Preparing for Christmas

Posted on December 2, 2011 by:

Traditional German advent calendars, like this one, were a part of my childhood Christmases. Today the tradition continues as each season my mom buys a new calendar – the ones with a chocolate behind each number – for my children.

Those who know me best know how much I love a theme!  So right after Thanksgiving, I greatly enjoy transforming our living room to reflect “Christmas Around the World.”  Our tree is adorned with decorations that pay tribute to our heritage including a Danish paper heart ornament to honor Grandma Latham, a Belleek china ornament that my mother-in-law brought from Ireland and hand-blown glass ornaments from Germany to honor both sides of my family, as well as wooden ornaments from Russia.

In addition to these beautiful worldly ornaments, our tree includes precious decorations our children have made throughout the years.  As I hang each one, I fondly remember their little faces as they eagerly waited for me to unwrap the ornaments they had made in school.  My favorite decorations are those that include their school picture from that year.  My kids and I have also had fun making many of the ornaments together.  Later this month I’m looking forward to making pinecone ornaments with my Junior Girl Scout troop and decorating cookies for shut-ins.

For me, Christmas is a time of year to honor traditions and create new ones.  One tradition that I’ve enjoyed since moving to Sheffield is our church’s annual Advent by Candlelight program.  It’s a great way to kickoff the holiday season by preparing our hearts and minds for the season.  This year I had the honor of hosting a table of girlfriends for dessert prior to the program.  I had so much fun decorating the table, including making the cake.  (Confession time: The reason my cake looked beautiful is because I made it during a three-hour cake decorating class.  That class was one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever received!)

This homemade, white cake with raspberry filling was topped with a delicious Italian butter cream frosting.  The frosting recipe, however, is the pastry chef’s trademark secret.

Thankfully, Latham’s graphic designer, Amy Hild saved the day by sharing one of her family’s favorite recipes for Christmas cake.  Unlike me, Amy’s mom really gets all the credit for making this beautiful cake.  Amy gets the credit for helping decorate the table and taking the beautiful photographs.

It’s become a tradition for the Hilds to enjoy this melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cake topped with cherries each Christmas Eve.  What foods does your family traditionally serve on Christmas Eve or Christmas day?

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Categories: Desserts, Food & Family, Holidays, Recipes