Wednesday, December 31, 2008

For Auld Lang Syne

It may be because of my bias, but I think that a New Year's Eve wedding shared with your closest family and friends might be the most perfect way to ring in both the coming year and the new chapter in your life.

With a gold and white color scheme, this inspiration board feels perfectly suited for the holiday, and it could also easily translate into a regular New Year's Eve bash as well.

Row 1: Jose Villa, Andre Niesing via Style Me Pretty, Anna Williams
Row 2: Fuss Jewelry, J.Crew, Laura Negri Photography via Southern Weddings
Row 3: Brides, Chris Everard, J.Crew
Row 4: Julie & Jay- Jose Villa, Ashley Garmon Photography via
Once Wed

Honey Put On That Party Dress...

I love New Year's Eve, although I may be partial to the holiday as it is also my birthday. While I have heard time and again that New Year's Eve is always a let-down and simply doesn't live up to the hype, I can't help but love that my birthday falls on a day of celebration around the world.

I also love that it is always a wonderful excuse to don a lovely party dress, and all of these numbers are ones I'd love to throw on tonight!

For a little bow action...

For a bit of sparkle...


Can't forget the ruffles...

Throw some jewel-toned satin in the mix...

And, it's a tough call, but what I think just might be my favorite...

Of course, I would love to throw this black beauty over any of them to help keep me warm.

Do you have a favorite? What style party dress would you most love to throw on to ring in the new year?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Holiday Traditions {Under A Paper Moon}

I hope that everyone had a very wonderful and Merry Christmas! I'm a bit behind on posting this, but due to my unpreparedness this year, Christmas Eve day was a blur. I raced around doing last minute shopping for stockings and making preparations for Christmas dinner; I have never before been in a store as it CLOSES on Christmas Eve, but I was this year! Done just in the nick of time.

I am thrilled that everyone loved reading the Holiday Traditions series as much as I did. And since you asked (or, well, Blair and Courtney did...) here are my Holiday Traditions.

The Tree- December 2008

What were your family's holiday traditions when you were younger? What was a typical Christmas Eve/Christmas Day for your family?

We started the countdown to Christmas by lighting our advent wreath every night at dinner. I was ecstatic by the time we reached the pink candle, not only because I loved pink, but because it finally felt like I could see Christmas on the horizon.

We always attended afternoon mass on Christmas Eve; we would have a low-key meal (chili, etc.) that evening and then would open our family gifts; we always opened in order of youngest to oldest.

When we woke on Christmas morning, the first thing we did was grab our stockings from the banister. We would open the stockings on the staircase as we waited for my dad to set up the video camera. When my dad was ready (which felt like forever at times!) we were then allowed into the family room to see our presents from Santa. Santa's gift were always very artfully displayed (not wrapped) and my two brothers and I each had our own areas where our presents would be placed.

Christmas breakfast consisted then, as now, of my mom's popovers. Later in the day, we would enjoy our big Christmas meal.

Christmas 1988

Did you/do you leave treats for Santa? If so, what were/are they?

We always left a sweet treat, usually cornflake wreaths, and orange juice for Santa; my mom, like my brothers and I, is allergic to milk, but it never seemed strange to me that we left orange juice. I think my parents told us that Santa got tired of always having to drink milk, and I never questioned that. And, of course, we always left carrots for the reindeer.

My parents played the roll of Santa well; in the mornings, we would find nibbled traces of carrots left by the reindeer and a note from Santa. My mom recently told me that when I started to get suspicious of the handwriting on the notes (my mom's,) our neighbor began writing them instead.

Have your family traditions changed since you've gotten older?

They have changed as we have gotten older, although there are many things that have stayed the same too. When my parents moved to Tennessee about 11 years ago, we, for the first time in in fifteen years, ended up living in the same city as relatives. Our holidays changed as we incorporated my aunt and uncle's family into our celebration.

