Christmas Manifesto


O.k., here goes! Journal your Christmas 2012 has begun.  Attempting to do a blog post each day in the month of December.  Already resigning myself to the fact that it won’t happen every day, but maybe I can post a photo and a caption at least to document the day.  Then later I’ll put it into a Blurb book like my clever daughter did last year.  Although she was doing a different project, called December Daily.  At times I’ll be focusing more on documenting traditions, holiday activities, etc. with Shimelle and her gang at Journal Your Christmas.  I’d love to have you join me.

See you tomorrow!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

It’s been a busy and somewhat non-traditional month for us.  As you’ll see from these photos, there’s been a good amount of time spent with those we love, but somehow things were busy in other ways too.

Christmas NativityWe also went to the Musical Instrument Museum (the MIM) for our 34th wedding anniversary on Dec 9th, celebrated the holidays with a few of the non-profit groups that I work with and had a lovely evening with some other dear friends.  All of those activities don’t have pics posted yet, but hopefully I’ll get to it.

I’m not quite sure how the month got away from me, but we didn’t decorate inside the house until December 19th which is VERY LATE for me!  Originally we weren’t expecting to have any gatherings at our house this year, so I guess that gave me the freedom to put it off.  Then we found out that we were hosting our family gathering, so I got busy and did a few things.

We still have at least one more celebration to come with our son, Kevin when he returns from being overseas in early January.  That will be a special time to have him back home and in the U.S. hopefully for a very long time.

Here are links to a few photos that I’ve posted on Facebook over the last month.  I hope you enjoy them!  (Note: I was told that some of these links didn’t work for those that aren’t on Facebook, so I’ve updated them.)

Randy Thompson’s Christmas Concert where Terry played in early December

Christmas with our Home Group (they’re like Family)

Christmas with my side of the family

Christmas with our Los Angeles area family and our precious friends, the Thompsons

Christmas cookies

Day 8 – Journal Your Christmas

Are you wondering where the posts for days 1 – 7 are?  Well, for now they’re in my head.  I’ve been too busy to do any posts, but I’m gathering lots of thoughts and ideas.  Once we get to Sunday I should have a LOT more time, I think… and maybe I’ll try to go back and catch up on some of the journaling days that I’ve missed.

This week we have practice on Weds night (which is also our 32nd wedding anniversary), our Home Group Christmas party (here) on Thursday night, Terry has a concert in Scottsdale on Friday night, we’re celebrating our anniversary on Saturday and we will be helping with worship at church on Sunday morning.   Then I think the schedule is pretty open until Christmas.  Yea!  Oh, I still have some Christmas shopping and wrapping to finish up, but that’s easy peasy compared to these last few weeks.

I thought I could post about today’s topic since it’s about the Sights of the Season.  I’ve already been snapping pics this month, so I can easily find what I need.

I love this photo above of our cat, Shredder.  She’s trying to look so innocent, but you can see the evidence of her tail wagging if you look at the trees on the windowsill.
This past Friday and Saturday 12/4 & 5 – my hubby played in a Christmas Concert each night with some of our best friends.  (He’s the third one from the right in the rust colored shirt.)  Randy Thompson is the featured musician in this band, since many of the songs were written by him.  Terry loves playing these concerts with Randy and I love going to them!  It’s such an awesome way to start the holiday season.

Another one of my favorite sights in December is the bare branch that hangs in the living room.  It’s so much fun to change the decor with the seasons.  This winter it’s sparkly!  Silver, gold, crystal and white snowflakes, icicles and other various ornaments.  With these decorations it can stay up past Christmas and through the other winter months as well.

And here’s a little peek at our Christmas bathroom.  This year, I made the two framed pieces on the walls.  The black framed picture is filled with holiday designs and expressions from scrapbook paper and the red one, framed in white is “Merry Christmas” greetings on wrapping paper.  What a fun and easy way to change out your framed artwork for the holidays!

Be sure to click to enlarge the photos.

Decorating our home is one of my favorite parts of the holidays.  Thanks for visiting!

