Ten Cherished Pure Michigan Holiday Traditions

Are you ready for the holiday season in Pure Michigan? Today, our guest bloggers from The Awesome Mitten, plus a few of our Facebook fans, share their most cherished holiday traditions. 

As we move in to yet another holiday season, the staff of The Awesome Mitten thought it best to take a look back at some of our most cherished holiday memories and traditions. This special compilation would not be possible without the contributions of Team Awesome members Hayley Serr, Rebecca Calkins, and Rachell Weeks.

Rachell

Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays. It’s also one of the few days of the year I wish for snow. My parents made the decision when I was a baby to relocate from England to the United States for work and we’ve been here ever since. Holidays have always been quiet for us, given that all of our extended family still lives overseas, but my parents did an excellent job of keeping with tradition; needless to say, I grew up with Christmases that were different from all the other kids.

Christimas Eve is hands down the busiest day of the year in the kitchen! Every year, we get up early, head to Meijer and do all of the food shopping for the feasts of the next two days. Once the mad dash around the store is finished, we head to Downtown Holland for some coffee at JPs Coffee House, and in recent years lunch at New Holland Brewery before stopping at the Holland Peanut Store to pick up chocolates for Santa.

Once home, we spend the afternoon prepping food for the next couple of days. In British tradition, this means a full feast of: Brussels sprouts, carrots, potatoes, sausages wrapped in bacon, dates wrapped in bacon, bread sauce, cranberry orange sauce, chestnut stuffing, sausage rolls, turkey, Christmas pudding, and mince pies.

Before going to bed, we make reindeer food (oats and glitter) and run around the yard scattering it everywhere. The glitter helps Rudolf find the food!

Hayley

In the Serr family, we have one tradition that many of my friends have never experienced: each year, we go to Niklas Tree Farm in Metamora to cut down our own (real) Christmas tree. Likely because we’ve done this every year for as long as I can remember, rumbling down the hill toward the fields of Christmas trees on one of Niklas’ tractors feels to me like the beginning of the holiday season. There is always some debate as to the tree (needs to be nice and conical, not too bushy or too sparse), but eventually, we always find “the one.” And after that perfect tree had been selected and cut down, we’d load it up on the top of the car and head for home.

Once inside and snugly in its stand at home, my dad would hang the lights, my mom the garland, and then each of us would open our box of ornaments (most wrapped in some sort of Christmas-themed napkins or tissue paper for safe keeping). As my two sisters and I got older, our boxes grew to the point that we began needing to cut down two trees just to fit them all.

Other bits of the tradition changed as we aged, as well—for example, we are absolutely not allowed to wake our parents up until 8 AM on Christmas morning, and are only allowed to LOOK at the tree with our presents underneath starting at 7 AM. But we still pile in the car every year to head to Niklas Tree Farm to bring home our perfect tree.

Rebecca

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I am a big fan of Christmas Lights. Even though my family was never the biggest of decorators, I love to drive around the neighborhoods that always took it to the next level. I remember piling into the minivan to drive through the Nite Lites at the Jackson County Fairgrounds; at a full mile long, Nite Lites is one of the longest light shows in Michigan.

We’d tune the radio to 106.9 Home.FM for “All Christmas Music All the Time,” programming that always starts on Thanksgiving Day (but let’s face it, in our house the Christmas Music starts playing right after Halloween). The van would slowly crawl through the grounds as we were ooo-ing and aww-ing at the newest decorations, laughing, joking and/or fighting about the silly lights. Is it a cat or a chipmunk? We were never really sure.

Then, we’d park and going into the American One Events Center for a hot chocolate and to stroll through the decorated Christmas Trees, each one decorated by a local non-profit. We would vote for our favorite tree with donations, usually just change from our mom’s purse. The littlest kids would wait in line to visit Santa or if they were lucky pet the live reindeer too. To this day it is an annual tradition that continues even if we don’t continue to stare with childlike wonderment. We have to visit our favorite chipmunk, right?

Each one of us has a holiday tradition that ties us back to home. Spending the holiday season in Michigan is one thing that so many of us have in common — that, coupled with our love for the Great Lakes State, helps us stay connected to one another.

IMG_0836Compiled by Erin Bernhard, Managing Editor at The Awesome Mitten. Erin considers herself a simple northern Michigan twentysomething who loves good microbrews, great wine, summertime grillouts, well-roasted coffee and Traverse City.

 

 

From Our Fans:

Our Facebook fans hold special holiday and traditions near and dear to their hearts. Check them out below. 

