Trying on Some New Traditions, Also Known As Liturgical Baby Steps

I love this time of year.

I always have, but since becoming Catholic, it’s even more wonderful. It’s become more packed with meaning and different ways to celebrate. I’m a lover of tradition, and we’ve begun bringing in some new traditions to our family to celebrate many of the feast days that are so abundant during Advent.

There are some old traditions that I haven’t let go of, even though many will say that a true observance of Advent means that we should. We still put up our Christmas tree and decorate it fully on the day after Thanksgiving.

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Since becoming Catholic, I’ve discovered that lot of people don’t decorate their Christmas tree or do much, if any, actual Christmas celebrating until Christmas day, and then they celebrate for the 12 days after Christmas. I think that’s fantastic, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to implement that in my family, and I don’t think I really even want to.

I think that’s okay.

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I do try to emphasize the waiting aspect of Advent with my kids. We have an Advent Wreath. We do a Jesse Tree, thanks to Kendra and these ornaments (I did a version of Method B, printed the images provided onto printable and ironable fabric, and then ironed them onto felt – no sewing!). We open different Christmas books during each day of Advent, that I’ve wrapped in purple or pink paper, depending on the week. We put out our shoes for the feast of St. Nicholas.

These are things that I’ve gradually added in. This is only my third religious Christmas, so I’m trying to take baby steps. I’m learning what works for us and what doesn’t. I can do an Advent wreath. I can do a Jesse tree. I can’t not decorate my Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving. It’s a family tradition that I love too much. Maybe some year, we’ll decide to move back the day we do it, but that’s not this year.

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This year I’m trying to add in a few new traditions. Tuesday was the Feast (or Solemnity??) of the Immaculate Conception. The girls enjoyed providing a little bit of decoration by rounding up all the Mary statues and holy cards from around the house.

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Front and center was Miss’s Immaculate Conception peg doll that she specifically requested for her birthday a couple of years ago. She was pretty excited to put that out there.

I decided to implement a new Immaculate Conception tradition of eating an all-white dinner, since the Immaculate Conception emphasizes Mary’s purity and preservation from sin. White = pure… so, dinner:

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This dinner was a last minute decision, so I chose things that I could make with minimal effort. Cheese ravioli in butter, roasted cauliflower, and poached fish. The result was okay. The fish was supposed to be halibut poached in olive oil, but I couldn’t get halibut at my grocery store so I had to settle for cod. Then I burned the heck out of my olive oil and had to start over again with vegetable oil. Cod poached in vegetable oil. It was about as tasty as it sounds. BUT, the rest of the food was good and the girls really got into the reason we were eating white food, which is the whole point, obviously. And of course we had vanilla ice cream topped with white chocolate chips afterward. Over all, I’d say this is a tradition we can continue. Next year I’ll plan ahead a bit and chose a better recipe for white food though.

Yesterday we celebrated St. Juan Diego’s feast day. This one was pretty easy to do, because our parish had a “Mary Party,” with our associate pastor in attendance as Juan Diego himself.

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The kids played games and made a craft and they absolutely loved it.

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Saturday is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I’m making quesadillas for dinner, and maybe we’ll do some sort of craft. We’ll read a book about her that the girls will open that morning.

Sunday is St. Lucy’s feast day. This one always seems like it has so much potential for fun celebrating, but I just can’t bring myself to make saffron buns from scratch. Maybe I’ll try at least making cinnamon rolls the way Lacy suggests in this post as something different and special to mark the day. I can probably even manage to craft St. Lucy crowns with my girls or something.

You can see I really plan this stuff in advance.

I think the point for me is that I’m trying to gradually add in more activities that acknowledge the beauty of all our Church has for us to celebrate this season, hoping that these things will become traditions for us and that my girls will look forward to them each year. I try to do this all year long, but this season is special because there’s so much potential.

If we don’t make funny-shaped cinnamon rolls or paper candle crowns on Sunday, I’m not going to beat myself up. We have a book about St. Lucy and I’ll print out a coloring page and call it good. I don’t want observance and celebration of the liturgical stuff to be stressful for me or for them.

