Design

Have a Lovely Weekend.

Winter sheep by Brooke Fitts

What are your plans for the weekend? I’m going to see Career Suicide, an off-Broadway play about “suicide, depression, alcoholism and all the other funniest parts of life,” by comedian Chris Gethard. I’ve seen his awesome improv in the past, and I’m looking forward to seeing his more personal one-man show. Also, I’m curious: What are your holiday rituals? (Grilled cheese on Christmas Eve? Reading a special story?) We’d love to post a few next week…

2016 was the year fashion magazines increased cover diversity. Hurray!

Anatomy of a scene: La La Land.

Love this photo of Obama.

Women who draw.

This rooming house for career-minded New York women is fascinating!

A beautiful collaborative calendar. (I was grateful to be part of it.)

The five best things to say if a friend has a miscarriage.

The Internet can be magical.

Alex and I exchange small gifts, usually under $30, and this is #1 on my wishlist. (This is my little present for him:)

I traveled alone and it kind of sucked.”

How often do you wash your bras? (Be honest.)

The year in photos.

The hater’s guide to the Williams-Sonoma catalog.

Plus, two great reader comments…

Says Jenny on gifts for tough people to shop for: “Another food idea: This homemade salsa recipe is delicious and makes a ton. I’ve put in a mason jar and tied a ribbon around it. Easy gift!”

Says Meg on how to help kids play independently: “My mom, who was a Waldorf kindergarten teacher, always says that toys should look like they are just waiting for the child to come and play with them. She’s always setting up simple little scenes (a doll sitting at a table, a toy horse pulling a wagon) — they look so inviting, and that nudge makes it easier for the child to enter into his/her own imaginative world. Another thing I love that she says is that children want to feel your presence but it’s not necessarily a good thing for you to give them your full, undivided attention while they’re playing. Doing something nearby with your hands — like folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, knitting (haha, yeah right, i’m talking about an ideal version of myself here:) lets your kids know you’re present but also occupied — and it frees them up to play on their own. I’ve found that reading (especially on your phone) doesn’t work at all — they know that your mind is elsewhere.”

Here’s the complete Cup of Jo holiday gift guide, if you’d like to see.

(Photo by Brooke Fitts/Instagram.)

  1. AshleyL says...

    Couldn’t agreed more with the playing independently advice. I taught at a Reggio Emilia style preschool for 4 years before having my kids. Inviting toys that don’t entertain them but inspire them is everything. Also my kids need me nearby but if I’m not doing anything they will try to get me to entertain them every time!

  2. Hahahahaha That is so funny. I go weeks without washing my bras! Your weekly wrap ups our my fave. That calendar is beautiful! I might just need to buy for my kitchen.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      we just hang it in our kitchen yesterday! :)

  3. Alex says...

    Hi Joanna,
    I’ve been a fan of your blog for some time now, and I look forward to every Saturday morning when I have my cup of coffee on the couch and read your weekend round-up. But I wasn’t too amused by the 2016 Hater’s guide to Williams-Sonoma link. See, I live in New Jersey and reading ‘ along the shittiest stretch of road in the shittiest state in America’ really rubbed me the wrong way. Only an ignorant and hateful person would say something like that. Most importantly, regardless of this persons feeling about NJ; hatred like that is not healthy and think it’s things like that which are a big problem with society in general. Hatred breeds hatred. I must say I’m a bit disappointed and surprised you would want to make this article part of your blog.

    • Nikkie says...

      Agreed

  4. OMG – I totally thought I was the only one who never washed my bras. This makes me feel better about life. HA!

    Christina | http://www.cuddlepill.com

  5. Julie S says...

    I was in New York during the election and saw the Chris Gethard show the day after. It was actually just what I needed- he said, “at least for the next hour I can promise that you’ll cry about something else.” It was funny and candid and just what I needed in that moment. I hope you liked it! I too have had a quirky “Barb” in my life. Mine gave me weird drops that just tasted like water but were supposed to make my life way better. My current therapist was horrified by every Barb fact I told her. Chris Gethard is the best.

  6. Most of our family celebrations take place on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day is just a bonus continuation of the merriment. We have lefse and Jarlesberg cheese (can you tell we’re of Norwegian descent?) and then eat oyster stew (basically oysters in a bath of butter and cream. YUM) before heading to church (I always cry. There’s just something so moving about the Christmas hymns paired with soft fairy lights – I’m getting teary eyed just thinking about it!). The church bells ring and we head home to enjoy some wine and hot chocolate around the fireplace while opening up all the gifts under the tree. It’s usually the wee hours of the morning when we finally drop off to sleep. Christmas morning is mimosas and breakfast while rummaging through the stockings. Time with my family is so treasured; I try not to ever take it for granted.

  7. Natalie T. says...

    I love all of these comments! On Christmas Eve, my parents gather our friends and family over for the holidays. She makes 12 tortiere pies and 12 apple pies (seriously!) in advance and we’ll make a big pot of minestrone soup the night of. Everyone comes over that’s been part of our community so those that don’t have any family (or have lost their family) or need a cozy place for the holidays has one. They even enter through our back door to the kichen. It’s a great way to catch up with everyone before the big day and no holiday is complete without it.

  8. N. Rogers says...

    Two weeks ago, I just bought that same underwear from Nordstroms in black! I’m putting it in my stocking!

  9. Natalie F says...

    My boyfriend and I have been together for 8 years so we definitely have our Christmas traditions down. My birthday falls in early December and I love decorating for Christmas so usually that first week we will get our Christmas tree. While we were both in college, we would buy our tree from the local Boy Scouts who sold trees in a lot down the road from our off-campus apartment. On Christmas Eve we go to my parents’ house where my mom cooks a buffet dinner with Puerto Rican finger foods (empanadas, tostones) and other family favorites (shrimp cocktail, deviled eggs). My mom always makes coquito which is a Puerto Rican coconut milk eggnog. Heavy on the run and so so good. She always makes extra so my sister and I have a bottle to bring home. Then on Christmas Day we go to my boufriend’s parents’ house where they cook a big breakfast and everyone opens gifts. Christmas night, my boyfriend and I finish off the festivities by going to the movies :)

    • Natalie F says...

