To all my readers and friends who celebrate the holiday, Merry Christmas!
I am writing this prior to completing the final touches on our Christmas for our 2 kids. Where they are excited for what Santa Claus will be bringing them on Christmas morning, I am also trying to carry on traditions for the holidays that were part of my own growing-up. In addition to many common ones – family gatherings, gift giving, the nativity, church, etc., here’s a few unique elements of my Christmas over the years that I am sharing with them, and I would like to share with you.
Zat You Santa Claus?
Pictured is a plastic illuminated Santa Claus that towers at 3 feet tall and is over 40 years old. It was always standing watch in our breezeway window in the house I grew up in through Christmas. But on Christmas day, Santa returned to his post in the basement, not to be illuminated until the following year. When my Mom moved from my childhood home, I took Santa in, and he has been with me now for almost 20 years.
An interesting story on the jolly old elf is when I moved to Chicago, I took Santa with me. Rather than putting himinto a moving box, he sat next to me on the drive from Boston to the Windy City, literally. Donning a baseball cap, he got his share of looks from passing cars and when I stopped along the way.
The Littlest Snowman
Have you ever heard of the story The Littlest Snowman? If you said you didn’t I wouldn’t be surprised, as many people have not. Yet for some reason, this is the one story I remember the most from Christmases long ago. My own copy of the book is long gone, but thanks to the magic of eBay, I was able to get an original copy of the hardcover Golden Book.
The story is somewhat similar to that of the other famous snowman, Frosty. Then again, we’re talking about snowmen, so other than coming to life and melting, they are limited in what they can do. But it is a cute story I remembered, and now I have read to my own kids several times through the month. Despite this, I have a sneaking suspicion Frosty is still their favorite.
It would not be a complete story on Christmas by an Italian if there were no mention of food. Where there are many culinary traditions for the holidays, one that brings the most memories and has taken on a new meaning for me is pizzelles.
Pizzelles are a flat Italian cookie made with an iron that resembles a waffle iron. Made with basic ingredients, they were a staple for all Christmas and Easter gatherings of family, as most everybody had their own pizzelle iron and their own variation on the recipe. They are commonly flavored with anise, but can also be made with vanilla or even maple syrup- the latter was due to my family growing up in Vermont. On occasion we would have chocolate pizzelles made with cocoa powder, but anise was always my favorite.
This year I decided to carry on the tradition and make pizzelles myself. I used my Mom’s recipe, and had bought a new electric iron as hers had long ago stopped working. As you can see from the photo above, they turned out pretty good. These were from my first batch, which did not last long due to their popularity with family and visiting friends. They are really simple to make and I also had my youngest kid help in the mixing, extending the tradition to yet another generation.
Thank you for allowing me to share a few of my unique Christmas traditions with you. I would like to hear what you do to make the holidays unique and you are welcome to share them in the comments of this post.
This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.
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