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My Progress:


14 / 30 books. 47% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
- Alaska
- Arizona (1)
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- California (5)
- Colorado (1)
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My Progress:


38 / 51 states. 75% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:


32 / 50 books. 64% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge


23 / 50 books. 46% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:


50 / 52 books. 96% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:


42 / 52 books. 81% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:


30 / 40 books. 75% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge


16 / 40 books. 40% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:


11 / 25 books. 44% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

My Progress


19 / 26.2 miles (2nd lap). 73% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

My Progress


30 / 100 books. 30% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:


74 / 104 books. 71% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress


50 / 52 books. 96% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress


87 / 165 books. 53% done!
Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Christmas Traditions

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate! Are you ready for the big day? Other than a couple of gift cards that still need to be purchased, I've finished shopping for presents. Thanks to my 15-year-old, everything is wrapped and waiting under the Christmas tree. I've still got grocery shopping to do, but that's about it. Phew! I'm tired from watching my 2-month-old granddaughter overnight on Sunday so her mom could get a good night's rest before having open heart surgery on Monday and I've got a sore throat and cough that are driving me crazy. The baby's got a cold, too (I'm pretty sure it was her daddy that infected both of us!), but we're tough. We'll all get through this. (My daughter-in-law's surgery went better than expected. She should be released from the hospital before Christmas. Yay!) At any rate, I'm looking forward to a fun week filled with family, friends, good food, and holiday traditions. 
As joyous as the holidays can be, they can also be indescribably tough. I have a particular heartbreak in my life that's making me feel sorrowful and a little Grinch-y, so to those who are having a hard time feeling comfort and joy right now, I see you. I'm a person of faith, even in the hard times (maybe especially then). I have felt the power of God's healing embrace throughout my life as well as the hope that Jesus Christ brought into the world with his miraculous birth and atonement. Whether you're happily making merry or suffering through a season made difficult by struggle or sorrow (or both), I pray that you can feel the peace of Their love this Christmas.

I decided to push this week's TTT prompt—Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings/Bookish Wishes—off until next week when the topic is Top Ten Most Recent Additions to My Bookshelf. Instead, I'm going to get more personal today and talk about my favorite Christmas traditions. These are the activities I participate in, the decorations I put up, the foods I eat, the songs I listen to, etc. every year in order to saturate my heart and soul with the enchanting spirit of Christmas.

As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Hop on over there and give her some love, won't you? 

Top Ten Favorite Christmas Traditions


Nutcrackers

My birthday is a few days before Christmas. One year, when I was probably 8 or 9, my mom decided to take me to a professional performance of The Nutcracker ballet as a birthday present. Afterward, she presented me with my first nutcracker. I've always been charmed by the whimsical figurines and have continued to collect them. As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, I like to line them up on the windowsills throughout my home at Christmastime. 

Jesus


I mean, He is the reason for the season! I've collected nativities for some time now, but recently my son started a new Jesus collection for me. Three Christmases ago, he was stumped on what to get me for a present. He literally Googled "What do middle-aged white women want for Christmas?" The bendable, poseable Jesus figurine in the photo above was the result. It was such an unexpected gift from my teenaged son that I couldn't stop laughing. He was delighted by my reaction, so the next year he got me a Jesus bobblehead. Last year, it was the life-sized stuffie in the photo at left (which has been a great conversation piece, by the way, as well as a total hug magnet). I'm not sure how he's going to top that this year! I'll keep you posted.
Doughnuts


Every year, we make hundreds of homemade raised doughnuts to give away to neighbors, friends, and even strangers. This tradition comes from my husband's side of the family and it's one that I both love and hate. The love is because it's a tradition that has been going on for decades, ever since my mother-in-law was a child. It's meaningful to the hubs, who has lots of great memories of making doughnuts with his family. Also, homemade doughnuts are delicious! They're also a lot of work, which is where the hate part comes in. Everyone pitches in to make them, but guess who always does the lion's share of the prep work and clean up? Yep. Me. And let me tell you, scraping dough and hardened glaze off every surface in my kitchen is not exactly a good time. Still, people look forward to receiving our doughnuts all year, so I *guess* it's worth it.

Chimichangas 

Since my husband's family already had the fryers out to make doughnuts, they created a tradition of making chimichangas for Christmas Eve dinner. We continue this yummy tradition with members of his extended family (who do most of the work, to be honest) as part of our night-before-Christmas festivities In addition to eating chimis, we have a musical puppet nativity, play games, and surprise our hostess (my husband's great aunt) by hiding gifts under her tree and hanging silly ornaments on its branches for her to find on Christmas morning.

Lights 

We don't go crazy with our outside lights, but some people in our neighborhood and wider area do. It's always fun to walk or drive around and enjoy the different displays. One of the biggest and most popular places to check out lights in our area is at the Mesa Temple. The grounds are always beautifully lit up for the holiday.

Music



I love listening to Christmas songs (although I only allow them to be played in my home and car after Thanksgiving and before New Year's Day). Whimsical or sacred, silly or solemn, they fill me with joy. I've been contemplating my favorites. Here's my Top 5:

1. O Holy Night
2. What Child Is This?
3. O Come All Ye Faithful
4. Go Tell It On the Mountain
5. Mary, Did You Know?

What are your favorite Christmas/holiday songs?

Books



I've mentioned this tradition before, but every December, I re-read (or listen to) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It's such a rich story that I get something new from it every time I experience it. We also read Luke 2 and 'Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore every Christmas Eve as a family.

Village


I blame my mother-in-law for this one. She bought me my first piece from Department 56's quaint Snow Village collection for my birthday one year and has gifted me many more over the years. I saw a display of the company's Harry Potter village last week; I may just have to start collecting those as well!

Cards



My mom has always been faithful about sending Christmas cards accompanied by a newsy family letter to friends and family every year. I have kept this tradition alive since I enjoy giving and receiving Christmas cards so much. I've skipped a few years here and there (including this one), but it's still a tradition I adore. 

I have to admit, though, that this episode of Everybody Loves Raymond has made me rethink the annual Christmas letter a bit, LOL:



Birthday


Whenever people learn that my birthday occurs just before Christmas, they inevitably say, "Don't you
hate that?" I don't. As a matter of fact, I love it. I was born on my dad's birthday, which makes it special. I've loved celebrating it with him over the years, even if we can't physically get together much because we live in different states. I'm not into birthday parties or big celebrations, so I enjoy marking my birthday in simple ways—a dinner out, a new book, going to see a performance (this year it was GENTRI's Christmas concert), etc. 

There you go, ten Christmas traditions I love to keep. What are some of the traditions that make your holiday festivities special? How do you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, etc? What books are you hoping to find under your tree on Monday? I'd truly love to know. Leave me a comment on this post and I will gladly return the favor on yours. I also reply to your comments here, although I am a week behind at the moment.

Happy TTT! 
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Reading

<i>Reading</i>
Homecoming by Kate Morton

Listening

<i>Listening</i>
The Good Neighbor by Maxwell King



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