Monday, December 31, 2012


     This Christmas season has given many moments to remember and many of them have been all about the traditions of this time of year. At the risk of creating a post too lengthy even for me I'll try and look back on the season concisely enough that 2013 doesn't arrive while I'm still writing!

    Our Christmas tree came right out of yard this year - really! Everyone always laughs when we've said that, but it's true. And no, it's not the top of the one that fell during Hurricane Sandy but another lovely Frazier Don had growing that fortunately didn't suffer any storm damage.

     Decorating the tree a weekend in December instead of the weekend of Thanksgiving broke with tradition, but it did give us a little less hectic time with Logan before he headed back to school and I'm thinking we might maintain that new schedule next year. Unless the decorating Nazis complain - we'll see!!

     If you have a dancer in your family or know a dancer, you probably know that Christmastime usually means the annual Nutcracker production. We've had that tradition in our family since our dancing daughter was 6 and because, for a variety of reasons there was no December show with our company this year, we had both some breathing room (lovely!) and some Nutcracker withdrawal (sigh). Katrina was asked by her choir director to create an accompanying ballet piece to one of their choral numbers and since I was on video cam, I have no still shots, but let me assure you, she was lovely and wonderful, atop satin pink pointe shoes in a snow blue and white tutu. The traditional Candlelight Concert brings our community to tears and bravos each year thanks to our choir director extraordinaire, Mr. Steve Mosser.

     Our annual Ritchie family Christmas party has been part of an earlier post this year and our gathering for 2012 did not disappoint. Aunts and uncles and cousins, food and folly and fun and some traditions that we maintain each year . . . 

      sharing of the Christmas socks . . .


singing of the Twelve Days of Christmas

from the Partridge in a Pear Tree

to 8 Maids a Milking

(yes, that's my 98 year old aunt

good naturedly being the cow!!) : )

          and my cousin Kathy, who used to lead the entire Dining Hall at camp in this song during Christmas Week, bringing in the 3 French hens on the left (my crowing Mom in the red standing) and the 4 Calling Birds on the right, who for some reason felt inclined to add stork like poses to the mafan! Yes, the season would not be the same without The Twelve Days of Christmas a la Ritchie party style!

     Christmas Eve is one of the few times of the year all 4 Shellenbergers can attend the same service, all together, in a row. I love it. Because we attend a large church with several services on Christmas Eve Eve and then on Christmas Eve, we both served and then attended the last service of the series.

        Logan donned the "Blizzard" mascot costume and greeted delighted children and adults alike (ok, he did make one child cry, but I think Mickey would have had the same effect!!) with a hug or a high 5 and a candy cane. He decided if this whole childrens/youth ministry thing doesn't work out, he'll head to Orlando . . .   : )


    The service was an amazing celebration with lights and music and fireworks and joy. It was not a traditional Silent Night Christmas Eve service, but our pastor reminded us that Jesus kind of turned the world upside down when He came and if we can celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and sporting events and everything else with great cheer and noise and excitement, then why not the greatest gift of all? So we did! Traditional, no. Wonderful - yes! And when we left church to head home, lo and behold, a light snow was falling. My favorite kind - just enough to create atmosphere, but not enough to make the roads dangerous or the walk needing a good shovel. It was so pretty and delighted even this I'm-really-not-a-winter-fan.

     Christmas morning's newer tradition since our kids are older and don't wake us at o'dark thirty let us all sleep in and then enjoy some overnight egg bake and sticky buns. That tradition we're happy to keep! Sharing presents and then dinner with my Mom and Dad (Don does the lion's share of the work taking care of the turkey, the stuffing and the mashed potatoes while I pick up all the other side dishes) made for a lovely day once again.

     And can I just say how much I've enjoyed having several days to do nothing? I mean, nothing other than sleeping in, reading, watching a marathon of Seasons 1 and 2 of Downton Abbey (which my friend Kristen highly recommended and now I know why!!) and eating leftovers. : ) No early morning rush, no afternoon rehearsals, no evening dance classes - just down time to catch our breath and relax. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh . . . a tradition I could cling to!!

      We did head out one evening as a family to see Les Miserables, the movie. Oh my!! If you haven't had the chance to see this amazing musical on the big screen, please try and make the time to do so. I'd seen the stage production several years ago and told anyone who ever mentioned it that I felt it was the one musical everyone should see - such an amazing story of redemption! Truly one of those 'this is a movie experience you really don't want to miss' films. Truly.

     And a post about traditions would not be complete without the mention of one of our annual traditions. Don and I had our first date going down to the city to one of the landmarks of Philly - the department store that throughout my childhood and much of my early adulthood was known as Wanamakers. Since then it has changed hands a few times and now is a Macy's . . .  but they have maintained a light show in the store that spans the height of several floors (the second to the seventh if I count correctly) in their majestic central atrium or foyer area.

    There used to be these really beautiful dancing fountains at the base of it all but unfortunately, they were not part of the restoration. Every year as a kid we would get on the train and go 'into town' to see the light show, the Colonial Christmas Village at Lits, sometimes have lunch with Santa and enjoy all the gorgeous decorations and hustle bustle that is the city at Christmas time. Now Macy's, no Wanamakers, is full of families bringing their children or their grandchildren for this traditional treat. Is it high tech? No. But it's still delightful and people arrive early to stake out their spot on the first floor below or one of the other floors directly across from the show.

      The store also has a whimsical display of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol that we walk through each year. This year we got there while everyone else was watching the 2 o'clock light show and had the little lanes almost to ourselves.


     A visit to the Reading Terminal Market is part of this day and we broke tradition by having something other than a cheese steak (gasp!!) but of course visited Termini's Bakery for cannolis. Yum!

    Our final stop for the last several years has been Mummer Fest in the Convention Center. All the Mummers groups are adding their final touches and rehearsals for this year's New Years Day parade - a huge Philly tradition - and the Fancy Brigades do a Sneak Peek of their shows on Dec. 30. We love wandering around 'backstage' (if you can call the huge area behind the performance area backstage) to see the creativity and tremendous work behind their sets. We indulged in some photo ops and enjoyed seeing all the clubs' rehearse their shows, without costumes.

      And now we're looking at the last tradition of 2012 . . . seeing if we can stay up until midnight to ring in the New Year! Only the first post of 2013 will reveal how successful we are. : )

      Happy New Year everyone!!        


  1. You have some great shots of the Wanamakers show! It will always be Wanamakers to me too : ) Happy New Year to you and your family!

  2. Happy New Year! Have so enjoyed being "in touch" again!

  3. Oh, John Wanamakers! I don't remember the store in Philly but you know I worked at the one in Hbg. And Mummers! I mentioned the Mummer's parade in the car last week & Nathan asked me what a Mummer was. Try explaining that to a 4 yr. old Okie. When I was at ORU, one of the guys on my Brother Wing was from Cherry Hill & always asked, "Do you Mummer?" Then we'd Mummer. Thanks, you gunky! Memories relived. Happy New Year, my friend.