12 Weeks of Christmas **Week 3**

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‘Tis the Reason for the Season
With Halloween only 2 weeks away… all of the retailers seem to be “so past” the holiday…and on to Christmas. Guess they heard we were all preparing, right?
With all of the shopping, planning, eating, drinking and general merriment… it is of the utmost importance to remember…and teach our children…the reason for the season.
Growing up we had two traditions that I intend to share with my kids…and hopefully they will share with their own children someday.
Jesus Money:
As children, when we gathered at Thanksgiving my Great Grandma (and later, my Grandma) handed out little tin piggy banks to me, my siblings, and my cousins. They were festive…they looked like little houses…and they were red. Our mission, from Thanksgiving until we met again at Christmas, was to fill those banks. We did chores around the house, my mom used to pay us by the chapter/page for books that we read (as a side note: she also did this as a way for us to earn money to buy presents for our family)…anything we could think of to gather our coins.
When we got back together at Christmas we would empty our banks at the Nativity. After presents were opened and dinner had been eaten…the adults would count the collective money and tell us our grand total. We would then discuss what to do with the money. When we were younger our parents helped us think of ideas…they would make some suggestions and let us choose…as we got older we would bring ideas together ourselves and then decided as a group where our money could best be used.
Things brings together so many important lessons…charity, helping other people out, thinking beyond yourself…and it builds strength of character and self esteem in young children…showing them that they CAN make a difference..even as young children.
All of my siblings, cousins and I have grown into adults who feel the importance of supporting and helping the world around us. We are active in our communities and in the world helping to promote kindness and generosity to humankind. I like to think that this small tradition instilled a greater purpose in us as children and was, in part, responsible for the kind of people we turned out to be.

A Bed for A Baby
Every year my mom would set up our small Nativity where everyone could see and reach it…only one thing was missing: there was no baby Jesus. There was, however, a small basket of straw next to the scene and an empty manger. Santa would deliver Baby Jesus on Christmas Eve while we slept, it was our job to make sure that when he arrived, the Baby had a soft bed to sleep in.
Whenever we performed a random act of kindness for someone, we could place one piece of straw in the manger. The only caveat was that no one could see you put the straw in; and the good deed had to be anonymous. It was fun to watch the bed filling with straw as the days went by. Sometimes Mom would have to nudge us a little and remind us of the task at hand…but as we got older it became more and more important for us to see that bed prepared.
This week I’m not doing cookies..AGAIN :) I had planned to get you hooked on some yummy Greek Christmas Cookies….but as the weather is turning cooler today and I woke up with a stuffy head…my own thoughts turned to warm-you-up drinks that are my favorite this time of year.

Orange Spice Tea

My aunt began making this for me in Christmas care packages while I was in college. I love this tea soooo much…every time I begin to sniffle…this is the cure for what ails me!

18 oz. tang
1 1/2 c. sugar (I’ve used Splenda as a replacement and it tasted ok)
1 1/2c. instant tea
1/2 c. instant lemon tea
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves

4 spoonfuls per mug

Hot Cocoa

My mom made this without fail every time the weather turned cool. It is by far, the BEST hot cocoa I’ve ever had. It makes a large batch that will keep for several weeks if you store it in an airtight container.

1lb. powdered sugar
1lb. Nestle Quik
1 box powdered milk (enough for 8qts milk, prepared)
6 oz powdered creamer

4-6 heaping spoonfuls per mug, depending on your need for chocolate



  1. I have never heard of either of these traditions. How very unique! I’m going to have to show these to Rich and put them on the table as possible traditions for us. :)

    Keep up the great work with the series, Jenn! I look forward to it every week, now!


  2. Thanks so much Jaycie! I’m glad you are enjoying it…I really enjoy spending the time to think about it all and get it down on “paper” as well!

  3. Great recipes – I’m going to make some of these! I have a sore throat, and was just wishing I had an instant tea mix like the one you posted.

  4. aw! I love the post “Jesus Money” That is a GREAT tradition to start and as soon as my little one is old enough (she’s 1 now) we’ll work on this! :)



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