November 23, 2021
As fall leaves give way to Christmas trees and chillier nights, we’re headed inside – spending more time with our families, reflecting on another year coming to an end, and preparing for the downhill slide of festivities as we welcome 2022.
Between food and family alone, we are reminded of what we’re thankful for. Whether you love to cook or enjoy a day where you can just hang out at the house with your family and friends, holiday traditions have the power to make this time of year incredibly memorable.
Celebrating in a Meaningful Space
To start, there’s no right or wrong way to decorate your space for the holidays. Whether your daughter’s sock puppet snowman is loud and proud on the table, or your son’s handprint turkey claims the fridge – the sky’s the limit. When we look back over the years, we realize the most memorable, meaningful spaces were beautiful because they were filled with love.
Each year growing up, we’d rotate from one family home to the next… but if you asked me, I’d tell you that our favorite was Noni’s ranch house in Ojai. Simply put, it was magical. Situated in the East End on Thacher Road, with big mountain views, we felt like we were in our own little world.
Family gatherings would start days in advance, and thanksgiving dinners were served on a long table. We would eat, go for a walk, and turn in early to take a nap. We’d make turkey sandwiches and get caught sneaking an extra slice of pie, only to pile into the “put put,” an old nursery cart with a flatbed, to be hauled around for a ride through the orchards.
Setting Examples at the Table
I grew up in an Italian household, so needless to say, our traditions started with a meal front and center. Noni and the Aunties would shape their famous rolled butter cookies after turkey and Christmas cutouts, hand-delivering them to family and friends.
This small act carried a strong impact. We looked after one another, took care of each other, and made time to prioritize loved ones. They modeled this kind of community every year, and if it wasn’t with cookies, it was with poinsettia – cut and arranged, never potted.
Memories for Years to Come
Family is everything: the stories we get to remember, share, and create is what life is all about. As our family has grown over the years, I’m proud to continue these traditions. If we do them right, our next generation might just buy into them too.
My hope is that when my children are our age, they’ll look back on these moments with love and appreciation for those we hold dear. Slowing down through the holidays gives us the freedom to embrace those around us for who they are – and they should never be perfect.
After all, it’s the little imperfections that keep life interesting and make a good story!