Keeping the Santa Belief Alive: A True Story
Keeping the Santa Claus belief alive in kids can be tricky, especially when they start to get older. Older family members and sometimes friends will try to convince them otherwise. If you'd like to keep the Santa belief alive in your kids, perhaps an experience I had with my kids will help.
Being very open-minded and cherishing many faiths and traditions, we celebrate the magic of Santa with our kids during Christmas. We feel it is something fun and allows kids another opportunity to dream. They know about various religions surrounding Christmas and we share traditions with them from many winter holidays, Santa being one of them.
Reading The Santa Letters
Reading over the letters that the eldest three kids had left out for Santa one year, along with his Christmas Eve snack, I wondered how long they'd continue to believe. "Is Santa real" is a common question among kids their age, and many times even younger.
One portion of the eldest child's letter inquired "Santa, are your reindeer really real? If so, prove it and leave me one of the reindeer's jingle bells." How Santa would pull that off with hardly any time, I was not quite sure.
Moving on further in that letter, reindeer footprints were requested. Only problem is that we lived in a city where snow does not stick, if it snows at all. Where Santa would allow his reindeer to leave a footprint was a mystery to me.
This girl is one smart kid. She even requested stories of how Santa met Mrs Clause and one other Santa fact, along with other hints and undertones of Santa proof. Could Santa pull this one off? It was a longshot, but this is after all, Santa. He's magic. He can do anything.
The next letter was not quite so demanding. However, again the existence of the reindeer was challenged, namely Rudolph. "Is Rudolph really real and is Rudolph's nose really red? Does it really glow?"
The 3rd of the older children simply left Santa a paper and pen with no questions. Santa has been known to write back to the kids, so I assume him leaving only the paper and pen was related.
What Did Santa Do with the Challenge?
The kids and I had left the camera on the table next to Santa's treats and letters as we had been taking Christmas Eve pictures. Little did we know, Santa would be able to utilize that. He took a picture of his reindeer in the grass. There was a slight glare, but you could still see the reindeer.
He apologized about the glare in the picture, explaining about Rudolph's shiny nose being too bright to take a better one. It rarely snows in Houston, but we could tell the reindeer had been in our yard because they did leave tracks in the mud. As for leaving a reindeer bell, Santa had to take a picture of that, too. It would have messed up sky traffic if any of the reindeer were missing their bells. How else would people know they were coming?
That Santa Claus is one smart and resourceful person...
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Stockings can be bought at many retail stores during Christmas time. However, it is also fun to decorate and personalize your own. The instructions below will help you create a stocking all your own, using felt and Christmas-related items.
Choosing Your Stocking
When deciding upon a stocking to decorate, you want to be sure that the color is not similar to the color of the items you want to add to it. For instance, if you want to put red and white candy canes on your stocking, do not choose a red or white stocking. Instead, green or gold might be a better option. Plain stockings can be found at many retail locations, however, you might have better luck with different color options at a craft store.
Choosing Decorative Materials
There are many ways to decorate a stocking. Some might prefer to only use the felt and make their entire scene from that. Others may prefer to use ornaments, a small stuffed Rudolph (or other Christmas-themed toys), or even pine cones and sprigs of holly leaf or cinnamon sticks. There is no limit to what you use. This is your stocking. Decide upon the scene you wish to create and the items you'd like to use. Remember from above that you need to be sure your items are not the same color as your stocking.
Creating Your Shapes and Name
You should have felt in the colors you need to create whatever shapes you will use to create your scene. For instance, if you wanted to make a Christmas tree and a candy cane and have your name in gold lettering, you would need red, white, gold, and green felt pieces.
To create your shapes, you can either draw your own shapes on the felt with a marking pencil or use cookie cutters and trace around the edges. For the name, trace each letter you'll need from the stencil onto the felt color of choice. Once all your shapes and letters are traced, cut them all out and lay them onto your stocking as you'll want them to be when finished. You will want to have some old newspaper underneath the stocking to catch any glue drips. When you are doing this, your glue gun can be heating up with a glue stick inserted if you will use a glue gun.
Applying Shapes, Name, and Other Items
Now that all of your felt items are laid out onto your stocking, it is time to also lay any other items onto the stocking, such as ornaments and other decorations you may have chosen. Next, you'll glue each item into place, using either fabric glue or the glue gun. If you are using the glue gun, your stocking will dry and be ready for use fairly quickly. However, if you are using fabric glue, your stocking should dry for 24 hours before use.