Journal Your Christmas 2009

Yes, it’s true!  I have signed up to participate in “Journal Your Christmas”.  It started on December 1st and goes thru early January.  I just signed up last night, and as you can see, I’m already behind.  But it’s all good!  See…the cool thing is that if you pay once, then you can participate every year until…forever.

So, here’s what I’m thinking…this year will be my preview and warm up year.  I’ll get all the materials and information and if I have time to post or scrap book, then I will.  If not, then I’ll just start digesting the resources and thinking about what I’ll do for next year.  Then I’ll have a whole year to prepare and ponder and get ready to do it for real.  And next year they’ll add even more cool stuff!

I just started downloading the materials and supplies and I’m very excited about how much is included so far!  She is very thorough in giving you all the tools you need to complete an awesome project.

Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll post something about Christmas in the next month or so.  It just may not be every day.  But even if it’s not about Christmas, it will be interesting and insightful (at least I like to think so).  So please come back often or set yourself up as a follower on Google or add me to your RSS Feed so you can see my posts every time I add a new one.  That would be awesome!

See you soon!

Journal Your Christmas – Christmas Morning Memories

I have not kept up with the pace that Amy set for journaling Christmas traditions, but after reading some of hers, I thought I’d share a little more about me, since I’m not even sure that she and Kevin know a lot about my childhood Christmas experiences. This gets a bit long, so feel free to skim. It’s probably only of interest to immediate family, but enjoy as you see fit.

I have many precious pictures clearly burned in my mind of holiday scenes in our little house in Ohio, but unfortunately my family members weren’t much for picture taking, so we don’t have very many actual Christmas photographs to share. I may have a few, but my picture organizing project is still waiting to be done as well, so someday I’ll find them and post them.

To begin with, you need to understand that I was the 5th of 6 kids in a family of 8, in a small 3 bedroom home that probably wasn’t much more that 1100 square feet or so. Downstairs was a small living room, eat-in kitchen, bedroom and the only bathroom in the house (with a tub, but no shower). Upstairs were 2 more bedrooms. My parents slept in the living room on those corner-to-corner sofas that had bolsters that could be removed from the back so you could sleep on the size of twin beds. There was a sliding wooden door that could be moved to close off the living room from the rest of the house when needed. When all of us were living at home, the 3 boys slept in one of the upstairs bedrooms, my sister Sharon and I shared the other upstairs bedroom and my oldest sister, Diane got the downstairs bedroom all to herself…I never quite understood that except my mom said something about her being the oldest and quite a bit older than us 2 younger girls so needed her privacy. Whatever! She had things pretty good.

Christmas memories:

We always had a 5 foot tall aluminum Christmas tree (like the one pictured above) with one of those colored light wheels that would sit in the corner and shine on the tree. The wheel would rotate to change the color of the tree from red to blue, then green to yellow. One year my mom would buy a bunch of glass ball ornaments all in the same color, like gold or blue. That’s all that was hung on the tree. The next year she’d buy a set in a different color. Then, because inevitably some would get broken thru the years, the 3rd year she’d mix those two colors on the tree. That was our tree. It was sparkly and pretty, but kinda boring from the perspective of someone who likes variety and doesn’t decorate the same way twice.

Before I was old enough to wrap presents my parents never wrapped anything for Christmas morning. Probably because there really wasn’t a private place to do it with all the kids in the house, my dad wasn’t home a lot and my mom didn’t have much time with everything else that was going on.

In our house, mom did pretty much everything except work outside the home (for pay) and had to accomplish it all while depending on someone else to drive her around (since she didn’t have a car or driver’s license until we moved to Arizona when I was 16)…she did all the grocery and Christmas shopping, cleaning, baking, planning and helping with all of the 6 kids’ school and holiday activities. She was very active in our neighborhood Homeowner’s Association planning various parties and events every year, as well as in the PTA at Lake Elementary School. She was also the president or other officer of both organizations for many years, so she was a busy lady! I truly admire all that she was able to accomplish with her limited time, money and resources. She did an amazing job and loved us well with what she had available. I would have been about 5 years old when this picture of her was taken.

