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SueInCa On December - 23 - 2011


First off, I apologize to Kalima, Bito, KQ or Adlib for not asking permission to write this post but I thought I would do so prior to getting too busy, mea culpa in advance.  Yesterday I posted a recipe for a favorite cookie recipe that I relate to Christmas and early childhood memories of a great friend.  One of the posters here suggested that I open a post where everyone can share their memories, traditions and recipes that are a part of the holiday season and yes, I say Holidays to include all the traditions of many cultures and ethnoreligious groups.  I will start the post by sharing some of mine.

I think we all have certain smells, sounds or tastes of the Holidays that we have carried down through the years, here are a few of mine.

My first memory of Christmas approaching was my dad sitting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper and drinking a leisurely cup of coffee.  Why?  Well I never saw him relax like that unless he was on a vacation day and his company always gave them the day before Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas off with pay and did not charge them for a vacation day.  Somehow I think those days contributed to a more relaxed holiday for the whole family, I don’t remember ever having one of those “dysfunctional” holiday celebrations until everyone had grown up, or so you would think.

The smell of a Christmas tree early in the morning when the coffee is starting to brew.  Of course now I have one of those manufactured trees but I guarantee you if my grandson requested a “real tree” for Christmas, he would get a real tree.

And who can forget the excitement of the last day at school before Christmas vacation?

My brother-in-law playing Santa for the kids and my daughter, aged 7, saying to him, “You sound like my Uncle Bryan, are you sure you are Santa?”

Our first home with a vaulted ceiling, you can have the tallest tree you want, but first you should be sure you can get it through a door in your house.(Mr and Ms Chevy Chase live in our home)

Watching an I Love Lucy marathon on Christmas Eve with my kids and husband when he got home from work.  We got so involved that we were an hour late to his dad’s Christmas Eve celebration.  It was worth it, the kids and I had been watching from 7:00 in the morning……

Watching all the Christmas favorites once again, pretending I had not seen them many times in the past……..and of course, The Sound of Music on Thanksgiving evening.  I mean whoever gets tired of A Christmas Story, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, It’s A Wonderful Life, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Home Alone, Miracle on 34th Street, Trapped in Paradise, A Christmas Carol and a new favorite of mine, Nothing like The Holidays.

Christmas Eve anticipation for me is the gifts I have bought for others, hoping they will really like them.  I always want to watch others open their gifts.

No bake cookies, buttermilk squares, toffee, fruit cake(made with spice drops not the typical fruit cake), gingerbread houses, sugar cookies with icing and sprinkles, vanilla wafer loaf, spiral sliced Honey-baked ham.  I am not a turkey lover……..sad, but true.

Looking forward to New Years Eve knowing that New Years Day will be spent recovering from all the “FUN” I had the night before.  That has not happened for a few years now.

And here are a few of my favorite songs:

Nancy Wilson

What are you doing New Years Eve


I’ll Be home For Chritmas



Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Christmas Canon Rock


Band Aid

Feed The World

The Carpenters

No Place like Home for the Holidays (I think that is the Halloween House but for Christmas)


Now it’s your turn



Written by SueInCa

I am a soon to be 59 Nana to Anthony who is 11. I live in Benicia CA with my husband and Shih Tsu. I worked in Banking and the Financial Industry for 24 years in Fraud, Risk Management, Account Management, Program Management, Project Management and Customer Service. I was a Fraud Investigator for Credit Card and Merchant Business and investigated internal fraud and responded to Bank robberies. I was also management in most of these positions. Now I am content to find a part time job where I am just a worker bee, no more corporate BS for this gal. I also make jewelry. I can spend hours in a bead shop just touching all the fine baubles. Only another beader would understand that one.

57 Responses so far.

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  1. Artist50 says:

    Merry Christmas to everyone and thank you for making this a safe and comfortable place to come! Holidays have changed a lot for me the last few years and sometimes it brings joy and sometimes sadness. My parents are now gone and I’ve become the matriarch of my family with three wonderful grandchildren. So old traditions with my siblings and parents have turned into new traditions with my daughter-in-laws in charge. Fortunately, I dearly love them and am glad to relinquish my role as hostess, but part of that is because I no longer have my home, which is also life changing. ( For those of you that don’t know I’m a house mother at a sorority, so that’s my full time residence now.) Christmas with grandchildren under three years old is truly magical! I was lucky enough to stay all night last night with my grandson so we could wake up to Santa’s surprises. After a family dinner last night he was exhausted but he couldn’t close his eyes -- he decided he was scared of Santa coming in his house in the middle of the night! He did finally pass out after my son told him Santa could leave his things outside and Daddy could bring them in!

