Christmas has the ability to extrude every last ounce of sentimentality out of my veins. And let me tell you – that’s a whole lot of sentiment. I’m a nostalgic at heart and nothing elicits warm fuzzies like reminiscing about Christmas past. The best part – I get to relive certain aspects of the holiday season each and every year in the form of tried and true favourites.
Here’s a quick run-down of things that set my sentimental heart aflutter – without fail!
How could I not start with the epitome of classic holiday viewing pleasure: How the Grinch Stole Christmas
I look forward to watching this every year. The pitiful dog, the adorable Cindy Lou, and the ornery old grinch and that eventual, wonderful, miraculous conversion from miserable to generous. Don’t get me started on the movie version though, I’m passionately opposed.
My next favourite: White Christmas
I can’t get enough of this 1954 classic. I love everything about the movie. Awkward 50’s acting (check), great music (check), wonderful costuming (check), Bing Crosby (check), feel-good ending (check, check, mate). I may
(or may not) have watched this movie three times last Christmas. It’s that good.
I grew up immersed in music; my mother loved to play the piano and we all sang regularly as a family (minus Dad, who can’t hold a tune to save his life). It’s not surprising, then, that at Christmas time our music-loving genes kicked in to overdrive. Aside from one particular Christmas smell (I’ll write about this later; smell is the sense believed to trigger the most vivid memories, and it’s definitely the case at Christmas for me), music is what brings back childhood Christmases most clearly.
First off: The Sounds of Christmas by Julie Andrews. Some of the songs are unconventional, and I likely wouldn’t enjoy this album if I hadn’t heard it every year at Christmas (on repeat) in my house growing up, but this signals “Christmas is here” whenever I listen to it for the first time each year.
Another family favourite: The Living Strings and Living Voices White Christmas (link to full album on YouTube). My favourite song from this album is Buon Natale (Merry Christmas to You) – I’ve never heard it anywhere else.
As a quick aside – my new favourite album (much to my husband’s chagrin): Michael Buble Christmas (link to full album on YouTube)
The White Christmas duet with Shania Twain – I cannot get this out of my head.
And just have to throw this one in to the mix too (also a “newer” favourite): Sarah McLachlan Wintersong
And finally, what Christmas celebration is complete without “eat, drink, and be merry?” So many dishes stand out as classic family recipes (I’ll write about a few food traditions another day), but two it-just-wouldn’t-be-Christmas-without-them:
2 cups Cheerios
2 cups Life
2 cups Shreddies
1 cup peanuts
1 cup pretzels
1/3 cup margarine or butter (melted)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
3 teaspoons garlic powder
Mix (melted) margarine with W. Sauce and powdered ingredients. Pour over cereal, nuts, and pretzels and stir until coated. Bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes. Be careful it doesn’t burn. I usually add some extra seasoning because I love garlic.
This freezes really well, and actually tastes better after it’s had a chance to sit for a while.
We have this every Christmas morning for breakfast. So. good. In our house, it’s called Cinnamon Coffee Cake, but I think most people recognize this as monkey bread. Whatever you call it…if you haven’t tried this before…what are you still doing reading this. Make it!
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup milk
Mix shortening with dry ingredients using a pastry cutter. Whisk an egg in a measuring cup, and fill with milk to the 1 cup mark (so about 3/4 cup milk). Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until moist.
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup white sugar
Take tablespoon-sized globs of biscuit dough and roll in sugar. Drop into a greased bundt pan (don’t pack these in tightly; just drop in so they’re spaced relatively evenly).
This can be refrigerated overnight.
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 cup brown sugar
Over medium-high heat melt margarine and sugar. When bubbling and sugar is fully dissolved, pour over the biscuits in bundt pan.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. This is best served fresh!