Do you ever feel pressured to create a Pinterest-perfect Christmas? Trying to live up to impossible standards, others’ expectations, or even your own unrealistic standards for yourself can drain all the joy from the holidays.
As a recovering perfectionist, I’ve learned to let go of burdensome expectations and focus instead on creating meaningful traditions that my family can enjoy year after year . . . without losing my sanity!
In episode 10 of my Flourish At Home Radio show, I share some of my own favorite Christmas traditions: keeping Christ in Christmas, decorating the tree and the house, collecting special ornaments, giving gifts, sending Christmas cards, and enjoying delicious food. I also share my family’s favorite Christmas books, movies, and music, as well as funny stories, like the time our tree fell and why we outsource our turkey to Texaco. Finally, I offer encouragement to those who are alone at Christmas, as well as ways others can help bless them.
Here are the books, movies, and music I mention in the podcast, as well as my two favorite holiday recipes. (Note: Most of these are affiliate links. If you purchase through my link, I make a small commission—which I will almost certainly spend on more books! ☺)
The Handel’s Messiah Family Advent Reader
Jotham’s Journey by Arnold Ytreeide
Good News of Great Joy by John Piper (free e-book)
An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco
The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale by Aaron Shephard
The 12 Days of Christmas Cats by Don Daily
The Nutcracker by E. T. A. Hoffman, adapted by Janet Schulman
Dream Snow by Eric Carle
The Christmas Cat by Efner Tudor Holmes, illustrated by Tasha Tudor
’Twas the Night before Christmas by Clement Moore, illustrated by Jessie Wilcox Smith
It’s a Wonderful Life
A Christmas Carol (with George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge)
A Charlie Brown Christmas
The Polar Express
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Frosty the Snowman
One Wintry Night by Jerry Read Smith and Lisa Maria Smith
The First Christmas Morning by Dan Fogelberg
A Christmas Album by James Taylor
A Charlie Brown Christmas by Vince Guaraldi
I am not a noted cook (Yeah, I fried the oven’s motherboard along with the turkey), and I outsource most of our Christmas dinner. However, these are two recipes I actually make myself . . . and my family loves them. Both of them are from my mom, Rosemary Alinder.
Bean and Corn Casserole
For the Casserole:
1 can French-cut green beans (drained)
1 can Green Giant Niblets corn (drained)
1 can cream of celery soup
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 cup grated cheese
1 medium onion, chopped
For the Topping:
1 roll Ritz crackers, crushed
1 stick butter, melted
Mix casserole ingredients together. Bake 30-45 minutes at 350 until casserole has heated all the way through and is bubbling. After baking, sprinkle crushed crackers over the top and pour the melted butter over the crackers. Cook for about 10 more minutes, until topping is browned. Devour.
This doubles well. If you have more than 2 people at the meal, there’s no point in not doubling it! I usually triple the beans and corn, double the other casserole ingredients and crackers, but still use only 1 stick of butter.
If we had to give up all but one item in our Christmas and Thanksgiving menu, this would be the unanimous keeper—even over turkey and dressing.
Frozen Strawberry Salad
1 can strawberry pie filling
1 large can crushed pineapple and juice (20 oz.)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 can Eagle Brand condensed milk
12 oz. Cool Whip
Mix in order listed in long covered cake pan. Freeze overnight covered.
OR Mix in large bowl and pour into muffin tins with paper liners. Cover loosely with foil and freeze overnight. Transfer frozen “muffins” into freezer bags. Great for ready-made individual servings!
This is called a salad, but it’s really more of a dessert.
Mom used to take this to friends who were sick or were recovering from surgery. It’s a delicious treat!
It’s Your Turn!
I want to hear from YOU! What are some of your family’s favorite Christmas traditions?