A Holiday Giveaway

December 12, 2012

You might already know this but we are approaching the middle of December.  Fast.  I still seem to be under the impression that we are in October.  It might have something to do with the fact that it has been sunny and in the 60’s here in Oakland.  December, the one that I know, is rainy and in the 40’s.  If that.

I’m doing my best to get in the spirit.  I’ve made up my baking list and am starting to tackle it.  We listen to holiday music at night.  We have been lighting our Menorah.  We went and got our tree over the weekend and spent last night decorating it and setting up an amazing train set that Randy’s parents sent to us.  (We are a mixed faith household.)  The stockings are hung, we have lights on our house.  It just doesn’t feel right to me though.  There is not much I miss about our Seattle house, but I do miss how it looked at Christmas time.  We had very high ceilings and each year got an enormous tree, one that smelled just like a forest.  Our ceilings are lower here, our tree is smaller, and we were not able to hang all the ornaments.  It doesn’t smell as good as a Washington tree.  The day we cut it down, the boys were wearing shorts.  In our old life, I made dinner for my family on Christmas Eve to celebrate my parents’ anniversary and we all opened our gifts that night.  It will be different this year.

I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer.  I have a wonderful life and so much to be thankful for.  It’s just moving is hard and the smooth sailing I felt after we first got here has morphed into missing home.  But enough sadness and nostalgia.  Time to cheer up and time for new traditions.  Yes our tree is smaller but when we turn out the lights in the living room, not only do our tree lights sparkle, but so do all the lights in Oakland, San Francisco, and Marin.  We can see them all from our cozy couch.  We have been invited to parties with new friends and I have new teachers to bake for.  I’d like to know what your traditions are, how you celebrate this season.  And I’m giving something away.

Last fall, I went to visit the nice people at Harry and David.  I wrote about my trip here.  Since then, I have bought several boxes of pears from them to give as gifts and also just for our family.  If you have never had a Harry and David pear, they are the best you will ever taste.  They are also gorgeous.  Because they are a generous company, they have sent me a box of Washington apples (the only produce, next to wild mushrooms, that I miss from my home state) and a box of pears this year.  And they offered to give away a great box to one of my readers.

I got to hand pick which box to giveaway and I chose this one for a reason.  This is the Bear Creek gift box and I love it.  It offers the very best of the company, in my opinion.  Plenty of pears, a couple apples, some savory snacks (nuts, crackers, Rogue River cheese), and some sweet (cookies, chocolate covered cherries, and the all-important Moose Munch).  Want one?  Just leave me a comment and tell me what your favorite holiday tradition is.  I always like learning more about my readers.  The winner will be chosen at random on Monday morning around noon.  Thanks for being here and for your continued support.


  1. For the past few years we’ve done a Japanese fondue (Shabu Shabu) on Xmas Eve and then we open our stockings. On Christmas morning I always make crepes with lots of different fillings (carmelized apples are my favorite).

    Comment by Ruth — December 14, 2012 @ 1:36 am

  2. For the past few years we’ve done a Japanese fondue (Shabu Shabu) on Xmas Eve and then we open our stockings. On Christmas morning I always make crepes with lots of different fillings (carmelized apples are my favorite).

    Comment by Ruth — December 14, 2012 @ 1:36 am

  3. Girl, I’m so glad to hear you’re settling into your new home. And really if you didn’t feel any nostalgia for or miss Seattle at ALL…it would be kinda weird. But I know you’ll make new traditions over the years. :) It’ll just take time.

    My favorite Christmas tradition is the set of little ice skating figures and this whole antique town my dad used to put up. It probably won’t ever go up again until my brother and/or I have kids….but we’ll see.

    Comment by Joanne — December 14, 2012 @ 2:20 am

  4. My favorite holiday tradition is watching the lighting of the tower on top of Queen Anne hill in Seattle. That marks the beginning of the holiday season for me and I love seeing the lights twinkling atop the hill all through the holiday season.

    Comment by Lori — December 14, 2012 @ 2:40 am

  5. My favorite holiday tradition is making gingerbread houses. hugzeke@gmail.com

    Comment by Catherine — December 14, 2012 @ 3:15 am

  6. Driving around to look at the lights. There is nearly nothing more magical to me than that.

    Comment by Kalin — December 14, 2012 @ 3:26 am

  7. I love hosting holiday cookie decorating parties. A lot of work but everyone always seems to enjoy themselves. Also Christmas music. Take care and enjoy the season – Seattle misses you too!

    Comment by Kirsten — December 14, 2012 @ 3:40 am

  8. I got married this past summer, and though we had been together for many years, we are still working on respectfully blending both our families’ traditions, so I totally get what you mean about being grateful, while a bit mournful of what isn’t anymore. My favorite tradition has been going on since I was a baby–traveling to my aunt and uncle’s house for Christmas dinner. It’s just a day trip, but it has always involved a ferry and a beautiful drive (they used to live on Whidbey Island, now they live on the peninsula. My uncle and cousin are musicians and my brother dabbles, so there’s always improvised music, the house is cosy and warm and mostly quiet other than the instrumentals and conversation. There is always amazing food. Such a lovely day.

