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A Not-So Traditional Christmas

When I was younger, Christmas always held such excitement to me. I loved everything about the season, not just the presents. The first weekend after Thanksgiving was always the time we’d decorate, and we all had assigned roles in decorating the inside and outside of the house. I was usually in charge of handing my dad light clips while he climbed the ladder to the roof of the house while my mom and brother set up other decorations. Soon after that, my mom would start baking a million cookies, my brother and I would start searching for our gifts, and the holidays were officially upon us.

As we age, traditions change, as is inevitable. For me, Christmas got a little smaller. I still go see my dad’s side of the family on Christmas Eve, but on Christmas day it’s usually just me and my mom or the three of us when my brother joins us. My mom and I still bake cookies together because that’s a tradition we enjoy doing. We give them out to friends, neighbors, coworkers, and of course have a stash when my brother comes home for Christmas, even though he’ll say he doesn’t want to eat any. After we open the stockings and gifts, we’ll likely go to Christmas mass, then have some lunch, and go see a movie (this year it looks like it’ll be Little Women). The movie thing is only a few years old, when I was younger Christmas was all about playing with new toys we received. One year my brother and I got an air hockey table, that was a loud Christmas for my parents I’m sure. For some, these may not really seem like a traditional Christmas, while to others, some of these traditions are how they celebrate as well.

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Here’s the thing I’m learning about Christmas as we grow up. What is a “traditional Christmas” to one is completely different to someone else. Traditions can change, sometimes in ways that cause growing pains, other times in ways that make you wonder why you didn’t change them sooner. For some people, Christmas happens a week before the actual day. For others, it happens a week after the actual day. What makes it a traditional Christmas is that everyone is gathering together. Christmas is a time for family and friends to gather together, reflect on the year, look forward to the upcoming year, and most importantly, create memories together.

Whether you celebrate by going to the beach or building a snowman or having a Christmas movie marathon, your Christmas is traditional to you. If your family is not the kind to gather around the piano and sing Christmas carols, that’s ok, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a traditional Christmas, it just means your traditions look a little different. As long as you are with people you love, whether your family by birth or family by choice, that’s the most important part.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! I hope no matter how you’re celebrating this year, that you’re surrounded by love and laughter.

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Russian Tea Cakes

These are one of my favorite cookies to make, and they’re so simple!

You’ll Need:

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 cup softened unsalted butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1 cup chopped pecans

1/4 teaspoon salt

To Prepare:

  • Heat oven to 325.
  • Combine first three ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  • Stir in remaining ingredients until dough holds together.
  • Shape into 1 inch balls and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until slightly browned on the bottom.
  • Remove from cookie sheet immediately and roll in confectioner’s sugar.
  • Wait 15 minutes to cool, then put a light coating of confectioner’s sugar on top.

These are super simple and delicious!

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Beat the Summer Blues

Summertime is a wonderful time of the year, the kids are out of school, teachers are on break, the sun is shining, and there is always so much to do. The downside is if you work full time, you can feel like your summer is passing you by! The summertime blues are a real thing, but luckily, I’ve got some tips to help you beat the summer blues, even when you work a full time job and don’t have a lot of vacation time.

Let’s face it, seeing everyone living their best life on a tropical island while you’re in the office can be downright depressing. Seeing kids at theme parks while you can barely afford a walk in the park isn’t fun either. But, before you stay down about it the rest of the summer, check out these options for beating the summer blues.