      On the rum*** why autocorrect would change rum is beyond me 😂

    • my boyfriend and i went to vieques for the first time last december where we met a 90 year old local who was selling coquito. it’s by far one of my absolute favorite memories!

  10. Liz says...

    I hope you loved Career Suicide, Joanna! Chris Gethard is an amazing comedian who’s flown under the radar for too long. My boyfriend and I are longtime fans and I got front row seats for Career Suicide as soon as its run was announced. My boyfriend ended up being out of town for work, but I went alone and cried in the front row many times over! If you enjoyed it, you should check out Beautiful/Anonymous, his podcast on the Earwolf Network. An anonymous caller phones in to the show and can talk to Chris about whatever they want for an hour–he’s not allowed to hang up. I think it’s one of the best new podcasts of 2016.

  11. I just wanted to say that I always enjoy these link posts- there are so many great links to read! I spend ages just going through all of them. Especially loved browsing the Women Who Draw link!

  12. Aislinn says...

    Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the whole year. I’m lucky enough to have been able to spend it with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins each year, even as we’ve all grown up and moved away. We have this fun tradition that we call the Ozzies, hosted by a bobblehead of Ozzy Osborne and my grandmother. It is an award ceremony highlighting the funny/weird/silly/momentous events that happened to each family member throughout the year. My grandmother works tirelessly the weeks leading up to Christmas (and takes notes throughout the year) to put together her speech. At the end, there is one “winner” who has done the craziest or silliest thing all year. They take home the “Ozzy” cup for the year. It’s been passed around the family for as long as I can remember. And I hope it’s a tradition that continues long into the future so that someday if I have children they’ll be able to experience it.

  13. Megan says...

    My family started a new tradition a few years ago after my grandparents passed away (we had always spent Christmas night/dinner with them). Each year my mom picks a different country and researches Christmas customs and traditional food. She makes decor, games, and food from that culture. Last year was Germany and we ate Beef Rouladen, almond cookies, hid a pickle in the tree, and folded Christmas stars. This year is England and she is making figgy pudding, brussell sprouts, mince pies, we will pop Christmas crackers, and sing carols. It made a difficult transition to Christmas without my beloved grandparents into something I could look forward to again, and I love eating the new foods and learning a bit more about how other cultures celebrate.

  14. Kelly says...

    On Christmas, my sister usually wakes me up early in the morning, and we open our stockings together. Then, we wake up our parents, head downstairs, my dad makes pancakes, and we open presents. We usually host the family dinner for grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.

    This year, things are different, which is so new and exciting (and also a little weird)! We’ll be at my aunt’s house for Christmas Eve for a fancy dinner and presents, then my immediate family will all drive to my sister/SIL’s place for Christmas morning. We’ll spend Christmas day at my SIL’s parents’ house (they stay in PJs all day, playing games, eating leftovers). It’s exciting to learn about another family’s traditions, but also a little strange to maybe not have some of your own. I know my SIL is excited to spend Christmas with her family and have us there, so I’m really looking forward to it.

  15. Lauren E. says...

    That article on traveling alone really got me. I went to London for work once by myself and absolutely hated it. I pushed myself to get out of my hotel room and I found the city loud and rude and dirty (and I’m a NYer!) and ended up eating mostly alone in my hotel room. I felt so guilty. Turns out I just like traveling with other people. And I think that’s okay :)

    My family’s strange little Christmas tradition is to perch the cards on the tree branches on Christmas morning and then everyone has to find theirs once the gift giving starts. My stoic, nearly-emotionless older brother is the one who keeps the tradition going and it’s one of my favorite things in the world to see him, now in his mid-30s, still putting cards on the tree with his eyes lit up. This is certainly my favorite time of year.

  16. My husband is Jewish and I am agnostic (though grew up celebrating Christmas) so we have a happy mishmash of traditions around the holidays. On Christmas Eve we go out for Chinese food and a movie (Rogue One this year) and on Christmas Day we stay at home by the Christmas tree and watch Miracle on 34th Street and It’s A Wonderful Life while eating as much shrimp cocktail as humanly possible (with Ina Garten’s cocktail sauce recipe – it’s insane). Good champagne is also a must!

  17. Rachel says...

    My family is Jewish, but my dad is a convert from Catholicism so we spend every Christmas Eve at his brother’s house. We spend the afternoon listening to Christmas classics, sitting around his tree with the same electric train he and my dad had around their tree in the 60s, and stuffing our faces with snacks and high balls. We pull out my grandfather’s old Model T and drive around the neighborhood, with me, my mom and my brother in the back shaking sleigh bells. At night we walk over to this amazing family-owned Italian restaurant for dinner. We started going there because they were the only place open on Christmas Eve and we’ve been going so long they recognize us every year now. Afterward we head back to the house for dessert and presents, and sometimes we’ll take my dad’s old Chevy Impala out to look at Christmas lights in the neighborhood before my family heads home. On Christmas Day I always did the Chinese food and a movie thing with the other Jewish girls in my neighborhood. I now live across the country so pretty bummed I’m missing out on Christmas Eve with my family for the first time ever, but luckily my Jewish girls also ended up on this coast with me so not all traditions are dead!!! Hope y’all have a wonderful holiday and new year. Besos from DC!!!

  18. Zymary says...

    On Christmas Eve, we travel down to my best friend from high school’s house and spend the evening around his kitchen table with his mother, friends, and neighbors. This year, he’s in the hospital, so I’m hoping we can visit during the day on Saturday.

    OK, the bra article. I’ve never been so grateful to have my own washing machine. I always machine wash (fuck hand washing) after a few wearings and air dry. It’s a crime that bras are so expensive that we can’t have entire wardrobes of them.

