My Grown Up Christmas

The true test of a marriage happens during the Christmas season. My husband and I are just two boring white folks. You’d think combining our traditions wouldn’t be complicated but Christmas emphasizes our differences. It’s funny the things we hang onto from our childhoods. Remember that Friends Thanksgiving episode where Monica has to make different styles of potatoes to please everyone? I know one couple who makes two different batches of cabbage rolls. A cabbage roll is a cabbage roll, right? Not so. Christmas just isn’t Christmas without his Mom’s recipe and the same goes for her.

In our house, my husband takes a whole day to make perogies from scratch. His mom is Polish and perogies are typical Christmas fare. The kitchen looks like a bomb hit. Potato coats every surface. In the end, there is enough perogies to feed the entire Polish-Canadian population of the island. And I don’t eat perogies. Still, it’s sweet that he keeps this tradition. My own family has Danish roots. Every year we’d make Red Cabbage for our traditional Christmas dinner. It’s not Christmas without the smell of cabbage and caraway. I’m the only one who eats it. Here’s the recipe: Small red cabbage (chopped), 2 Tbsp vinegar, ¼ cup sugar, 1 Tbsp butter, 1 Tbsp rolled oats, salt & caraway to taste. Cook on low heat, stir often.

I don’t mind his Mom’s Melt-in-Your-Mouth Shortbread recipe though. These are the best!

Mary’s Shortbreads
1 lb butter
1 cup sifted icing sugar
3 cups sifted flour
½ cup cornstarch
Cream butter, add sugar & gradually add flour & cornstarch sifted together. Whip mixture until fluffy & mixture breaks or looks curdled. Drop by teaspoons or put through cookie press onto cookie sheet. Bake at 300F until light golden brown (about 20 minutes).

Today is the 12th, halfway between the 1st and Christmas Eve. Things are pretty crazy in the stores, office Christmas parties are underway. Take some time out to de-stress.
Make yourself a batch of my Mother-in-law’s shortbreads or try these Bittersweet Shortbreads (I use dried cranberries instead of pecans).

While you’re at it, how about a nice adult treat: Bailey’s Coffee
{1: Prepare some fresh coffee in a coffee mug 2: Top up with steaming hot milk 3: Pour in 50ml of Baileys}

Put up your feet and enjoy this free Christmas story from Girlebooks: The Romance of the Christmas Card. Or The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson (another Dane). The illustrations are quite pretty.

I love The Christmas Album from the Barra MacNeils. They're a group of siblings who play traditional Cape Breton and Celtic music. Here’s a sample: O Come Divine Messiah.

Wintersong by Sarah MacLachlan is so mellow. It’s sure to relax you.

Remember to visit these other bloggers during the Advent Blog Tour:
13 December - Jill (The Well-Read Child)/Stephanie (The Written Word)
14 December - Robin (A Fondness for Reading)
15 December - Alyssa (By The Book)
16 December - Rachel (A Fair Substitute for Heaven)
17 December - Literary Feline (Musings of a Bookish Kitty)/ Stephanie (Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic)
18 December - Dev (Good Reads)
19 December - Callista (S.M.S. Book Reviews)
20 December - Tiny Little Librarian (Tiny Little Librarian)
21 December - Carla (Carla Nayland Historical Fiction)/ Susan (Reading, Raving, and Ranting by a Historical Fiction Writer)
22 December - Carolyn Jean (The Trillionth Page)
23 December - Booklogged (A Reader's Journal)
24 December - Kailana (The Written World) / Carl V. (Stainless Steel Droppings)

Thanks to Marg and Kailana for organizing the Blog Tour. I've spent so much time putting this post together. I really enjoyed it. Also check out Scribbit's Winter Carnival today for more Christmas ideas.

Merry Christmas Everyone!


  1. Thanks Chris and Happy Christmas to you. What an interesting mix of customs you have in your home! Thanks for the music as well. I enjoyed it - after the Divine Messiah is what it is all about!

  2. I agree, it is strange how much we feel we have to carry on regarding Christmas traditions from our childhood. It's a big deal... this Christmas stuff!!

    Thanks for another great advent post!

  3. Yeah....Mike and I are just two boring White Folks as well!!

    Yummy....have to try the shortbread recipe!!

  4. Here is one more Snow Queen for you - by Ukrainian artist Vladyslav Yerko: modern look and classic spirit. Take a look at the slideshow page. It's worth the few minutes ;)

  5. Hey, I like perogies (must be the half polish side of myself). Can I come over to eat?

  6. Stephanie- You can have mine ;)

    Yuri- Wow, gorgeous!

    Other Stephanie- They're soooo good.

    Suey & Juliette- Thanks!

  7. Sounds great! I might have to have new traditions this year and try out all the receipies!

  8. We've had to meld traditions -- we have two potatoes for Thanksgiving, though -- too. I'm Danish, though we've never had cabbage. For me, it's really not Christmas Eve unless there's rice pudding. Which is funny, because I don't like the stuff. :)

    Thanks for the post!

  9. I know what you mean about Christmas not being Christmas without this one special thing. It's amazing how important little details can be. It's great that you and your husband found a way to accommodate both your traditions.

    I definitely want to try that shortbread recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Yum, shortbread and Bailey's.

    Traditions? Church on Christmas Eve, possibly Christmas Day. That's about the only ones I keep. (However I'm generally surrounded and outnumbered by people who want more than that.)

  11. You take such beautiful pictures, that one of your mirror is amazing. I love that red cabbage recipe - I went looking earlier this year for the directions when I had a craving for it.
    The Barra MacNeils singing an advent song? fabulous
    Nice Christmas post, Chris, Merry Christmas.

  12. I love listening to Sarah MacLachlan's Christmas CD. Her voice is amazing!

  13. How long should one cook the red cabbage? I think I'm going to try it.

  14. What a wonderful post, Chris! I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing with us.

  15. Thanks everyone for the visit!

    Raidergirl- They have 2 Christmas Albums 1 & 2. The first one is much better though, IMHO.

    John- It's depends on the size of the cabbage. You have too cook it on the lowest heat and stir often. Don't let it burn! It takes about an hour. It should be soft when done. It's one of those things that I grew up with so I just *know* when it's ready. Good luck!

  16. Oh perogis....I haven't had those in a looong time and they are SO GOOD!!! I'm going to have to call the wife and talk to her about this!

  17. I'm so enjoying this Advent Blog, you simply have no idea. Thanks for today's stop on the tour. Your tree in the mirror is absolutely beautiful. I love your tale of the perogies and cabbage. It reminds me of my best friend's first grown-up Christmas with her husband. I went to her place to help decorate the tree, and she was thrilled to finally be able to have an all-teddy bear tree of her own. Until her husband brought up a box of wooden German ornaments from the basement that he'd been looking forward to putting on the tree!Thanks also for the Sarah MacLachlan video.

  18. Wonderful post, Chris. I remember the first few Christmases my husband and I spent together. Most of our traditions were the same, but not quite and so I can relate!

  19. Ooh I'm late visiting but just wanted to say those shortbread cookies look so yummy! I've been trying to be good these past couple of weeks so I can pig out over Christmas :)
    Great advent post!

  20. I'm really late in visiting, sorry!
    The shortbread does sound very good. I still miss my mom's shortbread every Christmas. And I wouldn't mind perogies for Christmas.
    We've started our own tradition of Christmas sushi! ;)


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