We began hosting my cousins, aunt, uncle, and occasional family friends for Christmas Eve dinner at our house, which replaced our big meal on Christmas Day. We also began attending midnight mass once my youngest brother was old enough, and that is perhaps my most favorite change in our traditions.

My family still tries to exchange our family gifts on Christmas Eve, mostly at my youngest brother's and my insistence, but it doesn't happen every year now. Santa still comes on Christmas Day, although for the last five years my mom has been declaring that we are far too old to continue this tradition.

I was in college when it dawned on me that it was rather unfair my parents didn't receive gifts from Santa (because family gifts were opened on Christmas Eve,) so since that time, my brothers and I (and for the last number of years E) have been playing Santa to them.

Presents under the tree- December 2008. Please excuse the concrete floors; we recently tore out our carpeting and are getting ready to re-floor.

Have you implemented your own traditions into your life since you've gotten older?

Not really yet. Since high school, I have driven around to look at Christmas lights each year- sometimes with my friends or brothers, and it is something E and I have done during the Christmases we've been able to spend together. A few years ago, E and I discovered a house in the area where we lived that we refer to as "The Crazy Light House." We took my family there when they came to visit that year, and when we were "home" two weekends ago, we made a point to drive by the house!

I imagine that implementing our own traditions into the holiday will continue to evolve in the coming years.

December 2006- My youngest brother and me at "The Crazy Light House"

Have you ever gone caroling?

When I was in ninth grade, the entire group of girls that hung around together (something like around 30 of us...) held a big holiday gift exchange. After we had opened our gifts, we decided to go caroling. I think being amongst such a large group gave everyone more confidence to sing to complete strangers.

Also, for a reason I can absolutely not remember now, I went caroling with the other girls on my cheerleading squad (err, yep... cheerleader here.) All I do remember was caroling on the front porch of my crush's house and nearly passing out when his mom told us to wait because she wanted to get him to listen to us.

What foods do you feel are must haves during the holiday season?

I always love and crave peppermint during the holidays- peppermint bark, peppermint mocha lattes, and peppermint ice cream (although I haven't had any in years!) all feed that craving. Other must haves are spiced nuts, cornflake wreaths, and other homemade goodies. And, every year, it puts me in the best mood to see Starbucks' red holiday cups.

What does a traditional Christmas meal include for you?

For our Christmas meal pork tenderloin or turkey, roasted or mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, and cranberry salad are staples, but we always have different side dishes and desserts that make it into the rotation.

What is your Christmas decorating style?

I always fall in love with different schemes and styles each year! I do love metallics in holiday decor, so it's probably not surprising that my tree is decorated in silver, gold, and bronze (as well as shades of green and white.) My favorite ornaments are those that glitter, sparkle and reflect light, as well as the ones that hold special memories. I still believe there's not much better than falling asleep next to a lit and softly glowing Christmas tree.

White lights or colored lights?

I absolutely love white lights, but I have a fondness for colored lights as well; they remind me of being little. I thought they were absolutely the most beautiful things, and I was so resistant when my mom decided to switch to white on our tree!

What is one holiday-related event that you must do during the holiday season?

While there are always many things I want do during the holiday season (and never is there enough time to do them all,) driving around to look at Christmas lights is the one thing that I absolutely must do every year.

Me & E at "The Crazy Light House"- December 2006

Do you have a favorite holiday memory?

Hmmm, this really is a tough one because there are so many. But, I must say one of my very favorite Christmases was in 2006. E and I had just married in October of that year, and he immediately left for three months of training before his deployment in January of '07. Luckily, he was given holiday leave, and he came home for our first married Christmas.

His dad and stepmom, as well as my parents and brothers, came to Texas to celebrate with us. E's mom and sister came too, a few days after Christmas, to share a belated holiday. I don't remember much of the gifts that were given or all the food that we ate, but the thing that still lingers with me is a feeling of contented peace.

