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Making Christmas Memories

I usually write about all the cool stuff to do in Westchester, and this one is no different.

I usually write about all the cool stuff to do in Westchester, and this one is no different. Sometimes, the best thing you can do with your kids is stay home (in Westchester, of course) and make memories together. Memories can carry you a long way in life.

My favorite part of the holidays used to be all the food. I loved the fabulous treats that my grandmother and mother used to make: almond crunch, fudge, sand tarts, and the like. For Christmas Eve dinner, my mom would concoct these amazing cream puffs and, on Christmas morning, we’d always have eggs Benedict, a tradition I continue today.

In the spirit of tradition, Maisie and I baked sugar cookies today—not exactly pretty, but still tasty. Next year, I hope Maisie and I can make gingerbread houses together. You can buy great kits now at Bed Bath & Beyond or Chef Central.

Of course, part of the reason I loved the food is because I loved having everybody together to eat it all. My parents and grandparents are all dead. I’m the mommy now, the one who cooks, the one who spends hours prepping food. Truth is, standing on my feet for hours over a hot stove isn’t all that much fun. I have a whole new appreciation for the women who went before me.

And so my favorite part of the holiday has changed. Now, I love decorating the house. Somehow, pulling out all the old ornaments makes me feel like my family is near. I have a lot of my childhood baubles and each one has a special meaning. The tree ornaments I love the most are the homemade ones—the cotton-ball snowman I made in Brownies; the wooden Santa my mother and I painted; the felt angels my grandmother made; the sequined balls our friend gave us. They’re all special. As I unwrap each one, I can almost hear my mother saying, “Oh, this is one of my favorites!” Sure, our tree isn’t as beautiful as some, but it’s really special.

This year, Maisie helped me decorate the tree. I kept tearing up thinking how my mother would have loved watching her and how the act of decorating the tree with my old ornaments somehow bridged that generation gap.

Our stockings? My great-grandmother knitted them. My dad grew up fairly poor and would tell us every year how all he got for Christmas was an orange in the stocking. Those red socks represented a lot more than some old red yarn to him. You can bet Maisie and Hudson will hear that story for years to come.

That’s why I’m already starting my kids out making ornaments. “What?!” you say. “How can your five-month-old baby decorate an ornament?” Well Hudson—as his sister did two years ago—made an impression of his handprint to hang on the tree. You can get the handprint kits at Buy Buy Baby. Michaels has all these really cute, cheap things to decorate, so Maisie colored a wooden ornament. No, it wouldn’t make it into a juried art show, but it’s more valuable to me than a Rembrandt.

Merry Christmas. I hope Santa brings you what you want. Me? I’ve got the absolute best gift ever: two, beautiful and healthy children. At long last, my family is complete. Santa’s done good this year. He’s done real good.

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