The loveliness of the tree. : )
Last week I think I said I had three more books from which to pull Christmas and Winter ideas from, but it's two. The first is:
I'm sure you've either heard of this book or read it, but when I first read it I found I learned so much, so that in subsequent readings I just had to write a few things down.
*Let there be a few surprises at Christmas. Around here (in our home) we ask for wish lists. I've always felt that if we're spending money and taking the time I want to be certain it's something that they actually want/need! But, having said that, I do like the surprises. It doesn't have to be costly, but like in this book, it COULD take some time and effort. And I think at Christmas we tend to shy away from that. We have a lot going on anyway so why would we want to put more on our plate? Because........it would mean something to someone. It's taking that extra step, going the extra mile, to put a smile on their face.
*Giving gifts to others. I know this is a no-brainer because this is what we do at Christmas, but in this book you see Father Tim giving gifts to a LOT of people that he knows and loves. Not a LOT of gifts, but A gift to those he knows and loves. I feel we tend to go overboard sometimes, but when we begin to think of the person, when we listen to people, when we know the people to whom we are giving, there are certain things that come to mind when we begin to give. On our part we need to listen. We need to look around their environment, we need to take mental notes and then jot them down somewhere so that we can be reminded. Keep a separate holiday notebook where you can keep gift-giving ideas.
*Remembering Christ in it ALL. Jesus was our gift from God at Christmas so it's only right that we remember that - be fervent in our prayers, thanking God for His amazing gift, knowing that this little babe in the manger grew to be a man and gave His life on the Cross for our sins. Remember!
*Reading God's Word daily. If we want/need the energy, motivation, and time that Christmas takes, we HAVE to get into the Bible. Take time for this so that you have time for others. Make it a priority above all else.
*Get outside. This seems to be in every book that I read. Walk (even in the cold).
*Enjoy the beauty of the season. This year has been tough, but if we look around, there is still beauty to behold.
The next book is:
This is a favorite because it reminds me how the "new" ways of doing Christmas aren't always the best. Sometimes it's the "old-fashioned" ways that need to be brought back.
*This is the book that taught me to begin a Gift Pantry. Even though it doesn't specifically say anything about a gift pantry, the main characters of this book had gifts available to give. I think what happens in December we realize that all of a sudden we have to give! And, what to give! Who to give to! And because we have to/want to give, the monthly expenses in other areas just don't go away and we're left kind of wondering how we're going to pull it all off. I think it's wise that, throughout the year, when you go shopping for your own wants/needs you take the time to look at other things as well that might be great for storing away. You could designate an area under the bed or in a closet or devote a cupboard........whatever that is for you........and begin to set things aside that you know would be nice for someone. Then you're ready. The money has already been spent. And it will help in alleviating that panic buying we all feel at this time of year.
*Again, keep God in your celebrating. Pray together. Read the Bible together. Make Christmas gatherings a time of worship. This shouldn't be embarrassing - it should come naturally.
*Serve good, simple food. Plan ahead. Do things ahead of time so that you're not in the kitchen while everyone else is enjoying themselves.
*Have things for others to do before/after gift giving. Play games. Put a puzzle together.
*Rest. It's okay to just rest together. This is where I have a hard time. I feel like I need to keep things going from the time the guests enter the door until they leave. When sometimes it's just nice to sit and ponder and relax and chat a bit. In this book, I was surprised when I read that the "older" Mom and Dad actually went and took a nap while the "younger" were playing games and such. I must admit that I wouldn't be able to do that, but it sure sounds nice! : )
*And, once again, get outside! This seems to be the thing to do! LOL But it does make sense that when we are feeling a bit tired it WOULD be a good idea to just get some fresh air to revive us. : )
*For the younger, encourage them to play outdoors. This year we're kind of bummed that we don't have any snow (yet) so it's hard for the kiddos to go sledding or skating or anything so you'll have to get creative and think of what they can do.
That wraps up the Christmas by the book series. I hope you have enjoyed it and learned something from it and will try some of the ideas!!!
I really can't believe that we are in the final week before Christmas. But in our family there will be things to look forward to:
*Tomorrow we will celebrate my husband's birthday (which was this past Tuesday). He makes awesome chicken wings. I'll make the potato salad to go with it, cut up the fruit and make his favorite German chocolate cake. Our son and his wife will come over to share the food, watch a movie, and hopefully play a game.
*On Christmas Eve our son and his wife will come over for a brunch and just hang out together for the afternoon and again........play a game (we like games). : ) I bought a new Christmas trivia game so we'll pull that one out.
*And. then, on Christmas Day our son and his wife will come over again late in the day to have the Christmas meal and open gifts. So, Lord willing that this will all happen, it will be fun and meaningful and special for the four of us.
From all the lists from all the books I read, the one thing I wonder about is whether or not we'll get outdoors!!!! It looks like on Christmas Eve around here it will be around zero so...............?
The past week was very nice. By the time Thursday came around, all the gifts had been wrapped, the out-of-town packages sent out, and all the cards mailed (and I was so happy to see that card-giving was still something a lot of people did this year in spite of the way this year went - it was so nice to open the mailbox and pull out cards). Yesterday was a day of pouring myself a cup of hot chocolate with whipped cream on top:
Pull out the sugar cookie recipe and bake. It's the only baking for Christmas I'm doing this year. I thought that on Christmas Eve (since that will be the more simple day) I would set the cookies out along with the frosting and all the sprinkles with knives and have everyone decorate their own cookies! We can eat them with the peppermint ice cream that we'll be serving for dessert. : ) I just think it would be fun to do together instead of me always frosting and decorating the cookies ahead of time.
I'm also enjoying the Christmas music and I'm STILL enjoying just the instrumental music instead of the words. I pretty much know all the words anyway to all the Christmas songs so I can sing along if I want but mostly I like the quiet in the humming.
And there is always at least one candle lit. I found one that smells of pear and pine. You wouldn't think the two would go together but it's an amazing fragrance.
My husband always make his Chex mix at Christmas (for us and for giving out to others) and that just makes the house smell wonderful. I love the smell of the savory mix and then the smell of the sugar cookies together. Mmmmmm.............it's a nice balance.
I've been keeping our meals, during this busy time, simple. Lots of soups - chicken noodle, split pea with ham, chili. That, with crackers or bread is perfect for an evening meal.
Today will be a day of cleaning the house for tomorrow and doing a few things ahead of time for the party. This list is made and so I had better get going!!!!
I'm not sure if I will check in on Christmas Eve or Day, so just in case.......I do wish you a Merry Christmas. I know a lot of people right now who are struggling (and that is putting it mildly in some cases). It's been a year unlike we've seen or experienced so my prayer for you is that you focus on Jesus. Hold on to Him. Keep Him first and foremost. Pray that He will give you the "peace that passes all understanding" and do for others.
I SO appreciate you and the time you take in reading what little I have to offer when I know you could be doing other things. God bless you and your family and your friends.