We did traditions differently that year, in part due to the blending of two families celebrations and in part because of the timing of things, but it felt like the most perfect Christmas. I still can picture just the way the house looked, filled with people we love, and I remember feeling almost overwhelmed by the happiness I felt. Not only were we able to celebrate that first Christmas together, at our house, but we were able to celebrate with both our families.

Complete this sentence- "It wouldn't be Christmas for me without..."

family, holiday music and lights!


Thanks to Kimberlee, Tina, Stephanie, Cassandra, Blair, and Courtney for participating in this series and sharing their Holiday Traditions with us. If you missed any of their interviews, be sure to check them out here.

Thank you to all of your for reading too, and I hope to have a another round of interviews with more bloggers next year. I will be around this next week, but posting will likely be sporadic as I spend time with family for the next few days. Enjoy your time with family and friends this holiday season as well!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Traditions {In(side) the Loop}

Our last guest in the Holiday Traditions series this year is the incredibly genuine and oh-so-stylish Courtney, the gal behind the always fabulous blog In(side) the Loop.

Christmas 1982- 16 months

What were your family's holiday traditions when you were younger? What was a typical Christmas Eve/Christmas Day for your family?

Christmas Eve is a big deal in our house! We start with evening mass and afterwards my parents host a massive party. Lots of food, laughter, dancing, and incriminating secrets from younger years are spilled that most often my parents never knew of. This typically occurs after a few cocktails made with Dad's homemade pineapple-infused vodka! The party lasts until the wee hours, and I love that grade school friends still drop in to catch up on the past year.

My brother gave us those "smitten mittens," and we got the biggest kick out of them!

Christmas Day starts with Irish Cream coffees [served in specific vintage glassware] and Dad's hashbrowns, and then lots of unwrapping. We try to start with opening one gift at a time, but always end in sea of wrapping paper being torn to shreds as everyone shrieks and yells with giddiness.

My embroidered towels that Mom did on her machine for us. And the old wire park trashcan they came in-- probably my favorite gift ever.

Did you/do you leave treats for Santa? If so, what were/are they?

Always traditional with cookies and milk, but we'd also leave food outside for the reindeer. On a side note: my parents were the ultimate masters at the entire act of Christmas. They would stamp boot prints in the fireplace ash, leave reindeer "pebbles" in the grass and shake jingle bells from the woods to make us think Santa was parking his sleight. All of this had me "believing" well over the accepted age limit...

Have your family traditions changed since you've gotten older?

Not at all really. They still involve family, doing for others, and reflecting on the real reason for Christmas.

Have you implemented your own traditions into your life since you've gotten older?

Absolutely. Christmas music is always on, we put lots of thought into our cards each year, and finding the PERFECT present for others is paramount. We start super early and can not wait to give people their gifts. We always do something homemade [this year we used my grandmother's Amaretto recipe] for neighbors and co-workers. And we also start preparing for the coming year and how we want to better ourselves. It's definitely a time for growth and reflection in our household.

Have you ever gone caroling?

Oh goodness, no. I can't carry a note in a bucket! Although I do sing Christmas songs around the house and in my car as though I have the voice of Judy Garland.

What foods do you feel are must haves during the holiday season?

Anything homemade. My family loves to cook, so I just look forward to things people have put a lot of time and love into making... and it helps that it's ALWAYS delicious! That said, we aren't bakers. So we'll have a table full of amazing food and then one puny pie on a table way off to the side. My husband's family is the opposite, pies and sweets on the main table and then a handful of savory dishes for the "filler foods." It's a fun balance to visit the two homes!

What does a traditional Christmas meal include for you?

Dad's pepper roast and Mom's ham. And always something Lebanese.

What is your Christmas decorating style?

