Ornament making, reading lots of Christmas books, cookie-baking, and candy-making are staples in our home each Christmas. Below are pics. of some of the ornaments the kids made. These were part of our mini-unit on Christmas symbols. We only managed to get to three symbols, but for each one we read a Scripture, talked about the symbolism, made an ornament for our tree, and read a picture book. I hope to expand on this unit next Christmas because the kids really enjoyed it, and I did too. :)
We also got to bake some traditional Christmas sugar cookies - the kind you roll out and cut into all those fun Christmas shapes. No photos from that day, but here is the recipe we used. I think it's the quickest and easiest homemade sugar cookie dough recipe I've found. (It doesn't have to chill overnight, which is good when you're winging it!) The final product was pretty tasty too. I left them in the oven for exactly 7 minutes and pulled them out, even though to me they didn't look done, and after cooling they were just right.
Easy Cookie-Cutter Cookies (from Cooks.com)
1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking powder
3 c. flour
Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder. Gradually add to butter mixture. Do not chill. Roll half the dough 1/8inch thick. Dip cookie cutter in flour. Place shapes on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 6-7 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough.
My Mom and I made some of my Grandma's Old-Fashioned Chocolate Fudge. It's not like the smooth, chocolate marshmallow fudge you see in a lot of cookbooks. It has a grainy consistency, is very chocolate-y, and very rich. A little bit goes a long way, but it is delicious - especially with a cold glass of milk. Yum!
Grandma's Fudge (Don't try to double this - it won't turn out!)
3 c. granulated sugar
2/3 c. Hershey's Cocoa
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract (I only use 1/2 tsp.)
•Butter a dish or platter. (I like my fudge kind of thin, so I use a large platter.)
•In 4 quart saucepan (or any large boiler) stir together sugar, cocoa, and salt.
•Stir in milk; then put over medium heat.
•Stir constantly and bring to a rolling boil. (If using a candy thermometer, 234 degrees.)
•Continue stirring and cooking until mixture reaches soft ball stage.
•Remove from heat.
•Add butter and vanilla, stir slightly to mix.
•Then cool for 3 or 4 minutes (to 110 degrees if using a candy thermometer).
•Beat with a wooden spoon until fudge thickens and loses its gloss. (This part can be kind of tricky. You'll be beating it and beating it, thinking that it's never going to thicken up, and then all of the sudden the mixture will feel noticeably thicker. That's when it's time to pour it out on the platter. Don't wait, or you'll have a boiler full of hard stuff that won't pour out!)
•Immediately pour out onto platter.
•Let completely set up; then cut.
You can also use this to frost a cake. This is what we used for our Happy Birthday Jesus cake.
One of my favorite Christmas traditions is singing Christmas carols together, either gathered around the piano, at the top of our lungs in the car, or with the radio on in the kitchen. This year it seemed the kids were constantly singing carols and songs no matter where they were or what they were doing. Some that I heard repeated over and over...
Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Santa Clause is Coming to Town
Put One Foot in Front of the Other (from Santa Claus is Coming to Town)
Frosty the Snowman
The Little Drummer Boy (They love to do the "pa-rum-pum-pum-pum".)
Away in a Manger (Giggly Girl's favorite)
Silent Night (Sweet Pea's favorite)
Go Tell It on the Mountain (Superman's favorite, sung in a country-western style!)
And one day, while in my sick, feverish fog, I heard the strains of a certain one of Handel's melodies floating up the stairs to my bedroom. It was Sweet Pea singing "Ha-le-you-yah, ha-le-you-yah" at the top of her lungs. :)
Thanks for letting me ramble on about my memories of this year's Christmas. This is one of those posts that was written mainly to keep me from forgetting all the sweet moments. These three kids are growing up so fast, and sometimes I feel like it's all going by in a blur. One day it will be good to be able to look back and remember.
If you made it this far, God bless you for sticking with me!
Have a great weekend,