Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Sharing Christmas Traditions

Merry Christmas! Over the next few weeks, we Seekers will be sharing some of our favorite Christmas traditions and we want to hear yours, too.

Like many of you, Christmas is my favorite time of the year. Even with the year we’ve had, I’ve been anticipating Christmas for months. I’m the one who starts playing Christmas music in October (if not September). I start making lists then, too, and check them twice. And yes, I had two trees up and decorated before Thanksgiving, though that doesn’t happen every year.

One of the things that blesses me the most, though, is giving. I enjoy giving gifts. I also like wrapping them, so the recipient feels as though they’re receiving something special, no matter how small or simple the gift may be. Whether it’s a gift card or a plate of cookies, it’s all about the presentation.

This “gift” has been a tradition at our house for decades. It began when my kids were in elementary school and we were looking for teacher gifts. We wanted something special. Something they could actually use and would bring them joy. After a couple of years, they became so popular, we began giving them to the principal and office staff as well. And all we had to do was gather a few simple things and drop them in a bag.

Christmas Scent is comprised of an orange, a lemon, four cinnamon sticks, three bay leaves, and a good handful (approximately ¼ cup) of whole cloves. The ingredients are then placed in a cellophane bag and tied with a pretty ribbon adorned with the Christmas Scent label with instructions on the other side. The instructions read:

Cut lemon and orange into quarters; combine fruit, spices, and one quart of water in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer as long as desired.  (Add more water, as needed.)  Any leftover mixture can be covered and refrigerated for several days to be reused.

Not only is this a gift tradition, it’s also a tradition at our house. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there’s almost always a batch of this scent simmering on the stove. I love it when my kids come home, step inside, sniff and say, “It smells like Christmas.” That’s when you know it’s a tradition.

Now it’s your turn. Share one of your favorite Christmas traditions with us. Remember, there will be several posts where you’ll be able to share more. One of today’s commenters will win an advanced copy of my March 2021 release, A Brother's Promise. (U.S. mailing addresses only, please)

He didn’t realize he wanted a family… Until he suddenly became a single dad.

After his sister’s death, rancher Mick Ashford’s determined to ensure his orphaned niece, Sadie, feels at home. And accepting guidance from Christa Slocum is his first step. But just as Christa and Sadie begin to settle into Mick’s heart, Sadie’s paternal grandparents sue for custody. Now Mick must fight to keep them together…or risk losing the makeshift family he’s come to love


Award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, two sassy pups, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching copious amounts of the Hallmark Channel. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com  

31 comments:

  1. I love this kind of potpourri deliciousness.... and no calories! :) Mindy, thanks for sharing this. I think it's so much fun and delightfully normal to share some of our traditions in this most non-traditional year.

    This is lovely, easy and not expensive. Yes!

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    1. Ruthy, I think we all need traditions this year.

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  2. I need to put a batch of this on at my house! What a lovely idea, Mindy. We put up on tree on Thanksgiving which is a tradition we started many years ago. And over the last few years my kids have taken over the duties and all I have to do is watch! I'll be enjoying these last times they'll both be here over the holidays and soak up as much of that togetherness as I can. We need it so much this year! Thanks for a great post.

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    1. Glynis, how wonderful that your kids have taken over trimming the tree. That tells you how much they look forward to it. And yes, time with family is more precious this year than ever. We've learned not to take it for granted.