Baby steps, right?

Merry Christmas and Stuff

Merry Christmas!

We’ve been on a crazy ride of illness, travel, and dog potty training that has led to very few posts this holiday season. I’m sorry.

In spite of the fact that in the past two weeks three of us had a stomach virus, and then three of us had what I originally thought was a really bad cold but was probably a vaccine-dampened version of the flu (yes, I ended up with both of the bugs), our travel plans did not get disrupted, nor did our celebrating. Everyone stopped puking and was fever-free before we needed to leave for the first leg of our travel (we packed a bucket just in case). And I suffered through the flu while my husband drove nine hours on the second leg. No one was sick for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day!

Here are a few highlights of our travels and fun. We celebrated with my in laws last weekend. The girls loved their presents and enjoyed lots of family time.

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The weekend was packed with activities and playing. The girls really made the most of it.

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We have been at my parents’ house this week, where the girls have had more fun playing with more cousins. We spent Christmas Eve with my brother’s family.

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The girls were so tired when we put them to bed. Still, I could hardly believe it when I woke up on Christmas morning, after 8am, and my kids weren’t even awake yet. We had to wake up Sis once her sisters were up and ready to go.

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We had our sacrifice manger, with all the straw the girls filled it up with during Advent, under the tree with our homemade Baby Jesus in it for them.

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Of course, they were excited to run to the tree to see what Santa had left too. Sis had a little bit of hard time adjusting to being awake once the initial excitement had passed.

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The favorite gifts seem to have been the light-up Frozen dresses, Miss’s sewing kit from my mom, Sis’s jewelry, and their Baby Alive dolls.

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It was a great week and a fun and relaxing Christmas.

Because of the sicknesses and travel, we didn’t get to do a few of the fun things I had wanted to do. Fortunately, since becoming Catholic, I have learned that many Catholic folks actually really start their Christmas celebrating on Christmas Day and go at it for 12 days. So, this year I’m going to count the twelve days of Christmas (starting with Day 3 tomorrow because the idea to do this is just occurring to me, I’m still learning this stuff) and get caught up on even more fun Christmas-y things for the next ten days. We have cookies to bake and lights to go see in the park and other cool stuff we can do.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

7QT Why I Don’t Threaten my Kids with the “Naughty List” at Christmas

A few years ago I heard a story about a friend who said to her daughter, who was about 4 or 5 at the time, “If you’re not good, Santa won’t bring you presents!” The little girl replied with something like, “Yes he will. I wasn’t good last year and he still did anyway.”

When Christmas gets close, I don’t tell my girls that they need to be good or Santa won’t come. I don’t tell them than an elf is watching them and reporting back to the big guy so they’d better behave. We do have an elf. Ours is Christopher Pop-In-Kins, who was recommended to me by Super Friend (he isn’t as popular as “Elf on the Shelf,” but he was actually the original, coming out in 1985, 20 years before the more commonly seen elf).

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Our tradition is that we decorate our tree on the day after Thanksgiving. Then my girls put their letters to Santa into our, appropriately named, “Letters to Santa” ornament that my mom got for them when Miss was really little. In the morning, the letters are gone, the Christopher Pop-In-Kins book is under the tree, and Christopher (Lass always calls him “Mary Poppins”) is hiding somewhere in the house. He moves every night, but doesn’t get up to goofy shenanigans, because I don’t have the energy or desire to create elf messes and then clean them up again.

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The Christopher Pop-In-Kins book does mention that he is a helper for Santa, and that he keeps and eye on kids and reports back to Santa before Christmas Eve. It doesn’t make a big issue out of it though, focusing more on how much Christopher likes little children and wants to be able to visit them. The book doesn’t say that Santa won’t come if Christopher tells him the kids were naughty.