It changes every year! This year I'm really into the big C7 colored bulbs and vintage ornaments. I went overboard with fresh, hand-tied garland everywhere and toy soldier blowmold figures lurking in a few corners of the house. Last year, it was all about white twinkle lights and mercury glass. Who knows what I'll be itching for next year and, luckily for me, my husband's idol is Clark Griswold. I never worry about lighting the exterior; it's always done to perfection!

My mom on her bicycle in front of their house. My grandmother also hand-tied her garland, which you can see hanging over their door.

White lights or colored lights?

I'm one for variety, so I think both have their place during Christmas!

What is one holiday-related event that you must do during the holiday season?

Driving around looking at Christmas lights, generally with the dog in tow. Warm cups of homemade hot coco in hand and everyone telling the driver to "slow down because 15 mph is WAY too fast" to take in all the goodness!

Do you have a favorite holiday memory?

It's a toss up between my siblings shocking the heck out of one another with silver tinsel and my grandmother's nativity scene. She would spend hours outside making sure everything was just so and spreading the hay around the wooden stable that housed the pieces. I inherited an amazing nativity set from my Uncle, a priest and antiques dealer, and it means the world to me. I definitely see this being a Christmas tradition in my own house from here on. But the tinsel wars are kinda hard to top [... and don't think you can do this with today's "faux tinsel" either. You need the good old stuff that's thin and electric!]

Complete this sentence- "It wouldn't be Christmas for me without..."

a real tree.


Courtney- thank you for sharing your holiday memories and traditions with us! Your Christmas Eve traditions sound like enviable ones! I love that your parents put so much effort into making you and your siblings "believe," even if their actions led you to believe longer than most. And, really, shouldn't we all wish to still believe wholeheartedly in the magic of the season?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Traditions {Delight By Design}

I am so glad that everyone has been enjoying the interviews with the lovely ladies who've shared their holiday memories and traditions with us thus far.

In today's Holiday Traditions interview, we are hoping over to Wyoming, to speak with Blair from the truly delightful blog, Delight By Design.

What were your family's holiday traditions when you were younger? What was a typical Christmas Eve/Christmas Day for your family?

The first thing that comes to mind is that my dad always reads "The Night Before Christmas" on Christmas Eve in front of the fire before we would skitter off to bed. We read the same copy of the book each year-- full with my scribblings over the pictures and only tape left for binding.

As for the day of Christmas-- we always had a preset time that we were "allowed" to wake up my parents and once we did, we had to eat breakfast (typically a candy cane shaped coffee cake) before even thinking about looking into the living room where all the presents were. After eating breakfast (which always seemed to take forever!) we emptied our stockings first and then each of us (me and my two younger brothers) had to take turns on opening presents. The rest of the day was usually spent playing with all our new toys until dinner time.

Did you/do you leave treats for Santa? If so, what were/are they?

Yes! We always left homemade Christmas sugar cookies and milk by the fireplace. And we would always get a note from "Santa" in the morning letting us know that he enjoyed them. The notes stopped once my dad realized I was catching on to it being his hand writing.

Have your family traditions changed since you've gotten older?

Surprisingly, no! Last year was the first time I wasn't home for Christmas and my dad sent me my own version of "The Night Before Christmas" to read and we made almost the exact same Christmas dinner I grew up having. I think one of the only things that has changed is that I now drink the alcoholic version of egg nog- yum!

Have you implemented your own traditions into your life since you've gotten older?

Hmmm. Good question. Now, that I live in Wyoming, I have added going skiing to my Christams day- it is always very quiet on the mountain and the perfect way to enjoy a white Christmas.

We did try to start the tradition of cutting down our tree, but I was a little too scared after a grueling uphill snowshoe to find the perfect tree that ended in disaster. A disaster, that being totally blonde, I caused- I broke the chainsaw by not knowing that I couldn't put it in the snow (oops!) and we came out empty-handed. I guess it was good exercise, but it hasn't been suggested again.

Christmas skiing at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Have you ever gone caroling?

