Happy Holidays from the LHD Team
We hope you are having a happy holiday season! From our homes to yours, we wanted to share a few of our favorite holiday traditions with you...
The Family Tree
At first, when discussing this post about family traditions, I could only think of one. But when prodded by my children, I realized that we have quite a few Christmas traditions; At least enough to give me several years’ worth of Christmas blog material!
Perhaps one of my favorites is our Christmas tree. I have for years done two trees: The Martha Tree (yes, as in Stewart) in my formal living room and The Family Tree, which we all gather around to open presents on Christmas morning. While it is fun to do a themed, color coordinated tree that is “perfect” in every way, my favorite tree will always be our family tree.
Ornaments hang on the tree like a story book, showcasing all the memories of my family from childhood to now. Ever since my children were tiny, ornaments that they made in school or that were given to commemorate a sport or special life event have hung on this tree. Lately, the newest ornaments are places that my husband and I, or our family, have traveled. I love to sit at night just before going to bed, turn out all the lights, and gaze at the beautifully lit tree, listening to the ornaments. Each ornament tells a story; the Girl on the Swing ornament that my daughter made when she was eight, the Sock Snowman my son made when he was four, and even the ornament that we bought this summer while on vacation in France. They are like a map of Caralina and Collin’s childhoods, and the travel ornaments are the roads that we have journeyed. I look forward to someday adding ornaments from the grandchildren and adventures yet to happen.
Merry Christmas to all of you, and may the New Year be full of wonderful adventures.
Christmas: Warm or Cold
With our family small and scattered, Christmas takes a different form every year, and my husband and I have raised "flexibility" to an art form. When we retired, we moved from Maryland to south Florida, thinking we'd have a constant stream of family visitors, not reckoning with "details" like jobs, school, and other family commitments. On the plus side, we took to Florida weather like the proverbial ducks to water. Our first Christmas in Florida found us standing outside, IN SHORT SLEEVES, in a beautiful plaza with all the traditional decorations and carolers singing, plus palm trees swaying and poinsettias PLANTED IN THE GROUND! (We sat on the beach on Christmas day and, unforgivably, called friends and family so they could hear the ocean roar while they were freezing in the North and Midwest!)
Time passed, we got older, and at the urging of our youngest son, we are now living near him in Charleston, SC. We have officially become "halfbacks, " the term for people who retire to Florida and then move halfway back to where they lived before.
We miss the beautiful, warm Florida winters, but we have learned some important truths about what makes Christmas such a special time:
- Christmas is not a place. It doesn't even have to be a specific day. The beautiful spirit of Christmas is celebrated whenever and however loved ones get together.
- Christmas cookies taste just as good in warm weather as in cold weather.
- And the special family recipes of which I have become the keeper, are always delicious and are always shared with love. In my family, the Italian-American recipes that started with my grandparents express our best (and most delicious) traditions. Funny how we never think of making traditional Christmas or Easter recipes at other times -- they just wouldn't taste the same!
So, in the spirit of the season, I wish all of you and your families and friends the most joyous of Christmastimes and the best New Year ever, as you celebrate your own traditions!
Happy Holidays from the Donovan Family
Traditions, like time, are constantly changing. Grandma’s menu holds the same old recipes with new dishes introduced. Babies grow out of highchairs and get married. And then before we know it, a dining room chair is once again replaced with a highchair. I learned long ago to go with the flow when it comes to family holidays.
Like the color of my hair, traditions in my family change and are now changing once again. I look forward to the addition of new experiences and memories made as a family. While I love and cherish our family’s old traditions, it’s the new ones that get added every year that make me smile.
For the Donovans, this Christmas is anything but traditional. My husband and I are traveling to Texas to celebrate with our daughter and son-in-law, who are expecting a baby boy in 2022 (our first grandchild!). Our son is in the middle of Navy Officer Candidate School, and we’re still not sure if he’ll be able to join us this year. But no matter where we are in this world, or who is at our table, the tradition of family is the only one I hold on to, knowing it’s going to change.
I’m truly blessed with a healthy, growing, amazing family and look forward to being part of their new traditions. However you celebrate, whether your traditions stay the same or are constantly evolving like mine, I wish you a happy, joyful holiday full of love!
Carols by Candlelight
My absolute favorite holiday tradition is one my husband and I started almost 10 years ago. The first year we were dating, I discovered that a charity I often supported, Breast Cancer Care, would be hosting Carols by Candlelight in early December at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. The event proceeds would benefit the charity, and as a student in my second year at university in Scotland, I had yet to visit St Paul’s. What better time to see it than by candlelight at Christmas?
When we arrived and joined the queue to enter, we were greeted by some volunteers handing out Lindt chocolate balls and roasted chestnuts, which I’d never had before. I had always assumed they were just part of the song! (In case you’re wondering, they taste like potatoes.) Everyone was chatting, laughing, and generally enjoying the festive atmosphere.
Once inside, the program began, and we sang carols and listened to different stories, from comedians talking about the holidays with in-laws to breast cancer survivors recounting their journeys to remission.
At the very end, all the lights were dimmed, we were given a candle to light, and everyone began singing Silent Night. It was the most magical moment shared among strangers, and I still get chills thinking about it. For the next few years, my husband and I would attend these Carols by Candlelight, and when we moved to New York City, we began attending the carols at St Patrick’s Cathedral.
During COVID, we’ve been able to attend the London carols, albeit virtually, for the first time since we moved stateside. Amidst everything, that is something we’ve been incredibly grateful for. This holiday season, I hope you’re able to close out the year by celebrating with the ones you love, be it in person or virtually, and sharing in the joy of the season!