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Monday, November 29, 2010

Decorating for Christmas / Family Traditions

OUR DECORATING TRADITION:  Our family usually decorates for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving as we did this year.  Once we put everything up the week before Thanksgiving but the day after gives us (the kids and me) something fun to do while they are out of school.  To start the day, I bake  cinnamon rolls for breakfast and patterned sugar cookies for the decorating time (unlimited, of course)   and turn on Christmas music--this year it was the soundtrack from the Chronicles of Narnia / The Lion, The  Witch and The Wardrobe.   After listening to it, which we hadn't done in a long time, my husband and I  watched the movie on Saturday afternoon and one son wanted to re-read Voyage of the Dawn Treader before the new movie comes out.   We had all gone together to see the first movie when it first came out a few Christmases ago on Christmas night.  :)

This is the part where my husband participates...eating treats and getting everything down from the garage and attic.  :)  

I always give both sons a box of chocolate-covered cherries on Dec. 1 (a little early this year).

Last year I weeded through our decorations and threw away / gave away / donated a LOT of stuff that we haven't really used in years or that was falling apart.  When was the last time you did that?  I tell you, it made the decorating go SO much faster and non-stressful this year as there was a definite limit to what we could display.  We have literally 100+ more tree ornaments but we rotate them each year for our family room and living room trees.  Our sons have small trees in their rooms as well and there is a potted Norfolk Island pine in the front yard  on which I tie red bows.  I have saved many of the children's handmade items as well in storage bins.   Simplifying our lives is my continuing goal...

There are always  Christmas decor items that will never get thrown away and here are some of ours:

I cross-stitched this myself about 20 years ago from a sampler pattern I found in a Woman's Day magazine.

My sister-in-law quilted this for us when my husband and I were first married.  I've never quilted so it looks pretty complicated to me. The colors are so vivid.  Thank you, Susie.

My husband's family (mother's side) is Swedish, so we always hang this traditional Swedish piece each year. We don't have daughters so we have never carried out the Santa Lucia Scandinavian  tradition but I know some families who do and it's a very special event. What are your roots?

Our family of four always sits by the larger Christmas tree keeping watch over the gifts...the two sock monkeys belong to our sons.  Both were given to them by their great-grandmother (my grandmother) before she died. She sewed the one on the left while in her 90s. Mama Bear is the one with the lace hankie around her neck. :)

When I was pregnant with our older son, a friend sewed three matching stockings for us and left the name on his blank. I cross-stitched his name after he was born.  When our second son was born, I found the same fabric at Joanne's (they couldn't believe it either) and sewed the 4th stocking.  We've never put up a mantel but we still hang them over the fireplace. They go under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and everyone sneaks around the house trying to stuff them when no one is watching.  One of our favorite parts of Christmas morning is opening these stockings.  They're average size but you can put quite a lot inside of each.  I love shopping for stocking stuffers. :)

Another first...a decorated paper plate made by my son when he was in kindergarten.  He played an angel in a school Christmas play that year. :)

Originally made to cut Christmas expenses, I continued sewing  cross-stitch / stuffed ornaments  several years in a row for our sons when they were younger--snowflakes, trees and a set of woodland animals.   I think there are about 7 in the set.

Even the backing holds a memory-- I used a piece of red tartan plaid from a pair of flannel footie pajamas that both my sons wore when they were babies.

I started a tradition of giving one ornament each year through age 18 to my nephews when they were born and have continued that with our sons as well.   They have small trees (1 1/2 ft.) in their bedrooms which they also decorate.   When they get married they will already have a starter set of ornaments.  Some couples have only boxed purchased ornaments when they start out, but it's nice to have some memory ones when newly married.   I was very touched when I saw some Christmas photos last year at one of my nephew's homes with his family and recognized some of the ornaments that I had bought and/or made for him when he was very young. :)

Everyone has memory ornaments.  I try to purchase one if we are on a special vacation or to commemorate an important event that year.  This one is from long ago when I traveled to Germany.  Try to pick up something during the year that your family will bring to mind special memories for your family.

We made these  felt / glitter / photo ornaments in 1998.

A friend surprised me with these wooden European elves in  an act of kindness that I have never forgotten.

