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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Traditions to Reflect Upon On This Christmas Eve

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Traditions to Reflect Upon On This Christmas Eve

Perhaps you already have some nice Christmas traditions in your family. I was talking to a young mother the other day at the post office. Yes, I did wait til the last minute on a few things...I guess none of us can be perfect! Since the line was a bit long, I chatted with a young girl in front of me. Even though she had her hands full with a toddler, and a baby, she still managed to balance a package and some envelopes. I offered to hold either one of her children or package, and she gave up the package. So, we talked.

This was her first Christmas alone. Her parents were on the opposite coast...of the US that is, not Florida. Her grandparents just recently passed away in her small hometown in Louisiana. And to top it all off, her boyfriend had recently left her. But, she was determined to make this Christmas extra special for her two kids. I think she must've noticed my "deer in the headlights look". You see, just that afternoon, I had ordered a few copies of the Cajun Night Before Christmas, a very special book in our family, as it was one of the first Christmas books my children enjoyed, loving the way you can read it, with Cajun accent and all. We spent a few years stationed at Ft Polk, Louisiana, and that is where we stumbled upon this book. I had miscalculated my Amazon order for giving to family and friends and had an extra copy..and I happened to have it in the car!

After we got through the line, we walked out to my car, and I gave her the book. She leafed through it....and cried. The words are written in a way that a Cajun would speak them and were very familiar to her. Not to mention, Santa Claus is hilarious out there in the swamp with his alligator reindeer! Before we parted, she said that she won't forget this, and that this was something she can do with her kids every Christmas from here on out. She can read them this story and share with them some of their Louisiana heritage....and she can at least do it with a real Cajun accent!

Wouldn't you know this got me thinking. What traditions do I have in my family? What do I do that my parents and grandparents did? What about my husband's family? What ideas have we started up on our own, or read about or heard about?

Here are some of ours:

  • We like to get out the Christmas decorations and decorate the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving.
  • Almost every year, we get a family photo done. We like to do this ourselves or get my stepmom, who is a professional photographer to do one for us. This ends up on our family Christmas card.
  • When I do remember, we like to celebrate St Nicholas Day, which happens on the 6th of December. The kids put out their little shoes and get rewarded with goodies.
  • We like to buy a new ornament every year that signifies something we did that year as a family. We also like to buy an ornament from a trip to a foreign country if we've been to one that year.
  • I bake a slew of Christmas cookies in the weeks before Christmas. I always make the old favorites and every year, I try at least one new recipe.
  • When we set up the tree, we set up our Lionel Train Set around the base. The boys just love playing with it!
  • We have a cloth advent calendar and move the pieces as each day goes along. We also like to get the German chocolate advent calendars - a new chocolate for every day!
  • I bake the traditional family recipe for German Christmas Stollen, a yummy treat! We eat it on Christmas morning.
  • To celebrate our German heritage, we like to open up one gift each on Christmas Eve (like they do in Germany with all their gifts) and save the rest for Christmas Day.
  • Christmas Eve usually means smoked salmon, Christmas Day is a delicious prime rib and the roasted duck gets saved for New Year's Day.
  • On New Year's Eve, my husband also insists on his pickled herring for good luck, another German tradition from up North.
What traditions do you have? What traditions have been carried down through the years? Which ones have you started up on your own in your family?

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