Friday, December 22, 2017

Treasured Traditions

The (gas) fire is flickering, Josh Groban is crooning The Christmas Song and 12 inches of snow blankets the world outside my window.  What better time to recap December's delights?

ONE: Christmas baking.  In the US, fruitcake is the butt of many holiday jokes.  But I can tell you that Spousal Unit's fruitcake (we call it Christmas cake) is no joke.  Currants, sultanas, raisins, glace cherries, dried apricots, candied peel, almonds, treacle, lemon rind and orange rind join the normal flour, margarine, eggs and spices in a Mary Berry recipe that has tantalized dozens of our friends and family who had sworn off fruitcake forever!  Maybe it's the brandy that is brushed onto the cake every week from Thanksgiving to Christmas that 'takes the cake'. 

Monty the Moose is in charge of
quality control - small cake
is for my Mom
The cake is first served on Christmas morning - accompanied by a healthy slice of cheddar cheese.  And coffee, of course!  Only three days until we get to dive into this beauty!

With our retirement this year, time is a ready resource.  This December, some of that time was plowed into cookie-making for neighbors - the launch of a new tradition!  #1 Daughter pitched in with her culinary talents - clearly inherited from Spousal Unit.  What a joy it has been to deliver these bright packages!

TWO: Christmas cards.  Traditionally, Spousal Unit pens the Christmas missive, summarizing our year, and a personalized card jumps in the envelope as well.  This year, our log-home-in-construction was a no-brainer for the card.

Josie as lap cat is a new

Miss Josie insisted on helping Spousal Unit with his cards.

THREE: Christmas shopping.  For the last decade, Spousal Unit and I dedicated a day in early December for shopping.  (Of course, I was working then and this meant a vacation day for me!)  Santa's elves made the rounds of the stores and then capped off the day with a late lunch, complete with an adult beverage or two.  Call it a Christmas date!
Clockwise from top right: Early morning sky; festive
store decorations; a snack at Starbucks 

Shopping has changed dramatically since the kids were small - the advent of on-line sources combined with their interest in fewer but bigger-ticket items diminishes the need to invest a whole day playing elves.  But it's still exciting to come across those one-of-a-kind surprise presents.  And nothing gets in the way of our Christmas date!
Pizza and peanuts at Moose's, a Kalispell institution.
Drop those shells on the floor with the sawdust,
carve your name in the table,
and you'll fit right in

Whitefish Mountain Resort as viewed from our bedroom window
FOUR: Winter sports.  A family that plays together stays together!  We have been blessed with many winter skiing vacations, and now that we reside in Montana, we have several ski resorts within driving distance. 

Whitefish Mountain Resort is known for "inversion" days.  Inversions occur when the cooler air gets trapped in the valley, bringing fog or even rain to the valley, while up above on the mountain, things are sunny and clear.

Distant mountains are peeking out above the inversion

There is a lot of humidity in the air here, in spite of our cold temperatures.  That is due to the influence of Flathead Lake.  So, on days where the air is super cold, the humidity causes vapor to freeze immediately onto whatever it comes in contact with (also known as rime).  Most of the time that is our trees, our lifts, and sometimes...our goggles.
#1 Son bundled up!

So, if you think this is really deep snow on our trees ... it is actually many layers of rime - locally, we call these trees snow ghosts.  

FIVE: Christmas decorating. Always a family occasion for us, including the furbabies!

Come on in!
(The deer have since nibbled the evergreens on the left
post - at least as high as they can reach ...)
This year involved some compromise - #1 Daughter flew home on December 3 but #1 Son would not follow until 2 weeks later - we just couldn't wait that long for ALL the decorations.  So, with #1 Son's concurrence, we decorated everything except the tree prior to his arrival.

When the kids were toddling around, I created cross-stitch stockings for them. The masterpieces for the parents came much later!  Can you guess which is which?
Upper left - mine; upper right - #1 Son; Lower right: #1 Daughter; Lower left: Spousal Unit
And now for the tree!  In Montana, pine trees can be harvested from public lands for a whopping $5.  You just have to go out and find it!

Looking ....

Over the river ...
OK - maybe it's a creek ....
Onto Scarlet (my car) for the trip home
#1 S adds the angel for the finishing touch!
So, here we are.  Three days until Christmas.  I trust you have enjoyed a few of YOUR treasured traditions this season.  Join me in praying for the peace, joy and hope that only Christ can bring.  Merry Christmas!