I switch out some of our framed photos with pictures of Christmases past. 

A little bit of pretty fabric and a wired bow and voila...

I have a  small collection of snow globes. This one is on my piano. The others are under our 2nd smaller tree in the family room.

I was a leader in Bible Study Fellowship for many years when  I was in my 20s and early 30s, three of which I was the Children's Program Supervisor.  When I "retired", the other children's leaders gave me this Precious Moments nativity set.

Our kitchen table this year.  In my craftier days, I sewed napkins one year for relatives as Christmas gifts. This is one set that I kept for us.  Funny how I've never used them with this tablecloth before but they complement it pretty well.

Our two sons work as a team in setting up our two artificial trees.  They did a beautiful job, don't you think? One thing I personally enjoy about them decorating the trees is that they handle and look at every ornament, recalling certain events and memories from their young lives.    I can glance at the full tree and remember where most of the ornaments came from but when you touch and feel each one, it stirs something within the heart and draws your family closer.  :)

A few red and white flowers and a simple wreath for the front door...

By keeping it fairly simple, all this decorating took about 3 hours including eating treats and lunch and  putting all the bins away.   Now we have a little bit of Christmas in just about every room of our home.  Working together makes it go so much more quickly and is a pleasant time for everyone.   The house is clean and ready for family and friends and new Christmas memories.

Luke 2:19 
....Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

ADVENT of Christ / Christmas / 1st Sunday of Advent

Today is the first Sunday of Advent.  Here is a review from last year of the ABC's of Advent to do with your children, Sunday School class and/or friends.

Our Worship of Jesus Christ in Advent
...Churches coming out of the Reformation have historically recognized the value of the Church Year, without feeling obliged to following it in their services slavishly. Many in the Reformed churches have singled out Advent and Christmas, Easter and Pentecost as major movements in the life of our Lord and His Church that are helpful in the devotional life of our churches...The lighting of these candles reminds us of the promise that a Light would come to the World:
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined” (Isaiah 9.2 KJV)
Each candle brings us closer to the time when we recall His birth as well as His Second Coming. Remembering Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25.1-13, the Parable of the Ten Virgins, we also seek to be wise and have our lamps ready for the Bridegroom who is coming again. As Jesus said:
“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (25:13 KJV).
As we worship our Lord Jesus and recall His first coming, look forward to His Second Coming, let us also be attentive to His present coming. As Max Lucado has written:
“The One who came still comes. The One who spoke still speaks.”
May the Lord use this season to draw you and your family closer to Him, that you may know His presence and hear His voice in a fresh way.
First Sunday of Advent
Today we light the first candle of the Advent wreath. This is the candle of HOPE. With Christians around the world, we use this light to help us prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of God’s Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. May we receive God’s light as we hear the words of the prophet Isaiah:
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness — on them light has shined.”Isaiah 9:2
Let us pray:
Lord as we look to the birth of Jesus, grant that the light of your love for us will help us to become lights in the lives of those around us. Prepare our hearts for the joy and gladness of your coming, for Jesus is our hope. Amen.

Our church:
Carols that we sang this morning:
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Infant Holy, Infant Lowly
Our pastor's Advent blog and this morning's sermon.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday in the Park / Fun Photos / Christmas Displays

It was a chilly damp Saturday morning and the kids were away so my husband and I went for breakfast and a stroll in Winter Park.   The park was really beautiful today though not many people around.  All spruced up for the Christmas in the Park on Thursday night.  Here are some of the pretty window displays, flowers, scenery...

One of Panera's many wreaths and poinsettia arrangements...

Fountain #1

My husband (and I) trying to figure out what this new piece of "artwork" is. :)

 This was odd...we heard clicking of wood as we came through the park. 
This couple was slow-motion ninja-ing near the stage.  

  Part of a wall on a storefront.

Very similar to this stone.

 You can really see the flowers if you get down low.

Another "good" use of W.P. taxpayer funds...

Very colorful window displays. I'm sure they're gorgeous at night, too.

Many of  the shopkeepers have lovely flowers outside their places of business.

Hope you enjoyed your "walk" with us!  Have a great rest of the day.  

We drove through there on the way home after a concert that night.  Pretty at night, too.

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