I’m not in the least bit crafty, and I have no picture of one of our traditional Christmas goodies, so opted to share an ornament instead.
We never made a big issue of Santa Claus in our home. It wasn’t that we were against it–my mom even hired a Santa Claus one year to come when we were celebrating at their home. Complete with blue eye shadow–which my girls picked up on instantly–mainly because they were still too young to wear it themselves.
The biggest factor was that the daddy in this household was a firefighter, and thus wasn’t always home on Christmas morning to watch his kiddos be surprised at what Santa brought them. So we chose, instead, to make Christmas any day daddy was home, and tried to teach them the real meaning. I might add, that none of our children are scarred from this…nor was it ever a huge issue.
One year, at our local Ben Franklin store, they had tiny plastic nativity sets–at a bargain price, marked down from 10 cents to 8 cents and they each came in their own little box. I probably used grocery money–naughty me–to buy a plethora of these tiny little manger scenes to hang on our tree, and from then on they were always a part of our Christmas decor.
I still have these, boxes and all. Some of the glitter has rained off their tiny rooftops, some are missing a sheep or a wiseman, and the grocery string hangars are a bit soiled. But all were handled, played with, and eventually hung back on the tree.
I have nothing against Santa Claus. And I love the glitter and lights and shiny baubles on my tree. I love the cookies and the choirs and ugly sweaters and family dinners. However, allow me this one rant: The idea of Santa Claus gives way to only the ‘good’ children getting gifts. That breaks my heart. Because, you see–the Real One, for Whom we celebrate–came especially for us who were not nearly ‘good enough’, nor could we ever be, and He came anyway!! The best present is His Presence, and it is not earned, given, nor withheld because we are naughty or nice. And it comes with no marked-down price…but is FREE!
Here is fun craft that my youngest son made at school 3 years ago – plasticine pictures in a shadow box frame. It turned out beautifully and we keep it with our Christmas decorations and put it on display each year.
- Colored cardboard or card stock
- Shadow box frame
- Optional: glitter, glue, buttons, mini pom-poms – anything for added embellishment
To make this craft, you create objects with plasticine and pressed them onto a piece of cardboard, pinching down the sides. In this case, Nathan made a pretty wreath. The greenery has nice texture and he used toothpicks to make lines to show the folds of the ribbon. He signed and dated the corner using a silver pen to stand out against the black. Then the picture was mounted in a shadow box frame, something that could be found at your local dollar store.
The picture ideas are endless—Christmas trees, nativity scenes, snowmen, candles… This craft would be easy to do at home and would make a lovely gift!
Are there any handmade decorations you’ve kept each year?
Making Christmas cookies and treats is just about my favorite thing of the season.
I’m baking things for my family and the office Christmas party on Tuesday. Saturday, I also had the chance to bake cookies for Jesus. Several years ago, some ladies in our church started a ministry to give plates of cookies to prisoners at the county jail. Many of the prisoners have written thank you notes. For these men and women who are at the lowest point in their life, to know someone thought of them and cared enough to make homemade cookies really meant a lot.
This year, I felt compelled to share with them. Nothing fancy, just brownies and dipped pretzels (a personal favorite). And as I cooked, I prayed for the prisoners, that they would not just have a treat, but know Christ, who came to set the captives free.
When I opened the almond bark (What a strange name! I checked the ingredients, there is no almond or no bark in it.) I was delighted to discover that great innovations had been made in packaging. Instead of one solid brick that requires a hammer to break, it was packaged in a tray in neat little chunks, making it easy to select just what you need.
Almond bark is Christmas tradition. What is your favorite thing to dip in it?
Happy baking and dipping!
Remember those long, slow days when you thought Christmas would never come? The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas was painful because it seem to take as long as the previous eleven months. What happened?
It didn’t help that Thanksgiving was at the end of the month and by that Sunday we were turning the calendar to December. At school, that’s meant we had to hustle to get Christmas art work finished and on the walls so someone would have the chance to enjoy them.
My FACS girls have been busy doing really important things–baking and candy making! Last week it was scones, rolls and cinnamon rolls. This week our healthy menu has included caramels, toffee, peanut brittle and four flavors of fudge. AFTER Christmas we’ll do a unit on nutrition!
Here’s one of the recipes a group made on Wednesday.
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
15 KRAFT caramels
2 tablespoons water
1 c. pecan pieces
1. Line and 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on both sides. Set aside.
2. Place the unwrapped caramels and water in a microwave safe bowl.
3. Use a double boiler to melt chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk; add vanilla.
4. When the fudge mixture is about to be ready, place the bowl of caramels in the microwave and heat on high for 2-3 minutes, stirring after each minute. Once melted, stir in 1 cup pecan pieces. Set aside.
5. Pour half of the fudge into prepared pan Spoon the caramel pecan mixture over the fudge. Spoon remaining fudge over the top (reheat if necessary). Chill in refrigerator until firm, about 2 hours.
I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe! Have a wonderful weekend and hang on–I’m sure the next week and a half will only fly by faster!