Yes, in College when our sorority raised money by selling Christmas "Carol-grams" to students. I now know "All I want for Christmas' by Mariah Carey more than I ever wanted to. However, my personal favorite when singing around the house is definitely "Little Drummer Boy."

What foods do you feel are must haves during the holiday season?

Oh, I could go on and on. But I think my favorite to eat would be homemade spiced nuts and in terms of a drink it would definitely be a Chai latte (it just smells and tastes like the holidays.)

What does a traditional Christmas meal include for you?

I fear it is not very exciting, but it is oh so good! We always have herb-crusted Beef Tenderloin, double baked potatoes, green beans with dill, and chocolate mint mousse. We tried Cornish hens one year, but I think that is the only year we strayed.

What is your Christmas decorating style?

Very simple and traditional. I love filling crystal vases and bowls full of ornaments. I think I have a container of some sort full of ornaments in each room of our home. My one staple decoration is a mouse shaped stocking that I have had since I was a little tyke-- always makes me smile. For the first time, this year I decorated a willow branch tree arrangement instead of getting a real tree, and I really love it!

The mouse stocking I've had since I was a little tyke

White lights or colored lights?

Oh, definitely white!

What is one holiday-related event that you must do during the holiday season?

It doesn't seem like Christmas without driving around all the neighborhoods and admiring their Christmas lights.

Do you have a favorite holiday memory?

Hmmm. There are so many! I think it would be the year I hosted my family out in Wyoming (they live outside Chicago.) It was just so fun to be "in charge" of everything and really do everything myself for the first time- made me truly feel like an adult. It was painful on my pocket book though- I had to buy (and put up) two trees by myself. The first one I bought dried out too quickly, and I didn't want my family to be disappointed! I also bought all of the most beautiful decorations I could find- that was when I learned about the danger of credit cards. Despite the cost, it felt wonderful to be able to make the holiday as nice as possible for my family.

My willow twig tree

Complete this sentence- "It wouldn't be Christmas for me without..."


Blair, I absolutely love that your dad still reads A Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve and that he sent you your own copy when you spent your first Christmas away from home. We too used to get a note from Santa, and I am amazed that I didn't catch on sooner that it was my mom's handwriting! And skiing on Christmas day sounds like an absolutely wonderful new tradition. Thank you so much for sharing these traditions and memories with us.

Stay tuned tomorrow because we have one more guest stopping by during this series, and be sure to catch up on any of the interviews you may have missed (here, here, here and here.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Traditions {coco + kelley}

While we're leaving Cleveland today, we're heading to Seattle to talk Holiday Traditions with the lovely Cassandra of the effortlessly glamorous blog coco + kelley.

What were your family's holiday traditions when you were younger? What was a typical Christmas Eve/Christmas Day for your family?

Our family always threw a big holiday party when we lived in LA. We would get 'bundled up' and head to the ice skating rink for a while, then back to our house where we would sing Christmas carols and decorate the tree. Every guest was required to bring an ornament!

Now that we're older our only traditions are fairly basic- we have a big dinner at my parents' house with aunts, uncles and cousins, and wake up early Christmas morning to open presents! We each take turns opening, and we always enjoy some traditional Italian Panettone or goodies sent to us from the Italian side of the family from Toronto where they all live.

Me & My Sister

Did you/do you leave treats for Santa? If so, what were/are they?

We always left treats and a letter for Santa. Sometimes, my mom will still request we do it, and my sister and I roll our eyes and write Santa a very witty note. We usually left the Mexican Tea Cookies my mom would make, and a glass of milk (although, nowadays we tend to leave a more adult beverage.)

Have your family traditions changed since you've gotten older?

We used to do a lot more as kids, but I think that's probably the case with most families. We used to read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve, right before bed. We used to get Santa pictures (I totally broke that tradition the second I turned into a teenager!) and I think we generally spent more time together leading up to the holiday- decorating cookies, shopping, everything! Now, we all have our busy independent lives, so all of that is harder, but we still make the effort.

