Tag Archives: christmas

Serene Saturdays #34

We are complete again!  Our eldest came home from college on Thursday. Woo hoo!

For us, the holidays will really begin today, as we get to watch my youngest dance in the  Nutcracker.  For over 14 years, we have been attending the Nutcracker to watch one or both of our daughters dance.  This will be the first time we’ve watched the performance with our eldest sitting in the audience with us.

So that I can really focus on my family for the remainder of the holidays, I am not planning on posting this week.  Therefore, I will take this opportunity to say MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!  I hope your holiday is amazing, playful, and replenishing!

This week I am grateful for:

*  Reading aloud with my kids.

*  A furnace that kicks on.

*  Spanish and Art tutors for my kids.

*  A book study with great, wise, and fun ladies.

*  Getting to watch my youngest in the Nutcracker, sitting next to my eldest, my husband, and our dear, dear friend.  Priceless.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Weekends

Serene Saturdays #33

Today has been a might busy day.  Lots of errands, Nutcracker/ballet rehearsal drives, and snacks to be purchased.  Tonight I am hosting a Christmas party for the youth of our church.  It won’t be huge…our church is new and only has a handful of youth.  But nonetheless, I have invested a good deal of time getting things ready for tonight.  I am not normally the party hosting go-to person, but I wanted the kids to have a get together of their own, and thought that I had the emotional energy to do this one!

Because my time is short today, this post will be short.  But I still did want to check in to take a moment to reflect and be grateful.  This week I am thankful for:

*  Christmas ornaments that have so many memories attached to them.

*  Christmas music that also stir memories and nostalgia.

*  Silly Christmas videos.

*  Snow globes.

6 Comments

Filed under Weekends

My Holiday Scorecard

I have felt quite a mixed bag when it comes to Christmas this year.  On the one hand, I have really enjoyed getting our Christmas tree put up and attending our city’s tree lighting ceremony.  On the other hand, I have found myself wanting to stop school a early and let my kids watch way too much Christmas TV.

Therefore, I thought I’d make a little log of the “goods” and “bads” of my behavior.

Ways I have fallen short:

Not enough consistent school.  This is always an issue, but especially during the holidays.  It always feels like there is so much outside of education that needs to be done.  I am tempted…and the kids aren’t complaining!

Too much Band Hero.  Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, my elder son bought Band Hero for our Wii, complete with a guitar, a drum set, and a microphone.  And this confession is that it isn’t just the kids who are spending too much time conquering Band Hero, but I am right there with them!  I am wicked on the guitar…just saying.

I haven’t purchased or made a single present.  There are a lot that need to be done, but I haven’t found the ability/motivation/joy in doing so yet.

Not getting our Advent activities ready.  Every year, I create an activity-a-day based around a Christmas theme (i.e. crafts, baking, holiday movies, driving to look at Christmas lights).  For some reason, I haven’t been organized/motivated to do so this year.  Maybe it is because the kids are so busy that we don’t have many evenings home together.  It doesn’t seem as worth it this year.  But, my eldest has specially requested that I get them organized for her when she comes home from college…so I have to create the activities by then.  Yikes!

Just today, I mailed my daughter’s college finals care package to her.  I’ve had it in the car for well over a week – maybe two weeks.  I just haven’t made it into the post office to get it sent off.  I’m sure she’ll get it right about the time that her finals are over and it is time to travel home…

Ways I’ve been stellar (I like this list much better!):

I created the whole Thanksgiving dinner all by myself.  I know this is a little out-dated, but I still am giving myself credit for it.  In year’s past, we’ve had tons and tons of guests, each bringing a dish to share.  This year, with it being just our family and two guests, I did it all.    You’ll have to ask my family if it was any good.

I edited a pamphlet for a friend.  This one probably shouldn’t count, because I really enjoy editing, I really enjoyed what he had written, and I really like him.  But, it did take a chunk of time, and I need all of the stellar moments that I can count right now.

I got the Christmas tree lighted.  For some reason, this job always falls to me. This year, however, when I pulled out the lights, EVERY strand wasn’t lighting. I wrap and pack them away meticulously, but somehow they lost their ability to light over the year; therefore, getting the tree lit this year meant a bit more work than usual.

I am hosting a party for the teens in our church.  Our church is very new, so there aren’t THAT many teens, but I wanted them to have a chance to all get together to celebrate.  So this Saturday, we will welcome them over for Christmas movies and snacks.  There will probably be a little Wii Band Hero going on, but I will refrain from showing them all up on the guitar…

I have run driven/waited/eaten/read/slept/written in my car as I have shuttled my younger daughter all over the stinkin’ universe for Nutcracker practice.  The performance is on Dec. 17th, and I am eager, both to see her dance, and to have the rehearsals over!

I have drug myself out of bed early every morning to exercise at the gym.  That is huge, considering that I hate every part of the exercise process.

I have kept this blog going!

I guess that’s all.  I hope that my cathartic exercise relieved you of some guilt, or gave you someone to which you could compare yourself so that you could feel better about how you’re doing!

1 Comment

Filed under Family and faith

Serene Saturdays #32

This week, my family and I went to our city’s Christmas tree lighting celebration.  The city makes an event out of it by having a line-up of local entertainment, having a carnival alongside the tree, providing carriage rides, and having characters walking around to provide picture opportunities.


(Because every holiday celebration should include Ronald MacDonald!?!?!?)

