4 holiday memories that remind us what the season is really all about.
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General Mills

Do you have a favorite holiday memory?

For me, one in particular stands out. I was about 15, and it was another hot, island Christmas (I grew up in the Virgin Islands, so Christmas was always over 80 degrees, and every day looked like a postcard). My mom, sister, a chunk of my family, and I went over to my gran’s house to spend time with her and with each other, ushering in the season.

Gran had made her famous homemade eggnog (for which she refused to give away the recipe). The entire family crowded into the kitchen for our serving before moving to the patio, where we watched the sun go down while drinking eggnog, arguing about music, and debating the merits of Mariah Carey.


That memory is what the holidays mean to me. Everyone being together, laughing, and celebrating the season and that we’d almost made it through another year.

The gazebo in downtown Frederiksted, St. Croix, all decked out for the holidays. Image via iStock.  

The holidays mean something a little bit different to each of us, but in the kitchen and around the dinner table, we make some of our favorite memories.

General Mills has been around for 150 years and knows a thing or two about food and the holidays. They asked a few of their blogger fans to share their favorite holiday traditions, and one thing was pretty clear: Food and family are key ingredients for many of us during the holiday season. Their sweet memories — which many of us can relate to — will give you all the holiday feels.

1. Like cookie-decorating extravaganzas that each generation of kids loves.

The great cookie decorating tradition continues with Liz's kids. Image used with permission.

Liz, author of the blog Eat Move Make, remembers she and her siblings helped their mom to decorate holiday treats.

"My mom would bake cut-out cookies, and we'd decorate them. ... We took our little works of art seriously! It was so fun to find the ones we knew we had made. I distinctly remember the crunch of the colored sugars as I'd take a bite," she wrote on her blog.

"I still use the same recipe and decorating technique with my own kids since it's such a fond memory, and my kids insist to this day that those cookies be a part of their tradition every year as well."

2. And then there's the playful squabbles that take place every holiday between the same two family members.

Myrah (also know as the "Coupon Mamacita") recalls her parents' playful bickering each year as her dad attempted to carve the turkey.

Myrah and her parents in front of the Christmas tree. Image used with permission.

Myrah's dad would give carving his best effort, and her mom would poke and prod at him, pretending to be upset with his efforts. She'd tell him, "You’re ruining it!" while he asserted "It’s fine. Let me do it, " Myrah recalls on her blog. "All the hand waving that went with it was so comforting and warming to me. It was a tradition that made me smile as I watched them have their annual 'war.'"

3. Baking for Santa is a tradition that can never grow old.

Stephanie, who blogs as The Tiptoe Fairy, cherishes the moments spent with her kids baking pastries for Santa and family friends.

It's all hands on deck as Stephanie and her kids bake holiday treats. Images used with permission.

"Our favorite holiday tradition is baking together," she shares on her blog. "My  kids love helping me bake. Every year, we make tons of baked goodies for their teachers, friends, and my husband’s coworkers. We also always bake something yummy for Santa to enjoy while he’s leaving gifts. Each year I come up with something new. This year it’s Brownie Stuffed Crescent Rolls. One of these fresh out of the oven is just melt-in-your-mouth heavenly.”

4. And there's nothing like savoring a treat while the family gathers around the Christmas tree.

For Heather, author of the blog Who Needs a Cape, nothing compares to her family's picture-perfect Christmas mornings in front of the tree.

Heather's delicious apple crescent ring, a Christmas morning favorite in her family. Image used with permission.

"As cliche as it is ... Christmas morning is always just my husband, me and our kids (ok the dog is there this year too)," Heather writes. "I LOVE just spending the majority of our day in our jammies. Kids ripping through presents, my husband and I with coffee watching ... we open our gifts after the kids are off playing with whatever new thing is the best. I make something EASY but super yummy [like her apple crescent ring]. It's easy and delish and everyone in my family loves a fancy treat for Christmas Morning!"

What's your favorite holiday tradition?

Whether it's time spent relaxing with your family, stealing food off each other's dinner plates during a shared meal, or swapping stories from the past year and hopes and dreams for the year to come, we wish you a wonderful holiday.

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When Molly Reeser was a student at Michigan State University, she took a job mucking horse stalls to help pay for classes. While she was there, she met a 10-year-old girl named Casey, who was being treated for cancer, and — because both were animal lovers — they became fast friends.

Two years later, Casey died of cancer.

"Everyone at the barn wanted to do something to honor her memory," Molly remembers. A lot of suggestions were thrown out, but Molly knew that there was a bigger, more enduring way to do it.

"I saw firsthand how horses helped Casey and her family escape from the difficult and terrifying times they were enduring. I knew that there must be other families who could benefit from horses in the way she and her family had."

Molly approached the barn owners and asked if they would be open to letting her hold a one-day event. She wanted to bring pediatric cancer patients to the farm, where they could enjoy the horses and peaceful setting. They agreed, and with the help of her closest friends and the "emergency" credit card her parents had given her, Molly created her first Camp Casey. She worked with the local hospital where Casey had been a patient and invited 20 patients, their siblings and their parents.

The event was a huge success — and it was originally meant to be just that: a one-day thing. But, Molly says, "I believe Casey had other plans."

One week after the event, Molly received a letter from a five-year-old boy who had brain cancer. He had been at Camp Casey and said it was "the best day of his life."

"[After that], I knew that we had to pull it off again," Molly says. And they did. Every month for the next few years, they threw a Camp Casey. And when Molly graduated, she did the most terrifying thing she had ever done and told her parents that she would be waitressing for a year to see if it might be possible to turn Camp Casey into an actual nonprofit organization. That year of waitressing turned into six, but in the end she was able to pull it off: by 2010, Camp Casey became a non-profit with a paid staff.

"I am grateful for all the ways I've experienced good luck in my life and, therefore, I believe I have a responsibility to give back. It brings me tremendous joy to see people, animals, or things coming together to create goodness in a world that can often be filled with hardships."

Camp Casey serves 1500 children under the age of 18 each year in Michigan. "The organization looks different than when it started," Molly says. "We now operate four cost-free programs that bring accessible horseback riding and recreational services to children with cancer, sickle cell disease, and other life-threatening illnesses."

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