Have you implemented your own traditions into your life since you've gotten older?

I don't have a lot of traditions myself yet- I think once I settle down and have a family those will evolve. At this point, I have a big Christmas box that goes in and our of storage every year, and I love dragging it out and rediscovering the favorites pieces I've been collecting since college.

Have you ever gone caroling?

I think we went once when I was REALLY young and living in LA. A lot of my parent's friends played instruments, so we all went out singing in a little group... I don't know if I'd be brave enough to do that now!

What foods do you feel are must haves during the holiday season?

Oh, lord, where do I start? The Italian side of my family always sends their homemade dried meats and cookies that I will never be able to imitate, so those always make it feel like Christmas. Big boxes of tangerines are a must. My mom's homemade biscotti. And a big Christmas dinner- usually lamb- cooked to perfection by my dad. I suppose a little gingerbread latte is also necessary to kick the season off!

What does a traditional Christmas meal include for you?

My dad's lamb, as I said, and his rosemary pecan pie. The rest is usually open to whatever recipe my dad has been wanting to try, but we always try to get some super garlic mashed potatoes in there too!

What is your Christmas decorating style?

Not surprisingly, my Christmas style changes every year, but one thing I will say- I do love me some sparkle! Ornaments that glitter are my favorite, followed by vintage balls and mercury glass. I bought a small tinsel tree a few years ago and usually use that so my style ends up being a little bit kitchy and a little bit classic, but this year I'm really leaning towards a bit of country in there.

My tree this year was inspired by the vintage keys I had and I decided to do a 'Secret Garden' theme with fake flowers, birds and feathers, ribbons and miniature ornaments. I guess I'm still figuring out my style!

My Tree

White lights or colored lights?


What is one holiday-related event that you must do during the holiday season?

Ice skating, if I can. On the top of my to-do list is to spend a Christmas in New York and ice skate at Rockefeller Center. DECORATE!

Do you have a favorite holiday memory?

I don't have one memory that stands out the most... I know that getting to spend Christmas in Toronto was always fun, because we never got snow in LA! I loved going there and visiting my huge Italian family. I also remember that at the mall in LA they put Santa in a big sandcastle. You would have to wait in line and walk through the castle to get to see Santa, and I always thought it was so amazing!

Complete this sentence- "It wouldn't be Christmas for me without..."

Family, friends, and lights on the tree.

Cassandra, thank you for taking the time to share your holiday traditions and memories with us! I would love to try your dad's rosemary pecan pie- wow, it sounds so delicious and unique! I am in complete agreement about ice skating at Rockefeller Center some year during the Christmas season, and I love me some sparkle too.

And for any of you who've missed the previous Holiday Traditions posts, catch up on all of them here. These ladies' all share wonderful Christmas memories in their interviews, and they are certainly worth the read.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holiday Traditions {even*cleveland}

For our next stop in this Holiday Traditions series, we are heading to Ohio to check in with clever and crafty Stephanie, the woman behind the always brilliant blog even*cleveland.

What were your family's holiday traditions when you were younger? What was a typical Christmas Eve/Christmas Day for your family?

Every year, we would light pink and purple candles in my mother's simple Advent wreath and start counting down the days early. There never was much money, but Christmas was a big deal- there were strange and special foods and cookies to be made, smelly pennies to roll to take to the bank to buy presents, things to make and secrets to keep.

On Christmas morning, we always started with stockings, which usually had little utilitarian luxuries like fancy toothbrushes, boxes of printed band-aids, and little pots of lip gloss. After stockings, we opened presents- my dad always had to hand them out, because he wrote all the gift tags as riddles. To get your present, you had to figure out which ones were for you. That's something we look forward to still.

My parents' tree

Did you/do you leave treats for Santa? If so, what were/are they?

We always left an assortment of home-made cookies and a tall glass of milk, along with carrots for the reindeer.