I try to make our elf more of a fun little tradition and less of a “He’s watching you and telling Santa everything, so you better be good” kind of behavioral control. I don’t talk to my kids about being on Santa’s “naughty list,” and I don’t tell them that if they don’t behave, Santa won’t come. I’m not judging people who do do this. I get why they do. Before thinking about it a bit more in recent years, I used to occasionally make comments like, “I wonder what Santa would think about that behavior.” But it never quite felt right for me, so I don’t do it anymore. Here’s why:

  1. I don’t really like the idea of Santa having a punitive role. He’s a happy, jolly fellow. No need to make him the bad guy.
  2. I think it can be a little harder for kids to be on their best behavior at this time of year. Often they’re getting less sleep, or schedules are disrupted by activities. There’s so much excitement and hype (and sugar!) around them. That’s not to say I don’t still expect my kids to behave, but I try to be understanding of it being a little harder.
  3. I try to emphasize that Christmas is about more than getting gifts. My girls write a letter to Santa every year and in it they’re allowed to ask him for one thing. Then I try to talk to them about all the more important things about Christmas. It seem that if I repeatedly remind them that they have to be good so Santa will bring them presents, that keeps the focus of the season on getting presents instead of the other things I want them to be focused on.
  4. I prefer immediate and definite consequences for inappropriate behavior. The threat of Santa not bringing presents, because it’s mom or dad saying what Santa might do (or not do in this case), isn’t immediate or definite.
  5. I try to make it a general rule not to threaten consequences that I’m not willing to enforce. I’m not willing to take away my kids’ Christmas presents, so I don’t threaten that “Santa” will do it, when I know he won’t (see the story above about my friend’s little girl!).
  6. I think the admonishments to kids that they must “be good” at Christmas time to avoid being placed on the “naughty list” are too vague. It isn’t realistic to expect kids to not misbehave in any way for the whole month of December (or November too, depending when folks start talk of Santa). What is the cutoff point? How many times to they have to be “naughty” to get on the list? Can they get off it once they’re on it? How do they know? Seems kind of anxiety-producing to me, and there’s no need for added stress during the holidays, in my opinion.
  7. I want my kids to realize that they should work on being on their best behavior all the time, not just to get something from Santa. When my kids asked me a few weeks ago, “Do we have to be good so Santa will come?” I replied, “No. You have to be good because that’s what we do. We always try to be our best all the time, not just for Santa.”

So. This are my two cents about Santa and the “naughty list.” Even still, because of the brief mention in the Christopher Pop-In-Kins book and the common theme of “be good or else…” in songs and Christmas movies, my girls have an idea in their heads that they need to be good for Santa. When we went to see him last week, Lass asked him, “How do you know who’s good and who’s bad?” He replied that his elves help him. I didn’t mind that she asked him that or that he replied in that way.

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I don’t necessarily want them to think that Santa has no interest in children having good behavior. I’m just not going to threaten them that he’ll leave them out on Christmas if they don’t have it all the time.

 

Linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes Friday!

Seasonal Successes (and failures)

I love this time of year.

Last year was my first time in a long time of celebrating Christmas as a religious holiday rather than just a secular one. I tried to add in all the Catholic things (Advent wreath, Jesse tree, St. Nicholas day and other feast days, etc) while keeping everything we had been doing before (visiting Santa, baking Christmas cookies, our Advent calendar experiences, etc). I ended up feeling a little overwhelmed, but we had a fun time anyway. I enjoyed learning about and beginning some new traditions.

This year, I am feeling utterly overwhelmed by it all. I don’t know why exactly. Maybe it’s because we’re doing real homeschooling (beyond preschool), part-time Catholic school, and have just gotten two puppies. Maybe it’s because we are going to be traveling for the week of Christmas, so I have had to ship almost all of our gifts to my parent’s house and have less time to get everything done before we leave. I don’t know what my problem is. But I’ve decided that I just have to let some things go if I want to maintain my sanity and keep focused on what is really important about Christmas.

One example of letting things go: From the moment we got our decorations out, I decided the Advent calendar of years past, with a different fun experience for each day, was going to have to bite the dust. I hung it up. I just didn’t do anything else with it (I didn’t even take out the cards from last year!).

