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Christmas-cookies1Happy December my friends!!

This week, I’m going to talk a bit about Holiday Traditions.  If you’ve followed along the last few weeks, you should be on a kind of auto-pilot mode where you’re working on things like:

*Finishing up your decorating.

*Taking small chunks from your holiday card/newsletter list and addressing envelopes.

*Gift shopping for friends and family and picking up grocery items needed for those big events like cookie exchanges, parties you’re hosting and parties you’re attending.  As a side-note here, I hope you never accept a party invitation and show up empty-handed. (?)  Even if your host says, “Just bring yourselves!” You should still bring something small…a simple dessert, a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of wine, etc.

This is the beauty of starting  these Holiday Missions so early in the season.  By now, you should be feeling “ready” for the remaining events of the year.  If this is your first time doing this with me, I hope it’s been worth pushing yourself through each week and making plans FAR in advance.  I know, it’s hard to start thinking about Christmas in October but isn’t it worth it now?!  Even if you’re a little behind…get caught up this week and sail through the next few weeks stress-free!  Here’s a link to last week’s Missions to help you stay on track.

Traditions.

We all have them.  Some were probably started as we were kids and maybe we’re using those with our own kids.  We have likely picked up a few along the way as well.  Some traditions last for a lifetime, while others may be just for a few seasons due to whatever circumstances.  When we lived in Germany, it was fun to adopt their most common traditions but we don’t do them now.  It was fun at the time though.

Here are a few of our family’s favorite traditions:

  1. When our son was growing up, we never placed any gifts under the tree except those that came via USPS from extended relatives.  When he woke up Christmas morning, ALL of the gifts were there under the tree and most were usually wrapped by mom and dad during the wee hours of the night between Christmas Eve and Christmas morning after he had finally gone to bed!  Even though he lives in another state now and on his own, we continue this tradition when he IS with us for the holiday and he laughs as we squeal with delight as he emerges from the bedroom…”Look!  Santa came!”  As gifts are passed out, it’s fun to read who the gift is supposedly from…sometimes of course it’s Santa, sometimes Rudolph, sometimes Mom & Dad, and who knows who else…the family pets are not exempt from giving all of us gifts either.
  2. On Christmas Eve or a couple of nights before Christmas, we always enjoyed driving around all the big neighborhoods to look at the lights.
  3. Going to church on Christmas Eve for the candlelight service is always special.
  4. We always look forward to watching several of the sappy Christmas shows on TV, especially “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story.”
  5. There was a period of time, for several years, that I lived with my older sister & her family when I was in Jr. and Sr. High School & she always made a birthday cake for Jesus.  Christmas morning, we would all sing Happy Birthday and remember why we were celebrating.
  6. Reading “T’was the Night Before Christmas” to our son on Christmas Eve and the days leading up to it.
  7. We have an Advent calendar to help count down the days.  There’s a star hanging from a string that slips into the pocket for each day counting down.  It’s fun to watch as the star rise higher and higher into the sky each day.
  8. We always open our gifts one at a time, taking our time to fully appreciate the thought that went into the gift and seeing what each person gets.  Although, one tradition we’re trying to break is the one where my husband and I already know what we’re giving each other and still wrapping it up and pretending to be excited in front of our son.

Here’s a tradition passed on from a dear friend of ours (Cindy):

“Our family gathers in the family room after dishes are done and we give each person a pen and paper to write what they are thankful for. We then put them in a bowl and a designated person pulls one from the bowl and reads it. We all then try to guess who wrote it. Then that person who wrote it elaborates a bit on why they wrote what they did. We all come away feeling like we know a little more about each person attending.”  How cool would that be if you were spending the holidays with people you don’t know really well or when new family members are joining?!

I found an excellent book on Amazon called, “The Joy of Family Traditions – A Season by Season Companion to Celebrations, Holidays and Special Occasions.”  If you’re looking for new traditions or just wanting to add some fun alternatives to what your family already does, Check it out if you’d like.  As the title suggests, it doesn’t cover just Christmas either…it covers seasonal celebrations and every occasion you might think of in addition to Thanksgiving and Christmas, so it’s handy for all year!

This week, I’m going to post a new tradition each day based on comments left by my readers.  But, in order for this to work, I need YOU to post a comment telling me one of your favorite or most memorable traditions so I can continue to post and share the great traditions that make the holidays such a special time for all of us.  Without these traditions…just imagine what the holidays would be like.  Now, don’t be shy.  Hit that “Comment” button and share away!

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horn-of-plenty

Happy Tuesday my friends!

Yes, I know, it’s Tuesday and I had planned to post my Holiday Missions on Mondays each week to help us all slowly get ready for the fall and winter holidays with little or no stress, but heck, things happen and I’m not going to beat myself up over it.  As a matter of fact, if you’ve been following along and looking forward to my posts each week, you probably noticed that I skipped last week completely!  I know I skipped a few weeks back too and gave you a pretty heavy week on week 7, so by skipping last week’s Missions (week 8), hopefully you had time to get everything accomplished. If not, no worries! We’re going to re-cap our last list of tasks and sail through this Thanksgiving week…stress FREE!

Yes, you heard that right. Stress Free! At this point, we should already be on top of the game for Thanksgiving day and any entertaining we’ll be doing for the holiday so take this week to enjoy the people around you. Family, friends, co-workers, store clerks and strangers.

I chose the horn-of-plenty as my main photo today because I think it says a lot about our lives when we slow down and stop for a minute to reflect on our many blessings. It’s so easy to get caught up in the negativeness of day-to-day activities and negative people tend to wear us down and even suck us into their world of complaining about what we don’t have.

