Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Greetings From Our Home to Yours


Many of us will be gathering with our families around the Christmas tree this evening, celebrating God's one and only Son.  And what does the tree have to do with Christmas?  Apparently it was Martin Luther in the 16th century who first brought a tree indoors at Christmas.   He was walking through the forest one evening and looked up to see the stars shining through the tree branches. It was so beautiful that he decided to recapture the scene for his family, erecting an evergreen tree in the main room and wiring lighted candles to the branches. He told his children that it reminded him of Jesus, who left the stars of heaven to come to earth at Christmas.  Many centuries later, we are still putting up Christmas trees, with angels or stars at the top.  The evergreen trees these days are often 'not real' and the candles have been replaced by twinkling lights.  Today we will give you a wee peek into our homes and some of the trees our families will be gathering around this Christmas, along with a few of our family traditions.

Every year on the week before First Advent we make a date of cutting down our Christmas tree. 
The theme of our tree has carried the tradition that began when my oldest brother was born in 1944.  My parents who had very little money to spend on decorations, invested in a bird to celebrate the birth of their first child.  Each baby born added another bird to the tree including my own bird when I was born, the baby of the family.  When we grew up and left the family nest, our little bird went with us and was the first ornament for our new home.  Since then, I have collected many birds, reminding me of Christmases past and the family I was blessed to grow up in.  Our family takes turns with the families of our daughter in laws to have our family time together either on the 25th or the 26th.  It doesn't matter to us which day we are together, what matters most to me is that our family chooses to be together to celebrate the birth of Jesus who came to bring us life!  ~ Lovella


The tree above is our Mystery Tree this year. We have had live trees every year that we've been married, 42 trees now. We started the Mystery Tree tradition a few years ago to take the stress of finding the perfect tree out of our hands. Our immediate family has grown and our children have married. We celebrate together on Christmas Day leaving Christmas Eve for our kids to celebrate with their in-laws. On Christmas Eve we attend a service and have a simple meal. On Christmas morning we all gather and see what gifts were left in our stockings. After stockings Greg makes Swedish pancakes for breakfast and this tradition is one our kids will not let us replace. We read the Christmas story from Luke 2 before we open the gifts under the tree. We like to take a walk before we start preparing for our special Christmas meal of Prime Rib and Yorkshire Pudding. ~ Ellen


Since our three children married and established their own families, we celebrate Christmas Day with them in our home only every other year. This is the "off year" when our children will be celebrating Christmas day with their in-law families.  Two of our three children live at a distance from us and it is impractical to make the trip home every year. We miss having them all here but have come to appreciate the "off years". There's less hustle and bustle, more time to entertain friends and we enjoy  a quieter Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together as a couple. Our Christmas tree is hung with mostly gold and crimson ornaments but they are really just there to fill in the spaces between the ornaments that we've collected over the years.  Ornaments made by children and grandchildren, friends and some from the numerous trips Harv and I have taken together. Our oldest ornaments are the small nativity ornament Harv received as a young child from his Sunday School teacher and the reindeer passed down my my mom. My favourite ornaments are those that were gifted to us by our grandchildren one year. The clear glass balls feature white handprints transformed into snowmen by tiny hands. Whether the children are home or not, our Christmas morning tradition always includes a fire in the fireplace, the Christmas Story and a time of prayer before opening our gifts ~ Bev


Our favorite time to open gifts is in the evening, stemming from our tradition of gathering after the Christmas Eve service. Now our local families come on Christmas day in the afternoon. The kids (ten years and down) eat while the adults enjoy appetizers. Then the kids recite or sing something they have prepared, open their gifts and are free to go and play while the adults eat dinner. We drag out the anticipation of exchanging our adult gifts as long as possible. The joy of giving is truly the best - a reflection of God's heart. It is my favorite night of the year!  Oh . . . and the tree . . . this year we cut it at a tree farm and decorated it with white mini lights and blue, dark teal and silver balls. ~ Anneliese


In the German custom, my husband remembers his mother decorating the living room for weeks and no one was allowed to enter  until Christmas Eve.  When they heard her ringing the bell, all eyes lit up and everyone, young and old entered the living room each one finding their spot.  I still remember my first Christmas celebrating this tradition. The tree had  electric German candles, filled with straw stars that she had made.  I remember sitting with John's mother making those stars and today our tree has similar ornaments with the stars that I had made.  These stars are for me to cherish those memories and pass them along to my children and grandchildren. It's a treasure to keep these memories alive in our hearts.  Our Christmas tree stands in the family room in front of our french doors allowing us to see the snow fall.  We celebrate on Christmas Eve by going to a church service and then the children open their gifts.   While some of the babies go to bed, the rest of us eagerly anticipate an evening of appies and broth fondue, while we take time to share favorite Christmas memories,  open adult gifts and skype with family in California. ~ Marg


We as a family set up the tree for the first Advent. Now that our girls are married and have homes and traditions of their own, it brings me joy that this tradition is still important to them and they come help decorate. My Oma had a tree with an angel on top and white or yellow lights, and her tree was filled with angels and snow flakes, with a Nativity scene set up at the base of the tree. I took on part of that tradition with also having white lights and a collection of angels in our tree among the childhood favorite ornaments. I can appreciate that as families grow, we may not always be able to celebrate right on Christmas day. It really doesn't matter to me what day we celebrate Christmas as long as we are together. We have been very fortunate that it has always been Christmas day, but I don't take that for granted. We start off with a German style breakfast including beautiful "broetchchen", specialty meats and cheeses that we don't often have throughout the year including a sour cherry and amaretto jam called Christmas jam. Fruit salad, yogurt and homemade granola along with scrumptious cinnamon buns or maple twists are a must. We don't have a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings because the kids have had that with other gatherings, so every year we have a theme meal like Greek or Mexican etc. Christmas is so much more than gifts, trees and picture perfect scenes. It is often a difficult time for many and I pray for those struggling with loneliness, loss, physical or emotional pain. It is exactly for these reasons that God gave us His son Jesus Christ so that those who are hurting will find His Peace, Grace and Comfort during these difficulties in life. ~ Charlotte


