There is nothing like Christmastime to bring out the nostalgia and traditional side of people. It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you come from, almost everyone I know has at least one special Christmas tradition. For some, it is the ritual of pulling out the ornaments and carefully placing each memento on their tree. For others, it is a day of baking, and using familiar cookie recipes like my mother used from her favorite cookbook. Some families host their annual Christmas party, while others watch that one special movie together.
My mother's favorite cookie recipe book.
Each year, my family has a “Seattle Day.” The last Saturday before Christmas, we all pile into the car and drive up to Seattle for a special day of looking at the decorated city, shopping for last minute gifts, and indulge in a special Starbucks treat. We go out for a nice dinner and celebrate being together as a family. When my children were little, it was sweet to watch them try to sneak around buying gifts for each other while one of us distracted the other child. As they got older, it was a way to welcome them home from college for Christmas break. Now that they have children, and there are 16 of us wherever we go (!), it is important to keep our favorite tradition alive. Now the focus is on the grandchildren and making Seattle Day special for them.
Christmas traditions are important to me, but the older I get, the more I understand that traditions often change. Sometimes they change because someone is no longer with us. Sometimes they change because there is joy in adding new members to the family, and sometimes they change because we are at a different stage in life.
No matter how much we hold on to or change our traditions, the one constant thing we always have at Christmas is our family and the importance of gathering together to celebrate. This season, as you bake your traditional cookies, prepare your traditional Christmas dinner, and watch a favorite Christmas movie, remember that each tradition is important, and even if it doesn’t look the same as it used to, it is still a special part of your family’s story.
Merry Christmas from our Wren & Willow Family to yours.
May your day be Merry and Bright!
Two of our favorite Christmas traditions at Wren & Willow are the 12 Days of Christmas gifts to the Ruston Police Department and our Team Christmas Party. Both are ways for us to give back and say thank you to our hard working police, and to our Wren & Willow team.
Swedish Coffee Buns
By James Rayburn
This recipe was passed down from James' Swedish great-grandmother, to his grandmother, to his mother. The recipe takes some practice and patience, but once mastered, it will become a sweet staple in your family as well.
2 1/4 C. Whole Milk 2 C. & 1 tsp. Sugar 1 1/2 tsp. Salt 1 C. Butter 1/4 C. Hot Water
2 Packages Dry Yeast 1 tsp. Ground Cardamom 2 Eggs, beaten 6 to 8 C. Flour, sifted 1 Tbsp. Ground Cinnamon 1 lb. Powdered Sugar
Directions: Preheat oven to 200 degrees. In a large pot, heat 2 C. milk until scalding, then add the 1 C. sugar, 1/2 C. butter, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix hot water and remaining milk, and dissolve yeast and 1 tsp. sugar. Once scalding milk mixture has cooled to warm, add yeast mixture, ground cardamom, beaten eggs, and enough sifted flour, as needed. Kneed for 10 minutes, adding flour for a stiff dough that is not too dry. Cover and let rise in an oiled pot. Turn preheated oven off and allow dough to rise in a warm oven for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. While dough proves, melt remaining butter in one bowl, and mix remaining sugar and cinnamon in another bowl. Set both aside. Once dough has risen, knead briefly on a floured surface and let rest for 2-3 minutes. Make rolls by cutting into small, equal portions and rolling into 12-to-18-inch long snakes. Pick up the snake in the middle with your left hand, hold one end of it with your right, and twirl the other end around until the ends meet in your right hand. Pinch the ends together and turn it over to dip in the butter and then in the sugar mixture, then place in a greased 9 x 12-inch baking pan. Repeat with each bun. When finished, pour the remaining butter over the buns and sprinkle with more of the sugar mixture, if desired. Cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm oven for 30 minutes. Remove and increase oven to 350 degrees, then bake for 30 minutes, checking and readjusting pans for evenness of browning. While baking, mix powdered sugar with enough warm water to form a runny icing. When done, drizzle the buns with icing and enjoy warm.
Found in our cookbook, One-Hundred Sweets by Wren & Willow
James and his wonderful wife Arrika
James Rayburn, Wren & Willow's Project Engineer, is a perfect example of someone who grew up with some serious family Christmas traditions. His favorite Christmas memory is eating Swedish Coffee Buns (see recipe above) first thing in the morning while opening stockings in front of the fire. After stockings and breakfast, they always enjoy a leisurely time of opening presents before a nice afternoon nap. In the evening, they indulge in Swedish pancakes filled with fruit and covered in powdered sugar. Even though they all feel a little sick from overindulgence, James' family doesn't mind because it is so good. Their perfect Christmas Day is topped off with a favorite Christmas movie like White Christmas or even Die Hard. Next year, James and his wife Arrika will get to start some new family traditions as their first baby is due in the Spring.
Enjoy a sweet Holiday Morning Breakfast and coffee on us!
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