Tag Archives: Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Cookies

This was originally posted on 8 December 2009, for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

Today, Genea Bloggers asks the following questions on the Advent Calender of Christmas Memories:

Did your family or ancestors make Christmas Cookies? How did you help? Did you have a favorite cookie?

Did we ever! I love Christmas cookies. My maternal Grandma, Ida, used to bake a few different types of cookies.

  • Spritz cookies are  small sugar cookie that is put through a cookie press and topped with candy sprinkles! These are my favorite.
  • Ice box Cookies are a small cookie as well, I believe they are a brown sugar base with some chopped walnuts in them. The dough is rolled up in wax paper and frozen. When you are ready for cookies, take them out of the freezer, unroll, cut and bake. Yummy!

After Grandma passed away the cookie making was turned over to my Aunt Betty. I would spend Thanksgiving weekend with her. We would decorate the house and start the cookie making. She also made the Spritz and Ice box cookies, but also made many more.

  • Laurie’s cookies are made with graham crackers, walnuts and brown sugar
  • Sugar cookies with cookie cutters that were then frosted
  • Rice Krispie treats were turned into little wreaths with Red Hots as the holly
  • FUDGE (best part of the holidays), there were many, many tins of fudge

My favorites to bake are the Spritz cookies and then Peanut Butter Blossom’s which have the Hershey Kiss center.


Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Holiday Parties

This was originally post on 7 December 2009 for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

Today, Genea Blogger asks the following questions on the Advent Calender of Christmas Memories:

Did your family throw a holiday party each year? Do you remember attending any holiday parties?

Growing up we never attended any type of family party. The only affair, was the holiday itself.

As an adult, I worked for one company that always held wonderful holiday parties for the family. I truly enjoyed dressing all the kids up and showing them off for the night. There was always wonderful food, beautiful ice sculptures, small gifts for the kids and a special visit with that special man, Santa Clause!

As I have taken time to write each day for the Advent Calender, I feel that my family did not spend any time on the extra fun stuff. I hope my children will remember the times we went to the work holiday parties, because I loved taking them to it.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Dear Santa

This post was originally written for Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories and posted on 6 December 2009.

Today, Genea Blogger asks the following questions on the Advent Calender of Christmas Memories:

Did you ever send a letter to Santa? Did you ever visit Santa and “make a list?” Do you still believe in Santa Claus?

I remember writing letters to Santa when I was a child. Did they ever get mailed? I doubt it. As for making a list, we absolutely made them yearly and hoped that we were good enough to get everything we asked for.

As for believing in Santa, of course I do! If you do not believe, you do not get any gifts.

I will say that while we are on the subject of Santa, I think it is great that he finally writes letters back to the kids that write to him. About 9-10 years ago, my three kids all wrote their letters to Santa and each one got a reply (postmarked from the North Pole)! How excited they were to get those letters.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Outdoor Decorations

This was originally post on 5 December 2009 for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

In today’s Genea Bloggers Advent Calender of Christmas Memories our theme is Outdoor Decorations.

Did people in your neighborhood decorate with lights? Did some people really go “all out” when decorating? Any stories involving your ancestors and decorations?

Growing up in a big city, their were many neighborhoods to go and see the outdoor decorations. As for my family, we usually limited it to lights on the bushes and maybe the windows. Nothing to extraordinary or strenuous.

We preferred to get in the car, turn on some Christmas music and drive through the neighborhoods who really decorated their homes. My favorite neighborhood, is Lincolnwood, IL. They usually will get featured on the evening news. There are blocks upon blocks of lights, Santa’s (with and without a sleigh), nativaties and trees. One house in particular puts up 3 – 4 trees and makes it look like it is all one tree. The last tree is on the roof off the house and it looks like the tree grew through all the floors and out the roof! How I love driving through this neighborhood during the holidays!

Speaking of outdoor decorations, reminds me of the Christmas of 1994. My son was about 1.5 years. He was still a quiet little boy at this point. He talked, but never too many words at once. We were driving home from my parents, taking a short cut through the side streets. He was in the back seat of the car, in his baby seat, looking out the window. All of a sudden, he was so excited, he kept saying “Mama see! Mama see!” That was his first attempt at conversation. I will never forget how cute he was at that moment.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Christmas Cards

This was originally posted on 4 December 2009 for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

Today’s advent calendar at Genea Bloggers asks:

Did your family send cards? Did your family display the ones they received? Do you still send Christmas cards? Do you have any cards from your ancestors?

Growing up, I do not believe we always sent Christmas cards. As a kid, I always liked getting them. When I was a teen ager, we lived in a big house that had two sets of French doors and we would hang them from the door frame, entering into the dining room,  with a string and clip. The string would make two loops across the top of the frame and then the string would hang down both sides of the doorway.

As I became an adult and had children I would send cards out all the time, making sure to add the cutest pictures of the children for everyone to see. In the most recent years I have not sent out any cards and I always buy them to send. I have been working in retail management the past 7 years and there is never enough time to really enjoy the holiday. The cards were the easiest item to drop off of my to do list.

I still display the cards we receive, we tape them to the doors in our hallway. The hallway is small, but we must pass trough it to go anywhere in the house. The cards bring a little cheer to this small section of our home.