    • SueInCa says:


      When you said housemother I immediately thought of the lady in Facts of Life, Charlotte Rae who played the housemother I hope you are happy with this new path. I love change and am a frequent mover.

    • kesmarn says:

      Aww… Artist, that is one smart Daddy. He knows how to comfort a little “worrier.”

      Life really does bring those periodic “waves” of change, doesn’t it?

      Christmas this year was different here, as well. My nieces have assumed much of the hosting duties. My son is across the continent with his sweetie. My daughter had to work today. (Wouldn’t you know she chose a career in health care too — weekends and holidays will never be the same!)

      And yet — as much as things have changed — there’s a sort of immutable timelessness about it, too. The kids are still excited. The church services are still as pretty. And — even if for only one day — people slow down and think a bit about peace on earth.

      • Artist50 says:

        Kes- I almost hate to admit what my family custom was at Christmas and Thanksgiving. My mother was a bit of a character and as long as I remember, when you were old enough, good enough and had your own money you could get in the family poker game which lasted into the wee hours of the morning -- and yes we played for real money and sometimes the pots could get pricey. But it was family and no one ever really minded losing to each other, unless you were thirteen and it was your first pot game and you realized you had to match the pot! My mother would put the turkey in the oven and make a martini and she was ready to go! She played up into her 80’s until her sight got so bad she just couldn’t do it anymore. So that is my family holiday tradition and I miss it like crazy -- we had some great time around that poker table. As a side note, that table was covered with my father’s WWII wool Army blanket ( and still is) and it’s as good as new!

        • SueInCa says:

          Your mother sounds like my kinda gal Artist

        • kesmarn says:

          Artist, that is a great story! I love that whole notion of the family poker game — right down to the old Army blanket. At the risk of sounding geezerish, I have to say they knew how to make things (and people) that endured back in the day.

  2. bito says:

    Martin Luther King: A Christmas Sermon On Peace -- 1967


    • kesmarn says:

      “Love is greater than ‘like.'” Love is creative, redemptive understanding.”

      “I’ve seen too much hate. Don’t want to hate, myself.”

      “Do to us what you will. We will still love you.”

      “We will wear you down by our capacity to suffer…. We must believe in the ultimate morality of the universe.”

      After the “Dream Speech of 1963″ came the nightmare:”…I saw my brothers and sisters perishing on an island of poverty in the midst of a vast sea of wealth.”

      “Today I still have a dream that one day every…colored person in the world will be judged on the content of his character rather than the color of his skin…and brotherhood will be more than a few words on the end of a prayer…justice will roll down like waters…war will come to an end…there will be peace on earth and goodwill toward men.”

      And so touching to hear his voice in song at the very end…

      Thanks, b’ito.

  3. Happy Winter Solstice and Sol will rise again the 25th when days start getting longer.

    Seriously have a great holiday filled with love and peace no matter what you are celebrating.

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    • SueInCa says:


      I am a sun worshipper so I always look forward to the days getting longer again. Here in my part of CA it very seldom gets downright freezing but Spring, Summer and Fall are beautiful times of the year. I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday, no matter how you celebrate. I wish we could all Coexist in a more equal world, perhaps someday soon.

    • foodchain says:

      KQ, As a first generation Arctic Circle person, this week was the first time we discussed what winter solstice meant. I decided that celebrating the dark, the fear, the unknown is a unifying concept to the divided one of praying for help and celebrating success. Celebrating fear is a far stronger measure of faith in the unknown. Besides meade, glogg,are all good

      Merry Merry, Happy Happy to you and those with you

  4. Lou Rawls--Christmas Is;

  5. Kalima says:

    This is great Sue, and before I get too busy, it’s Christmas Eve here already, I want to wish you and all our Planeteers, Happy Holidays.

    I have many happy Christmas memories, and also some very sad ones, but today, from the Land of the Rising Sun, I send you cheer, good thoughts, and my unending thanks for being such a wonderful group of people. The Planet has been enriched by your caring, your passion, your endless compassion, your wit, your rightful anger at injustice, and your kind friendship.