We have to watch the Lions on Thanksgiving with a traditional dinner and then turkey sandwiches with mayo on squishy bread in the evening! – Facebook Fan Carol DeVore

Hosting dinner for anyone we know without family in the area. my husband attends the Maritime academy, so we pack the place with anyone who needs a surrogate ‘home’ for the day or weekend. Guest beds & couches are always available & usually get filled! – Facebook Fan Whitney Fisher Miller

1497721_10152475224943289_675394493_nMine is a trip to Frankenmuth. A great dinner at Zehnders, and just enjoying the beauty of the town. -Facebook fan Kimberly J. Pachey

Church attendance and gathering with family on the holiday for a meal. – Facebook fan Rita Gerstheimer

Lions football is a tradition! Even after we were uprooted to the Chicago area, Thanksgiving is food, drinks, and Lions football. – Facebook fan Cait Stephanie

My folks had a hunting cabin on 40 acres in West Branch. Other than a pump in the sink there was no running water. Out house. Fire place, battery operated radio and comic books. My Dad was a meat cutter so he dressed out his own deer. There was always snow on the ground when we sent up and it looked like a Christmas Card. Thinking of it makes me smile! – Facebook fan Margaret Proulx

During hunting season, my mom and I always put up our Christmas tree and decorations when the men were gone and not under foot! -Facebook fan Vicki Goodwin Meisel

Where in Michigan do you spend the holiday season? What is your favorite holiday tradition?

From Our Fans: The Best of Fall in Pure Michigan

Fall in Michigan is short, but jam-packed with spectacular seasonal offerings! Earlier this month, we asked our fans to share their favorite fall foods, activities, and traditions.  We rounded up their responses to create an at-a-glance guide to experiencing fall in Pure Michigan. Take a look at some of the best of fall in the Mitten State according to our community. 

Michigan Apples

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Photo by Mary Van Arsdell

Dark chocolate covered caramel apple from Veni’s in Niles, MI. - Mary Van Arsdall

Koezes in Grand Rapids has locally grown apples hand dipped in house made caramel and rolled in cashew pieces. Only in October, delicious! - Joyce Winters

Michigan apples in an Apple Crisp recipe from Mackinac Island Dessert cookbook. Can’t get more Michigan than that! - Eric N Susan Murrell

Fall Flavors

Just had a Short’s Brewing Funkin Punkin keg for our wedding reception. Mmmmm good! Cheers to fall beers! - Adam Crall

Founders Harvest Ale. - Jan n’ Gary Dall

I made homemade apple fritters with Michigan maple syrup glaze! - Briana Herzog

Wasem Fruit Farm in Milan for great apples, maple glazed donuts & cider at a nice price.  - Jill S. 

Nothing is as fabulous as a cider mill donut, still hot enough for the outside to be almost crispy.  - Michele Cook Hayden

Love Blackstar Farms Late Harvest Riesling . It’s the best. can’t wait to visit.  - Sandy Westen

New Holland Brewing Icabod Pumpkin Ale.  - Kim Looman

Color Tours

Photo by Becky Pawloski Scholten

Photo by Becky Pawloski Scholten

Top of the lift ride at Boyne Mountain. Awesome views! - Lynn Jones

Went up to Leelanau, came back down M-37. Was very happy to have stopped at the scenic turnout/rest stop along the way. - Shelley Ferguson

Going to Oscoda. Taking the Fall Color Cruise on the AuSable. - Patrick Shaffer

My quick fall color tour is driving Edward Hines from Northville to Dearborn. - Lynn Plachetzki White

A fall drive to see the trees. When we lived in the Detroit area, we would take the drive through Hines Park. While living in the U.P., we always drove along Lake Superior, then to Tahquamenon Falls. - Joni Johnson

Cider Mills

Franklin Cider Mill! I’m not even a resident of Michigan and we make an annual trek to the “Cider Mecca!” - Karen Page

Opening Day at Dexter cider mill for fresh cider and warm donuts! Yum! - Angela Marshall ‏

Parmenters in Northville – THE BEST fresh cinnamon donuts!!! - Tracy Nafe

Uncle Johns, Spicers, Parshallville, Montrose Orchards…..love them all! - Nancy Miller

Pumpkin Patches

Cari Angell

Photo by Cari Angell

The charming Pumpkin Barn in Levering, MI.  - Cari Angell

Johnson’s Giant Pumpkin Farm in Saginaw, MI. They have a lot of activities for kids, a corn maze, crafts, food, pumpkin chucking with a trebuchet, animals to pet & feed. Always a great time for the family.  - Terri Garabelli

Vince and Joe’s Market on Garfield Rd. in Clinton and 25/Van Dyke Rd. in Shelby Twp. They have everything pumpkin for your Octoberfest.  - Vlasta Hallova Trulik

Andy T’s! See the monster weigh-off contenders and winners! - Andrew Eagle

Fall Festivals and Events

I love Fruit Ridge Hayrides! - Star Juarez

Applefest in Charlevoix! Love my Michigan! - Ruthann LaPorte Beyer

Farmer J’s world record corn mazes by Cabela’s in Dundee. – Jill S.

Art Prize is  awesome its a must see. - Shawn Sams

Joining in on the excitement of The Detroit Marathon is memorable for both participants and spectators.

Game Day Excitement

Photo by MMB Photography

Photo by MMB Photography

Eastern Market is always a stop for my daughter and I…what a great mix of the D at it’s best.  - Jules Ryan

Comerica Park – My favorite spot in all of the great state of Michigan!! - Lynn Friedenstab Becker

Ann Arbor and East Lansing are game day hot spots throughout the season!