  19. Thank goodness I have something to back up the fact that I’m not a bad mom! lol! My children are so creative and always play together, making up their own games. I do play with them, but let’s be honest, there’s also a lot to do around the house on a daily basis. I am always in close proximity to them, and join in sporadically – and that seems to be enough for them. They are so independent that sometimes they don’t even want me to join in on the fun ;-)

  20. Eliot says...

    Every year on Christmas Eve we make a giant pot of potato soup while singing Christmas carols. Then we eat dinner in the dining room (I think this may be the one meal that we ever eat in there!) followed by lounging around watching a Christmas movie or wrapping last-minute gifts. Then at 11pm we go the the Christmas Eve service at Church. The service ends around 12:30am on Christmas morning and it’s so much fun to get to greet everyone with a “Merry Christmas” as we leave the church :) When we get home, my mom always little petifores waiting for us to snack on. Then, around 2am, after we’ve all “gone to bed,” we each take turns sneaking into the living room to fill each other’s stockings. I have one more final exam and then I will be back home snuggled down with my dog for an entire month! Can’t wait :)

  21. Karen says...

    My mom was a “Webster girl” in the sixties! She came to New York from Munich, Germany and worked as a secretary in Manhattan. She is still in contact with other “Webster girls” and this year they met up for a reunion-fifty years later. My mom loved her stay and is grateful to this day for the experience. And I’m thrilled because without this possibility my parents would never have met each other in New York in 1967.

  22. Jess says...

    My husband and I go see “It’s A Wonderful Life” at our local indie movie theater a week or so before Christmas. It’s a really nice way to get into the holiday spirit and I always leave the theater feeling more hopeful about the world.

  23. Zeynep King says...

    Our Christmas traditions include tacos on Christmas eve followed by Christmas dinner prep. Christmas crackers at each place setting for Christmas dinner with good friends. We end dinner listening to a recording of Dylan Thomas reading A Child’s Christmas in Wales. My husband is Welsh, so it’s extra nostalgic for him, but the story is so good and so classic, that we all feel a little sentimental. On Boxing Day we make a big pot of chilli and open our house to anyone who isn’t working or away for the holidays.

    We love Christmas!

  24. Katy says...

    Our favorite traditions are Christmas crackers (and paper crowns!) on Christmas Eve and fondue dinner on Christmas day! :-)

  25. Jillian says...

    We spend Christmas with my husband’s family in Maine. With modern families being what they are (divorces, remarriages, ex-step-parents, step-siblings, friends that have become family, etc.) we end up celebrating the holiday about 5 times in 3 days! It’s crazy and chaotic, but still festive, warm, and wonderful. And while we celebrate in Maine, Santa still visits our house in Connecticut, so when we return home, we can have a small, quiet, family Christmas (a few days late) with our 3-year old daughter.

  26. Julie says...

    Watching it’s a wonderful life and serving lasagna and rich n Charlie’s salad for our extended family on Christmas Eve! We hand out Christmas poppers too- always so fun

  27. Lauren says...

    I have to admit, I love Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day! Growing up, my grandmother used to throw a party for family and friends – anyone was welcome – and we’d eat, drink and carol around the neighborhood (poor neighbors). After she died, the tradition went away until years later when my cousin and I became roommates. We’ve brought the tradition back, sans caroling, and have family and friends over, and give friends who aren’t able to go home a place to be. It’s one of my favorite days of the year!

  28. My boyfriend took me to see Career Suicide for my birthday, and it was absolutely wonderful. I am a long time fan of Chris Gerhard, and was so in awe of the honesty, vulnerability, and humor he tells his stories with. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  29. I love our Christmas Eve tradition! My husband and I spend the afternoon visiting various gourmet shops and buying things we normally wouldn’t treat ourselves to. That evening we light a boatload of candles, assemble what we fondly call, “snacky dinner” and camp out on the floor while we open the holiday cards we’ve received and saved up over the past few weeks. As I’ve gotten older and my family has gotten smaller, Christmas can sometimes feel a little lonesome. It sounds kinda hokey but this tradition makes me feel just a smudge closer to loved ones–especially since we end up reminiscing and telling stories.

  30. Caroline says...

    I’m so excited for the WHOLE holiday season. Stockings on Christmas Eve night and cranberry compote on Christmas morning. But what I’m most excited about is our New Year’s Eve dinner! We have a different cultural theme every year, usually based on where we have traveled during the year. This year its France-tastic and I cant wait to stuff my face with fondue in the company of my entire family.

  31. Katie Scheuer says...

    When my husband and I first moved in together we decided to start a tradition for the two of us. Since then, every year in early December we make French onion soup (with lots of gruyere) the night we decorate our Christmas tree. We usually use Julia Child’s recipe but this year tried my coworker’s – it called for two cups of wine and was delicious!!

  32. When we moved to southern California, we spent our first holiday away from family and to embrace our new setting and freedom, on Christmas Eve we made the most epic pan of oven nachos (think tons of gooey cheese, homemade salsa and an embarrassing amount of sour cream). We loved it so much and the tradition has stuck. It’s nice to have something casual tucked in with the formal celebrations of the season.

    • Cari says...

      I’m in Southern California also, and every Christmas morning we make a huge pan of chili verde nachos. It’s the perfect Christmas breakfast- not too fussy, everyone can serve themselves, but also delicious and a bit special. It’s my favorite part of the holiday.

  33. Valentina says...

    Italians do a “feast of seven fishes” on Christmas Eve, so every year my mom’s side of the family (all Italian immigrants by way of Scotland!) gets together and has calamari, a mixed seasfood risotto (as kids we called it “pink rice”), mussels, and more.

    To honor their time living in Scotland, my mom’s side of the family also gets together on New Year’s Day to eat meat pies and sausage rolls and celebrate the year to come!

    My extended family is really good about getting together frequently throughout the year, but it’s really fun to have these couple of traditions that ground us at the end of each year.

  34. I hope you get your undies! I love that you got him a helicopter. :)

    As traditions go, we started a new one this year: we have a Christmas basket of seasonal books we put together and keep out for our daughter so we maximize reading time with special reads. We do little Seattle city things like light looking, going to see the big Christmas tree downtown, and scoping out the reindeer at a local nursery! We always make a Mexican food style meal together on Christmas. I’d love to incorporate some more global traditions into our mix!

    I have some gift guides on my blog too! Merry weekend, everyone! http://www.thewefiles.com

  35. Fanny says...

    On Christmas Eve we have a crab feed at my parents house – with newspapers laid out on the table – we make buttery garlic bread and homemade tartar sauce to go with it. Then on Christmas day we make BLTs, coffee and mimosas to enjoy while we open presents.

  36. Courtney says...

    That last quote on kids playing independently – yes! My daughter doesn’t need me to sit and play WITH her. In fact, even when I try she often ends up in her own world in 30 seconds flat anyway. I can fold laundry, tidy, work on the computer standing up, but the second I sit down to take a break and tune out? Oh no. She will have none of that! So funny how kids’ minds work.

