out for Santa at my Grandmother’s house.

4. Chinese Food on Christmas Eve
CK and I started doing this when we moved in together. It’s a great way to spend a cozy evening. We eat greasy pork fried rice, fight over the last egg roll, and curl up on the couch to watch a holiday movie of my choice. Unfortunately, last year I picked The Christmas Cottage (because adorable Jared Padalecki was in it) and it was painfully bad. Do yourself a favor and skip that one.

3. Christmas Crackers
I’m an enormous anglophile. Each year I try to get CK to take me to London for Christmas. It hasn’t happened yet but I have a lot of experience getting my own way so I know at some point I’ll be carousing in Notting Hill on December 24th. But since I’m still waiting for London to come to me I try to bring a bit of British tradition to New England. This means if you happen to be invited to a holiday shindig at my home I give everyone Christmas Crackers to break and then I demand that you wear your enclosed brightly colored paper crown with pride.

2. Reading The Polar Express
If I happen to be at my mom’s house on Christmas Eve we always sit in the living room as a group. Someone holds up Chris Van Allsberg’s The Polar Express book so we can all see the pages and then we listen to the tape (yes as in cassette) that features William Hurt reading the story. It really brings out my inner eight-year-old.

1. Eggnog Pancakes
Eggnog in general is a huge deal for me during the holidays. I actually just saw the first carton in “the wild” this weekend. Every year I eagerly await eggnog lattes from Starbucks, eggnog cookies, and the eggnog milkshake at McDonald’s. I know many people are disgusted by eggnog, but not me. I think it’s quintessentially Christmas and eggnog pancakes are my go-to breakfast on Christmas mornings.

What are some of your holiday traditions? Are into It’s a Wonderful Life? Do you roast chestnuts by an open fire? Are you glued to all things Santa or do you like to laugh at your relatives who willing wear reindeer imprinted clothing? Let me know! I promise not to pass judgment on whether your activities are naughty or nice.

By the way, if you’re feeling a little nostalgic now and missing home, perhaps you’d like to try your hand at entering Folgers® Coffee Home for the Holidays contest. In 200 words or fewer, create an original essay answering the question, “What is the best part of wakin’ up at home for the holidays with Folgers® Coffee?” Folgers will award five contest winners, plus up to three family members or friends, travel to and from their destination. This content closes on November 30, 2010 at Noon.

You can read about other blogger’s unique holiday traditions and memories by visiting this page.