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I just can’t do that one anymore.

I have had some nice successes in my efforts at seasonal celebrating and observances. And also some plans that seemed fabulous in my head and then were just big flops. For example:

*I made some lovely new ornaments for our Jesse Tree and ordered a book to go with them (courtesy of Kendra, how awesome is she to share?). I also got the DVD from Holy Heroes with cute little videos for each day with the readings. Unfortunately, we haven’t actually done the readings (or watched the video segment) since day 5 (5 days ago).

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*I made it to Mass with my children for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on Monday. I set Miss’s Immaculate Conception Saint Anne doll on the counter in place of honor and talked to the girls about the meaning of the Immaculate Conception (Mary’s conception, not Jesus’s).

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Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to do any other activities I had planned to commemorate the day. No special dinner. No dessert. I didn’t even get around to giving them the coloring page I have had ready to go in our liturgical year binder for months.

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*I wrapped Christmas books for each day of Advent, in purple and pink to go with each week. We have kept up with the daily opening of the books, but we haven’t done a great job of keeping up with the reading of them. Which kind of misses the point, right? Geez.

*I rocked St. Nicholas’s feast day. The girls put their shoes on the hearth and they each got a couple of these adorable little saint dolls, some chocolate coins, a Veggie Tales Christmas DVD, and a Twilight Turtle (they have always loved their cousins’ turtles, and I got them on sale from Zulily).

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St. Nicholas left a note explaining that he hopes the stars/light from the turtles will remind the girls of how God created the heavens and earth and stars and sun and everything else, and also of how Jesus’s light is always with them. Huge. Hit. We watched DVDs about Saint Nicholas and read books about him. Unfortunately, I forgot that I had some new play nativities for the girls I had planned to leave as Saint Nicholas gifts as well. They’re still sitting in my basement.

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*I took the big girls to see The Nutcracker. It was a special date they have been looking forward to. They loved the Nutcracker stories we read last year and our trip to the local art museum that has a beautiful Nutcracker display throughout. It really was fun, though a touch long for them.

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Unfortunately, though I had purchased a new Nutcracker book for them this year, we didn’t manage to read it before going to the ballet, so the girls kept asking, “Who is that? What’s happening now?” because the whole story wasn’t fresh in their minds (nor in mine).

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They still loved it, and have been playing “Nutcracker” ever since. With costumes even. Lass is usually Clara or the Sugar Plum Fairy. Miss is usually the Nutcracker:

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In addition to all the above partial successes, I have also managed to get most of my shopping done, to make a couple of Christmas crafts with the girls, and to remember to move our elf every night (except for that one time when Lass came down early and said, “Hey! He’s still in that same spot!” and I convinced her that she had just woken up too early and needed to go back to bed for a little while to give him time to decide where to go).

See? Lots of successes.

I tend to have big ideas about all the amazing things I want to do with my kids at this time of year. Then reality comes calling and I have to make adjustments. Instead of fretting about not doing enough, I’m working on just being happy with where we are. I could get caught up in doing activities and crafting and baking and going here and there to see and do, but then I would be missing the whole point. I spent ten years missing the whole point, so I don’t want to do that anymore.

We will probably catch up on our Jesse Tree readings/ornaments tomorrow morning. I’ll make more of a point to read the Christmas books we open each day and the ones we missed. We’ll go see Santa, and go to the Nutcracker display at the museum, and bake cookies, and make more crafts, and observe the feast days of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Saint Lucy. And if we miss something, it will be fine. Because we won’t miss celebrating Jesus’s birth most of all.

Remembering the whole point of it all has been one of my very favorite successes.

A Thanksgiving Recap and Advent Intro

Thanksgiving was amazing. It really was. We invited our dear friends to join us for dinner. I spent all day cooking. The girls helped me. They made decorations, which we promptly forgot to move into the kitchen/table area.

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Good food. Great friends. Memories made.

