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Holiday Vacation: Missing out on the holidays

By Marilyn Baron

With the holidays right around the corner, I thought I’d share one of my sister-in-law’s family traditions. As a new resident physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, my nephew doesn’t get to come home very often to celebrate holidays with his family. As a result, he misses out on a lot. So my sister-in-law compensates when her children do come home by making up for lost time and lost holidays.

Recently, her son flew home for a long weekend and the first night of his visit she cooked a turkey with all the trimmings so he’d have a chance to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday he spent working with patients in Boston. It wasn’t November. The next night they had Passover, months after the actual holiday.

I think it’s nice that his mother goes to all that trouble for him.

One of my friends goes all out on Thanksgiving, serving a traditional meal that is literally pumpkin soup to roast chestnuts. The table settings and decorations would do Martha Stewart proud. I’d swear we were on the Mayflower.

Around our house, things are less formal. I make my famous poppy seed and cheese biscuits, my sister Sharon makes the best stuffing in the world and the best turkey too. My mother is famous for her split pea soup. My sister Elaine makes the world’s best key lime pie. My sister-in-law Judy makes her famous brownies. And Judy and my brother Paul always host the celebration. The food is great, and there are always crowds of cousins, relatives and friends. We used to host Thanksgiving in Atlanta, but most of my family lives in from Florida, so it’s easier to fly south for the holiday.

Hanukkah is usually right after Thanksgiving, so we traditionally celebrate both holidays at the same time since we’re all together. Our holiday is held on my brother’s patio overlooking the pool and the lake. In Atlanta, we’d have a roaring fire going.

In my family, the tradition has always been that my father gets one of the turkey drumsticks and I get the other. Now that he’s no longer alive, I’m not sure what we’ll do with that second drumstick this year. Maybe we’ll reserve a seat for him at the head of the table and place the drumstick on a plate at his empty place like the missing man formation.

What are some of your family’s favorite holiday traditions?

Carol Burnside - December 13, 2010 - 12:12 am

I find it fascinating all the various ways people celebrate the holidays. No matter what our individual traditions, it’s always a special time for families.

We do the big home-cooked dinner at Thanksgiving whether it’s just hubby and me or a crowd. The day just wouldn’t seem right without it.

Christmas varies, depending on the circumstances surrounding it. In 2008 we spent the CMas holiday unpacking and sleeping. No decorations. Heck, we couldn’t even find them. This year our son will be home, so every holiday decoration I own will be in sight along with a large home-cooked meal that will include a smoked turkey breast and a ham. We’ll load the CD player with holiday tunes and sometime during the day or evening we’ll watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”, a lovely reminder to cherish what you have.

Dianna Love - December 13, 2010 - 6:22 am

I love that your friend celebrates the holidays with her kids when it works for everyone to be together. That is the spirit of a holiday, not the day marked on a calendar. We go to Biloxi to see my family for Thanksgiving and that means everything from a deep fried turkey with all the expected side dishes to a pot of gumbo. I can’t remember not having all that for Thanksgiving, but we spend Christmas with my MIL and since my husband is an only child all that food is too much so he cooks something different every year. It could be anything from any nationality. We make Christmas about spending the day together and enjoying a surprise meal. I usually make Creme Brulee for dessert (yes, I do cook on a very rare occasion – lol) but I think dessert will be a surprise this year too.

Thanks for a fun blog, Marilyn.

Marilyn Baron - December 13, 2010 - 7:30 am

Thanks for sharing your holiday traditions. Home-cooked meals and family are an important part of any holiday celebration.

Dianna, I never imagined you cooking (although you do everything else well, so why not cooking?) but coincidentally Creme Brulee is my favorite dessert. In fact, I had it Saturday night at my husand’s office Christmas party. Creme Brulee with white chocolate and grand marnier. Yumm. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a deep fried turkey but it sounds wonderful and I love gumbo. Your celebrations sound great. Thanks for commenting.


Pam Asberry - December 13, 2010 - 8:11 am

We usually have guests so I do turkey, ham and all the trimmings for Thanksgiving, but since my divorce Christmas has been a bit less formal. I remember having Christmas dinner at the Waffle House the first year post-divorce, as my kids were with their dad. That was a tough year! Now that they are old enough to choose, they spend Christmas with me; if we are home, we open gifts on Christmas Eve so everyone can sleep in Christmas morning, then we have crock pot chili and whatever is left from the holiday baking for Christmas dinner. It’s not traditional but it works for us! This year we will be traveling, going to southern Illinois to spend Christmas with my mom and dad. Mom isn’t up for a lot of cooking and baking anymore, so I imagine we will have a deli try and “goodies” for Christmas dinner. Again, not traditional, but who cares? I am just thankful we can all still be together. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!

Debbie Kaufman - December 13, 2010 - 8:24 am

Christmas Day starts with a large brunch around 10:00 a.m. We always have a fruit salad with homemade whipped cream, omelets to order or a breakfast casserole, most every kind of breakfast meat, and french toast casserole. Then we head for the living room and take turn opening presents. If there was a new video game the whole family can play, the rest of the day is usually spent in front of the TV doing that or watching A Wonderful Life.

Marilyn Baron - December 13, 2010 - 8:45 am


You’re right. Holidays don’t have to be traditional if your family is with you. I’m sorry about your waffle house experience.

When we first moved to Atlanta from Florida, it was around Christmas Eve and we were staying at a hotel until we found a house and for Christmas the only place open for dinner was a place called Clock of Fives, a restaurant that isn’t even around anymore. It was pretty sad.

But then all of the holidays we’ve had since have made up for that.