Have your family traditions changed since you've gotten older?

I think the core of our traditions have remained the same- the only thing that has changed is that I wake up at my own house now instead of my parents', and I don't wake up at 6 AM ready to dive into my stocking. I make it until at least 7.

Have you implemented your own traditions into your life since you've gotten older?

I have. Sean and I started dating in a December long ago, so our early courtship was blended into all kinds of seasonal things, like driving to look at Christmas lights, watching Christmas movies, going ice-skating and making ornaments for each other. Those are things we still make a point of doing together every year.

When we were at the Chriskindl markets in Vienna, we bought handmade wool felt slipper boots with pointy tops, and since then, we have set them out instead of stockings.

Have you ever gone caroling?

Caroling was important in my family. When I was growing up, we went caroling just about every year. My father is a professional musician, so he would have us practice harmonies a week or two before, then we would bundle up and head out into the snow to walk and sing. We always sang very traditional songs, and usually one or two in French- my mother is a Francophile, so she would coach us along.

The best part was that people were alway so surprised and happy, and one lady on our street always magically had hot cookies for us to eat after we sang. She must have been baking constantly, because we never told anyone when we were going out. They tasted delicious- I remember them steaming in the cold air.

Caroling books made by Stephanie

What foods do you feel are must haves during the holiday season?

Cookies, cookies, cookies. My mother and I have an annual baking jamboree, because that is the taste of Christmas to us- ginger spritz, balesh with nut or apricot filling, creme wafers, sugar cookies, nut balls, jam thumbprints, homemade marshmallows, macaroons, plus a few new recipes we try to work in. I like to make bourbon milk punch to go with cookies- it's boozy, but lighter than eggnog. We call it Super Milk.

What does a traditional Christmas meal include for you?

My mother's Italian Wedding soup and my great-grandmother's fruit salad- it has oranges, grapes, and pineapple in it. It was a Christmas treat during the Depression, when fruit was expensive and hard to come by.

What is your Christmas decorating style?

I like all things handmade and simple. Most of our decorations are handmade or little things we have picked up on our wanderings. They are all very meaningful to me.

Village made by Stephanie

White lights or colored lights?

Either- it depends on my mood. This year we have white lights on the tree, but I do love colored lights- they take me back to my childhood, when I used to lay on the floor under the tree and look up with squinty eyes to make the lights twinkle.

Our tree this year

What is one holiday-related event that you must do during the holiday season?

I need to watch It's A Wonderful Life. It reminds me that a good life is possible even if you don't get to follow your dreams.

Do you have a favorite holiday memory?

Layer upon layer of good memories- I think that is why I feel so happy this time of year. One of my favorites is the year my little brother gave us all geodes for Christmas- one after another, we each unwrapped a dingy rock and were completely confused as to why they were our presents. My brother was as pleased as can be, though, and kept telling us, "But if you hit it with a hammer, there could be diamonds inside!" It was too funny.

Another favorite is the year Sean and I spent Christmas in Dublin. We had just gotten back from Vienna, which was a winter wonderland full of beautiful Christmas tree stands on every corner. When we got back to Dublin, we couldn't find a tree anywhere. I was sick and feeling terrible, so Sean literally walked the length and breadth of the city, until he found a scraggly pine in a pot at a flower wholesale market. It was truly a Charlie Brown tree, but we thought it was amazingly beautiful. It was either Christmas magic at work or too much cold medicine.

Complete this sentence- "It wouldn't be Christmas for me without..."


Stephanie, I love the story of Sean searching for a Christmas tree in Dublin; it is so sweet and illustrates the importance traditions carry in our lives. I also love that your dad riddles all the gift tags- what a unique and special tradition. And your baking jamborees with your mom sound delicious! Thank you so much for sharing these memories with us.

There are still more Holiday Traditions to share in the coming days, and be sure to check out Tina's and Kimberlee's interviews if you missed them!