Back to Christmas morning…we would wake up on Christmas morning and come down the stairs. The door to the living room was closed and we weren’t allowed to look in there until our parents said it was o.k. – Often, Mom would gather us all up and have us sit on the stairs in our new Christmas Eve PJs, our hair all messed up and take our picture. I don’t have a photo of all the kids handy, but here’s one of my oldest brother, Rusty when he was about 7, sitting on the stairs in 1959. I would have been about 8 months old when this was taken.

Finally they’d give in and let us in the living room. When we walked in, we saw the small room filled with toys and gifts, none of them wrapped, but all grouped in small piles or groupings for each person. All we needed to do was find out which grouping was ours! Sometimes it was obvious if there was something that we particularly wanted and we knew it was for us. Other times we were told which “pile” was ours and we immediately began investigating the treasures there.

It was a wonderful exciting day, but the anticipation and excitement were over much too quickly. So as soon as I was old enough to wrap presents (probably 8 or so) I talked my mom into letting me wrap all the gifts except my own. Then she (or someone) would wrap my presents. It was so awesome to have all the presents wrapped and even though I knew what everyone was getting, I didn’t tell them, because I LOVE surprises and what fun would that be if everyone knew what they were getting? After that, we took the time to open each of our gifts. We never had a lot of structure that I recall, but at least the suspense was extended thru the time of opening.

God was good to us in all those years. We had our ups and downs and sometimes my dad was out of work because he was an iron worker and the weather would keep them from working. Even with hardships, I never remember going without some kind of presents on Christmas and being able to enjoy the holidays with people we loved.

Journal Your Christmas – Advent Calendars

Amy also has a post about this topic here on her blog if you want to get her perspective.

When I was growing up, I don’t remember my family ever having an advent calendar of any kind. I imagine it’s because it’s a little hard to manage just pulling off Christmas day when you have 6 kids, let alone remembering to do something 25 days in a row.

Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday and one that I want to stretch out as long as I can, so when our kids were little I thought it would be great to have some kind of an advent calendar. I was a little picky though. I didn’t want one that gave them a piece of candy every day. There were enough sweets to be had and that’s not a habit that I wanted to reinforce. We also couldn’t afford (and didn’t have the time to shop for) one that gave them a little present every day. Besides, how do you share that with 2 kids unless they each had one?

I also wanted one that focused on the birth of our Lord and not on Santa. Those are not exactly easy to come by, but in those early days there was a woman at our church, ODF…I don’t remember her name now, but she made the most awesome crafts that focused on Christ and this was one of them!

This advent calendar (click photo to see the detail) has 25 slots, and the idea was to insert a piece of brown paper bag folded up and fringed a little on the end (to represent the hay in the manger) in each slot. Each day the kids would take turns opening one up to find a special activity to celebrate the season.

December is always a busy month, so near the end of November I would sit down and calendar all of our family commitments for church, school, etc. then fill in the dates when we’d get the tree, decorate it, hang stockings, go see Christmas lights and more. On the days that were left, I’d look at the TV schedule for all those great Christmas shows like Charlie Brown Christmas, The Grinch and all and fill those in as well. Of course, that was before TiVo and DVRs and VCRs and Netflix, etc. so if you didn’t watch the show when it was on, you missed it for the year….and we couldn’t let that happen. Finally on those odd days when we didn’t already have something planned, I’d try to squeeze in some quiet activities, like reading a Christmas story or listening to Christmas music. One of my very favorites was turning out all the lights in the living room except the tree, laying on the floor and watching how the colored twinkle lights shown on the ceiling and walls making beautiful patterns and designs that were simply mesmerizing (and very relaxing during that crazy busy month). I do miss our twinkle lights sometimes because of this very activity.

When I got out the Baby Jesus Advent Calendar to take a picture this year, I looked at the slips that were still in it and discovered that it was last used in 1996 (our 19th anniversary was Dec 9th that year). Amy would have been 14 and Kevin was 12…right about the time that they started getting bored with the whole idea and probably a little too busy as well.

