The Warmth and Love of Tradition

Old favorites spark happy memories

By Nikki Luttmann, Interior Designer

What a year this has been. As I write this, my family and I are in quarantine due to COVID-19, which struck our household, kids and all. This year, I’ve written several articles on the importance of home as a place of shelter and respite in our hectic lives. At no time has that been more evident than in 2020, with the pandemic, wildfires, murder hornets and the contentious presidential election. Whoa. Many of us may be feeling too tired to celebrate, which is understandable, but I believe a little celebration is in order. It’s time to celebrate our families, our community and the possibility of a fresh start that 2021 brings.


Christmas decorating and traditions have always been a bit of a passion of mine. As children, my sister and I always had new crafts going, encouraged by our artistic mother to create gifts for people, ornaments for our tree and décor for the house. We spent hours beading, drawing, creating (one year even doing stained glass) in preparation for the Christmas season. As I got older, I’ve loved collecting things that help my kids see the holiday through the lens of family tradition and the meaning of togetherness. However, this has always been tempered by my designer instincts, as I like things to look a “certain way.”


One of my first experiences with decorating on a massive scale was at a destination ski resort, where I somehow got put in charge of doing the Christmas decorations for the village and lodge lobbies. I was thrilled! I carefully chose oversize baubles and bows, colors carefully coordinated with the theme of each hotel, and dutifully set up trees, tied ribbons, hung wreaths and placed pre-wrapped packages under each tree. It was beautiful—magazine worthy even. But, it lacked soul. It didn’t have the joyous, family centric, haphazard feel that embodies the spirit of the holiday season.


I love it when the stockings hung by the fireplace with care are well worn and have been loved for many past Christmases. When the ornaments on the tree each tell a story or prompt a remembrance. When the Christmas cookies are displayed proudly on a chipped, but well-loved, inherited tray. These details are what make a house a home, especially at the holidays.


Now, that doesn’t mean that we can’t invest in some new pieces—I’d never say that; I’m a designer, after all. Changing things up is in my blood! But, keeping some traditions alive while bringing in a new faux-fur throw or spectacular lamp is always a good idea. Mixing the old with the new is how we balance out our lives and our homes.


For our family, celebrating means a warm glow in the fireplace, lights on the Christmas tree and having good friends over for treats and toddies. This year, I’ve talked about forgoing our usual traditional Christmas ornaments and investing in something different. I’d love to do all white Christmas décor, simplifying the look to make it more understated and elegant. However, I know the girls will want to bring out their tried-and-true favorites; the ornaments that make us smile and the colorful stockings that speak to their personalities. These are our Christmas traditions, and while they may not always be the most beautiful, they certainly are the ones that warm our hearts this time of year.


So, this Christmas, when it comes to decorating, don’t aim for perfection. Instead, celebrate the past that has made our today possible, with all its imperfections. And by all means, let’s welcome 2021 together!


The following is one of our family’s favorite Christmas cookies: Lonnie’s Raspberry Roll-Ups.

Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter

8 oz. cream cheese

2 cups flour

1 tsp. salt

raspberry jam


Method:

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Blend room-temperature butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add flour and salt. Mix well. Chill dough for at least 30 minutes. Roll out on a floured surface to ¼-inch thick. Cut into 2-inch by 4-inch triangles and place a dollop of jam on each, before folding the ends of the triangle in, forming a loose roll. Place on a cookie sheet, cover loosely with foil, and bake until golden (10 to 12 minutes).


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