Wednesday, December 31, 2008

holiday musings

since we are not christian (dh is muslim, i'm a pagan-leaning atheist), christmas is always a bit of an exercise in purposeful action and a LOT of thought. i rather enjoy solstice and all its meanings, and i recognize that the celebrations surrounding christmas are truly pagan celebrations anyway. khary has really gotten into celebrating all the various american holidays, and christmas is his new favorite. (no matter how many times i try, he still says "christmas" instead of "solstice" or "winter," though he will sometimes say "holiday." small victories.) anyway, we needed some family traditions now that he's cognizant of such things and itching to start some family traditions.

first, our wintry bough. it is not a christmas tree. it is a stark branch representing the barrenness of winter. we make ornaments for it and decorate it to make it beautiful and warm, just like we spend more time together to make the cold, barren winter feel warm and cozy. i know that evergreens were traditionally used for their color and fragrance (as both were representative of life amidst the lack thereof in the rest of the winter landscape). but i barely got dawud to agree to a branch at ALL, much less an evergreen branch.

the salt-dough ornaments, just out of the oven:

and the wintry bough:

we also got a candle to burn the night of solstice, and while it was burning we'd tell family stories, reminisce about the past year, & talk about hopes for the upcoming year. but the 2nd round of throwing up germs got in the way of that. we may get to do it on new year's day, though. that's the only night we're not booked for a while!

i think we'll fill the birdfeeder tomorrow, too, since it's getting cold again and we didn't get a chance to put birdfood out on solstice either.

we didn't send cards out yet, either. in due time, though.


  1. The ornaments turned out really cute! Your wintry bough looks like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. ;-)

  2. Hey - can you post your salt dough recipe? Or email it to me? And please let me know what you used to make those perfect little holes in your ornaments.

    I attempted to make salt dough beads with Meredith so she could paint them and string them for a necklace, and they turned out AWFUL. :(

  3. Classic Salt Dough Ornament Recipe (from my friend catherine)

    2 cups flour
    1 cup salt
    1 cup water

    1. Mix salt and flour.
    2. Add in half the water, then gradually add the remaining water.
    3. Knead until the dough is smooth, this can take up to 10 minutes.
    4. For flat dough ornaments roll out the dough on baking paper
    Or be creative and make odd shapes and wreaths (takes longer to bake)

    Use cookie cutters, cut-out templates, or just use your hands.
    Dust dough with flour and begin to add details to the ornaments with a toothpick, popsicle stick, and knife.

    Don't Forget:
    Use a straw to make a hole so you can hang the ornament.

    Baking: Time varies based on thickness of ornament
    Temperature: 325 degrees
    Time: 1 1/2 hours - or until dry

    Decorate: Let cool before you begin
    Paint with acrylic paints
    Glue on beads, buttons, or any fun accessory

    Preservation: Making them last a long time
    Coat with acrylic varnish when everything is dry.

  4. I love the idea of making ornaments in this way instead of spending money on ornaments - less waste, more meaning and less consumerism. Buying ingredients to make ornaments sounds like a 'better' way to be a consumer rather than going to some big store for ornaments. thanks for sharing!

  5. tricia, we'll be making some more salt dough along with some cinnamon dough ornaments this year. we may get crazy and bead some pipe cleaners, too. ;)