Once Remembrance Day has come and gone, my thoughts turn to what is a major season of activity in our household.
You see for us, Christmas isn't just one day of commerically injected excess. In fact, for the past few years, our Christmas gift giving budget has been about $200. For all of us. Including stockings.
Like Easter, Christmas for us is a religious holiday. It's also a major cultural holiday, and over the years, we've been blending together our favourite parts of the two cultures my husband and I have grown up in.
For us, Christmas officially starts on Nov. 25, the Feast of St. Catherine. Traditionally, that's the day when Tire (pronounced tear) is made, a molasses based pull toffee. I learned to make it from my MIL. There's a whole long story behind that which I will post another day.
Something I started out many years ago was making new decorations for our tree every year, and I've got a good start on those this year. If we're near family, I make some for their trees as well. Our tree is comprised mostly of home made decorations. I've done this for many years, and I believe I started this because I needed child-safe decorations. At least I don't remember doing it earlier than that. I didn't want to be constantly on the watch for Eldest, a very mobile, almost walking 9 month old at the time, and keep her away from the tree. Unable to find child-safe decorations that actually looked good, I bought some crochet wool in Christmassy colours and made them. I've been keeping it up every since, and the girls each make a new decoration for the tree, too. While I appreciate the beauty of a catalog perfect tree, to me, a tree should reflect the people in the home, and an eclectic tree filled with home made decorations holds far more meaning than the most picture perfect work of art possibly could.
Some time around the end of Nov. or beginning of Dec., we make our Christmas tourierre, using a recipe my MIL developed herself and passed on to me. Before moving out here, the making of the tourtierre had moved completely over from us helping my MIL, to us doing it completely ourselves. We'd make as many as 38 tourtierre, which would be frozen, then passed out among family members and given out as gifts. This year, with only the 4 of us, we don't plan to make as many - if for no other reason than we need a powerful enough mixer with dough hook. When making triple recipes of hot water dough, several times in a row, doing it by hand is out of the question. Last year, we bought a Mixmaster - and it broke half way through the second batch! We only made 10 pies, finishing off the dough by hand, and never want to do that again! LOL
St. Nicholas Day - or more accurately, Swiety Mikolaj - on Dec. 6. is another day prominant on our calendar.
There is, of course, Christmas Day itself, though for us the bulk of events happen on Christmas Eve, with a many coursed meal followed by gift opening at midnight. We leave the stockings for the morning, and Christmas Day itself is more a quiet day of rest.
Our Christmas season finishes on Jan. 6, Three Kings Day. On the 7th, the tree and decorations come down and get put away for another year.
So for the next while, Christmas and our preperations will be prominant on this blog.