To prevent your stocking from sticking together, insert an egg carton or piece of cardboard inside it while using glue and while drying.
Using too much glue can cause it to leak through your stocking to the other side, which could cause it to stick to your insert or to the other side of itself.
Generally, when putting a name on the stocking, it will go across the top, but for a different twist, you can run the name diagonally up or down the front of the stocking.
Dollar Tree is a great place to find unique ornaments and craft items to decorate your stocking with. They also sell all the other supplies needed for this project.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
A diverse group of women from all over the US were recently asked about their craziest holiday traditions. From singing Irish ballads, to banging pots and pans, and even decorating the spooky Christmas tree, these families are very creative in their celebrations. What are your family's craziest holiday traditions? How close (or far) from these traditions are yours?
Spooky Christmas Tree, Anyone?
"Our craziest holiday tradition is that we carve pumpkins at Christmas and decorate our Christmas tree with spooky things. We are huge Nightmare Before Christmas fans and do all of our Christmas decor in a Nightmare Before Christmas theme. Instead of a Christmas party we have a Nightmare Before Christmas party and have our guests come in costume." - Danielle in San Dimas, Calif.
"One year while getting ready to decorate the tree, Mom suggested I dig out the Christmas albums to set the tone. I couldn't find them anywhere, yet I did find an album of old Irish ballads. Instead of 'White Christmas', Mom and I belted out 'McNamara's Band' and 'When Irish Eyes Are Smiling'. Mom passed on last year, and it's still my favorite memory of time spent with her." - Maureen in Chillicothe, Ohio
Songs for Gifts
"In my house, it is a standing tradition that from the oldest to youngest each must sing a song (holiday or not) before they can open their gift. Let's just say, I don't come from a family of singers and I own plenty of ear plugs!" - Nikol in San Diego, Calif.
"I don't know if it is completely crazy, but each holiday, my siblings and I will have a group conference call. Each one of us will connect one other siblings so we can keep one line open. We then stay on the phone for hours talking about anything and everything. During the hours, we will be cooking and all other activities, but we never disconnect our call unless for an emergency or when we all agree to hand up. We have been doing this for well over 15 years." - Malina in Pensacola, Fla.
"Growing up in a musical family, during the holidays we would go caroling with our instruments. I liked the indoor gigs the best but the outdoor caroling was the craziest. In minus thirty degree weather, our once tuned instruments shrieked and squeaked, but we managed to warm hearts anyway." - Kay in Windsor Locks, Conn.
Pot and Pan Concerta
"Growing up in Roseville and Fraser in the East suburbs outside Detroit, on New Year's Eve, we were allowed to bring out all the kitchen pots and pans at midnight and bang them with big metal spoons and lids as loud and long as we could! We would also listen outside for people firing their shotguns, which is sort of an illegal tradition down that way. Years later, I was babysitting cousins on their first New Year's Eve night and had them do the same thing! They just loved it. At first I think they thought it was silly, but they really got into making a ton of noise in the middle of the night. Years later, I was surprised when one of them told me how vividly they remembered!" - Kim (Pare') in St Ignace, Mich.
Welcome Baby Sun God
"We turn off all the lights in the house, except the TV, so we can see. We do a short Yule ceremony lighting three candles. After a moment of silence we run around the house turning on every single light yelling, 'Welcome baby Sun God!'" - Karen in Fla.
Breakfast at Sheetz
"Every year on Christmas morning we eat breakfast at Sheetz. Started 13 years ago and just stuck. This year will be the first with no Sheetz breakfast." - Summer in Oak Island, N.C.
New Year's Eve Dance
"On New Year's Eve, we have to dance through every room in the house. Crazy, but fun! It ensures good luck and happiness throughout the coming year, of course." - Ali in Greensboro, N.C.
"Our craziest and newest holiday tradition is celebrating Winter Vale with World of Warcraft in-game gifts. We aren't obsessive about WoW; we don't even play every day. But some of these gifts take time and effort to collect and cost zero in real money." - Alex in Hogansville, Ga.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
For many, Christmas is a time for baking and sharing traditions with family and friends. Even those who don't usually bake love to try their hand at Christmas baking. With these simple recipes I use for my family, just about anyone can try their hand at baking. I've also tossed in the traditions that we do with them for an extra treat.
Cookie Decorating Party
Once your cookies are made, you'll need to get them decorated. What better way than to have a cookie decorating party? Invite friends and family to bring or make their cookies for decorating. While everyone decorates cookies, Christmas music should be playing. Be sure to have a variety of Christmas music, so everyone can enjoy it. Singing along should be encouraged. Sipping on hot cocoa with candy canes on the side for dipping and stirring is a must.