Linking to:
All Seasons

Outdoor Wednesday

Skywatch Friday

Willy Nilly Friday


  1. Santo e feliz Natal para si e sua família.

  2. What a great post! I am one of those rare folks who loves fruit cake and you can't beat a Mary Berry recipe. I love her! When we lived in Kalispell we loved to go to Moose's. That is where we all hung out. Your stockings are lovely! My late Mom made my girls a stocking in cross stitch and we use them every year. And around here, an inversion day is a cozy day for me. I love them! Merry Christmas! Kit

  3. Those "snow ghosts" look so beautiful! Gorgeous winter shots.

  4. Loved your Treasured Traditions post. How nice to take cookies to your neighbors. My Dear really enjoys fruitcake so I'm going to have to dig up that recipe and set a reminder for myself to make it next Thanksgiving. Love your stocking treasures...Wow! A very Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  5. Beautiful tradition. One should never forget their tradition.

  6. Your family traditions are marvelous - I'm so impressed you can go cut a tree. Wonderful!

  7. So glad you linked your experiences of this Season! Welcome! I remember fruitcake -in Holland the missionaries always sent us one (because we taught at an American school). Envious that looking for your own tree is one dollar more than a cup of coffee. This year we paid 38 for a cut tree. To cut your own tree is more expensive! Really enjoyed your traditions of the Season!
    Before I forget, next week the Linky is on like this weeks, but after that we go back to the normal schedule from Sunday through Wednesday evening. Hope to see you back at Seasons next week! Have a merry Christmas:)

  8. Angie, first I must say that I'm so glad you make FRUITCAKE too! I love it and made it several weeks ago. Thanks for telling me about the rime, which I never knew because those ghost trees are simply magnificent!! The hunting for a tree with "Scarlet" must be so much fun for all. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year...:)JP

  9. Fantastic winter scenery! It sounds quite Christmasy at your place! I'm getting ready for my Christmas picnic tomorrow at the beach. Christmas in summertime has its perks :)

  10. Merry Christmas to everyone! Love the cozy winter scenes ... and it is hard to be,irve that you haven’t always lived in the Kalispell area... you are already an expert on your surroundings and a perfect fit!

  11. I've been to one of those peanut throwing places before but couldn't for the life of me bring myself to throw the shells on the floor so mine were piled up on a plate. :) Those stitched stockings are amazing. Merry Christmas!

  12. Hello, the winter scenery and mountain views are gorgeous. Your cake/pies look yummy. Your place looks very festive, I love the tree and topper. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  13. Christmas wonders and a wintry wonderland. Happy Holidays from Sharon's Souvenirs!

  14. Merry Christmas to you and the Spousal Unit :-). That cake seems absolutely yummy. Perhaps you can share your recipe and the recipe for the cookies :-). My mouth is watery now. I like your decorations.

    So, if you get the trees from the public land, does one get planted in its place?

  15. Merry Christmas, Angie! Fruitcake is something I make for my husband, but never let a piece cross my lips. You live in such a beautiful area and your new log home fits the setting perfectly.
    As children grow up, traditions have to shift and adapt, don't they?
    Hope your day was wonderful!

  16. Dearest Angie; Belated Merry Christmas to all of your family☆☆☆ So impressed by your SPECIAL and WONDERFUL Christmas.And GORGEOUS "cross-stitch stockings"♪ We just had a cake p;-)
    I hope you are having rewarding year-end days and Hoping you will have a BRIGHT year 2018♫♫♫
    Sending Lots of Love and Hugs from Japan to my Dear friend, xoxo Miyako*

  17. What lovely traditions. Even as non Christians in India our family has its own Christmas tradition of decorating a fake tree with fake snow and rea glitter . We don’t make cookies but enjoy the cakes and cookies sent by our Christian neighbours . But we do celebrate a lavish breakfast with carol singing and gifts T the home of Daughter No 2 and our grandchildren

  18. Wish you and yours the best compliments of the joyous season!

  19. Wonderful Holiday post and photos ~ Hope you had a great Xmas!

    Happy New Year to you ^_^

  20. Nice post. I love being retired and planning my day. Merry Christmas. We stayed in Whitefish a few years ago and really enjoyed our visit.

  21. A great post, Angie!
    Thank you for your nice comment on my blog:)

  22. Your snow (and rime) is beautiful! Now I really would like to trade a weekend with you. I'd never heard of rime before. Does it get heavy on the trees and break limbs?

    I love your Christmas traditions. Sounds like a lovely life there.

  23. I never knew that about rime! Colorado is usually very dry, and our snow if very fluffy and light because of that. If we have fog it freezes more lightly like a hoar frost.

    I needlepointed stockings for my children too, when they were born. Thye hang them in their own houses now

    My sister-in-law was born in Ireland and she always makes a fruitcake for Christmas. She covers it with marzipan and then applies a hard confectioners icing over all. That way her cake stays moist under the icing. We love it!


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