  37. Every year on Christmas Eve, my parents, husband and I get in our pyjamas, dish out big bowls of candy cane ice cream and watch ‘A Christmas Story’ :) It’s one of my favourite traditions!

    Enjoy your weekend!
    Vivian

  38. Alice says...

    Christmas traditions: cold fizz with smoked salmon, lemon, capers, and cracked black pepper on oatcakes sometime between breakfast and lunch. I remember seeing my parents eat and drink this when we were little, and now I do with it them as we watch the latest little ones galavant. It’s more of a Christmas taste than any other, to me.

    One that I didn’t do as a child, but my mum began with my children, is making an advent calendar with activities in. She made hers from felt, with 24 decorated pockets, and she hand writes a Christmas ‘task’ for each day. It could put lights on the tree, or make a decoration, or make a card and send it to someone. My 3 year old loves it so much, and my sisters have adopted it for my older nephews too. It adds to the fun and surprise of the season while taking away from the consumerism.

    Can’t wait to see what you post!

  39. Anna Rose Jones says...

    For years and years now, my siblings (I have 7) and I would sleep next to our Christmas tree, which is usually out in the living room where we have couches, and lots of floor space (room enough for 8 grown adults nowadays!). We wake up early and open our overflowing stockings that my Mom set out when the lights turned off the night before, and we sit around in our sleeping bags and under blankets all together (parents included). Then cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and seriously a lot of presents, and lazy-ing around all day with whichever boyfriends/girlfriends/friends come over. No complaining here.

  40. Emily says...

    When my sisters and I were little, we would lay down by the fire place and listen to the Polar Express read by William Hurt on a cassette tape. The whole house was still, except for the crackling fire, and it was the perfect way to end the night and go to sleep. Over the years, my parents separated, and us girls moved around. This year, two out of the three sisters got married, and we are all going home again to Texas with our husbands and new family. I love how stories can feel like home, and there is something about the narrator’s voice that takes me back all those years. I found the old recording here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SShqlK4K5y4
    Cannot wait to surprise my sisters with it on Christmas Eve.

  41. katherine says...

    Tequila shots and margaritas on Christmas Eve! My stepmom started tradition started a few years ago, and something about tequila on Christmas feels very grown up and irresponsible at the same time. We live in Texas, so while it’s not super cold during the holidays, the tequila certainly does warm you up. This year we’ll clink our glasses in honor of my dad: he has Stage 4 cancer, but we found out two days ago that both his tumors have shrunk and are now about half their original size. I’ll drink to that! Cheers y’all, and happy holidays to my favorite blog and all her readers.

    • Cheers to you and your fam!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s wonderful, katherine! definitely something to celebrate!!! :)

  42. Joanna says...

    Okay, first the bra thing. I wash mine after about 3 wears (or sooner in the hot sweaty summer) – I just throw them in the wash in those special circular bra bags. If you have fancy bras that require hand washing, wear it in the shower, soap it up, rinse it off and hang to dry! Ta da! Hardly an extra chore.
    My husband is Jewish and I’m Christian so we celebrate both. Our fun tradition is playing a game every night during Hanukkah and whoever wins the most games gets to sign and date a Christmas ornament. Sadly my husband wins almost every year… With small kids who aren’t old enough for games yet we don’t always get in all 8 but the point is it forces us to slow down and turn off Netflix and reconnect.

  43. Erikka G says...

    My husband works for our local ski school here at Sun Valley, so every Christmas eve we take the kids to watch him and all the other ski school employees ski down the mountain in a line carrying huge torches of fire. Its pretty beautiful and our three boys love it. Its a big party atmosphere with lots of kids and families, and afterwards there are fireworks. Christmas eve is pretty exciting for us.

  44. MissEm says...

    I thought for a minute that the panties were YOUR gift for Alex and I was like, cheeky!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha they SHOULD be! I always laugh about how lingerie is a gift for a woman from her partner, but really who will love the gift most? :)

  45. Dana says...

    My favorite family tradition is Chinese food on Christmas eve! Legend has it that one year when my siblings and I (4 of us in total) were really young my mom was overwhelmed with all the cooking/wrapping/decorating in the lead up to Christmas and was basically like EFF IT we are getting takeout. And the only thing open in the midwest in the early 80s was Chinese! So now we go to church and then either have dinner at our favorite Chinese place or get takeout (since now there are lots of young grandkids in the picture too :) It’s fun and different and a nice break from cooking for everyone!

  46. Natasha says...

    I love the comment from Meg about the Waldorf philosophy. Our son is at a Waldorf school here in Nairobi and often the teachers will be knitting (no kidding) while the kids are playing. My friends who also have their kids at the school and I joke about it, like, “workin’ hard, or hardly workin??'” but now I totally get it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is awesome!!

  47. Maywyn says...

    “Women Who Draw” Thank you for that fantastic of fantastic link
    “The hater’s guide:” to William-Sonoma catalog makes me want to be a clever writer; and, place fake antlers on my table. Its real deer feet door handles that gross me out bad.

    My small single parent back in the day family created the tradition: No arguing during the holiday season December to after New Year’s Day.
    A squabble starts…somebody says…oh, we can’t do that or you can’t do that until January. And that’s usually the end of that. :)

  48. Benita says...

    Hi! I’m planning a NYC visit that starts the day after this awesome sounding production ends:( Can you share any other shows you’d love to see that are playing in mid-January at intimate theaters like the Lynn Redgrave theater?

  49. Anna says...

    I am loving everyone’s comments and traditions. It’s so interesting what an important role food plays in traditions.
    As a mother of three I’ve continued many of the traditions I grew up with as well as adding more. On Christmas Eve my kids and I bake a birthday cake for Jesus from scratch (frosting and all). That night we go to church and then come home and eat a seafood feast. Usually crab with lots of butter, crusty bread and salad. Followed by cake, new pjs, and a new family puzzle (to be done the next day). Christmas morning we linger over gifts opening them one at a time. My mom always gets everyone in the family a new Christmas ornament for the tree. We break for breakfast and mimosas after stockings, and my husband reads the story of Christ’s birth while we eat. It’s a long slow morning and I cherish it.