    Comment by Louise — December 14, 2012 @ 4:09 am

  9. Our French nativity set with not only the holy family but all the people of the town…we have over 100 figures and we love to put them up right after thanksgiving and leave them up until epiphany. That’s what Christmas is all about in our house!

    Comment by Mona — December 14, 2012 @ 6:27 am

  10. My favorite holiday tradition is Christmas morning, opening stockings. Then taking a break for cinnamon rolls. And we always watch a movie before dinner.

    Comment by Meagan — December 14, 2012 @ 7:41 am

  11. I grew up in a small town where people still leave doors unlocked. Every Christmas eve for my entire life my father (who generally does not cook) has gotten up at 3am and begun to bake over 100 blueberry coffeecakes for people in our town who have meant something to us that year. Then my sisters and I deliver them all across town. It takes all day, we always have one blow up fight, and we always blast ridiculous pop christmas music that gives my husband a headache. We’ve grown up and scattered all over but it wouldn’t be Christmas without our coffeecake delivery and its something I look forward to every year, no matter how much I whine or claim I’ve outgrown it.

    Comment by Steph — December 14, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

  12. This is our 4th winter since we moved to Southern California from the Midwest and it’s still a challenge to get in the holiday spirit. Perhaps someday I’ll find it normal to go Christmas shopping when it’s 68 and sunny, parked next to a palm tree, but not yet.

    My favorite holiday tradition is singing Christmas carols at my uncle’s house on Christmas Eve with my family. My in-laws started attending a few years ago so we didn’t have the split the night and we have a wonderful time. My mom plays the piano and other family members bring their violins and cello. I’ll miss it this year since we won’t be with them.

    Comment by Stacy Spensley — December 14, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

  13. My favorite holiday tradition is hanging out, playing board games, and eating sweet treats with friends on Christmas eve.

    Comment by Lisa — December 14, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

  14. My favorite holiday tradition is the feeling of Christmas eve. Our family would go to midnight mass, come home and make warm hot chocolate drinks, make a fire, hang our stockings and listen to Christmas carols. It was the quiet before the next day’s storm (I come from a big family) and I loved it.

    Comment by Lynn — December 15, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

  15. I have thrown a latke party for my daughter and her friends since she was in 5th grade. They are now in their second year of college and still coming. Menu is always butternut squash soup, latkes, homemade applesauce, salad. Dessert has been different each year.

    Comment by karen — December 15, 2012 @ 9:50 pm

  16. Wow, that box looks amazing! My tradition is putting up my artificial Christmas tree since I have my own house now.

    Comment by delia — December 17, 2012 @ 2:04 am

  17. I didn’t realize that cinnamon rolls were a must-do tradition on Christmas morning until the year I was away from home, celebrating with new friends and suddenly missed them. They didn’t get made in the morning, but were present for an early afternoon snack. (And now I know to plan better, making the dough christmas eve, and baking them in the morning)

    Comment by Cynthia — December 17, 2012 @ 3:30 am

  18. My favorite holiday tradition is to gather round and begin singing christmas carols with the family. Always a guaranteed good time!

    Comment by Ellie Delancey — December 17, 2012 @ 5:05 am

  19. My favorite Holiday tradition is feeding the homeless. My grandmother first began feeding those less fortunate than us by bringing them hot meals from the back of her car. The event has evolved since then and is now attended by a couple hundred people.

    Comment by Virginia — December 17, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

  20. DID I MAKE THE DEADLINE???? (Sally holds her breath, and rushes to comment)

    Thanks for the giveaway, this is really a wonderful one, we have also shipped stuff from them to very dear friends, but for some reason never bought anything for us… (fingers crossed)

    Comment by SallyBR — December 17, 2012 @ 3:49 pm

  21. A couple favorite traditions: holiday shopping with my sister on Black Friday then our weekly calls to discuss shopping progress and gift ideas; date night in Philly with my husband to see the decorations and try a new restaurant; and wrapping gifts.

    Comment by Erin — December 17, 2012 @ 4:01 pm

  22. I’m way past the deadline but I wanted to share a fun tradition my husband and I have. Our families both live nearby, including parents, all our siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins, so our December calendar fills up really quickly and we constantly feel like there’s maybe a little too much family time and not enough us time.

    Well three years ago on the first Saturday of the month, we miraculously had nothing on our calendar, so we went downtown to see a movie, but the earliest showing wasn’t for three hours. Since we were already parked, we walked several blocks to our favorite brew pub, where their Holiday Nut Brown Ale was on tap. A few glasses later, we decided to make this a tradition for just the two of us. So on the first weekend every December, we head to the pub to celebrate Nut Brown Day, where we imbibe, eat great food, do a little Christmas shopping, and stop by our favorite chocolate shop in town before heading home. It’s the perfect respite from the craziness that surrounds our month full of family.

    Wishing you a merry Christmas, Dana, and a belated happy Hanukkah!

    Comment by Steph — December 24, 2012 @ 2:47 pm

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