Family Traditions: We’re switching them up and here are the hits and misses

by | Dec 12, 2018 | The Writer's Life, On writing | 10 comments

By Jamie Freveletti

This is a photo of the wreath on the wall facing my glass front door. It’s an artificial wreath that we’ve had for a few years now. My daughter made the red velvet bow and we managed to hang it without adding nails to the wall. It’s not perfect, as you can see, but something about it always makes me smile. It’s set on a timer (thank goodness for these devices!) and it manages to illuminate our front stoop through the glass door.

Like most families, we have our traditions, and this season brims with them, but lately we’ve been trying new things. Shaking it up a bit, as it were. And some of the new ideas have been great hits and some just a little “meh.”

Hit: Thanksgiving in Boston last year with an Italian restaurant luncheon turkey, and later a Chinese restaurant for dinner, which I posted about here.

Also Hit:  A new turkey recipe.

This year we celebrated Thanksgiving back at the house and that morning we googled a new turkey recipe, figuring it was time to switch up our usual one. The new one included Champagne, and since we didn’t have any we looked for a substitute. The recipe suggested Ginger Ale. We didn’t have any of that either, but we had fresh ginger and my son googled how to make ginger ale and ended up mashing it and turning it into ginger syrup, to which we added some sparkling water and voila! Homemade Ginger Ale. It was delicious and the turkey the best we’d ever made. Restaurant quality. HUGE hit on this break from tradition.

Bit of a miss (one)  and also a huge hit:  Ritzy chocolate advent calendar (miss) and Beauty advent calendars (huge hit).

I love advent calendars and this year I ordered several for my friends and family. I sent my daughter’s roommate and my son’s girlfriend beauty advent calendars from Sephora (pictured here) and my friends beauty calendars from QVC. These are wonders of marketing and packaging, with different products in each window. Both were hits, despite the fact that it takes a hammer and chisel to remove the items from the CD quality packaging. The items are pre-selected though, and next year I may try to devise my own with items of my choice, but overall these were very well received.

The ritzy chocolate calendar, not so much. While the chocolate was top notch, my daughter would have preferred the standard calendar I buy at the Christkindlmarket every year. Duly noted.

Also hit: Laughter. Sometimes in these turbulent times this last year laughter has been at a premium. I made a conscious decision to seek out laughter and to be grateful for the things I have. I started looking for books with a funny twist rather than a mournful one and I’m searching for that perfect funny novel to read over the holidays. If you have any suggestions I’d love to hear about them. I’d also love to hear about what traditions you have and whether you’ve had your own hits and misses over the years. Do tell!

My wish for you is happiness, health and a wonderful New Year.

Happy Holidays! Jamie

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  1. Gayle Lynds

    What a wonderful hit (& miss) list … such a reflection of a rich family life, Jamie. Your post made me glad to be alive to experience all of the changes and the traditions unchanged. BTW, love my wreathes, too, which I decorate every year. They may be hokey to some, but to us they're pure gold. Happy holidays!

  2. Karna Bodman

    Love hearing about family traditions (especially enjoyed that "ginger ale recipe") One of our traditions has been collecting White House Christmas tree ornaments which I started to do back in the 80's — for every administration. Each comes with the history of a different president and their traditions. They can be ordered from:

  3. Jamie Freveletti

    LOVE wreaths! Never hokey in this family. Happy Holidays!

  4. Jamie Freveletti

    I love this! What a way to experience Christmas with a little bit of history. Happy Holidays!

  5. Robin Burcell

    With three girls of my own, I'm so bummed I did not know about the Sephora calendars earlier! Next year, I guess. Years ago, I bought an advent calendar from Starbucks, half off after Christmas, and gave it to the kids, for the chocolate, of course. But It's rather cool as it's a well-made Christmas tree with little drawers in it. Always thought I'd get it out and add things to the little drawers, but never did. This year, I stuck it in a giveaway box of Christmas decorations to be donated. (We just moved, so it was a good idea to thin out the hoard.) Now I'm rethinking that…

  6. Lisa Black

    Okay now you have to tell me exactly how the turkey and the ginger ale interact! Because it sounds really yummy.

  7. Jamie Freveletti

    Hi Lisa! I think we poured the ginger ale over like a baste. Forgive my ignorance, but my son did most of the cooking (nice, huh?) And none of us realized just how much sugar is in ginger ale! None of us drink soda, but this ginger ale was outstanding.

  8. Jamie Freveletti

    Yes, they were such a big hit. My friends as well on the QVC side, but for younger women the Sephora one was perfect. I love the idea of a Starbucks tree. Do you think the drawers are big enough to hold some beauty items? A thought for next year…

  9. Chris Goff

    Happy holidays to you, too! My kids decided to really mix it up this year and have sent notice to all the siblings, grandkids, etc. that this year we're having a "Disco Christmas." They've even planned the tree decorations to be retro Not sure, but I did manage to dig up a 70s holiday outfit that I think will be perfect. Wes is being a Scrooge!

  10. Jamie Freveletti

    Disco Christmas! Love it. Would love to hear the playlist they use. Have a wonderful holiday!