Homemade Hot Cocoa
Heat 6 cups milk (we use vegan plant milk protein instead) to simmering in a saucepan. Pour in 2 cups of powdered cocoa slowly, stirring it as you add it. Also add ½ cup of sugar. Stir all ingredients until blended well. Remove from heat and serve. This serves about 6 people.
Christmas Sugar Cookies
What's Christmas without the cookies? Here's a fun sugar cookie recipe that can be rolled out for use with Christmas cookie cutters.
Some people mix the dry ingredients first, but not me. I just throw all the ingredients in together and mix it up. So, put all of the above ingredients together into a large mixing bowl. Stir them together and then once you have a shape that starts to lump together, take it out and set a pre-floured surface. Knead it a few times.
If your dough seems to be sticky, add more flour by kneading it in until the dough is firm and not sticky. Next, roll the dough out to ¼ inch thickness. Now you may start using your cookie cutters and cutting out the shapes. Once you make the shapes, place them onto pre-floured non stick baking sheets. These cookies should cook at 350 F for about 8-12 minutes. Different ovens vary in time. Once the cookies have cooled, you may decorate them with candies, icing, sprinkles, or whatever you choose
Family Baking Time
Our family enjoys baking every day of the year, but Christmas is our favorite of all. We enjoy baking breads, pretzels, and cookies. Above, you saw how we enjoyed having a party with the cookies. However, with the bread and pretzels, we prefer to just do this with close family members. Much like the cookie party, we still sip hot cocoa. However, we also talk, laugh, and play and possibly watch a good Christmas movie. Here's how to make your very own Christmas Pretzels and Christmas bread.
Homemade pretzels are a cinch to make. Did you ever think about making them Christmas style? Well, now you can. It's quite simple actually. First, you'll need to make this pretzel dough.
Get a large mixing bowl. Pour in the warm water first. Next slowly stir in the yeast until it dissolves. Next, add the flour and a couple drops of either red or green food coloring, whichever you want. If you'd like both, you can make two batches. Knead the dough until it's smooth. Cover with a towel or cheesecloth and let it rise (usually 30 minutes to an hour).
While you're waiting for that, add the brown sugar and a drop of the same food color you used for your dough to the beaten egg. Once the dough has risen, you are ready to make the pretzel shapes. Flour the bottom of a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 350 F. Take out some of the dough, forming a ball that is about 4 inches in diameter. Now, roll the ball on the table until you get something long, resembling a fat worm. Shape that into the pretzel shape. Repeat this until you have used all your dough.
Now, with the unbaked pretzel shapes on the baking sheet, lightly brush them with the egg/sugar mixture. Bake them for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven. When they are done you might wish to add salt. That's it. Enjoy your Christmas-colored pretzels.
Sugar N' Spice Christmas Dinner Bread
We love baking bread together and the fresh taste and smell of homemade bread brings back many warm memories. Present this tasty bread topped with cinnamon sticks and crushed red hot candies.
Get a large mixing bowl. First, put in the warm water. Slowly stir in the yeast until blended. Next, put in all of the ingredients except for the Maple Syrup, Cinnamon sticks and Red Hot candies. Once stirred well, knead the dough until you have a solid ball that is neither too sticky nor too dry. You want something like the consistency of play dough. Now, cover the dough in the bowl with a towel or cheesecloth. Give it about an hour to rise.
Once it has done that, place it into a floured bread pan and bake it at 350 F for about 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven. Once the bread is done, butter the top and let it cool to warm. Cover the top with a thin layer of maple syrup. Then, sprinkle the crushed Red Hot cinnamon candies over the top. For garnishing, place the cinnamon sticks atop the bread neatly in a criss-cross design.
Don't Leave Santa Out
Ever wonder if Santa's tired of eating the same type of goodies at every house? To give Santa some variety, simply arrange one or two each of the treats from above onto Santa's Christmas platter. Be sure that you arrange them nicely. For extra measure to be sure Santa's treats stay fresh, wrap the platter in cellophane and top it with a pretty bow and some cinnamon sticks. Be sure that the kids do much of preparing Santa's treat. This is generally their favorite part.
Lyn Lomasi is founder and owner of the Brand Shamans Content Community. Services include ordained soul therapy and healing ministry, business success coaching, business success services, handcrafted healing jewelry, ethereal and anointing oils, altar and spiritual supplies and services, handcrafted healing beauty products, and more!
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