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  3. Mindy, I'm gonna make one of these! Thanks for the tip.
    I'm always here and will have other chances to share, so I'll just talk about one tradition today. (Blog administrators, insert sigh of relief here.) The next town over has a Christmas festival called Lights On the Hill. It's run out of a big old white clapboard New England Congregational Church and involves much of the community. There is mainstage entertainment in the sanctuary, a Soup Cafe in the basement, crafts and cookie decorating for children, a Cookie Walk in the old schoolhouse, a Coffee House with live music in the Masonic Hall, a bonfire outside the old parsonage, live animals in the barn at the old parsonage, and Nativity sets from all over the world in the Old Library. And it's unabashedly, unapologetically a CHRISTMAS festival. Not a holiday festival. Santa is there but he doesn't take requests. And everything is free except for the food. It's an old-fashioned holiday that points people back to Christ. The town fathers go along with it because the funding for the festival is in a separate account, not the church's, so there are no issues of Church and State. Yet. It's a magical time and we always go over just as the sun is setting and carols are pealing from the carillon. Unfortunately not this year, it's gone virtual like a lot of other things, but we cherish the memories and look forward to next year.
    I'll be in and out today. Promoting my Christmas novella, fine-tuning our outdoor decorations, and doing some holiday errands in case everything shuts down again or we get a bout of New England weather.
    Thanks again Mindy, what a great idea.
    Talk to you later,
    Your Holiday Kaybee

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    1. Kathy, Lights on the Hill sounds like a beautiful celebration. It makes me sad that it's going to have to be virtual this year. Virtual just isn't the same. Lord willing, they'll be able to resume next year. It sounds like you're a busy little elf. I'm still working on decorations and shopping. Our dryer decided to die last night, though, so it looks like that's the only kind of shopping I'll be doing today. Sigh. Not exactly what I had in mind.

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    2. Appliance buying is never fun.
      I like your idea. Oranges are big this year. I want to do the thing with the garland of dried orange slices, seen it in several places.
      "Lights On the Hill" was actually the inspiration for a contemporary story I wrote a couple of years ago. Hasn't sold yet. I "beefed up" the festival, but the premise was the same: simple, old-fashioned fun honoring Christ.

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    3. Kathy, that reminds me of the Light of the World Pageant that is held in a small town near here (Minden, Nebraska) each year since 1946. My great uncle cowrote the pageant, so it has special meaning in our family. It is held on all four sides of the courthouse so people can see it anywhere. The courthouse is completely lit up and is beautiful. Minden is called the Christmas City for good reason. This year the pageant will be audio only, but people can come watch the lights and tune into a radio to listen. It won't be the same but it is nice there will still be a way to see it.

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    4. Kathy, I love orange garlands! And we have a dehydrator, so I should consider that. Thanks for the reminder.

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    5. Sandy, I love Christmas lights, so that would still be an enjoyable event.

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    6. Sandy, I would love to do that. If I"m ever in Nebraska at Christmas...

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  4. Thank you for sharing this recipe, Mindy! What a lovely tradition.

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    1. You're welcome, Rachel. I hope you get a chance to try it.

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  5. I look forward to these posts coming up. I enjoyed this one, Mindy. I'm sure your house does smell wonderful. My baking tradition at Christmas is making the fudge. I always say that I would not be allowed into the house at Christmas if I hadn't made it. Unfortunately, this year our family will not be gathering so I will not be able to share the fudge with them. They will just have to make their own I guess. I will still make it for me, though! (I briefly thought about mailing fudge to people, but quickly decided against that.)

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    1. Sandy, I'm with you on the fudge. It's not Christmas without it. I will be mailing some to my mom soon. She's in a nursing home and I know a batch of fudge will brighten her day.

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    2. Sandy, you can make fudge for me (probably virtual, sigh).

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  6. Mindy, I love this idea as a gift! I've always enjoyed having apple cider with oranges and lemons and spices simmering when we have a party. But how fun to give this as a gift as well! I may steal your tradition. :)

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  7. One of my favorite traditions is getting a new ornament each year. Every year my parents buy me and my siblings an ornament.

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    1. Angeline, ornaments are a fun tradition because you get revisit those memories every year when you hang them on the tree.

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  8. Hi Mindy:

    I really like the cover art for your "Brother's Promise" and I've seen it many times but this afternoon was the first time I noticed that the little girl was on the horse with the hero! It was like she appeared as if by magic once I read the blurb about the custody fight! (When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.)