    • Laura C. says...

      The birthday cake for Jesusnis the SWEETEST thing I’ve heard. Thank you Anna!

  50. Veronica says...

    My mother’s family is Czech, and it is a Czech tradition to serve fish on Christmas Eve. For our family, this means fried fish, along with a special mushroom soup with homemade egg noodles. We also get Christmas gifts from Jesicek (the infant Jesus). Growing up , it always felt special to get presents from someone other than Santa.

    Some families celebrate the feast day of St. Nicholas on December 6th with presents in their shoes, but growing up we always got candy in our shoes on Ephiphany from the three kings. This year, I got chocolate gold coins and frankincense and myrrh soap for my husband’s shoe.

  51. Elle says...

    We live by the mountains, so on Christmas Eve we go to a smaller canyon nearby and hike up in the snow with my nieces and nephews and all our dogs. We carry a bunch of sleds up and when we are about a mile up we hop on and sled down. Growing up my grandparents always had such formal Christmas Eve parties, so when I married my husband I loved this new tradition. There is something so lovely about being outside in the cold and then all coming back home for a hot meal and Christmas Eve festivities.

  52. Ashley Sawyer says...

    I grew up in foster care, and thus haven’t had a lot of family traditions to rely upon throughout my life. Never is that more clear during the holiday season, which in all honesty ranged from lonely to outright abusive during my childhood. By the time I hit my late teens, I am grateful I became a ward of the court because while the holidays weren’t perfect at that point, they did at least become stable. However, during my sophomore year of college, my best from high school and I randomly spent Christmas Eve together. What started out as an accidental evening spent eating snacks and exchanging a few haphazard gifts has now grown to become an all out event that we both treasure. At thirty two years old, we’ve spent the last thirteen Christmas Eves together. Often new and old friends pop in and out every year or so. I make a big to do about cooking a fancy dinner. It’s cozy; with a big tree, with decorations accumulated over the years, and lots hugs. We’ve endured long-terms boyfriends, failed recipes as amateur cooks, the ending of relationships, graduate school, and pets – it’s what I suspect many people experience with their brothers and sisters. Look, I live a great life now and I am so lucky, in spite of my beginnings, to live the life I live – more lucky than many people on this planet. And yet, creating this tradition with my best friend taught me at a very young age that family and love is truly what you make of it, and isn’t that what the holidays are all about? More importantly, creating your own traditions with the people you choose gives you the power to redefine who you are – in my case, you are worthy of love.

    • Alex says...

      Ashley – your comment resonated so deeply with me. While I didn’t grow up in foster care, my childhood was severely abusive with the holiday season often magnifying my destructive home life. Since becoming an adult though, I have sought out all the joy, love, and Christmas cheer I can and sharing it with friends along the way. You are right, family is truly what you make of it – and how fortunate are we that we have friends to call family? I wish you all the best this holiday season and thank you for reminding me that we are worthy of love.

    • Lindsey says...

      I love this. Merry Christmas to you and your friend!

    • Lauren E. says...

      Wow, this is really beautiful. This really is what the holidays are all about. Merry Christmas.

    • Laura says...

      This is so beautiful.

    • Ashley Sawyer says...

      Awe, thank you so much. Your sweet comments really touched my heart. Merry Christmas! xoxo

  53. Samantha says...

    Every year on Christmas Eve my mothers side of the family comes over to celebrate my Grandfather’s birthday (which is xmas eve!) After everyone leaves, my parents and I open our stockings.
    My dad has given me a teddy bear every year for Christmas since I was born, so on Christmas morning the first thing I look for when I go downstairs is the bear (he never wraps it).
    My mom recently told me that he never takes her with him when he goes shopping for the teddy bear- which really makes it even more special to me.

  54. carlyn greer says...

    Love reading these comments!

    Every Christmas Eve, since I can remember, my parents have family and friends over for a nice dinner (and treats and drinks…). After dinner my Poppie (it used to be a Great Grandmother!) sits down at the piano and we gather around with silly Christmas hats to sing carols.

    Its been such a long standing tradition that we even have songs books for everyone to follow along and sing from! We go through the whole book of Christmas carols then my Poppie starts playing classics (like Jeremiah was a bullfrog, Johnny Cash etc…).

    I love it so much and have such fond memories of Christmas Eve. One year my Poppie left for a bit and came back dressed as Santa!

    I am 25 now and always remember doing this!

  55. Cynthia says...

    On Christmas Eve, our family goes to the 4:30 p.m. service at our church, then we ride around and look at the lights. Then, when we return home, we have our cocktails, then smoked salmon, bagels from Panera, and cream cheese for dinner. My husband smokes the salmon himself. On Christmas Day, we always have a sparkling wine and a roast beef tenderloin. The sides are always baked mashed potatoes, peas with onions, tossed salad and my homemade rolls. Our church makes and sells plum pudding, so that is our dessert. Our presents are often not surprises, as this year my husband needed a new winter jacket, so I ordered one for him.

  56. Sharon says...

    That article on Obama was the best one I have read in a long time.. thank you for sharing. I love your weekend posts!

  57. Emily says...

    I’ve heard that it’s traditional here (in Dallas, Texas — where we just moved a few months ago) to have tamales on Christmas Eve. Having just discovered the incredible deliciousness of tamales, I’m SUPER excited to jump into this local tradition.

  58. Jules says...

    I love that my family – with kids now 23 (me) and 26 – keeps up the tradition of a “dramatic reading” of that old poem, The Night Before Christmas, every Christmas Eve. It’s complete with illustrated board book that outdates both of us.

    Also, mimosas on Christmas morning :)

  59. Kate says...

    I saw Chris Gethard’a show at Edinburgh fringe this year. I found it to be sad, but so honest and uplifting when discussing such important issues. I hope you like it too!

  60. bridget says...

    on christmas eve, my family (3 girls, 1 brother, 1 gentle giant dad and 1 saucy mum) has always made my french grandma’s crab sandwiches. lots of fresh lump crab meat, mixed with sautéed mushrooms, bacon, onions & three different cheeses. spread on an open sliced baguette and topped w paprika, baked until they are melty and crispy, then served with champagne. it is still my *favorite* holiday tradition and beyond delicious.