    Have a wonderful time however you choose to celebrate the next few days. I might not have the time to be here much, but I’ll keep you all in my thoughts and in my heart.

    See you soon.

    Donny Hathaway- This Christmas

    • SueInCa says:

      Have a great day. I did not post any Motown/RB Christmas songs because I knew I could count on you. Thanks for all you do everyday of the year, without yours, Adlib, KQ and Bito’s efforts this site would never have been born, take your bows.
      Happy Holidays

    • foodchain says:

      Kalima, you are such a big part of why this works so well. I can’t imagine the effort each day that you and other provide for us. That being said, our very best to you in the Land of the Rising Sun. As you have an early start, enjoy, take care of those wonderful creatures, your family and yourself (how we forget ourselves). I wish I knew how to do emoticons on this site because I would give your (hugs)

    • And the same to you Kalima! And thanks for providing such a great place to share our views and songs. I hope the holiday is a great one for you.

  6. foodchain says:

    Sue, thank you for the opportunity. I was too shy in early December to ask everyone to share XMAS music because we aren’t all into it. But remembering our holiday memories over the years is such a good thing to do. Of the many memories, this year we find ourselves understanding/coming to grips with the impact of changing families: dating, divorces, matriarch and patriarch deaths, babies, and puppies (Ah, the continuing richness of aging!). So many good memories, my family’s small and awkward, my spouse’s large and boisterous and yet all have been memorable.

    I am baking Estonian Kringle (sai) to distribute rather than setting a long table but this too feels very good. We put up all our many decorations and outside lighting because we love them.

    I am calling old friends whom I’ve missed because of the rush of past seasons. I’m thinking more (finally) about things rather than rushing through them. So, yes Sue, this is a very good year. MERRY MERRY, HAPPY HAPPY.

    I offer Bing Crosby/David Bowie doing “DRummer Boy” with “Peace on Earth” as the duet. Perhaps one day…. Very nice.

    Here is our son’s favorite which he passed on to us. John Fahey, New Possibilites, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

    • SueInCa says:


      You are welcome. I tried to leave it open to share whatever your celebration was for this time of the year because people do celebrate differently and that is what this country is all about, Freedom to celebrate as you wish. We used to have huge celebrations, my husband and I both come from large families but over the years it has become somewhat subdued. With all the kids marrying and having their own children, we use a “family reunion” during the year to all get together and it works because it takes the pressure off for the holidays.
      Best Wishes to you and your family for a peaceful season and throughout the new year.

    • foodchain says:

      Here’s the bowie/Crosby link for Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth. If you haven’t seen it, give it a try. “Peace on earth, can it be…”

  7. I’ve just found a wonderful audio version of Truman Capote’s classic short story, “A Christmas Memory,” read by Capote himself. A truly touching story.


  8. SueInCa says:

    Burl Ives
    Holly Jolly Christmas
    One of my favorites from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Movie

  9. Luther Vandross--Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas;

    • SueInCa says:

      Luther, he had a wonderful voice. I saw him at a Jazz Festival back in 2001. We bought the Michael Bouble Christmas cd and it is almost like listening to the Chairman of the Board/Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Bing all over again. He does a great job of sounding like alot of old timers.

  10. Nat King Cole--Christmas Song;

  11. Happy XMAS (War Is Over);

    • foodchain says:

      KT, I will never forget when my daughter informed me that John was angry at Christmas and how we all forget the tragedies in the world and that I shouldn’t just sing the song as a happy song. MMMmmm, kids. I know you have a great daughter too. Mine isn’t easy but she’s something special

    • SueInCa says:

      I like that one too. It reminds me of BandAid for some reason.

  12. kesmarn says:

    Sue, I’m so glad you posted this. It’s like a cozy little corner to retreat to amidst the holiday frenzy.

    Let’s see…childhood memories. Yes, a real tree that took my mom (and later, us kids) three full days to decorate. Because she was German and the icicles (she kept the lead ones from year to year…God only knows how many decades)had to be hung with perfect precision. Starting from the innermost branches to the outer…in ascending order of size. And the ends — well, one could not hang down lower than the other. They had to be suspended from the midpoint. You get the picture… And yet, I have photos of those trees and they were absolutely, shimmeringly gorgeous. And the smell…ahhhh.

    Christmas cookie baking with mom. And I baked with my own kiddos. Driving in the snow from one relative’s house to another’s on Christmas Eve.

