Tag Archives: Christmas Eve

Louisiana Christmas Tradition…Lighting of the Bonfires

I have so many wonderful Christmas memories from my childhood in Louisiana…however, this particular memory is not specific to me or my family alone.  This memory is shared with thousands of South Louisiana Families.  It is the lighting of the Christmas Eve Levee Bonfires

Once few in number, the local bonfires were originally a neighborhood or family oriented activity. Now they line the levee for miles and attract thousands of visitors.  The event has had local and national television coverage and has been featured in metropolitan newspapers and magazinesThrough the years, there has been an intermingling of facts and fantasies concerning the origin of the bonfire tradition.

One of the more recent and increasingly popular explanations is that the bonfires were a “Cajun tradition”, first used to light the way for “Papa Noel”, the Cajun version of Santa Claus. This charming version, although improbable, has been depicted annually in front of a Paulina, LA business establishment where a levee scene shows “Papa Noel” with his pirogue drawn by alligators named Gaston, Ninette, “Te-Boy”, Celeste, Suzette, etc.

The building of the each bonfire takes dozens of individuals and weeks to assemble.  There is an official announcement made around 7pm on Christmas Eve giving the go ahead to light the bonfires which happens simultaneously.  The bonfires light up the Mississippi River and burn for hours and some will burn into the wee hours of Christmas morning.  Friends and family gather together to wait and watch for Papa Noel to make his way along the river making his deliveries to all of the good little children. 

I hope this YouTube video will give you a glimpse into the Louisiana Christmas Tradition…Lighting of the Bonfires!  Joyeux Noel!!!

Information gathered from St James Parish home page.

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Filed under Christmas Traditions, family, NOLA, postaweek2011

2011 Christmas Home Tour…Welcome to our Home

Welcome to our Home!

It’s time for the 2011 Christmas Home Tour and I am as ready as I am going to be.  Come on in…make yourself at home.  This is our Texas Hill Country home located much closer to the Texas Gulf Coast than it is to the hill country.  I am a NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) girl at heart but I got to Texas as quick as I could…

This is my first year to join the Christmas Home Tour…and I am already blown away by everyone’s Christmas decorations.  Thanks for sharing your beautiful home and thanks for stopping by our home.

The hubs and I really love everything about the Christmas season.  We love decorating our home inside and out.  We enjoy shopping for gifts for our family.  We split up the list and my husband buys the gifts for the guys and I take care of the girls.  We both take care of our own wrapping.  My husband is always the first one to put gifts under the tree.

We have been married for over 20 years and it wasn’t until this past year that we had a place big enough to host our family Christmas Eve gathering.  We are hosting again this year and we are looking forward to the whole family being together in our home for all of the Christmas Festivities!

This is where all of the fun will happen…everyone buys for the kids and the adults participate in a Dirty Santa gift exchange.  It gets loud and competitive with alliances being forged all for the sake of a AMEX gift card or a spotters scope.  It is the most fun I have ever had a Family Christmas party.

We have a fireplace but no mantle…its a long story which I will save for another day.  I like the clean contemporary look of our fireplace sans mantle…well that is until Christmas rolls around.  This is our second Christmas in our new home and I am still looking for the perfect architectural piece to hang over the fireplace.  Therefore, in place of decorating a mantle I focused on our dining room sideboard.

This little space will be one of our dessert tables during our holiday parties…The baking begins tomorrow.

In the short amount of time we have lived in our home we have hosted about a dozen gatherings.  We are finally getting a feel for how things flow best…we typically will set up a variety of food and drink areas throughout the kitchen space.  We want our friends and family to leave their worries at the door and relax while they are hanging out in the country.

