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Notes on Tradition | Joyeux Noël

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Notes on Tradition | Joyeux Noël

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We are nothing if not sentimental. Each member of the Elsie Green family has their own set of traditions they have collected over the years, like the ornaments we have been collecting to adorn our homes. We are all looking forward to these moments with a joyous glow for the upcoming holiday season, and when compiled, these traditions read like a how-to guide for the month of December.  

Some of us are nostalgic for the years past, as we try to recreate holidays past with loved ones, and other traditions are new in the making. One thing we can all agree on is warm twinkly lights. Not much makes us feel as warm and cozy as the soft glow from flickering candles and the smell of traditional baking, whatever our culture may be.

A spiked holiday cocktail and festive corners within our homes can make even the most grown up feel dreamy and merry and bright. And while the glow of the outdoor lights may hit a little differently here in California without snow, I'll admit that I still get a thrill as I pass by homes decorated for the holidays. Some things do not change as I age. 

As much as I intend to turn toward brown paper packages tied up with string and a more simplistic approach to the holidays, I will inevitably unwrap all of the eclectic ornaments and decor that has been lovingly passed down from our families and collected with my own children, and be reminded that there is no one right or wrong way to decorate, as long as it invokes the feeling that this season should offer. Glad tidings.

This season is a reminder that there is magic in all of our hearts, and beauty in all things.

Follow along for our favorite traditions that make our hearts go pitter pat.

Vintage Holiday Hair

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Laurie & JP

We always open new PJs on Christmas eve, then change immediately into them.  Rather than matched pajamas, each of the three kids gets something that’s suited to his or her own personality.  I give myself a set that complements the rest of the crew.  JP doesn’t love matched pajama sets, so he’s excused.

My favorite tradition is definitely jingle jammies. Every year my mama buys each of us kids a new pair of pjs, and we get to unwrap them together on Christmas Eve all together. Then we lounge in them until December 27. And it is my favorite 3 days of the year.
Holiday Car

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Holiday Garland

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Citrus Garland

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I change the wrapping for our gifts every year. i love picking a theme and sticking with it. Also, every year, as a family we get one new ornament, writing the year on the bottom of it. it is so cute each year to line them all up and think about all our holiday seasons past! 

This year we are starting a new tradition of going to my dads to cut down our own Christmas tree. 


Decorating throughout the house in small vignettes is my favourite thing, but the thread of commonality is dried citrus. Every year my kids and I take citrus from our backyard and slice and dry them to make citrus garlands and ornaments. We tuck them into our homemade wreaths, string them onto the tree, and wrap them into our evergreen garlands. 

My other favourite tradition is stuffing stockings. Finding all of the perfect tiny little gifts for everyone and then wiling it all to fit into their homemade felt stockings is a delight.   

Berry Wreath

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My husbands birthday is Christmas Day. I always find myself running around, struggling to make his birthday feel special amidst the holiday chaos. A new tradition of ours is cooking eggs benedict for breakfast and making fresh squeezed orange juice from our tree. It's simple - but special to us. 

This year we welcomed our daughter, Magnolia, and we can't wait to form traditions as a new family of three.

Growing up, my sisters and I were like most other kids...very impatient. It was torture to wait until Christmas morning to shake, rattle and sometimes peek at our holiday gifts. In an effort to keep us from nagging her all night, my mother always let us open one gift on Christmas Eve. And to get us to wait as long as possible, she made a big deal of Christmas Eve dinner. I love Christmas Eve even more than Christmas morning. The emphasis is on gathering, cooking, and being together. So much love has gone into the preparation! I love that energy!
Noel Door

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In more recent years, my favorite holiday tradition is visiting Tale of the Yak in Berkeley with my mom to pick out a special new ornament for our Christmas Trees. They have the most beautiful, unique ornaments and every year I add a special piece to our growing collection.


Every year my family makes a traditional Bûche De Noël. My great grandmother, Rhoda, started the tradition for us. Years later, my grandmother and mother took over, always making the most beautiful cakes which became one of the highlights of our Christmas meal. When it came time for me to take over making the cake, things took a turn for the worse. My cakes tasted good, but they always looked more like a flat sausage on a plate rather than a festive yule log. Luckily, now my son makes the Bûche De Noël. He is both an artist and a cook so not only do they look amazing, but they taste even better. Each year the log is slightly different in design. It's always fun to see what he comes up with and even more fun to eat his famous (in our family) dessert!

Holly and Ivy

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I love the holidays! Every winter I look forward to all of my yearly traditions...spending the day in my cozy Christmas pajamas, watching holiday movies and playing boardgames with my kids. And I make my all time favorite traditional dinner of marinated Dungeness crab! Yum!

Christmas is always filled with lots of activities, family and friends coming and going, but the one calm pause for me is knowing that on Christmas Eve we are going to sit down together and have Crab Cioppino and sourdough bread. It doesn't get anymore San Francisco than that. It has been a family tradition for as long as I can remember.
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