Happy Holidays

This time of year finds us immersed in everything holiday.  When it’s dark and cold, I find these traditions inspiring and warming.  So, for December, I bring you a potpouri of traditions from family and friends. Happy holidays! I hope you have a joyful season!


Emily (Me) Albuquerque, New Mexico



“Growing up, my husband’s family celebrated Christmas and Hanukkah, so my husband and I have continued the tradition.  Maybe because Hanukkah is not part of my heritage, I have found wonder in seeing how much my children connect with Hanukkah.   They love lighting the candles, singing the songs, and of course eating the yummy latkes made by Grandma Karen.  My daughter especially seems taken with Hanukkah and will ask for the songs throughout the year, even in the middle of the hottest July day.  She has a book about a little girl who wants so badly to get the chance to light the Hanukkah candles by herself.  My daughter asks for this story often, as I think she connects strongly with the feelings of that little girl. Lighting candles in the dark is moving to me too.  Included here is my mother-in-law’s recipe for latkes, traditional Hanukkah fare, and delicious! Try them!”



Abby, Portland, Maine


“Our family has many holiday traditions. We do bake certain Christmas cookies and breads as well as sing songs and listen to favorite albums, but our most important tradition that we do as a family is lighting the candles on the Advent wreath every day. The tradition goes back centuries and was definitely a part of the practices of Lutherans and Catholics in Germany, which is where my people are from. Of course, we had the chocolate Advent calendars when I was a kid, but we also lit the candles, read scriptures, prayed, and sang songs. These days, as I am now the parent, we talk about light in the darkness of night, how candles bring warmth and hope, and how we see the call to spread hope, joy, peace, and love in the world to be the work of Advent, of preparing for God’s coming into the world again.  We reflect and sit quietly for a moment (in the beginning it was very, very short). We pray, asking God that we might be partners in making the world a bit brighter. And we sing songs, often simple refrains from the Taize community in France, which we play on YouTube. Our kids love the simple tunes and harmonies. Their favorite is one called Da Pacem Cordium, which translated from the Latin means “Give peace to every heart.” In this Advent, when I am attending to many tasks, this is my prayer, too, for my family and for yours.”  Listen to Da Pacem Cordium! 


Emily, Albuquerque, New Mexico


For New Year’s Day:

“The story behind the black eyed peas goes like this. My Great Great Grandmother Mabel Claire Goodrich and her family moved to Texas from Louisiana when she was a young woman. That branch of the family gave our family this tradition. Every year on New Years Day, if you are a member of my family you MUST eat black eyed peas for good luck in the coming year. My Aunt Rebekah HATES black eyed peas. My grandmother literally makes her eat one spoonful every year. If I am not at home to partake with my kin, I make a pot for me and my little family just to ease my Grandmother’s mind; she will always call me and ask if I ate some black eyed peas. We usually eat them with cornbread.”


And More!