Welcome to our home. This summer we moved from a home that allowed room for three trees, each decorated differently, to our cottage style home. Perfectly suited for our new space is a narrow 7' artificial flocked tree. In our den I still put out some of the decorations we've had for many years that hold memories we cherish. This flocked tree is sparkly and pretty with white mini lights, and clear sparkly stars and snowflakes. Words have always played a part in my home decor, and so I incorporated words in white and silver. Celebrate, Believe, Joy, Hope, Love, Jesus.....words that give way to thought and spur on conversation with meaning as we consider the Reason we celebrate. Years ago my parents started a tradition that we have carried on. Christmas eve those who come to our home are given a candle. One by one we light our candles and those who want to share something, can. There is no pressure for those who just want to participate by lighting their candle and listening. We keep it casual. As grand parents it's wonderful to hear our grand children reading the Christmas story together with grandpa. It's fun to watch the anticipation in the children as they eye the presents under the tree, eat their favourite candies and wait for grandpa to finish praying. We enjoy our exchange of gifts and then a wonderful spread of appetizers or a fondue. We celebrate late into the evening while the adults typically help the children assemble and play with their gifts.  ~Kathy



Some years ago I found this lit-up "houses-on-a-snowy-mountain" creation, and I loved it.  It has become the downstairs family room corner decoration with a little decorated tree beside it. I love to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve and for the 51 years I have been married we have made it our traditional family celebration. This year we will attend the candle light service at our church at 4:30 pm. and then come home for a turkey dinner... saving the extra-special dessert that no-one has room for. We will make short work of cleaning up the food and loading the dishes in the dishwasher.
Then we go downstairs - read the  Christmas story, or sing some carols - followed by the opening of the gifts ... We linger ...  opening them one at a time. When we are done, we will go back upstairs to enjoy the waiting dessert! We then stretch the evening out into the night as far as we wish, just enjoying each other - if there is fresh snow or it is a lovely evening, we may all go for a walk to admire the decorated homes in our immediate neighborhood. When the kids go home, my husband and I will relax with another cup of coffee and more Christmas treats, listening to our favorite Christmas music and being thankful for all the Lord has been to us and done for us. ~ Julie


Our tree is artificial so we put it up before Grey Cup day! Our tree has a variety of ornaments with an angel on top, each with a story to tell.  We celebrate with our family on Christmas Eve. The family gathers around the breakfast bar as dinner is prepared. I enjoy the laughter and chatter and the wonderful cooking aromas wafting out of the kitchen. After dinner and a quick clean up we head downstairs. One member of the family reads the Christmas story before we open gifts and play some games.  This is our time together to celebrate the birth of Jesus! ~ Betty


Our Christmas tree can be found in the library/balcony above the great room...all creams and golds with an angel on top. We will be gathering the family beneath the tree again this Christmas, having brunch together on Christmas morning and celebrating our love for each other with the exchange of gifts.  And most important, we will be celebrating God's love for us in sending His Son. ~ Judy


Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
II Corinthians 9:15



From all of us at Mennonite Girls Can Cook...
we wish you a Merry Christmas!

Anneliese   Betty   Bev   Charlotte   Ellen   Judy   Julie   Marg   Kathy   Lovella

9 comments:

  1. Dear Mennonite Girls,

    Back when your blog began, I used to visit you every day. I've used some of your recipes, with great success, and directed my gluten-free friends to you, too, and they greatly appreciate those recipes. Thank you.

    Now I visit less often, but with the reward of multiple posts to read.

    Wishing you Hope, Faith, Joy, Love and Peace.

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  2. Merry Christmas, and thank you for your wonderful gift of this year's recipes.

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  3. Christmas blessings to you all. Women who love good food and love God are an inspiration.

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  4. What a beautiful heart felt post from you all! I really enjoyed a glimpse into each of your homes and learning about some of your traditions and decorating favourites. May each of you and your families be blessed this Christmas and into the New Year!

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  5. Thank you so much ladies, for sharing an insight into your Christmas family traditions. I enjoy reading your blog and trying out some of your receipes which you kindly share.
    May you all have a lovely Christmas
    Jenny from New Zealand

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  6. Your post are such a blessing. The image of family gatherings and celebration were a blessing to read. I am thankful to be reminded of all the years we used to have with family. Most of all the blessing of Jesus and his love.

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  7. A very interesting read. Each family celebrating and decorating differently, but all celebrating the same Jesus. What a blessing each of you are and good examples for ways to make Christmas work for your adult children.

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  8. A very special THANK-YOU to each of YOU for this beautiful post. You each have such lovely traditions that are being passed from generation to generation, many are among my own family's shared traditions. I have been enriched by your blog and computer challenged as I am only recently discovered that I could comment, I often wanted to tell you how much your posts meant to me and now I am happy to do just that! Sorry that I'm so late to read this post, we've been ill and still celebrating anyway. Hope each of YOU had a wonderful Christmas and God Bless you everyone!! Ellen

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