Remember the song….If Everyone Lit Just One Little Candle? Well…what if…
What if…in these days when the world seems so dark…we do it? What if every believer reading this would put one little candle in a window that could be seen by anyone passing? And…
What if…behind that candle one could find a smiling neighbor, new friend, shelter, solace, welcome? And…
What if…We–who call ourselves Christians–stop lamenting the condition of the world around us, and let a candle in the window show we have A Hope above all others?…And…
What if…we kept a candle burning in at least one window all year long? Why not?
Remember how the song goes? ….What a Bright World This Would Be!!
My gardening philosophy is to always plant a chili pepper – because it will always grow. Even in the hottest, driest years, you can count on an abundant crop.
This year, I tried something I’ve wanted to for a long time. I planted a chili in a pot on the front porch. It worked great to add some color and “spice.”
When fall hit, the little pepper was still going to town. I didn’t have the heart to let it freeze, so along with the geranium, inside it moved.
It’s still blooming and putting on peppers.
Considering temperatures dipped below zero last week and Sunday we got a few inches of snow, this little pepper is doing great.
I love history, especially the Regency and Victorian eras. The architecture, fashion and culture hold a certain charm for me. As a young girl, I was enamoured with books like Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, and Five Little Peppers. So I was thrilled when our class took a field trip to a local Victorian home.
I’ll always remember going into a room off the kitchen where herbs and flowers were drying upside-down on a rack hanging from the ceiling. The tour guide then passed around sachets filled with dried lavender and rose petals. She also showed us another item called a pomander. I remember thinking how pretty it was and how wonderfully the scent reminded me of Christmas.
Pomanders date back to the 15th century and were used as air fresheners in closets or drawers. In the Victorian times they were embellished with pretty ribbon and used for decorations on trees or elsewhere around the home. They can also be made with limes, lemons or apples.
One Christmas, I decided that I would get crafty and try my hand at making these. I thought they turned out well and packaged them up for my children’s teachers with a little note about what was in the gift bag.
Well, when I arrived at Nathan’s pre-school, the teacher opened up her gift in front of me. I’ll never forget the look on her face as she pulled out the dried fruit hanging from red ribbon.
“Oh, thank you!” And then she frowned and turned the piece around to look at it from all sides. “What is this thing?”
I quickly explained it and she still looked perplexed. Suddenly, the wonderful idea didn’t seem so great after all. Perhaps, I was reading her wrong…maybe she was just wondering which of her closets needed it the most.
If you think Pomanders would be a hit in your home, here are two sites with the instructions on how to make your own!
treasureseeking.com/2012/12/09/orange-pomanders/ (picture shown above)
No amount of red ribbons can disguise the awful truth.
We’re talking about Christmas decorations this week – hits and misses. It’s obvious what category this “tree” falls into.
The Charlie Brown appeal of it clouded my judgment when I found it free on the sidewalk this summer, piled with a bunch of other items left over from a garage sale. The $15 tag suggested at one time someone thought it had value. I lugged it home two blocks on a July evening, stored it in the garage all fall and pulled it out this weekend.
In the cold light of day, a crooked piece of birch limb with artificial branches screwed on, a string of pine cone lights and an odd gap in the center lacked true Christmas spirit.
Since I’ve harbored it this long, I decided to dress it up as best I could. Once Christmas is over, I guess I’ll drag it to the curb and see if someone else will fall for it like I did.
Do you have any decorations that you can’t part with – even though you should?
Due to various work schedules, our family celebrated Thanksgiving on November 24 this year. It was a full day…starting with breakfast and ending after we made another stab at the leftovers. Wonderful, wonderful, time…gone too quickly.
Sometime during the afternoon our conversation turned to Christmas. On my “bucket list’ I stated that before I died I wanted to, just once, have Christmas lights on our house!! We always have candles in the windows, and lots of lights inside, but I’ve yearned for lights on the house!!
Yesterday, the day before Thanksgiving (and my regular day to blog, by the way), granddaughters #2 and #4 came to spend the day and asked if we could put up the Christmas decorations. Now, why would a grandma ever say not to that? So began the ‘hauling out’ process.
Then…..then!!!! To my complete surprise, youngest son, Rob, and his family came walking in (they live 1.5 hours away) and announced they came to put Christmas lights on the house…they even bought the lights and a timer!!
My heart is so full. Silly? I don’t think so. We ordered in pizza, oldest son, wife and granddaughter #1 joined us, for another Thanksgiving gathering.
Of course, I told wife of #2 son that they were now my favorite, and she quickly whispered to wife of #1 “yeah, but they live closest to you”!!
I love our family. There are not a lot of us….12 to be exact (until they start adding soulmates) But it warms my heart to pieces when it takes fifteen minutes to say goodbye because everyone gets hugs….everyone!!
As they drove away, I stood and admired the way the lights around the house made rainbows on the soffit below them.
The only thing that worries me, just a tad–I DID say I hoped to have lights BEFORE I die. And I’m wondering if they know something I don’t?
How very blessed we are.