Christmas Day at your house sounds great. Omelets to order? French Toast casserole? Where do I sign up? Wasn’t your French Toast Casserole recipe in our Petit Fours and Hot Tamales Cookbook?

I love A Wonderful Life.


Maxine Davis - December 13, 2010 - 10:56 am

You just made me hungry for a fancy lunch. I think the cafeteria has a seat for me! Sounds like a fantastic family get-together.

When we went to my folks, it became tradition to have BBQ, brunswick stew, chips and fabulous desserts that my sister and I would bring. It was up to everyone to come in as they could and fix a plate. There was always a group in the kitchen.

Now, at my brother’s we bring in “stuff” and enjoy a fabulous morning together.

I love hearing how everyone celebrates!

Marilyn Baron - December 13, 2010 - 11:39 am

Food, glorious food. That seems to be the big topic of conversation along with family.

Thank you for commenting.


Jeanette Cogdell - December 13, 2010 - 12:02 pm

Both holidays are HUGE in my family. When I was younger, the whole celebrated Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s house. Now that half of my sibs live in the Atlanta area and the other half in Savannah, we have two celebrations, unless the Sav’h crew comes up here where the pig out is at my house. My sisters and I divvy up the menu and oh what a menu it is. Sometimes fried AND baked turkey and ham and ALL the trimmings.

Christmas is the same with a slightly different menu. No big turkey (@ Thanksgiving it was 26 lbs.) but all maybe Turkey wings/legs, ham and ALL the trimming and LOTS of desserts. My famous green punch comes out ONLY at this time of the year and my boys drink themselves silly.

I love this time of the year and not because my birthday is three days after Christmas. It’s just so great being around family, not having to work and enjoying each other. *big sigh* 10 more days.

Lizbeth Denbow - December 13, 2010 - 12:05 pm

There are times that i dont read more than two lines but i think you have a unique blog. Cheers !

Ciara Knight - December 13, 2010 - 12:58 pm

We usually go to church and out to dinner at Marietta Diner. This year we are going to make cookies for the fireman and deliver them on the way to church. This will be our first year without a ton of family at my house so I won’t be cooking for a week straight. :)

Marilyn Baron - December 13, 2010 - 1:09 pm

What’s in your famous green punch. Happy Birthday in advance.


That is really sweet of you to bake cookies for the firemen. Thank you for commenting.


Sandra Elzie - December 13, 2010 - 4:01 pm


We usually eat breakfast around seven or eight…used to be five when the kids were younger…and then open gifts…one at a time so everyone see what each other got.

This year our kids are going to in-laws, so we’re going to be alone, but we’ll have a special meal, open our gifts and then maybe go to a movie at the theater or else watch It’s a Wonderful Life like some others of you.

Regardless of what we do, it’s about remembering what the day is really all about…God gave us a special gift and therefore we give those we love special gifts.

Thanks for sharing your traditions.


Marilyn Baron - December 13, 2010 - 4:15 pm

Thank you for telling us about your holiday tradition.


Susan - December 13, 2010 - 6:33 pm

Now I’m hungry. We go to my mother in law’s for Christmas eve and to my mother’s on Christmas day. We are the ones that live out of town so we do the traveling. We eat both a tradional meal and an untraditonal meal.

Sally Kilpatrick - December 13, 2010 - 6:44 pm

Hmmm…let me think if we have anything different. For one, my family prefers chicken and dressing, a meal served at my grandmother’s house every Thanksgiving and Christmas while I was growing up. Now we have Thanksgiving at my parents’ house where we have to watch the Macy’s parade, the Lions and the Cowboys, and we go through the sales circulars about twenty times in addition to stuffing ourselves silly.

For Christmas, we have EVERYONE together: my parents, Ryan’s parents, and the kids. We have fondue on Christmas Eve, and we have to have sausage balls for breakfast Christmas morning. Then we munch all day on all the snacks. We like to switch houses at some point during the day, and we put together LEgos, play Barbie, play videogames, whatever we can do together.

Two of my favorite pre-Christmas traditions are the annual hiding of Douglas the Talking Fir so that it scares the wits out of some unsuspecting soul as he/she rounds a corner. Also, when we decorate the tree, Troy Aikman is always in the Emmit Smith box and vice-versa. Han Solo and Boba Fett are always placed so they can shoot at each other.

Oh, and we always watch Christmas Vacation on Christmas Eve night. =)

That’s what I remember.

Linsey Lanier - December 13, 2010 - 7:06 pm

What a wonderful mother your sister-in-law is. I know her son must appreciate that. There’s nothing like a home-cooked turkey dinner – one of my favorites ANY time of year.

Poppy seed and cheese biscuits? My mouth is watering. Is that recipe in our cookbook?

I just saw Paula Dean deep-frying a ham! I’ve got to stop. I’m gaining weight without eating a bite, LOL.

Marilyn Baron - December 13, 2010 - 7:29 pm


No, the poppy seed and cheese biscuits recipe is not in our cookbook but I can get it to you. I just did a quick search in my cookbooks and couldn’t find it
but I’ll do a more thorough search.

Your family Christmas sounds wonderful. I never heard of Douglas the Talking Fir but it sounds cute and scary. Fondue sounds great.

Susan, I’m hungry too and I just had dinner.


Tami Brothers - December 14, 2010 - 9:35 pm

Hey Marilyn! Thanks for sharing your traditions with us. For us, we adapt our holiday to what is going on that year. If our family is out here in Georgia visiting or we are back in Wyoming, we do more of a traditional type celebration. If it is just our small family, then we tend to eat lots of snacky foods (crackers and cheese ball or vegies and dip) and take ourselves to a movie.

I really enjoyed reading about everyone’s holiday.

Thanks for sharing.


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