Thursday, December 18, 2008

2008 Advent Tour

I have the great honor of being one of the bloggers to participate in posting for the Blog Advent Tour and today they're on day 18 of December. I also share the day with two other fellow: Alex of Daemonwolf Books , Leya of Wandeca Reads and Hope Is the Word . Please visit their blogs to see what they have for you on their tour! You may find the complete posters on tour at Kailana from The Written World and Marg from Reading Adventures who is the one organized this wonderful Blog Advent Tour. If you want to participate please sign up, it'll be fun!

During my tour to each participates blog, I have really enjoyed reading about how everyone celebrate Christmas and the fun old and new tradition of celebration. Thanks you for sharing with us :)

First I want to welcome everyone to my blog. And wishing you a Happy Holidays fill with love and joy! It's the season to be with family and friends and celebrate the birth of Jesus. It's also a time to have fun, sing favorite carols, smell the baking cookies and break out all the old and new traditions too.

I came from Vietnam. But it's here, in United State where I was raised. My whole life is involved here in US. From the stories that I have heard from close family, is that in Vietnam we only celebrate the holidays is to attend church and visiting each other houses and having big feast party. It like reunion parties with lot of laugh, joy and fun. That is our traditions in those times. We didn't exchange gifts or put up a Christmas tree then, either. But when I moved to United States (after the Vietnam War), things change so much. I remember my father putting up our first Christmas tree in the apartment we used to live in. Our Foster parent was American who help us get settle and feel at home. They taught us about tradition of Christmas that are celebrate in US. They also told my father about the tree too. I remember as a kid, I saw Santa for first time. He walked into my home and passing out gifts to every members of my family. And he even brought us a tree! I remember being wide eyes, just staring at him the whole times he was there (see our first tree, below). What I've learn about Santa Claus was through my elementary school days. I know there is a photo of me and Santa with my sisters standing behind the tree...somewhere (I can't find it *sigh*...).

Now that we have been in US for nearly 29 + years, not only do we attend church or have a big party and family reunion but we exchange gifts, put up the tree and decorating it together too. It's part of a tradition in my family to do things together. After we had settle down in American soil and made it our home, thing change. We brought a real tree once, and turn it into a snow. But then mom didn't like the hassle of the needles fallen everywhere. So we always have a fake one ever since. Now growing up, I always put my tree up on the first week of December. It's habit of just getting ready for the holidays. Over the last many years, my trees have changed. Yes it's fake trees, and I could reuse it over and over. But we kept wanting a tree that look 'full' and big. But the tree we have now, happen to be our 3rd tree. And we did changed our decoration too. We don't' decorate the tree until all members are there. Otherwise the tree won't get decorated. Ever watch Days of Our Lives when the Horton and the Brandy family get together and each members hang up their own ball ornaments (with their names on it) on the tree? It traditional every years that they do it around Christmas. We do that too. Each person hung their ornaments one at a time. Part of the reason why, if all members of family not there, we don't start until they do. Make it more special and meaning that the ornaments is symbol of each person birth. below is our two trees. Click the image to view it larger :)

This is our first tree, the one Santa Claus sent us
,when we first came to US *grin*

And this is our this year 2008 Christmas tree

I also want to share with you a new tradition I plan to make every years. I'm given it out as gift to friends and family. When my niece Trish came to live with us, she taught me to make Peppermint Barks candy. It simple and easy to make. And lot of fun. Last year I sent them out to friends and I think they like it :)

1 cup Crushed candy canes (1 bag)
2 bag pounds white chocolate
Peppermint flavorings, optional (Peppermint extract)
1 1/4 a cup of Heavy Cream (don't use alot)

Place candy canes in a plastic bag and hammer into 1/4-inch chunks or smaller. Melt the chocolate and Heavy Cream in a double boiler. Combine candy cane chunks with chocolate (add peppermint flavoring at this point if desired.) Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet layered with parchment or waxed paper and place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes or until firm. Remove from cookie sheet and break into pieces (like peanut brittle.). Then enjoy! If you plan to sent it out to friends/family the next day, put it back in the fridge until then.

The result (click image to view it larger):

I hope you enjoy your time here and feel right at home. Before I leave you, I want to recommend you a Christmas book that I've read recently. It is The Christmas Train by David Baldacci. Read it, it good, you won't regret it!

I wish everyone a Merriest Christmas and Happy Holidays


Melody said...

Wow, that's a lovely post, Julia! I enjoyed reading about your Christmas celebrations and how you & your family have settled down in the US. I wish we've a real Christmas tree at home, it'd be beautiful!

Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful memories with us, Julia! Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy holiday too! :D

Alice Teh said...

Julia, Melody stole all my lines. She said exactly what I had wanted to say... LOLOL.

You have the Merriest Christmas too, dear friend!

And thanks for the recipe!

Marg said...

Lovely post Julia! Thanks for sharing with us your changing Christmas traditions and for participating in the advent tour!

I am just thinking about the gifts I am going to make for the people who will be at Christmas lunch. I may well give your Peppermint Bark. I might try it with both white and milk chocolate!

Julia said...

First - I want to thanks Marg, for organize this tour. I had so much fun visiting other participates and learning about them and their tradition. And I thanks for your comments. Do make those Peppermint Barks. They are GOOD treats to give as gift :) I wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Melody and Alice - I am happy to share these memories with you and everyone else. Although I was bit shy to even post it LOL. I wish you both a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays too! Oh and do read THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN by David Baldacci, as I mention below. It good! Enjoy those recipe, Alice and thanks you both for being such great friends!

Melody said...

LOL! Alice, it's 'scary' that we share the same thoughts most of the times! ;)

Michelle said...

Thank you for sharing your holiday traditions with us all :) Merry Christmas

Krissi said...

Thank you for sharing your traditions from Vietnam and from the U.S. I love your Christmas Tree tradition it expresses the importance of family in your life. I hope you have a Merry Christmas.

Kailana said...

Thanks for sharing your Christmas traditions! Your trees are lovely and you seem to have a great way to spend the holidays! Thanks for joining in on the tour. :)

Melissa said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Julia. It was fascinating. And I'll have to try the bark... it looks good. :)

3M said...

The bark sound great. Thanks for sharing today!

Bogsider said...

Thanks for writing about your Vietnamese Christmas and your US-Christmas. That was indeed inspiring. And what a lovely tree you have!
I haven't read The Christmas Train myself, but have heard much good about it. But I am afraid I will not be able to read any holiday themed books this season. Merry Christmas to you.


Kerrie said...

Have a merry Christmas Julia. Thanks for sharing

Julia Smith said...

I love that picture of the first tree Santa brought you! What a wonderful post. I love your tradition of everyone decorating the tree together. That makes me feel cosy, just reading about it.

Merry Christmas!

Vickie said...

I am a little behind on the Advent Tour, playing catch up.

The candy looks delicious. Yummy.

Thanks for sharing your traditions.

Happy holidays!