  61. Liane says...

    Ok. We need to talk about that bra washing article.
    I mean. FOUR MONTHS?! It is a special occasion bra that was only worn 3 times? Because that is the only acceptable reason for that length of time.
    If you’re wearing it every day, every second day, every third day… WASH THE BRA.

    I never realized I had such strong feelings about bras and how often they should be laundered. Who knew?!

  62. Lydia Harrison says...

    every christmas eve my husband and i and our three kids go to christmas eve service. after we come home and fix something simple for the kids to eat for dinner and then my husband puts them to bed. early! while he’s doing that i run out and get us chinese. we eat, enjoying the quiet and then while we watch a christmas movie, we wrap all their presents. sometimes we have so many we stay up till 2 or 3. i look forward to it every year.

  63. I lived at the Webster years ago while I interned at a publishing house right after college. It really was a fascinating place, and unlike anywhere else I have ever lived. The location was great. At that time, there were many young women, but also some much older women who had lived there for years and years.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow, that’s so cool, tara!

  64. Colleen S says...

    I usually intermittently watch the “A Christmas Story” marathon on TV and drink apple cider. I also like staring at Christmas lights.

  65. Jessie says...

    I LOVE our Christmas Eve tradition. For the past 12 years since before we were married we have been doing “The Table Top Grill” with my husbands sister and her boyfriend (Now husband). We get filet, tuna, sliced potatoes, veggies and marinate it Stubbs. We drink while we grill and just have a fun time. I then make individual molten lava cakes for dessert. Now that we have kids (5 between us) we’ve had to buy another one as they participate. My husband then ends the night with reading them The Night Before Christmas.

  66. Sara says...

    When my parents first started dating, my dad told my mom he was going to cook his homemade pizza for her for dinner one night. She was expecting completely from-scratch pizza, but she found out that his version of homemade is the Chef Boyardee pizza kit, complete with a tin can of tomato sauce and powdered Parmesan cheese :) so every Christmas eve, my dad makes his “famous” pizza and we all top our own. Growing up, this little tradition gave my siblings and me a very small glimpse into my mom and dad’s lives as boyfriend/girlfriend before we came along. I love knowing cute stories about them as a young couple that turned into our family traditions that have lasted 20+ years.

  67. Oh man, Christmas traditions…my family has been eating tamales every Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember. My great aunt and grandmother were from Mexico and always cooked big elaborate Mexican feasts for holidays, so we honor them with Christmas Eve tamales. My husband and I have continued the tradition in our home, and I hope our daughter finds herself writing about this same tradition on a blog post of the future. :)

  68. Hilary says...

    That WS hater’s guide was the cherry on my week.

  69. Christine says...

    After my mom was wheelchair bound from MS, we couldn’t go to our relative’s house for Christmas Eve anymore. Since it was just the four of us, we made a new tradition of going to a movie and eating deep dish pizza (because it’s red, of course!).

  70. Stephanie says...

    So jealous that you’re seeing Chris’s show! His podcast, “Beautiful Anonymous,” is lovely and engrossing. Highly recommend!

  71. My absolute favorite is that on Christmas I give myself a day off from everything–work, running, and all parental responsibility. :-) We make a huge deal out of Christmas Eve and I spend most of the day cooking. On Christmas Day we stay in our pajamas all day, everyone has been gifted a box of their favorite cereal (the ones we only buy on Christmas because they’re too junky for normal consumption!), and then we just play with all the new stuff and I take a total mental break from worrying about meals, homework, music practice, naptime, etc. and let everyone do whatever they want all day and eat cereal or leftovers from the previous day’s kitchen extravaganza. Last year my husband and I spent six hours working on a 1000 piece puzzle and the kids sort of trickled in and out helping with the puzzle/playing with toys/reading new books. I went into the kitchen at one point and found my 4 & 2-year-olds sitting on the table, clad only in their underwear, and eating Jell-o salad with their hands…and just said, “Carry on, my dears,” and walked back out again. I am usually the most Type A and helicopter-y of mothers, so it’s a fun break for everyone involved. :-)

    • Amanda says...

      This is perfect 😊 I’m adopting some of your traditions for my little family.

  72. Kiley says...

    The Williams Sonoma for haters catalog is hilarious!

    In the times I haven’t been able to go home I have Christmas Eve dinner with a friend’s family, and after dinner we dance to the 1970s jukebox in their basement rec room. It’s so much fun and makes me want a jukebox!

  73. On Christmas Eve my parents host a cocktail party with their dearest friends (who are like our second family). Post party, some go to church, some don’t, and we cap off the evening with fondue with my immediate family. It’s been just me and my parents some years (and other years my siblings have joined) but I think regardless who takes part, fondue will forever need to play a role in my Christmas Eve.

  74. Jen! says...

    I think all of your boys are going to love the gift you got Alex! But… he can use it to deliver love messages to you, or sweet dream messages to the boys. So many possibilities. I think I might want one too…

  75. mosey says...

    Enjoy! My husband just went and saw that show and liked it very much. Although it was like the day after the awful election results so it was all a bit crazy.

    Xmas eve rituals have changed now that my sister and I have kids. So here’s the new-ish one: my sister’s family in Florida usually invites us all over for a bonfire. (Even if it’s 75 degrees outside! Which it probably will be this year.) We toast marshmallows, make s’mores, and her husband sends some good tunes out to the back yard speakers. Then all the kids (hers and my son) put their brand new matching xmas pajamas on that our mum buys weeks ahead of time, and we take a photo of them all wearing them just before bedtime.

  76. Erin G says...

    Our Christmas morning tradition, which has been been passed down from when my mom was a child, is waffles and ice cream for breakfast. We simply toast frozen waffles from a box (they are crispier and sturdier than homemade) and put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in between to make sandwiches. It’s surprisingly delicious, quick and easy to make and my boys LOVE it. Weird, but I’m pretty certain my boys will continue the tradition with their kids.

  77. rebecca says...

    Thanks for a great line-up of links! Some things change on Christmas Eve but my family has one constant: pigs in a blanket! My sisters and I are in or close to our 30’s and still keep the tradition going.

  78. Sara says...

    My weird Jewish family makes Christmas Eve meatballs from my grandmother’s recipe. :D

  79. I know the play is supposed to be a comedy, but as someone who has lost loved ones to suicide, I’m finding it pretty offensive…

    • susant says...