    Being dizzily exhausted and dreamily enchanted at Midnight Mass…a blur of candles, music and incense.

    The fun of receiving and giving presents. The delight of December 26th, when there was finally time for everyone to really examine all the wonderful stuff under the tree.

    I could go on and on. But there are still a few presents to wrap and there’s a big dinner to get ready for this evening!

    Back to reality!

    • foodchain says:

      Kes, we have the same tinsel!!! We don’t hang it. My husband’s father was that person! We have many of the old ornaments hanging and all the ornaments that we gathered as the kids grew.

      Take deep breaths, good cheer and hugs as you go into these next busy days.

      • kesmarn says:

        Thanks so much, food! I still have the old ornaments, too. The oldest is about 70 years old, I believe.

        I’ll remember that “deep breaths” advice. Work scheduled for today!

        All the best to you and yours, too!

    • SueInCa says:


      Merry Christmas BFF and I hope your New Year is even better than the last. I am so greatful to have met you here, I can always look to you for answers and encouragement. Have a wonderful holiday.

    • choicelady says:

      kes -- good luck with the dinner! Hope you have help and that it’s delicious both from the great food and the great company! Merry Christmas!

      • kesmarn says:

        Lots of help, c’lady. I really don’t have to do too much at all.

        Now, if we can just keep the cranky 89 year old patriarch and the Aspergers sister under some degree of control, we may all yet live to see another New Year.

        All the best to you, dear c’lady. You are a priceless addition to this Planet and to the larger one as well.

        • foodchain says:

          Kes, be glad you have names for your difficult people. Ours are just mean! But it’s been fun anyway. I now have “the Great Thanksgiving Bust” as a new story to tell. lol.

          Again, best

        • kes, there is a wonderful claymation film about a man with Aspergers called “Mary and Max.” I think it may still be available on Netflix. Dark and sweet at the same time.

        • choicelady says:

          Oh kes -- you are one of our brightest stars in the firmament! Happiest wishes for you and yours to have a grand time -- and good luck with that Aspergers -- one of my relatives is the same. Always keeps things interesting!!!! Nobody needs THAT much spontaneous “honesty” this time of year. You will be in my heart!

  13. choicelady says:

    Oh thank you, Sue! Christmas memories for me are all good. My otherwise dysfunctional mother did holidays really well -- simple but special, and we always had good times. She was an excellent cook and made terrific cookies and included my brother and me in the process. Those spice drops? We did a kind of Toll House recipe with those instead of chocolate chips, and they were delicious. Our only major disaster was the year we tried to string popcorn and cranberries a la tradition. What a mess! But it was just funny. We never did it again but were always happy we tried it. We made paper chains that we kept for years, squished a bit from storage, but “Tradition”. We often had people come around for dinner, and that was fun, too. My folks had great friends who were interesting and witty and a pleasure to know. We always had a live tree so the smell of evergreen coupled with cookies baking is very powerful for me. Candles, nice Christmas music on the radio -- all was good. Got lots of books and clothes usually, and those were my fave presents. The joy of Christmas vacation was having something new to read and the time to read it. I went to church, my family did not, but when I sang in the choir they did come. It was nice.

    My best Christmas memory musically is either playing Oh Holy Night in the school orchestra or hearing Nat sing the Christmas Song. Nobody did it better, IMHO. Thought he’d live forever and sing that for us. Glad we have recordings!

    After the holidays came January and back to dysfunction. Oh, well. That was tradition, too.

    As an adult my brother married a Jewish woman, and I got regular involvement in Hanukkah which I love. I spend the holidays with her family one year when Hanukkah coincided with Christmas and just before New Year’s Eve and 30 years later still have my “eighth night” bottle of perfume from my sister-in-law’s aunt and uncle whom I adored. That last night we had tea and gorgeous cookies, music, singing, and family in gathering. It was tons of fun. It’s largely why “happy holidays” means a lot to me -- it’s NOT just about being Christian. It’s about all of us everywhere celebrating as we choose.

    So happy holidays everyone! Whatever you do and however you do it, may it bring real joy.

    • SueInCa says:

      CL No thanks needed, I miss not having our lunches at Crickets. I am going to have to find an excuse to go up there for lunch. Have a wonderful holiday and enjoy however you choose to spend it.

      • choicelady says:

        We will find a way. Crickets isn’t the same without you! But check out spots down there, and we can break new ground, too! Nothing says I can’t come thataway!

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