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It is truly a blessing when friends are like family.

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As I always do, I resisted focusing on Christmas until Thanksgiving was over. I think Thanksgiving is important, and I like to let it have its day.

But come Friday, I’m ready to move on. I love our tradition of decorating the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving.

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We’re singing Christmas carols and setting up nativities and trying to get a photo for the Christmas card.

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And we’re getting into our Advent focus. I’m really relieved by how much easier Advent is this year. Everything just feels less confusing and overwhelming. I mostly understand what to do with my Advent wreath/candles. I have a decent grasp of what the Jesse tree is all about. This year I don’t need to look up words like “Annunciation,” and “Immanuel,” and “Epiphany,” and I’m confident in my ability to tell the Christmas story to my kids. In fact, they can tell it themselves just as well, which makes me very happy.

Though we’re still doing lots of Christmas-y things, I’m trying hard to keep a good focus on the purpose of Advent too – prayerfully anticipating.

I have so much to be thankful for. And so much to look forward to.

Bumpy Christmas

Merry Christmas! Our day was wonderful and joyful and kind of rocky. I always like to imagine that our holidays will be Hallmark perfect, with everyone happily playing and rejoicing and enjoying each other. We had some of that, but some of the not-so-perfect stuff too. It was kind of a bumpy Christmas.

As promised, baby Jesus:

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I enjoyed playing Santa last night. My husband enjoyed that I didn’t buy anything with “some assembly required” this year.

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This morning, ready to go…

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Trying to eat the big guys’s leftovers:

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Toy packaging is absurd.

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The girls each got a nutcracker and were thrilled with them.

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We have princesses…

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Miss loved her little wooden Saint Cecilia doll:

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Sis got a baby doll, and her favorite thing from the box was the spoon. “Poon! Poon!” She’s sleeping with it as I type this.

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She also wanted to constantly play with “Baby Cheesis.”

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Miss loved her fairies and her Elsa and Jasmine dolls. But she refused to take them out of the boxes and played with her sister’s new dolls instead.

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We had a lovely, soft snowfall all morning.

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It was all so idyllic. Until about 10:30 am.

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Lass randomly threw a rubber ducky (of all things) into the air and hit Miss in the eye. In spite of her Daddy being able to find and retrieve a small speck of something from her eye and then flushing it with water, she still could barely open it and complained of pain for quite a while.

She ended up taking a trip to the emergency room with her Dad to have it checked out. Can I just take a moment to comment on how hard it is to stay at home while your child goes to the ER? My husband is a medical professional, and knows the ER doctors, so it made more sense for him to take her. And there was no way we were getting a babysitter on Christmas. So. I stayed home with Sis and Lass, who bawled because her sister had to leave her, and I fretted for the entire time that my girl was gone.

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Of course she was in good hands, and she got the royal treatment at the hospital. Poor girl has a corneal abrasion.

The rest of the day was kind of a wash. We put on Christmas movies all evening to distract her from the pain, and to distract all of them from the fact that my prime rib dinner took forever to finish cooking, so we didn’t eat dinner until more than an hour after our usual dinner time.

But. Dinner was delicious. My biggest girl is now snoozing peacefully after her Daddy snuggled her until she fell asleep. I’m staring at a big mess of wrapping bags and presents strewn about my floor around the tree, and I’m not cleaning it up. I have a glass of wine and some time with my hubby.

In spite of the bumps, it was a great day. It was a beautiful mess of a day. This Christmas season has been extra special for me. I’ve spent a lot of time today thinking about what Christmas means to me now. I have so much to be grateful for.

I hope you had a joyful Christmas too (minus the bumps).

Random Christmas Catch-Up

I haven’t felt like writing much this past week. I guess I’ve just been savoring Christmas time.

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I think this post will likely end up being a jumble of thoughts on our Christmas-ing thus far. Such as: I’m thankful we got to spend time with extended family this past weekend, in spite of the nasty weather for traveling. My girls love seeing their cousins.