      I am so sorry for your losses… I saw the play recently, and I cried several times during it (its a dark comedy, for sure) — I think it conveys a very strong message of compassion for the pain, fear, and isolation that severely depressed people struggle with. I hope that hearing someone who is famous (for making people laugh) open up about his deep low points, will bring attention to the cause and encourage people to seek help.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      melissa, i’m so sorry to hear that. i have lost loved ones to suicide as well, and it is devastating. thank you for sharing.

      about this play, i am glad to say: chris gethard is very very honest and brave telling his own story of depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies. it’s an incredible, very moving and important play. he has funny moments throughout (about his life, work, dating, offbeat therapists, etc.) but the serious moments are handled with grace and vulnerability and love.

      on his website, he says:
      “People have expressed to me that making comedy about depression is insensitive. I vehemently disagree. We need to start laughing about this stuff, so maybe we can finally be comfortable talking about it afterwards. I just try to make sure my jokes come from an honest place, and unfortunately for me being honest means copping to the fact that I once crashed a car on purpose.”

      and judd apatow, who is involved with the show, says:
      “Sometimes comedy allows us to deal with stuff that we aren’t quite ready to deal with. And depression is something that people still don’t like to talk about it. Luckily, Chris is a hilarious storyteller and is willing to talk about all of it.”

  80. Jen says...

    I am so thrown by the bra article! I was all ready to find out that I’m a filthy slob who should wash my bras more often, and the opposite is true! Four months?? Compared to the Elle women, I’m basically the patron saint of laundry. I feel so oblivious! What other secret norms have I been unaware of?

    • Alice says...

      So with you, I suddenly feel like a grown up!

    • Yep! I just put my bra in the wash after 2 weeks and I felt like such a slob until I read that article :)

    • Madie says...

      Agree! I wash mine after a few-to-several consecutive days of wearing (less in hot/sweaty weather). I found that article super strange!

  81. Four years ago my husband and I started getting Popeyes for our Christmas Eve dinner with extra chicken. Then, for Christmas morning breakfast, we make crepes and roll up the left-over chicken (a play on chicken and waffles). It’s delicious and something we always look forward to. We never even go to Popeyes through the year, just on Christmas Eve! haha!

  82. On Christmas Eve we always go out for Chinese. My husband initially thought it was so weird, but now 9 years and 1 kid later he’s the one who insists on it when bedtime keeps us from joining the extended family. Traditional brunches and dinners follow on Christmas Day, but our Chinese dinner is something extra special.

  83. Lindsay says...

    On Christmas day, I make the same meal my grandma did all growing up, I love how my home smells the same as hers did each year… And it’s delicious…Prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, twice baked potatoes, cauliflower au gratin, orange rolls, walnut torte with raspberries…. We don’t live by family and for a few years now, we go get sushi on Xmas Eve, we’ve enjoyed it! The nutcracker, it’s a wonderful life, Russian tea cakes, anise cookies and much more I could list! My family had eggs Benedict every Christmas morning but we’ve been doing bananas foster French toast with bacon and fresh squeezed orange juice.

  84. Every year our family has Christmas Eve lunch at Gus’s Fried Chicken in downtown Memphis. It’s the best fried chicken in the world [I swear I’m not biased], and we love kicking off our holiday with a delicious Memphis meal.

    • Lindsey says...

      It is THE best!

  85. Brittany says...

    The Williams-Sonoma Hater’s guide is always my favorite.

  86. Laura says...

    Oh man you nailed it with the helicopter. I remember seeing that in a past husband’s gift guide and thinking that seems kind of goofy for a grown man…well lo and behold that Christmas day my boyfriend’s friend came over with a toy helicopter and I watched them fly it around the house… pretty adorable.

  87. Sus says...

    We always have cheese fondue and a HUGE salad for dinner on Christmas Eve. Also! Apparently there’s a legend that all animals can talk at midnight on Christmas Eve. I’ve actually never looked this up, so no idea if this extends beyond our family. Anyway, my Dad always “stays” up and then reports back to us the next morning on what he talked about with his horses and the dog. It typically relates to some incident earlier in the year and is always humorous. :)

    • Sharon in Scotland says...

      Hello, this legend is well established in Europe. I’m in my fifties and every Christmas Eve I look to the skies just in case I might see Father Christmas and hear the bells. If I was around farm animals I would go out and listen at midnight………………just in case

  88. Love the collab calendar–its beautiful! I may copy your Alex gift for my husband. Though today while at Starbucks I was intrigued by a handsome rugged man who was knitting right in front of me. It was fascinating to watch! Its rare right?! I told him I thought it was awesome, and he said “I’m a software engineer, so I have to keep myself busy.” Knitting kit as a gift?! I don’t know if my husband would be into it, but who knows!

    Also, I can’t wait to watch Manchester by the Sea this weekend. Luna & Daddy have a date, & I have a date with my girlfriend to go to a fancy theater that serves food & drinks.

    Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

    xo Lendy
    http://www.twoplusluna.com

  89. Lauren says...

    I just want to say that this is your best roundup I’ve ever seen. The bra article is hilarious, the photos of the year are sobering, and just when you become overwhelmed by the degree to which 2016 has gone to absolute #&$^%, you can indulge in the Williams-Sonoma shame-a-thon which is fantastically satisfying. Happy Holidays, Cup of Jo!

  90. I love to take a Christmas Even morning walk in the woods with my dad and our two dogs. It’s great to start the day with some fresh air, light exercise and quality father/daughter time. Seeing the dogs run around and getting them tuckered out for the festivities later is just an added bonus :)

  91. Jess says...

    Oh thank god- the bra piece makes me feel so much better about myself. I’m not the only one that waits way too long and finds it irrationally painful to set aside bra hand washing time in life.
    And the Williams Sonoma article is hilarious.

  92. The week before Christmas my mom spends baking and cooking and preparing (we have a huge Italian feast on Christmas with our extended family and it’s the greatest thing ever) so on Christmas Eve, when she’d finally finish her preparations (with our help!), we would go out to dinner as a family, just my parents and my sisters and me, so she could have a little break. When I was little it felt super special because we never went out to dinner — we didn’t have a ton of money — and even now that we’re all grown up and can certainly afford it, it’s special just because we’re all together. I still don’t know what’s better: Christmas Day with all my cousins, or Christmas Eve with just my family.

