holidays with family

Thankful Tree Centerpiece

Like a lot of families, it’s become a tradition to write out the things we are thankful for during Thanksgiving. Because my kids love crafts, they required the activity to be craft related. I demand that the craft to be E-A-S-Y. Last year we colored a stuffed blessings turkey {see it here}. This year we made a Thankful Tree.

Tree full of thanks

I cut some branches from our plum-tree in the backyard. (After the snow storm, it needed pruned anyway.) Arranged the limbs in a pretty vase with some marbles in the bottom, used foam glitter leaves from Joann’s, wrote our thanks on the back and attached with string. It is the centerpiece on our dining room table. I told it had to be easy! 

Giving thanks should never be a once-a-year-thing. I am continuing to record my 1,000 Gifts (Thankfulness) until I reach that magic number. I encourage you to think about what you are thankful for and record it. For those times when you forget that you are truly blessed.

Categories: family holiday, Holidays, holidays with family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Have a Simple Merry Holidays

Target Holiday Catalog

Walk through Target (or any other retail store for that matter) and you’ll notice that the Halloween decorations have been replaced with Christmas merchandise. The good news is you can snag a bag of peanut butter cups for 75% off!

The bad news? We will have toys advertisements & electronic sales shoved down our throats non-stop for the next two months!

Every year I wish it to be less about the season to shop and more about the reason for the season.

I understand that this is the “make it or break it” time for retailers. In this economy they need to make money, or put people out of work. Their bottom-line depends on it. But it stresses me out.

Every year I ask myself, “How do I focus on the season and not the goods? And how do I instill those values to my little impressionable kids?” (They have already started making their Christmas Wish List. Sigh.)

Give Love. A personal motto of mine (and The Beatles): Money can’t buy love. No matter how expensive the item, it will not guarantee the gift recipient will love you more for it. Love is greater, and best of all, it’s free.

Give Time. Your time is also free and greatly appreciated by all who receive it. Help a neighbor shop, or clean up their yard, or cook for a friend. Volunteer at a food bank or your church. The simple act of your time shows you care more than any wrapped gift you could buy.

Decorate less. I have a huge collection of Christmas ornaments and decorations. Over the years I have weeded out a lot of stuff but still, I have too much. This year I plan to leave most of the decorations in their boxes. The ceramic lighted village will stay in its boxes. Every year I dread putting it all away. It takes a few hours to wrap it all up and store it. Hours I could be doing something else…like taking a nap!

Do Less. I say “no” more often to holiday parties and events than I say “yes”. I try to get enough sleep (even though I struggle with this everyday). I try to linger in nature, breathe deeply, make time for myself. Eat right. Limit the junk food and treats. And I pray. Nourish your soul, mind and body.

Spend Less. Never use credit cards to purchase gifts…EVER! If the money is not in your bank account, don’t buy it. Find a less expensive alternative and repeat after me: Things can’t buy love.

Focus on Family. We bake cookies and make Christmas gifts. We read the real Christmas story (it’s the greatest story ever told). We look forward to popping popcorn and watching Christmas movies together. We go ice skating and build a snowman (if we are lucky enough to get snow). These are the memories that will last a lifetime.

K.I.S.S. As I like to say: Keep It Simple Stupid. The holidays don’t have to complicated or Martha Stewart-ish to be memorable. My mother-in-law called me yesterday to ask my opinion of ordering a complete Thanksgiving meal from a local grocery store. It’s already cooked. All we have to do is heat it up. Normally, by the end of the day, we’d be exhausted from cooking and cleaning. I say, “Heck, yeah, let’s order that turkey dinner!”

Enjoy the Season. Just go with it. Smile and laugh with your kids and family. Relax. December will come and go and before you realize it will be summer again.

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Courtney has some wonderful thoughts on this subject over at Be More With Less: Life on Purpose. Please go check out this blog. It’s all about doing more with less. That’s what I really want for Christmas this year. Simple.

Categories: Christmas, Holidays, holidays with family, Life, nourish. | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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