Outdoor Exploration

Manitou Charter Fleet – With charter captain Bill Wright out of Leland. We learned many different ways to cook salmon! - Kevin Rogers

Hiking, biking, and off-roading on Michigan trails are a great way to experience fall colors.

Fall means the start of prime hunting season!

Halloween Fun

Spooky trails, Swartz Creek. - XTREMETALS

Halloween on Tillson Street – We’ll be going… It’s a Halloween must! And a sleepover for the grandchildren. - Donna Vehar

Junction Valley Railroad is entertaining enough for the whole family – and Handicap accessible! - Dan Miller

Family Traditions

Go horseback riding in the woods and listen to the sounds and look at the colors of autumn. - Brenda Shaw

Bon fires with good friends and some good wine! - Lynn Scraver

We take a trip to Mackinac Island and walk the trails. It is a quiet way to enjoy the beauty. - Cindy Howard Murphy

What’s on your “Best of Fall” list? 

Transforming the Grand Rapids Downtown Market for ArtPrize 2014

The first round of votes are in and the top 20 entries at ArtPrize 2014 have been revealed! As we head into the final week of the art competition in Downtown Grand Rapids, guest blogger Claire Duthler tells us how one of this year’s first-time venues, the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, was transformed into a public art gallery for ArtPrize.

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 11.32.30 AMThe Grand Rapids Downtown Market celebrated its one-year anniversary on Labor Day weekend, with several exciting updates such as becoming LEED Gold certified, the opening of a new sushi bar and Creperie, and announcement of Food A’Faire, a fundraiser to benefit the Market’s Education Foundation. And what better way to continue that celebration through September and into fall than being a first-time venue in the sixth annual ArtPrize?

Downtown Market businesses are excited to be part of the action, welcoming ArtPrize crowds to “See our art. Taste our food.” Six pieces of art are exhibited at the Downtown Market, with installations located on both levels indoors as well as outdoors in the Market Shed.

ArtPrize is an excellent way to invite more community members in the doors to see how the artists have transformed the public spaces, as well as experience what else the market has to offer: 20 artisan food vendors, a picturesque greenhouse, beautiful patio to sit and enjoy a meal and an outdoor farmer’s market on Saturdays through November.

The Downtown Market’s mission includes engaging with the community in multiple ways and increasing accessibility to healthy food and nutrition education. In addition to welcoming guests in for public events such as ArtPrize, the Market works with local organizations on job training and programs such as the Healthy Eating for All scholarship program. Healthy Eating for All provides class scholarships to those with low-income to ensure they can learn about healthy eating and have the resources to purchase fresh produce at the Market

The Downtown Market’s education department even got in on the ArtPrize fun, hosting classes that combine our love of food with the season’s Art theme, such as “Play with your food”, “Artful Food Photography” And “Artful Dishes for ArtPrize.” While those classes are over now, the October schedule is full of upcoming classes filled with fresh local food themes, such as canning, cooking with seasonal produce, preserving root vegetables, homemade pasta, and more!

See our Art:

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 11.32.12 AMEntering the Market, guests are greeted by “Bloom Bloom,” Dana Lynn Harper’s overhead creation made of construction flagging tape and chicken wire. This beautifully bright piece is suspended from the ceiling of the Market Shed, blowing in the breeze, inviting onlookers to stop for a moment and look up.

Under the stairs to the second floor, Emily Moore’s “Ornamental Invasion” utilizes materials, ornamentation, location, and size as a means of processing Western society’s role in the degradation of nature and historical disparagement of anything understood as “feminine.”

Suspended from the ceiling and visible from both the downstairs and upstairs, “Mississippi Flyway: Alive in the Sky,” by mother-daughter duo Joan and Catherine Game, illustrates the path of migratory birds who use the Mississipppi River flight path to travel north and south. Thirty-four birds are represented as painted paper kites, with information below about each species.

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 11.35.39 AMIn the second floor atrium, “Oil Flowers,” a group of brightly colored, cartoonish flowers take on a more somber character when you read that they are created from plastic bags, which are made with substances derived from oil. This installation by Jerry Bleem addresses the ecological concerns associated with the material.

In the second floor hallway, two sets of paintings completes the ArtPrize art at the market. “A B See?” by Joel Schoon-Tanis is composed of 26 alphabetically themed canvases, approaching painting through a child’s lens. “Dinner Party,” by Christy De Hoog Johnson is a series of three abstract narrative paintings, each representing one piece of a story: The first is Cocktails; the second, Conversation; and the third, Charades.

An ArtPrize popup shop is also located in the Market Hall for art browsers to purchase ArtPrize gear. And a kids coloring area in the open seating area lets little ones get in on the action too by creating their own masterpieces for the refrigerator at home!

See more of the art featured across downtown Grand Rapids in the video below! Be sure to vote for your favorite piece by October 9th at midnight.

claireClaire Duthler is the special events and leasing manager at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, handling inquiries about being a Market tenant and coordinating special community events hosted by the Market.