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Cousins and aunts and uncles are an essential part of Christmas. I remember Christmas gatherings with my cousins when I was little.

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That’s me, front and center. ^^ In the red suit (??). Weird, but I really, really loved that red suit.

I have to admit, there is a part of me that longs to hunker down, snuggle in, and stay home during Christmas. But I would absolutely never take away these cousin times from my girls. We make a point to visit and spend time with family all year, but there’s something special about the memories of Christmas with tons of family members around.

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In other random holiday news:

Tonight I will go to my first ever Christmas Eve mass. I’ve never been to church at Christmas. Even though it will be packed and we will have to wrestle Sis throughout the service since the nursery won’t be open, I am really looking forward to it.

My Mother-in-law gave me the coolest gift this year. I don’t even really know what to call it,

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but it is delightful. It has the figures of the Nativity on it, and the heat from the candles makes it spin. We lit it up on Sunday after we lit our four Advent candles. I think in the future we’ll do it along with our Advent wreath each week. It spins faster the more candles are lit! It will be a new tradition.

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We made a crazy amount of Christmas cookies last week to take and share with family over the weekend.

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^^Miss wanted to make a baby Jesus cookie for everyone in the family. 

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I am thankful that we have plenty leftover. I had made a random and stupid comment to the girls that if we ran out we could just make more to put out for Santa on Christmas Eve. I’m really glad we don’t need to make more.

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I love time in the kitchen with my girls, but decorating cookies is not my favorite holiday tradition. I would have liked it better if we didn’t have so many cookies to decorate so late at night, I think. Note to self for next year.

I still have to make a baby Jesus doll to put in our manger under the tree in the morning. I was going to buy one, but they are expensive!! The girls are very interested in the fact that I’m making one.

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Try to share my vision. I swear it will be a baby Jesus by tonight.

We’ve been filling our manger (also homemade, just a wooden box that I painted brown) with a piece of “hay” (raffia) for each kind gesture the girls make. They get excited to see how soft the bed is that they’re making for baby Jesus.

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Except for my procrastination on making the baby Jesus, which I’ll do after the girls go to bed tonight, I’m ready for Christmas. The presents are wrapped. Dinner is planned and will be relatively easy. I’m all set to make creamed eggs for breakfast. I’m excited to just enjoy my husband and girls tonight and tomorrow. Merry Christmas!

Joy to the World

I love Christmas carols. Love them. I am nearly incapable of doing something Christmas-related without turning on my favorite holiday tunes. In fact, when I was wrapping gifts the other night, my husband was listening to some (quite lovely) classical music. It just didn’t feel right. So I grabbed my phone, plugged in my ear buds and started jamming to “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.”

DSC_0545 DSC_0548When I decorate the tree, wrap presents, bake Christmas cookies, I must listen to Christmas carols. And to be honest, I listen to them any other time I get the chance too, or just sing my favorites at random wherever I happen to be. I’m the annoying lady singing along with the songs playing in the stores. Love me some Christmas carols.

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I’ve been this way as long as I can remember. My Mom and I listened to Johnny Mathis Christmas music while making no-bake cookies for her bunco group every year, and the tradition kind of stuck. You know I am a Christmas tradition junkie. And I have music in my head constantly, so this is the perfect time of year to just sing out loud as much as I want (so sorry if you happen to see me in a store).

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My favorite carols? Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Chestnuts Roasting... I’ve also always loved Give Me Your Love for Christmas and What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? which I think are solely Johnny Mathis songs, though I’m not positive. Perhaps oddly,  other songs that I have always included among my favorites are JM’s musical rendition of the Our Father (which is actually how I came to know the prayer by heart long before ever actually praying it), Do You Hear What I Hear?, Silent Night, and my all-time favorite, The Little Drummer Boy (which may or not be responsible for my previously-vaguely-held half-belief that there was a drummer boy involved in the story of Jesus’s birth).

