Country view: Favorite holiday traditions | Living the Country Life

Country view: Favorite holiday traditions

"Country view" asks you to address subjects on which you are the experts. This month you share your favorite holiday traditions.

Ornaments, Christmas tree, baking cookies, open house and baking cookies

Making ornaments

Our favorite family tradition centers around the Christmas holiday. We discovered a great way to spend some time during those long, cold days of Christmas vacation was to make snowflake ornaments out of pipe cleaners and plastic faceted beads.

We bent the pipe cleaners into snowflake shapes and then slid beads onto each piece. The ornaments turned out great! They were very fun and inexpensive to make, and they added an adorable, festive touch to the gifts wrapped under our tree.

The kids added them to their grandparents' gifts as well as to their teachers' gifts, and we had plenty left over to hang on our own tree.

Part of the fun of it all is deciding on the next year's ornaments. We have noticed that shopping the after-Christmas clearance sales is a great way to carry on this tradition without too much expense.

Cheryl Eblen, Belgrade, Minnesota

Putting up the tree

My husband has always liked big Christmas trees. Until we built our log home, however, we didn't have a living room large enough for what he considered a big tree.

Bruce's first thought after we moved in was to find a cut-your-own tree farm We passed up two inferior trees because they weren't over 6 feet tall. At the third place, he'd barely left the car when he zeroed in on a majestic Norway spruce. Caught up in his enthusiasm, I cheered him on as he began to saw away at the massive trunk.

Managing the tree from the farm into our home was a learning experience, including pushing, shoving, and dragging it into place. We then had to muscle it into a stand, decorate it, and tie it off with wire to keep it from swaying.

We finally have our tradition of big Christmas trees figured out. Struggling with last year's model, I suggested we might eventually have to lower our sights, but Bruce refuses to give up this tradition. He's already working on a block-and-tackle system that should allow us to keep going indefinitely.

Barbara Burris, Burlington, Wisconsin

Baking cookies

Shortly after Thanksgiving dinner, we begin baking Christmas cookies. The first job is to plan exactly what cookies will be made, including the family favorites and any new treats we'll try.

It takes several afternoons of baking to make enough for our family of eight, but it's all worth it. Listening to Christmas music or watching a Christmas movie while baking makes it seem even more special to us.

We like to store our cookies in tins and place them in our deep freezers to keep them fresh. The night before Christmas, we take out all the tins so we can enjoy our tasty creations for breakfast. We make so many cookies that we enjoy them for days -- although they don't always last that long!

Catherine Fox, Newaygo, Michigan

Hosting an open house

We have hosted an open house every year on Christmas Eve for about 20 years. We found that with hectic schedules and ever-growing extended families, it was getting harder and harder to gather everyone together. We open our home from 5:00 p.m. until midnight on Christmas Eve and invite all our family and friends to stop by at any time.

We make dinner and all kinds of holiday goodies and then we spread it all out on the kitchen island. People stop by at their convenience and stay as long as they like. It's fun to be surprised when folks show up.

We've found that many people don't have plans for Christmas Eve, and our open house provides a great opportunity to spend time with friends and share the holiday.

Dottie Pinnick, Bridgeport, Alabama

Making gifts

Christmas Eve has always been spent at my parents' home, unwrapping presents and eating a big dinner. We lost my father three years ago after my parents had been married for over 60 years. My dad was raised in a four-room farmhouse. It was eventually torn down, but he saved the doorknob and lock from the house. My siblings weren't too interested in the home, but my husband, my dad, and I used to go gather nuts and chop wood there.

My brother found the knob after Dad was gone and noticed that Dad had tried to mount it for me but was unable to finish. So my brother finished the project and gave it to me as a present. We have since started making our presents for each other. I made him a clock, and each number is a photo from our childhood.

Linda Strogen, Bridgeport, West Virginia

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