Our Christmas tree is a forever tree…we have had it for over 10 years and it looks great in our new home. I don’t know what it is about photographing a Christmas tree that is so difficult.  Flash…no flash…it just never seems to look as pretty in pictures as it does in person.  So after trying numerous settings on my camera I decided the best pictures were the ones without the flash and up close…

One of my absolute favorite features in our new home are the custom-built-ins.  I am a collector of things…I do not collect one particular thing but lots of different things.  Our built ins make it easy to highlight my small collections in little vignettes.  The shelves hold a mixture of crocks, frankoma pottery, glass jars, antique locks and vintage spools of thread mixed in and amongst our family photos and my sons artwork not to mention a collection of books that have pink covers.

In years past our home has been an explosion of Christmas decorations…this year I tried to reign myself in a bit.  Just a little bit of Christmas in each room of the house.  Well at least that was the original plan.  My sons room has been deemed off-limits to Christmas decor…but no one had any objections to me sprucing up the guest room.

There are so many things I still plan to do..I still have to finish up our bedroom as well as the front and back porch area.  I will also be painting our fall pumpkins to look like snowmen, I will be dipping the bottoms of our everyday wine glasses in chalkboard paint and I have a yard sale table begging for a fresh coat of paint.  Today I purchased all of the ingredients for my baking needs.  I will be making peanut butter clusters, white chocolate dipped oatmeal cranberry cookies, almond toffee and pretzels rolled in white chocolate and crushed peppermint.  I hope you will check back over the next couple of weeks and see how things have progressed.

Here’s wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas from our Texas home and a nola girl at heart!!!

I am linking up with 2011 Chrismtas Home Tour at The Inspired Room

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Filed under Christmas Traditions, family, Home Sweet Home, postaweek2011

Keeping it real….good!!!

For the past 75+ years a little restaurant located about 40 miles NW of New Orleans has been serving Creole, Cajun and Southern food to locals and travelers alike.  Middendorf’s is as much a part of Louisiana family tradition as is Red Beans and Rice for lunch on Monday, tailgating on Saturday before the LSU Football game, beignets and cafe au lait on Sundays at the Morning Call or even the Christmas Eve bonfires. Mention Middendorf’s and someone will share their personal family story about the place. 

The Restaurant originally opened in 1934 during the great depression.  It was passed down through two generations of family.   After Hurricane Katrina the restaurant was sold to Chef Horst Pfeifer who lost his 5 star New Orleans restaurant to the winds of the hurricane and the subsequent looting.  He and his wife have preserved the traditional menu.  The food is as good today as it has ever been! 

Middendorf’s Restaurant is best known for it’s “thin fried catfish”.  Southern Living magazine has declared, “Possibly the best fried fish in the world”.   I would have to agree!!  The catfish is clean and fresh not muddy.  The extra fine cornmeal breading is light and crispy.  The taste is slightly sweet with the perfect blend of spices.  The flavor is out of this world…Ca c’est bon!

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Filed under family, Life..such as it is, NOLA, postaweek2011

Christmas…that’s a wrap

 There are so many things I enJOY about the Christmas Season.  There have been years when Christmas was over before it ever got started, or at least that’s how it felt.  Not this year!  I enjoyed every single day of this Christmas Season.   

Here are few of my favorite things!

Jesus’ Birthday! It is the Reason for the Season!

For me the Christmas Season begins the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Our family traditon it for the Christmas Tree to be decorated on the weekend following Thanksgiving! 

 The Christmas Season also begins with a visit to my local Starbucks for a Grande Peppermint Mocha. 

Christmas Candy!  It reminds me of my childhood and my Grandmother’s house. 

Christmas Lights!  Everything looks better all dressed up!

Shopping for Gifts!  It is better to give than to receive!

Wrapping Presents!  They are the finishing touch for the tree!  I wish my gifts looked like this.

Baking sweets to eat and share with friends and family! 

Driving around looking at Christmas Lights with my Family!  It’s a Memory Maker!

The Salvation Army Bell Ringer! 

Christmas Eve Candle Light Service!

Hot Chocolate on Christmas Morning!

A beautiful roaring fire in the fireplace!

Christmas Movies, old and new…The Christmas Story and Scrooged!

Getting all bundled up to go outside!

Having the week off between Christmas and  New Years…Priceless!!!

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