I'm so excited to announce the winners of my Holiday Tradition Contest! First, though, I must thank each and every one of you who entered - it was very hard to choose just three of your stories! The rich tapestry of family traditions - cookie swaps, sleigh-riding, holiday romances - was touching and inspiring! Thank you again for sharing your experiences with me.
The first prize winner is Angela Alpaugh! Angela shared this story with me:
"My favorite holiday tradition is the divinity candy recipe my late maternal Grandma Cleva passed down to me. Here we are in our Oklahoma kitchen as she was passing down her recipe to me. This would be one of her last Christmases. As a little girl, I would marvel in her kitchen as she concocted this sugary holiday delight to fill treat baskets for family and friends. My late grandfather, Grandpa A.D. would then delight in hand delivering the treat baskets to loved ones. Now several years and many miles away in New York, my husband Craig and I proudly carry this tradition on in our newlywed household. I make the divinity in all kinds of different flavors, just as she taught me and my husband happily delivers them in treat baskets to our family and friends. This "divine" tradition is a highlight of our holiday season."
I love that Angela carried a 3rd generation idea to the modern age. It is clear that the love and care her grandmother showed her as a child through the ritual of making homemade candy inspired her to share this wonderful tradition with others. Nothing says love like something homemade from the kitchen. I love the fact that she is honoring her grandparents' memories with a tradition that is so full of soul and caring."
As the first prize winner, Angela will be receiving an entire set of the French Linens collection.
The second prize winner is Sarah Pehrson! Sarah shared this story with me:
"For the past eight years, mom and the five of us girls have gotten together to bake and exchange Christmas cookies. We meet at one of our houses with one type of cookie completed, along with ingredients and tools to make another. We plug our mixers in around the room so we don’t blow a fuse, and establish our individual work stations with baking trays, measuring cups & spoons, spatulas, food coloring and flavored extracts. I am excited to tote my “12 Days of Christmas” plates to my sister’s house this year to enjoy our healthy bites of brunch before tasting dough and diving into the annual sampling of every cookie!
Our family has experienced a baby boom in the last 15 months, so we’ll have three new boys in-house on our “girls’ day” this year. Knowing our focus will be more on babies then baking, we adjusted the tradition to exclude the baked on the spot cookie and decided to bring two completed types and some to decorate together instead. When the final batch is in the oven, we begin creating our cookie display for the annual photo. After our first year, Mom wanted to be sure we continue the tradition in style. She made us matching aprons; distinguishable only by our embroidered names on the front pocket, unless you try it on. You’ll soon find out if you have on the apron of a sister of a different height or cup size when the adjustable neck strap doesn’t feel like your own. . Brunch munching and setting up for the photo allows us to connect over the busy Holiday season while we’re making new traditions with our spouses and kids.
It’s always fun to see what each of us makes every year. Mom will have one with chocolate chunks. Lisa likes to try at least one new recipe. I choose cookies that require a process, like adding food coloring, cutting out shapes, or dipping in chocolate or sugar crystals. Martha makes the simple & sweet types, like no-bakes or Oreos coated in chocolate. Jessica bakes those with an artistic blend of flavors or ones she can press into a pan or roll into a ball. Amanda takes on at least one type of cookie that challenges her to meet the criteria met by her four older sisters and mom. We pose for our photo in front of a beautiful display of a variety of cookies with sore feet, aching backs, and sugar headaches, to which mom responds, “eat some cheese” We spend the next 20 minutes walking around the table filling our Tupperware, tins, and trays with the sweetest treats each of the girls in the family have to offer from our kitchens and hearts. Gathering 10 days before Christmas this year gives us plenty of time to devour the holiday."
I love the way Sarah has adapted this tradition to fit her growing family. She is showing the next generation of children what it means to truly be a family by coming together, cooking together, and taking joy in one another. Her desire to keep the tradition alive shows how committed she is to family and tradition. She has also encouraged all members of her family to become involved, including her mother making the personalized aprons. The traditions Sarah is making now will become precious memories to all family members forever.
As the second prize winner, Sarah will be receiving a Les Fleur en Rouge teapot and set of four mugs.
The third prize winner is Isabel Marin! Isabel shared this story with me:
"As all good Spaniards, we celebrate Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. But we have a very intimate party for the children and myself on the night of January 5th for the arrival of the Three Kings.
Children write their letters describing how good they’ve been over the year, all they have studied, and all their good deeds. They write a list of gifts they would like to have. They are submitted by mail or by hand to the kings located in different parts of the cities.
On the night before, almost every child is nervous thinking that they are going to be brought gifts that night or coal if they’ve misbehaved! In the house shoes are placed near a window, as are sweet wine and almonds for the kings and water for the camels.
It is a night for the children and it really is magical!"
How wonderful that she is keeping alive traditions from her family's country of origin! America is made up of so many different cultures. This show the beauty of the diversity of who we are. I love that Isabel is teaching her children the customs she learned as a young girl. We should all take her story as an example and look back into our family roots to see where we come from and resurrect traditions from our personal histories to share with family members. It is a precious gift.
As the third prize winner, Isbael will be receiving the Les Fleur en Rouge pitcher and a set of four Pressed Glass Goblets.
Thanks again to all those who entered! Every one of your stories moved me and I could feel the love and care that each of you felt during the holidays.