I’m challenging you today to break away from the negativeness and complaining and be a beacon of light to all the people you encounter on a daily basis this week. It’s a choice we make. Choose to be happy and thankful for the abundance that we are blessed with. We have WAY more than we need and there’s so many people out there struggling just to stay alive. Hungry, cold, scared and alone. What are you complaining about?

With the knowledge that Thanksgiving is just 2 days away and Christmas is a mere 29 days away…

Your Missions this week, should you choose to accept them:

We’re basically just going to continue to prepare for Christmas and wrap up Thanksgiving plans.

  • Put the final touches on your Christmas Newsletter if you’re writing one.
  • Take another section of your card list and sign and address those and set them aside.
  • Finish any online and catalog shopping. Don’t wait for Cyber Monday. I don’t believe the sales will save you enough to make it worth the headaches when an item is sold out or back-ordered.
  • Wrap as you go.  Are you logging your purchases like I showed you on week 7?
  • Are your salon appointments made through the end of the year?
  • Schedule your family portrait session.
  • Is your December calendar posted in a central location for everyone to see and use?
  • Wardrobe check.  What are you wearing for Thanksgiving dinner? Does it fit? Need ironing or cleaning?
  • Think about your Thanksgiving table.  Locate linens, dishes, flatware etc. and see if you need anything additional.  If so…get it!
  • Have you reserved babysitters for the rest of the year?

Before you rush off, I need a favor. Would you help me with another post coming later? I’d like to know what your fondest Thanksgiving tradition is. Please leave a comment at the bottom of this post and help me compile an article about family holiday traditions. I won’t use your name or any other way of identifying you, it’ll be generic. Thank you in advance.

That’s it! Now, go and enjoy your family, friends, co-workers, store clerks and strangers!

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Happy-Thanksgiving-Quotes-WallpaperHey there my friends!  I hope this finds you all well and warm.  I see it’s beginning to get cold in most parts of the country and people are starting to share their snow-white photos all over the Inter-web and they are nothing less than beautiful!  I’m just glad that my white ground cover is sand and not snow!

I’m not sure if you noticed or not but I took the week off last week from our Holiday Missions.  I have no good excuse other than my uncanny ability to put things off and hope to get to them “soon.”  Well, here it is Tuesday of the following week and you’re finally going to be hearing from me!

Since we didn’t have a Mission last week, I’m going to just pick up and move onto this weeks Mission and probably double up on a few things just so we stay on track.  Again, don’t stress over not being caught up if you’re not.  I’m not.  (Shame on me!)  I’m CLOSE but have a bit of work to do yet.  Hopefully, by now, you’ve taken down your Halloween decorations and have replaced them with Fall and/or Thanksgiving decorations.  if not…that’s your #1 Mission before you start anything else!  Be sure to store them in proper containers and put them away so they’re not cluttering up the place.

With the knowledge that Thanksgiving is just 16 days away and without further procrastination…

Your Missions this week, should you choose to accept them:

  • Draft your Christmas letter this week if you’re sending one out.
  • Take your card list and divide it into 4 groups.  Address and sign the first group and set aside.
  • Discuss your budget with the family and start shopping!  Focus on catalog and online orders first to give them time for shipping and heaven forbid something you need is on back-order.  Try to buy or make 1/4 of your list this week.
  •  Wrap as you go.  When you bring home a gift, log it and wrap it.  (I’ll show you an example of how I log mine later.)
  • Schedule haircuts, manicures, pedicures etc. NOW.  It’s a busy time at the salons and they WILL fill up fast.
  • Schedule family portrait sessions if you’re having one done.
  • Print or post a December calendar somewhere where everyone can see it and be sure everyone posts their respective activities like recitals, games, dances, dinners, dates, church services, parties, etc. in ONE, central location.
  • Wardrobe check.  Does anything need to go to the dry-cleaners or has anyone outgrown their usual outfits or do you need any accessories for your holiday wardrobe?  Don’t worry about Christmas at this point.  We’ll get through Thanksgiving first.
  • Think about your Thanksgiving table.  Locate linens, dishes, flatware etc. and see if you need anything additional.  If so…get it!
  • Are you traveling this year?  Firm up your plans now and make reservations immediately (like TODAY) if you haven’t already.  If you’re flying for Thanksgiving, you have ONE day before prices will jump considerably!  Get on it!
  • Schedule carpet cleaning if needed.
  • Schedule family service projects.  Have you been wanting to serve meals in a soup kitchen or donate items to a homeless shelter?  Now’s the time to call and make arrangements.
  • Reserve babysitters for any nights out between now and Jan. 1st. if needed.

WHEW!!  That’s a lot I know but there’s a lot in there that some of you won’t need to do and other things you may choose to do or not.  It’s all up to you and how much you’ve already done to keep on track.

Here’s a sample of how I log my gifts as I buy and wrap as I go.  You might consider assigning a certain wrapping paper for each family member in the house so that no one is inclined to snoop or peek & add your tags on Christmas Eve.  I’ve never done this but just read about it recently and thought it was brilliant!

Next week, we’ll tie up last-minute Thanksgiving plans and then touch on a few more things for Christmas and I’ll also share with you a list of great websites for saving on food, fun and more this season.

Get busy!

But, before you go…in the comments below, please share with me your #1 favorite family tradition, be it Thanksgiving or Christmas, or ringing in the New Year.  I’d like to throw in a fun post during the week with some ideas from all of you.  It’ll just take a second and would make me very happy.  🙂

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