  • Schedule a “me” day. This involves no friends, unless you want to try coordinating with someone you’re close with, and it’s focus is everything you want to do. Take a sick day, we’ll call it mental health day, and go out for a manicure or pedicure, get a massage, sit in the tub for a while, whatever it is you want to do and enjoy to do, make time for it. This is a perfect tip for those working a full week or moms or dads running around doing everything for their kids and not having much time for themselves. Make “me” time and chase those summer blues away.
  • Create a new tradition. Plan ahead and set a weekend, maybe Labor Day weekend, to create a new tradition with your friends or family. It can be a family BBQ or one last pool party to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of fall.
  • Get outside. We all need Vitamin D to stay happy and healthy, so make sure you’re getting some of it, even if you work all day. Take a bit of time during lunch to head out or take a walk in the evening or morning before you head in. You’d be amazed what a good walk can do for your mood.
  • Make plans with friends. Yes, I know, I know, you’re super busy with catching up on everything on the weekends, but trust me, those chores can wait. If you can plan a day during the weekend with your friends to head out to a water park or check out a local waterfall, DO IT! Have some outdoor fun, and enjoy the season.
  • Look ahead to fall. If you love fall weather and are just trying to get through the summer, don’t fret, it’s almost there. Plan ahead your fall decorations and maybe start putting together some fun fall activities for you and the family to participate in.
  • Try a stay-cation. I wish we all could afford to jet off to Bermuda for a week in the summer, but if like me, that’s just not financially possible for you right now, then try something a little bit cheaper. A stay-cation is a great way to get away for the night, while not leaving your town or only going an hour or two away. You won’t have to buy a plane ticket, and you can likely get a deal for being a local. If you don’t belong to a reward program with a hotel, now would be the time to start, those points can add up and help you with your stay-cation for next year.
  • Take yourself out for ice cream. It’s a simple thing, but nothing says summer like fresh ice cream. Whether you prefer the rolled kind, the fro yo filled with toppings or a fancy artisanal flavor that you can only get at this little hole-in-the-wall place, go ahead and treat yo self! You deserve it, and even if you’re focused on health goals and keeping up with your beach body, one ice cream cone isn’t going to hurt. Enjoy the summer vibes.
  • Spend a day at the beach. Nothing says summer like the beach, and if you’ve been struggling to get that summer time feeling, go out to the water. The beach is one of my happy places, and there’s nothing better than hearing the sound of the waves. Everything is so much clearer out near the water.

I hope these tips on how to beat the summer blues help, and that you can find some fun activities to help get your spirits up. Don’t forget, a fun activity can be seeing a movie or reading a good book. My suggestions for a good movie are Spiderman: Far From Home and the Art of Racing in the Rain comes out in a few weeks, it has Milo Ventimiglia and dogs, why wouldn’t you go see it? As for a good book, I’ll be putting out a list of my favorite summertime reads that I’ve gone through this summer in a couple of days, keep an eye out for it!

Just Started Dating Around the Holidays

You know what can really complicate the holidays? No, it’s not your Aunt Susan after one too many glasses of wine who starts complaining about anything and everything. It’s starting a relationship right before the holidays, and trying to figure out how to navigate this tricky time.

For most people who are in committed relationships and have been for some time, it’s pretty easy to figure out how the holidays go. You either alternate years or you alternate days that you see each other’s family. This way, no one gets left out, and you both fulfill your obligations to see one another. But what if, you just started seeing someone in October? Or November? It’s much too soon to meet the parents or start alternating who gets Christmas or Christmas Eve, so that makes things a little more complicated.

This can be a bit of a tricky situation, because obviously you two want to spend time together, but you may not want to subject them to the kind of crazy that is your family -just remember, we all have crazy family members, not much we can do about it 🙂 However, there is a very simple, and easy remedy to this situation.

Depending on your family, you may only see everyone on Christmas, which leaves Christmas Eve for a romantic stroll through the park or going ice skating or even wandering around looking at Christmas lights, whatever suits you two as a couple. This way, you still get to spend time with your significant other, but you don’t have to worry about the meet the parents. If you have a family that generally takes both days to celebrate, that’s me, then it can be a little harder to figure out. Generally, I have the morning to myself on Christmas Eve, but if you’re doing last minute Christmas present wrapping or shopping, then those hours are blocked off. That’s where the day before or the day after Christmas come in. Since most people get that day off, or are taking vacation for it, you can easily squeeze in some time with your SO.

Just try to remember not to put so much pressure on yourself for this. Yes, it’s Christmas, but if you’re in a new relationship, make sure to take things slow, and take your time. There’s no need to rush things, and you can always start new Christmas traditions next year.

Create a New Tradition

Create a new holiday tradition this year with your family. Make it out of a mistake or something missing, and make it your own. Use heart shaped cookie cutters or a pink Christmas tree, and make that your thing for each year.

Rosé with Rachel: Traditions

In this vlog, I talk about some of my favorite traditions, especially Christmas cookies! One of my favorite things to do with them, since I make so many, is give boxes of them to friends, family, and coworkers, to help sweeten their Christmas.

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