Our Brooklyn Christmas

This year, Christmas snuck upon us.  So did Halloween.  And so did Thanksgiving.  I guess a hurricane can mess up the schedule of things.  And so, even though we don’t have one Christmas decoration in our home this year and didn’t plan a big party like I’ve done over the last 10+ years, we have been savoring the small bits of Christmas that we have had so far.  And it’s been wonderful…

The Nutcracker.  We got to see The Nutcracker in Brooklyn at BAM by the American Ballet Theatre.  We loved it!  We got “partial view” tickets near the front for a very cheap price.  I totally recommend those seats!  You won’t miss much at all.  And you’ll get a close-up view of the cutest little mouse that won the audience over.

Satsumas!  This is a Christmas tradition we love.  We can’t get enough of them.  We’ve been replenishing bowls of these for a couple of weeks.

Salsa Party.  In lieu of a larger party, we invited a few friends on our block and around the corner for a salsa tasting.  Danny made his amazing salsas (from this book, of course!), our friends made some really good salsas, too, and we served Mexican hot chocolate.  If I had been getting fancy, I would have served tamales, too.  But keeping it simple was just fine by me.

Our friends brought us these awesome hand-made mugs and a box of Mayordomo Chocolate, Bebida Tradicional Oaxaquena (legit Mexican drinking chocolate.)

 How cute is my friend’s bow?  I totally need to try that. 🙂

Always love the after party with Danny.  (Yes, it did include some guitar playing 🙂
Winter white, anyone?  I’m such a sucker for wearing white in the winter. 

Tapas Party.  We went to our second Tapas Party and it was just as amazing as ever.  For two years in a row, our friends have hosted this dressy party and it’s the best we’ve ever been to.  We’re talking 44 people around ONE table on the parlor floor of a brownstone.  That is one amazing feat, let me tell you. 

 Gorgeous invitations designed by Linsey Laidlaw
Each person brings tapas and we have the best selection (so many of our friends are foodies!)  Danny and I brought these Korean Pork Tacos with Cucumber Salad.  They were so good!!  
Everyone loved them.  (Thanks for the pin, Kelly McCaleb

One genius part of the night…each person has their own placemat.  And between courses, each side of the table takes turns sliding down 5 seats so you get to talk to so many different people throughout the night.  (See here for some more details from last year’s party.)

This year we’re just so thankful for our friends and for each other.  And we can’t wait to see some of our family soon. 

Much love to all of you,

Danny & Mara

P.S.  I am starting to collect Christmas tradition ideas.  This part of my life has been a little delayed since it seems more traditions kick in when you have children.  I would LOVE to hear of some of your traditions!  This is one tradition I think is so sweet.

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  1. Arriving December 19, 2012 at 7:55 am - Reply

    Traditions (for children) – We listen to one episode of Cinnamon Bear each night leading up to Christmas. It's an old holiday radio show from the 1930's.

    Found here: http://www.radiolovers.com/pages/cinnamonbear.htm

  2. tiarenie December 19, 2012 at 11:50 am - Reply

    love the idea of a salsa party! looks so fun! a simple tradition: always bake and eat cookies while putting up the tree!

  3. Anonymous December 19, 2012 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    Oh, we have plenty of Xmas traditions…

    1) Baking cookies and Yule log (buche de noel) to give to family, friends and for our own meals. It takes many hours in the kitchen, but everybody works together, this give us the time to catch up and have fun together.

    2) We decorate the house only on the 14th december, which is a tradition in our mom's family and from then on, Xmas carols on the house and classical music until Xmas!

    3) Within the years, traditions changed a little. We used to have a 24th dinner, a midnight bible reading and prayer and the gift exchanges. Now we are all adults and more tired (lol), so we have changed it little. We have a good dinner the 24th, but not necessarily a Xmas one. We light up a candle and we go to sleep earlier. The 25th morning we gather to read the Bible, everyone can make a prayer or read it's favourite sacred text and those who are non believers can share a poem, a thought and what Xmas means to them (it's still a gathering of family, friends, a season of love, hope and joy). We exchange gifts only after the prayers.

    4) The Xmas meal with it's traditional recipes is on the 25th, everyone has a different task and that makes us all woerk together again to create the party. My sister became a vegetarian so the last years we have been working on creating her a vegetarian traditional Xmas meal.

    5) We invite the people we know are alone for Xmas (friends, colleagues, etc).

    6) There is a spare plate in the table. Not only for a friend who might pass by at the last minute, but also for anyone who might wander around. We have had twice homeless people for the meals (in different years). They were wandering outside and we have invited them, we let them take a long bath, we gave them clothes, they joined us for the mealand in the end, we gave them some money and took them back to their shelter. Those were clearly the best Xmas's we have had so far.