Even though we don’t have anyone around to pull the slips each day, I decided to keep it hanging up this year, just for the fun of it. I love this little treasure and hope that either Amy or Kevin will adopt it (or something like it) someday.

Journal Your Christmas – Christmas Stockings

So, I’m way behind on my Christmas posts because of our vacation (which was well worth it). I even still have more vacation pics that will come later. This post is related to the one that Amy did about stockings, so you can see more here at her blog too.

As a child, we lived in a 2 story house, so my mom always hung our stockings on the railing of the stairs. We slept upstairs so it was always really wonderful to come down in the mornings and see our stockings brimming with goodies. She usually didn’t wrap the items inside, so we could get a sneak peek of some of the treats before we even got all the way downstairs.

My mom isn’t much of a “keeper” of things, so I don’t have any stockings from that time. I’m not sure if she started the tradition of placing an orange in the toe of the stocking (see Amy’s blog too) or if she was carrying it on from her family. My theory is that they put an orange in the toe because in the winter in Ohio, oranges were a special treat. Sometime, I really need to ask her. I honestly don’t remember what else we got in there, probably candy canes, little toys like jacks and balls, etc. I do remember life savers in there too.

When our kids were growing up, we wrapped most of their little stocking goodies. I think because I like to draw out the suspense as long as I can, I want to have as much as possible wrapped. It’s just too quick to pull out an item and see what it is right away. It takes a little longer in prep time, but it’s worth it. We also added the tradition of including a toothbrush in their stockings every year. (Good time for it with all the sweets around.)

When Terry and I got married, his mom gave us his family stocking (pictured here). I think we may have used it the first year or two, but as you can imagine, it’s a bit worn and a little small for our liking, so we replaced it somewhere along the line. I love having it here and will pass it along to the kids someday for posterity. It’s made of very thin felt and his name is written in that green glitter glue stuff. Very cute!

When Amy was born she was the first grandchild on Terry’s side of the family and her Grandma Hann (or as she calls her now – Grandma Irish) was so excited about a grandchild and especially that she was a girl (she had 6 boys, then adopted a girl). In celebration of Amy, Grandma made her a GIANT hooked rug-type stocking and hung it at her house. It was at least 3 feet tall or more. To top it off, she actually filled it with presents too. Can you say “spoiled”? Amy was definitely the center of attention in this big family, to say the least. Anyway, I don’t have a picture of it handy. In fact, I think Amy may have it (in storage probably). Fortunately, Grandma didn’t continue the tradition with the other grandkids…she would have gone broke filling them all.

After Kevin was born, I made these red ones. I sewed them from a reversible quilted fabric, then added the iron-on letters at the top. Each one had a different kind of trim on the cuff. You might notice something a little quirky about one of them. See if you can figure out what’s wrong and I’ll tell you later.

A few years ago I bought 6 of these navy and white ones at the after-Christmas sales at Target, along with a matching tree skirt. I think they’re made of wool with the snowflakes embroidered on. I actually bought 2 each of 3 different designs. I haven’t put permanent names on them yet, but I have enough for a few “new” family members in the future. I know they’re not traditional colors, but still love their classic simplicity.

In our home now, we don’t really have the perfect spot for hanging the stockings together, so I just scatter them around the living room hanging them on various knobs. We also usually have a stocking for our cat, Shredder with a couple of treats and maybe some catnip in it. She loves her treats and also loves playing in the piles of wrapping paper! I’ll have to see if I can find one of those pictures.

On Christmas morning we always open our stocking gifts first, then move on to the ones under the tree. We have a great “system” that I’ll write more about another day.

O.k. did you figure out what’s wrong with the red stockings? Terry’s “Dad” stocking has the letters “D” backwards. When I was ironing them on, I put the first “D” on backwards, then put on the “A”, then noticed that the “D” wasn’t right. So if I ironed the other “D” the right way, it would bring attention to the fact that the first one was wrong. I think with both of them the same, people tend to not notice quite as much. Funky huh? Oh well, nothing’s perfect. It will be a funny story for the grandkids someday…

Note: don’t miss the new post about my sister Sharon below.