    (For the curious familiar with Italian traditions: we don’t do the Italian fishes on Christmas Eve because none of us likes fish :)

  93. Lindsay says...

    We had several holiday traditions when I was growing up, but since my siblings and I all have children of our own now, many of those traditions have changed. One of my favorite traditions formed by happenstance a few years back. Since we do a big, fancy dinner on Christmas when we’re all in town, it has become tradition to pick up burgers and fries from In n Out on Christmas Eve to make it easier on everyone . It’s simple, makes for quick clean up , and all of the kids (and grown ups!) love it!

  94. Janine says...

    French toast on Christmas morning! My grandmother would make her own version of French toast from loaves of Italian bread and entirely too much sugar. I’ve never had French toast quite like it, but it’s the definitive version for me. It was a special treat she reserved just for Christmas mornings, just as good as opening the presents.

  95. rach says...

    Are we talking everyday bras? If so, this article disgusted me… I wash my bra weekly! I’m utterly shocked there are women out there who never wash their bras. This is a whole new world I’m being introduced to! why wouldn’t you wash a bra?

    • stacy says...

      insert lots of shame here. I have never.. and i mean NEVER washed a bra.

  96. My family has many traditions but my favorite happens on the day after Christmas. We make french dip sandwiches from the leftover Prime Rib, start a puzzle, and stay home all day. It helps to ease the transition between the holiday season and…winter. Putting away the greenery, decorations, and music can actually be really sad when you all the magic is gone and winter isn’t even half way over (SOS!!!). It really helps to have something special to look forward to after the holiday has passed, to keep the celebration going.

  97. SG says...

    I don’t think your Sezane purse is going to fit in your holiday budget! ; )

  98. Jillian says...

    “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” – Gustav Mahler. I love this quote because it reminds me that we don’t love and continue traditions simply because it’s something we’ve always done, but because a family is something very much alive that, though its love is constant, needs tending to, like a fire.

    My favorite Christmas tradition that my sister and I will carry on to our own homes one day is that every year for the last 15+ years, my dad cooks French-dipped roast beef sandwiches on somehow both fluffy and crunchy toasted French bread for dinner when we get home from Christmas Eve church. We eat them with kettle chips in the living room while watching It’s a Wonderful Life, followed by a glass of champagne with only the Christmas tree lights on. Before the chaos of Christmas morning, it’s a calm, pure reminder of all the things I love most about Christmas: being together, twinkly lights in the darkness, the magic exhilaration and celebration of champagne (and how pretty the champagne bubbles look all backlit!), the joy of a simple meal in a simple setting, and the lesson from my favorite Christmas movie– “no man is a failure who has friends.”

  99. L says...

    What!? NOT washing your bras is a thing?? I wash mine every 3 days and though that was maybe not often enough…!

  100. Jona says...

    Reading that Ta-Nehisi Coates article from the Atlantic broke my heart.

  101. K says...

    Every year on Christmas Eve, our family gets matching two-piece pajama sets to wear. It started off with just the ladies, but has evolved to include Dad too! We get really into it and take turns buying each year. It’s always a fun surprise to see what that person has chosen :)

  102. Sarah Beth says...

    We’re Jewish, so we don’t have a christmas tradition per se, but we do normally do the movie-and-chinese-food on christmas day thing. But we live in a really, really jewish area, so the Chinese restaurants are insane and not worth it. Last year, with a month old baby, we decided to try the only other open restaurant in town– a lovely Indian place. The food was delicious, there was zero wait, and it was the start of our own little new family tradition! I’m already looking forward to this year’s christmas day samosas and muttar paneer.

  103. Alyssa says...

    Since I was 5 my parents have taken my brother and me to see A Christmas Carol at the Goodman Theater in Chicago. Growing up, we lived in the suburbs, so it was a treat to get to go downtown and have dinner at “fancy” restaurant before the show. Now we all live in the city, so it less of a trek, but still just as fun (even though this year will be my 22nd viewing). It is such a great play and really helps get me in the “Christmas spirit” each year.

  104. As a Montessori teacher, I fully second the fact that being on your phone does not free up your child to play, but engaging in tasks with your hands is primo! Great tip to share. :)

  105. Brianna says...

    That boarding/rooming house is so interesting.

  106. Ok, am I the only one who thinks that article about the bras is weird? Like, I wash my bras every couple of days, they’re underwear! And I just chuck them in with the rest of my clothes… And Xmas traditions! On Christmas Eve we watch the 1999 adaption of A Christmas Carol with Patrick Stewart. In the morning, I always wake up early and go downstairs to switch the tree lights on before it gets fully light. Christmas is a difficult time for my family for several reasons, but standing in the living room in the dark with the tree glowing is probably the only moment of the day that feels just the same as it did when I was five years old.

  107. Carolyn says...

    My family has had the same Christmas Eve tradition for as long as I can remember. My parents, older brother and I lived far away from our extended family when my brother and I were little, so my parents took advantage of the situation by giving us a super casual Christmas. Christmas Eve means an easy night at home with a feast of appetizers, we call it our “snack supper”. We cover the dining room table with pigs in a blanket, a massive cheese board, egg rolls, crudite and dip, mini quiche and any delicious frozen appetizer that strikes our fancy from Trader Joe’s. We get in our pajamas, watch Christmas movies (for years it was the Santa Clause until my brother insisted that as we were in our twenties, we might consider a new option) and we snack on our feast throughout the night. We finish the night with peppermint ice cream and open one gift each. My parents now live within 15 minutes of our entire family, but we still do our easy, laid-back Christmas Eve and refuse to entertain any other options. It’s the best part of our holiday and I can’t wait to continue the tradition with my own kiddos someday. I have a lot of friends who receive pajamas as a Christmas Eve gift, which would be the perfect addition to our tradition.

  108. Clare says...

    Every Christmas Eve my dad makes chocolate milkshakes (its the only thing he can “cook”) for the two of us, which we drink while we watch Love Actually. I only have one milkshake a year and nothing makes me happier than sipping it while he “rocks out to the awesome tunes” in Love Actually.