My family always decorated for Christmas the weekend after Thanksgiving, regardless of if it was the first week of Advent or not. We had an artificial tree so there was no worry of it dying before the big day. The container of cassette tapes and CDs filled with Christmas music was always a joy for me to break out so we could listen to same songs over and over again. Yes, the Downer house was filled with the Christmas spirit for the month of December.
We did have some specific Advent traditions though. We had an advent wreath and lit the candles before we said grace. The grace by the way never changed, the same every day of the year: Thank you God for all our food and all our blessings. Amen. It’s short and to the point, doesn’t matter if its Advent or Lent. I’m proud to say my nieces and nephews are continuing this tradition. We also had an advent calendar that one of my aunts made for us. It was a felt christmas tree with a different ornament we could pin to it each day. It was only when I went to college that I realized I had missed out on years of chocolate advent calendars.
Another family tradition during Advent was my mom’s annual cookie exchange party. At this point you might be saying to yourself, Jason’s lost it, cookie swaps don’t have anything to do with Advent. You’d be right, but it does take place during Advent, so……
Anyway, for those of you who may not know what this glorious event is, basically everyone invited brings 4 dozen homemade cookies. Here is the tricky part, you don’t really eat the cookies at the party. You get to swap out your cookies with the other people there so you still leave with four dozen cookies but now with a lot of variety. It’s a magical event.
If you are #blessed enough to get invited to one of these parties, the biggest challenge will be deciding what type of cookie to make. There are a lot of suggestions, a lot, seriously, I’m not joking. If all of this seems overwhelming, and Pinterest isn’t any help, then I am here to help. Here are my top three recipes that are Jesuit taste test approved.
1. Oreo Truffles– First off they are really easy, 3 ingredients! They are also really tasty because I mean, oreos, cream cheese, and chocolate…how could it go wrong. This is fun to make with kids and beginner bakers. Now if only there was a song to celebrate this cookie…HIT IT:
2. Mint Chocolate Chip– Sure this is a staple, but if you use a bag of half chocolate chips and half mint chocolate chips, it becomes a seasonal favorite and a really nice variation on the original. You want a song about these cookies too? I live to give:
3. Peanut Blossom Cookies– It was always a joy to see these cookies show up at a party. They are a classic and you can spice it up if you want to, but you really don’t need to. This video gives some really good baking tips, if you are new to baking it is definitely worth a look.
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Advent and Christmas season traditions are ones that I love sharing because they allow you to present a little bit of yourself with others. There are family traditions easy to share, like a cookie exchange, and one’s that might be hard to explain, like singing Happy Birthday to Jesus and celebrating with an ice cream cake. And, the best thing about it is that the crazy thing you did this year might just become next year’s tradition..