Even when I didn’t believe in the story told in these songs or the God praised in them, I still loved the music and tradition of them. I’d sing along to them every year, without giving a thought to what they were about. “Joy to the World,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “O Holy Night”… I’d sing them all loud and proud and never stop to consider the beauty of the songs beyond the tune. I didn’t think about the words, so half the time I sang them incorrectly (“Long lay the word, in sin and err opiiiiiining…”)

But this year. This year, oh how I love these songs. This year I have a new appreciation for how truly beautiful they are.

My new favorite is O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. I purchased some new Christmas music from iTunes this year specifically with this song in mind. I have to admit, I still don’t entirely understand what it means, but it’s so haunting and joyful at the same time. I can’t get enough of it.

The wonders and joys of Christmas are multiplying for me this year. Joy to the world.

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Kentucky Family Fun

It’s that time of year again where I bring you the we’re-at-my-parents’-house-here-are-a-ton-of-photos post. This post will include all of the same elements that always make an appearance in those about Christmas with my family.

1. Silliness with Grandma (and playing with my old toys):

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^^The girls decided that Barney, my huge old teddy bear, was sick, and they were doctoring him in Grandma’s bed.

2. Watching our favorite Christmas movie, Heidi:

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^^Baby Sis was even enthralled by this, the best holiday movie ever.

3. Story time at the library with Grandma:

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^^She could not understand why she couldn’t just go get in Grandma’s lap for a story.

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4. And of course, a big holiday free-for-all with my brother’s family yesterday.

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We haven’t seen my brother and his family in a long time, and it made me so happy to see my kids and his kids jump right into cousin-ly camaraderie.

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It was awesome to have my whole family together. Six adults + Seven kids (two of which are toddlers) = Crazy and wonderful.

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The present opening was just as chaotic as ever, and just as fun.

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Everyone got pretty tired out by the festivities.
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More silliness with Grandma:

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After my brother and his clan left the girls got dressed in their new princess PJs, which Lass had been begging to put on from the moment she opened them.

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They danced around in their new finery, with Lass breathlessly proclaiming, “I’m Snow White! I am really and truly Snow White! All my dreams have come true!”

At the end of the evening last night, we put on a movie for tired girls (and tired parents).

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We have one more day at Grandma and Grandpa’s before hitting the road to go home on Saturday. We’re packing in as much quality time as we can.

Christmas Cards – I Have a New Source

A few days ago, I got an email from someone at Minted. As soon as I saw the subject line, I figured it was about asking me to do some sort of post about some sort of product (I didn’t know what Minted was until I opened the email). My initial thought was “No. No more reviews right now.”

I just did a book review and I have another one coming up next week. Though I have enjoyed reading these books and writing the reviews, I don’t want to make this blog all about reviews. That’s not why I write it. So my gut reaction to the email was “no.”

Then I opened it. And I clicked on the link that Matt from Minted sent to me. And I changed my mind right smartly.

Minted is an online stationery store. Forget about the fact that as soon as I read that in Matt’s email I started imagining lovely, thick paper and envelopes just waiting to have a note hand written on them and sent through the real mail (have I ever mentioned that I have a little bit of a stationery thing?). Nevermind that I pictured myself buying some personalized stationery again (I used to have some when I was a little girl).

When I opened the link Matt sent, I found myself looking at some beautiful Christmas card designs, and I immediately changed my mind from “No” to “Oh, I love this stuff. Absolutely!”

I have found so many card designs that I like, I’m having a hard time choosing. There’s this one and this one and this one. The upload and edit process is extremely easy. I have five different saved cards that I made quickly last night, just waiting for me to make up my mind. And though my first impression was that the cards were more expensive than Shutterfly, which is what I’ve used in the past, when I checked it out I found that they actually are comparable or less expensive. And I just like the card designs better than other online photo or card companies I’ve looked at this year.

So. There you have it. I have a new online stationery store. Christmas cards coming soon. Now excuse me while I go shop for some glorious items in their paperie.

P.S. I am receiving a credit from Minted in exchange for writing about my opinion.

P.P.S. I’ll return to regular programing after my next book review coming up this week.