    7) And gifts! Growing older, having the chance to have work (even if not the dream work and not the dream pay check), we have stopped trying to find the "great gifts" to each other, we keep it simple. We still can offer great gifts at other times of the year! But we have decided to give great gifts to others: donations. Instead of spending 50 bucks or more to a cool gift to my brother who can offer himself the same gift, we take this money and by a sheep to a needy family elsewhere (save the children gifts, for instance), we donate to the shelters or to causes that are important to the members of our family. We may choose them together and that has made us closer and merrier for the holiday season's…

  4. Carini Blogger December 19, 2012 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    One of my favorite traditions when I was a young woman was when my parents set up a card table in the living room near the Christmas tree. Then they'd dump out a 1,000 piece puzzle. We spent the school holidays putting it together. When people dropped by for a visit, they had to sit down and find at least one piece of the puzzle before they could leave. Often they stayed for several. We always finished it by New Years. Every year it was a new puzzle. I've tried to get this started in my home for many years and gave up. This year, I set up a 500 piece for my grandchildren and my husband and brother-in-law can't leave it alone. They didn't realize how addicting and therapeutic a puzzle could be.

  5. Alyssa December 19, 2012 at 3:01 pm - Reply

    My mom and I buy the Starbucks Christmas CD every year (this has been since I've been in college…not for my whole childhood) and the day after Thanksgiving, we crank up the CD and decorate the whole house.

    My best friend and I started a tradition sophomore year of giving each other an ornament for the tree. Some years we've given more than one-sometimes it's an initial, sometimes its a little Christmas gem. Even though this is the first Christmas in 3 years that we haven't lived together, I made sure she had an ornament for Christmas and she just gifted me with two beautiful ornaments that involved baking since she knows I've been baking up a storm in the last few months. They mean so much.

    Another tradition we've had every year is that no matter what type of dessert we have Christmas night (cake, cookies, pie)- we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.

  6. Anonymous December 19, 2012 at 5:10 pm - Reply

    My mom kept a basket of Christmas storybooks under the tree and would read one to us each night before bed during the month of December. We would turn out all lights except for the tree lights then snuggle up around the Christmas tree and listen to her read. I loved it and can't wait to do the same with my future children.

  7. The New Diplomat's Wife December 19, 2012 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    We also love celebrating in the small ways! In fact, inspired by Rockstar Diaries, we keep a list of 12 dates of christmas that's full of little things to do (the nutcracker and satsumas – or rather "klementynki" in polish were on there last year!) – in fact, this year's list just went up on the blog today. we also make it a point to watch white christmas every year, my favorite holiday movie hands down.

  8. Anonymous December 19, 2012 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    My family has always maintained a Christmas Eve tradition. We have the Christmas mouse, which hides all over the house in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Each time he (or she) is found, he moves to a new hiding spot. Then, on Christmas Eve, while everyone is distracted or elsewhere, he leaves new pajamas for the whole family to wear that night. The gifts are always wrapped in red tissue paper and often have little mouse footprints on the paper. This surprise always made Christmas Eve much easier for the kids to get through and go to sleep in light of all the excitement for Christmas morning and Santa's visit. Its a tradition that still continues in my family with each new member no matter their age.

  9. Lauren December 19, 2012 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    We just saw some satsumas over the weekend at Whole Foods and couldn't stop taking pictures of them, they were so lovely! I love to have big bowls of fruit out for people to munch on around the holidays!

  10. Margoulette December 20, 2012 at 3:13 am - Reply

    A big tradition in France is the Bûche for dessert ! We were able to get a really nice one from Trader Joe's last Xmas, but not this year, so we're thinking of getting a pumpkin roll from the Amish market we go to.
    Thanks for sharing your party pictures, your apartment is lovely !
    Also I think I just got my older son the exact same socks Danny's wearing ! (J.Crew ??)
    Joyeux Noël !

  11. Anonymous December 22, 2012 at 11:31 pm - Reply

    After mass we all gather at my parents house. Before we have dinner one of the grandchildren reads The Christmas Story from our family bible and the little grandkids take pieces of the manger from the table to the manger. Our family is so big now that my mom has 3 nativity scenes so that all the kids can carry a piece!

  12. Anonymous December 24, 2012 at 3:38 am - Reply

    Love the idea of a salsa party! I'm borrowing it for New Year's. So wonderfully easy. Just put the cookbook on hold at the library. Thanks for sharing so many of your entertaining secrets.

  13. ryan August 29, 2013 at 11:09 am - Reply

    It does snow in Bethlehem, become ordained online but only rarely, and you never get thick snow that you have to 'trudge' through. Surely the shepherds wouldn't have left their sheep outside, as in the Christmas nativity story.

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