This week I am thankful for…

* Christmas decorations

* Family traditions

* New friends

* Inspiration

I hope that your week is full of memory-making opportunities, and lots and lots of lights!

1 Comment

Filed under Weekends

Tradition!

Having family traditions has been a key element in our family being and staying close.  I wrote a series that begins here on the necessity and how-to of creating Family Language – the special connection created that draws your family members together when they want to be understood.  Part of that journey to creating a sense of family through shared experiences are traditions.

Our family has traditions built around birthdays, seasonal holidays, and religious holidays.  Each one carries a little bit of the DNA of who we are as a family.

Christmas has a lot of traditions for our family.  The season for us begins on the day after Thanksgiving, bright and early.  Since our eldest was 3, we’ve set aside “Black Friday” for leaving urban, commercial civilization and driving to the countryside to pick out and chop down our Christmas tree. Since we’ve lived in New England, it has been one particular farm that spans several acres.

During this Christmas tree trip, we plan enough time for a romping game of Hide n Seek.  For a couple of hours, hidden among the trees just hoping to be cut down for some family’s pleasure, you might just find my children and/or husband.  They’ve made an art out of sniffing out the best places to hide, creating nature-ish calls to stealthily communicate with each other while hiding or seeking, and living for the thrill of being found last.

   

After having made sure that we had enough budgeted for a tree this year, we made our way to Jones Family Farms to chop down the newest addition to our family decor.

We even had time for a little posing for pictures…

Creating moments like this are so important to capturing memories that give your kids a real sense of family and belonging.  Traditions are simply an avenue to marking precious moments with your family.  Even if it isn’t a trip to a Christmas tree farm, be intentional this holiday season to create memorable experiences for your family!

1 Comment

Filed under Family and faith

Christmas with No Money

My heart really aches when I interact with society these days.  Sometimes I feel like the world isn’t really talking to me – it is talking to people who have money.  When I watch advertisements, news stories, or consumer reports, I tend to tune out.  The news seems to be all about when the best time is to Christmas shop, whether this item should be purchased now or closer to Christmas, or about strategies to getting your Christmas shopping done early – to me, it sounds like a foreign language.

We’ve never really had a lot of money.  It has always felt lean in our home, and we’ve always been on a budget.  But I must admit, we’ve gone overboard for our kids’ Christmas in years past, and we’ve made gift-receiving a big part of the celebration of the season.  Our stated limits have been one big present per kid (something that would truly thrill their hearts), and then other little presents as we see things that would make them smile.

But this year, we really don’t have money.  We are behind in our mortgage and are struggling to balance keeping bills paid and keeping food on the table.  My husband’s business is amazing and fruitful and satisfying, but as of now, isn’t profitable enough to generate a salary for us.  For months.  And months.  We are so buried that it takes a lot of mental energy not to fret all of the time.

It is under those circumstances that we approach the Christmas holidays.

I’ve been forced to stretch myself to think outside the realm of normal when it comes to honoring the traditions and joy of Christmas without money.  To me, the key is finding tangible ways to share the love that I feel…not by my money, not by the limited effort exerted from buying a present, nor by filling a gift card.

As I have racked my brain to come up with virtually free ways to make Christmas special for your family, I thought I’d share a few.  I’ve implemented most of these ideas over the years, and have found them to be really fun and festive.

Making Presents:  Almond bark covered pretzels, coupon books for services/time together, potato chips dipped in chocolate, taking your child’s art and cutting it to fit on blank notecards, etc., are all ways to be creative and frugal at the same time.

Making Service a Present:  Serving food at a shelter, sponsoring a Compassion International child as a family, choosing a neighbor and being their “secret Santa” for the month (or even the year).

Check out the free section of Craigslist or take advantage of Freecycle: There are a lot of great items that have served their purpose at one family but are ready to begin a new life in another family.

Redecorate your kids’ rooms with simple changes:  A new coat of paint, reorganizing a closet to make it a reading space, adding a new pillow or two can all really make a big difference and help the kids feel special and loved.

Buy a family gift instead of individual gifts:  One suggestion is a subscription to Netflix/Blockbuster.  For around $8/month you have access to a myriad of movies that you can instant stream into your home.  Other family gifts could be a board game that everyone could play, a family membership to a health club, movie tickets, or a read aloud book.

Make gift giving an event/activity:  Give everyone in your family a dollar and make a trip to a Dollar Store near you.  Tell your family members that the goal is to buy the biggest or smallest, or most outrageous or most thoughtful gift that can be purchased for a dollar.  When we did this, we made a night of it by making the goal to find a gift that represented the other person (either silly or serious), and then during the gift exchange time told the stories and explanations of why that gift was purchased.

Do a family activity together:  Sing Christmas carols or go caroling, drive around the city to look at lights, snuggle in for an evening of Christmas movies, or have a board game night.

Talk with your kids:  Letting everyone understand the “why” behind the minimalism gives them the tools to understand the choices being made.   Preparing them way ahead of time can reduce the amount of disappointment or complaining, and allows them to join in the creativity of present giving.

I don’t want to be in this position, at Christmas or at any time.  It isn’t comfortable or secure; however, I also know that being here is working great things in me:  Creativity, compassion, understanding, humility, etc.  Because of those benefits, I wouldn’t trade this season for the world.  If you find yourselves in the same place, I pray that your needs are met and that you are provided for.  If you aren’t in that position, I encourage you to find someone who is, and shower them with Christmas blessings.  We all need each other.

5 Comments

Filed under Family and faith, General thoughts