I do have cards from family members. I usually keep the ones that are either special or have a family photo on them. I am sure I might have a card or two from a direct ancestor, but not too many.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Christmas Tree Ornaments

Christmas tree ornaments, how we love to go through them every year. The memories they evoke, it is one of my favorite things to do.

I originally posted about Christmas Tree Ornaments on 3 Dec 2009, and you can read this post here. So far this month, I have reposted these from posts from the past. There are a few pictures in this original post that it just made more sense to add the link to today’s post.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Holiday Foods

This was originally posted on 2 December 2009 for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories. Since the foods of my childhood do not change, I am reposting this. I never got the recipe from my Grandma, for the beef in this post, before she passed away. I have a cousin putting together a family cook book and I am hoping he includes this because I know he has the recipe, since it was his favorite dish from my Grandmother.

Day 2 of the Advent Calender asks: Did your family or ancestors serve traditional dishes for the holidays? Was there one dish that was unusual?

I grew up in a divorced family and we split our holidays with each parent. Christmas Eve was spent with my Mom and her family, Christmas Day was with Dad and his family.  So there are different traditions on each side.

Christmas Eve at Grandma Richmond’s meant hot italian beef sandwiches. I am sure there was a ton of yummy food to go with the beef. But the beef was my favorite part! Sometimes, if we were lucky, the beef was homemade (and not from the Italian store)! I need to get this recipe from my Grandma. To this day, when Christmas Eve comes around, I crave the beef sandwiches. Unfortunately, most of this side of my family has moved away and this tradition does not go any further. Hopefully, one day when I have grandkids, I can start it up again.

On my Dad’s side, we would have the traditional dinner or turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, bread, and I am sure many other good things. Don’t forget dessert, Aunt Betty always had homemade cookies and fudge, lots and lots of goodies! My goodness, did we eat. I love the holidays and these great dinners. I am getting hungry as I sit and write this….

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: The Christmas Tree

This post was originally posted on 1 December 2009 for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories. Since our Christmas tree does not change year to year, I am reposting this today.

Growing up, we had different types of trees. I recall many years of fake trees and many years of real trees. The tree that stands out most for me, was the tree at my Grandma Ida (Jaeger) O’Connell’s house. After my Grandfather had passed, me had moved into a two flat in Chicago and we lived on the first floor, Grandma lived on the second floor.

As Christmas came around, the furniture would get moved around. The coffee table would go under the picture window and the tree would be set up there. Of course, this was one of the fake trees. I really do not remember who set up or decorated, my guess would be my cousin Tracy would set up the tree and probably put the lights on as well. Leaving the decorating for Grandma and whoever else was there to help.

What I remember most is the lights that twinkled in the living room! I remember laying on the floor at night and falling asleep near the tree. To this day, I love to sit in our living room, watching TV with nothing but the Christmas tree lights on. I am one of those people who leave the tree up way too long, because I do not want to take the lights away. I have some friends who laugh when they come over and ask when the tree is coming done. My reply is “I am hoping to start a new tradition where the tree stays up and we just change the decorations for the current holiday!” This always gets a good laugh.

Holiday Foods

Last year I wrote about Grandma Richmond’s homemade beef sandwhich’s that we would have on Christmas eve. I recently sent an email through facebook to my mom’s cousin to see if he had the recipe. I knew it happened to be a favorite of his as well. I knew that he had to have it. So, today I will share that with everyone.

Grandma Richmond’s  Italian Beef:
One big Rump Roast
2 tbs Chili Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1 diced Onion
1 Tbs Italian Seasoning
1 6 oz. can Tomato Paste
Hard Sandwhich Rolls
Hot Pepper Rings 

Rub roast with chili powder, salt and pepper. Place in a roaster, cover with onion, tomato paste (your grandma used ketchup instead of tomato paste) and italian seasoning. Add water to
cover about half the roast. Cover and bake for 3-4 hours at 350°. Add water throughout baking, if needed. Cool the roast when done,
then slice the beef and return it to the juice. Serve on hard crusty rolls with hot pepper rings. (I have a hard time finding nice hard rolls. Most tend to dissolve in the juice. You can also put your rolls in the oven a little before hand and that will crisp them up.)

If you try it, let me know how it turns out. I have not tried making it myself, yet. I might try for Christmas Eve (depending on my work schedule).

The Christmas Tree

Last year for the Advent Calender of Christmas Memories, I wrote about the tree at Ida O’Connell’s home. This year, I thought I would write about my maternal Grandma’s Christmas tree.

Grandma Richmond would always decorate the house with two trees. One in the living room, by the picture window for everyone to see from outside. I loved sitting in the living room and looking at the lights, while the rest of the room is dark. This tree did not get much family love from it, it was just the “icing” of the decorations.

In the finished basement, we had another tree, a larger tree. This is the tree that was filled with presents for the grandkids. This is the tree that my brother hid the engagement ring for his first wife.

The basement is where the family celebrated the holiday with lots of good food, and I presume many good spirits for the adults (Grandpa had built a full bar down there). I miss this house and spending the holidays with my cousins and aunts and uncles. I wish I had pictures to share of the trees from Grandma’s house.

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