The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of working, shopping, wrapping, baking, and more. We don't have a lot of regular traditions (which I see as "things we have to do the same every year"), partly because we were what they call a "blended family" (meaning not all biologically related) and our kids weren't always here for certain holidays. Growing up, I was part of a blended family, as well, so this wasn't anything new to me. It was harder on Ace (in the beginning) than anyone else, but after a couple years, we found our groove... just going with the flow.
One of the things we've done for years, though, is baking goodies, putting them into holiday tins, and delivering them to some local friends. This year was our biggest undertaking, at 15 tins. Not sure if I'm going to continue to do that many, or take it back to five or six and make them a surprise as to who gets one, but we'll figure that out later. I love, though, that we all get involved. With Princess' assistance, Ace bakes two or three of his family favorites, while I do my Dana bars, fudge, and peanut butter KISS cookies. Next year, we may add Princess' peppermint bark to the mix (this year's batch was small, but yummy).
A couple years ago, I also decided to invite friends over to wrap gifts. The idea was that since so many either hate wrapping, wait 'til last minute, etc, we could all make a fun time of it, and do it all together. I'm still working on how to make this one better-attended, but the two times we've done it, I set three hours aside on a Saturday two or three weeks prior to Santamas, have a few sweet treats & something to drink available, turn my DVR to the holiday music channel, and get out all of our wrapping accoutrements. I put an extra leaf in the dining table, remove the tablecloth & placemats, and use only the vinyl cover. A few people have come and wrapped with us, but the option is open for those who want to drop and leave (leave a cash donation &/or your own paper, etc, and we will do it for you). Still trying to work out some kinks with this one, as I'd like more people to come...
In the past, we've also adopted a family; one we know, so we're not going through a church (hard to find a secular local group to donate to, but I'll be doing some more research into this... maybe Toys For Tots or the local food bank) and I love seeing the faces of the friends we give to. This year, however, it seems all my friends are doing really well. So, Princess decided to try her hand at making candles and I decided that we would send them (and another gift or two) to each of my siblings and their significant others (those that have them). The candles went over well; more so since they were hand-made.
Today, Ace went to work, and Princess & I watched holiday movies most of the day... in our jammies. As for this year, the current plan is to open our immediate family's gift tonight when Ace gets home (after dinner), and take the rest down to my in-laws' on Sunday. Not sure, yet, if Squeeks is joining us, but the rest of us will be there. Since we didn't get to celebrate GamerBoy's birthday (his truck broke down the day before we had plans to get together), we will take those gifts with us, as well, and left the choice of what to eat for dinner up to him.