    Artistically that girl needs a contrasting outfit so she has to be noticed at first sight. Of course, it is easy to see that little girl already has her hooks into that guy and he'll put up one H of a fight to keep her. I think it's an ideal, tell-a-story cover -- once you see all of it! :) (Actually, a lot of older people have problems seeing things in shadows. And a lot of them love reading romances.)

    As a family Christmas tradition, like many families, we opened our presents, in a very civilized manner, on Christmas Eve night. However, on Christmas Day, after our turkey feast at about 3 pm, and after any afternoon football games, we would open our Christmas stocking presents. These were all low priced, gimmick type, things … often there were some real unexpected odd ball stuff. This was so much fun; it was like a second Christmas or a wonderful Epilogue at the end of a great HEA which gives the reader a second helping of happiness.

    Sadly as so many of us are now gone and we have so many things by now, we pretty much just do the stocking Christmas. It's still fun but it is also lonely.

    Please place me in the drawing for the ARC…I didn't know they still made ARCs.

    Merry Christmas!

    Vince

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    1. Vince, sometimes the stockings can be more fun than the big gifts. One year my husband gave our sons and sons-in-law yo-yos and they had a ball. Kept all of them occupied for the rest of the day.

      As for the cover, thank you for your kind words. I was pleased with the overall concept. You didn't think her bright blue shirt popped against his gray, though?

      I don't know much about ARCs, only that I receive my author copies in advance of the release date. So, if I get a copy into the hands of a reader before the release date, it's an advanced copy. ;)

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    2. Vince, we get lots of ARCs at the book store where I work.

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    3. Hi Sandy:

      Do those ARCs have plain white covers which say, "Not to be Sold" and my impression was always that important changes could still be made before final publication? These were mostly sold on ebay for fans who just could not wait to read the next new book from a favorite author. I always thought these books whent out to a select group of beta readers. I'm sure they were not suppose to sell them on ebay. It was always fun when an author would ask me, "How could you have read my book? I don't even have my author copies yet?" :O

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    4. Hi Mindy:

      Actually for me, there is no difference in the girls outfit and the man behind her. I've had nine laser treatments on my eyes and that has made it hard to see contrast which includes most things that are in shadows. These treatments zap cholesterol buildup in the eye and can save a patient's sight. It's a miracle but there is a price to pay.

      By the way, a great many people have had these treatments. The AARP has a wonderful safe driving online safety course and one part shows what older people see through the front window as they are driving down a street if they have various vision problems. It is amazing how restricted this can be. We're talking about millions of people here.

      It seems to me that the child in the picture is at the center of the book's plot, yet if you don't expect a child to be in the picture, then you check the hero out and maybe the horse. This is part of the selected vision based on expectations that is well shown in the AARP course.

      Look what the art department did with Mary's, "The Accidental Guardian," to make the little girl unmistakably visible. She has the sun lighting up her blonde hair. She looks like an angel. To me she is the focal point of the cover and yet, she is only a small part of the story. He's not the guardian of her, he's the guardian of wagon trains! Anyway, that was how to get noticed. That cover alone sold the book to me.

      Just some ideas.

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  9. Thank you for sharing the recipe. The book sounds really good as well.

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  10. Love this. I baked our traditional white fruit cake on Sunday. Thank you for sharing.

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  11. Before we became empty-nesters, we used to have a "wrap party." I'd leave Christmas goodies on the kitchen counter while the dining room table was strewn with all the paraphernalia of paper, ribbons, bows, tags, tape, and pens. Each child would take a turn wrapping his gifts for his brothers. They loved the treats, they loved the responsibility of creating a wrapping paper masterpiece, and they loved the anticipation of watching a sibling's face as he opened their present come Christmas morning. Most of all, we loved making a tradition of Family Love.
    For now, I'm going to experiment with your potpourri tradition and try using essential oils in a diffuser with the same scents.
    I'm sure I would enjoy reading A Brother's Promise. Count me in for your drawing!

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    1. Linda, that wrap party sounds like so much fun! What cherished memories. And you'll have to let me know how those scents work with a diffuser.

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