Wow!! The Holidays are upon us and it is a wonderful time of spreading cheer, goodwill and heartfelt gifts.
I thought it would be fun to share a few ideas, a couple great stories, gift giving ideas and more. Enjoy! Enjoy the season of giving. It’s all good.
“The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.” -Pierre Corneille
GREAT GIFT IDEAS:
‘Twelve Days’ or in this case ‘Twelve Dates’: Every year I try to do a ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ for my parents and my husbands parents. Each year I try to come up with little things they could do each day or every other. I include stories, links, recipes, activities, etc. This year I did ‘Twelve days of Picnics” because life should be a picnic!! Right? Each ‘picnic’ was a date night of asking each other questions, recipes for a meal together, a gift or activity. Little things to bring two people together. I think when you can make a gift for someone it tells them that you care & took the time.
A Good Read: One of my favorite books this year was Squire Rushnell’s ‘When God Winks at You.’ It is a compilation of stories that illustrate how God speaks directly to us through the power of coincidence. It is a great read. I am going to put one of the stories down below, so don’t miss it.
A way to calm: My daughter has found out how powerful the art of coloring can be. This would be a good gift for anyone, but especially students or people who work in high stress situations. Coloring seems to calm the mind. My daughter started coloring before taking a test & has noticed how well it calms her mind and prepares her to focus. There are many types of adult coloring books, so it is NOT just a kid gift. Get coloring.
Something personal: I think you can put meaning to anything. I bought a bunch of tiny, silver pine cone charms & added them to some ribbon & put a quote that says ” Since the Pine Tree remains green all year, it is a symbol of Eternal Friendship.” I made it to be a book mark for a couple of my friends who like to read. Write a love note to someone you care about or make a special card that you leave on your loved ones pillow each morning or night for twelve days before Christmas. You could also do something similar for your kids & leave one in their stocking each day & they can read them before bed. You could also make a little photo book of highlights from the year & give them to family or friends. There are so many ideas you can get personal with. Just put some heart into your ideas & the love will shine through.
You can also ‘search’ my blog & find other Christmas traditions and holiday ideas. I have posted MANY over the years. Hope there are some ideas that get you excited. Yay!
MAKE IT FUN! Every year I try and get the little cousins together & gift them with a fun party for the holiday season. This year I am hosting a ‘Grinch Party’. I am having all the kids come dressed like Whoville characters (crazy hair, crazy hats, stripes, etc) & bring a crazy gift for a fun exchange. I am going to gather them in a circle & make them sing the silly Whoville song while passing gifts. It will be funny!! We are going to play some fun games & watch the movie. It should be super fun!!
I couldn’t help add this cute chalk idea. Get creative. Make a fun family card. Make a special gingerbread house. This year we bought a gingerbread trailer to decorate because my husband is living in a trailer for a few months while he is away. Make your own ornaments, build ice castles with balloons. Check out this link http://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-ice-sculpture-for-kids-of-all-ages/
Make things fun & memorable.
MAKE MEMORIES: My husband is still living in another state and we only get to see him once a month, so our time is very cherished. He just came home for a few days & we knew we needed to pack in some holiday cheer, so late one night (around 9pm) we jumped in the car & drove 40 minutes to one of our favorite places to see holiday lights. It is a pond that lights up about 30+ floating, light trees that mirror & reflect such beauty. We all held hands & walked around the pond. Cherished memories are priceless. Even though it was late we were sure happy we went.
GIVE: Every year my daughter and I love fixing up ‘groovy girl’ dolls that are in great shape & may just be missing a dress, skirt or scarf. We find them at thrift stores, add some holiday flare, add a note of Christmas cheer & send them to a holiday toy drive. My daughter literally knits scarfs, skirts, dresses, hats, etc for the dolls & they turn out so cute. Use your talents to do something for someone else this holiday. Here is my other post on good places to make items to give, service ideas’ etc. https://yourhappyplaceblog.com/2015/11/10/give-because-we-have-been-given-much/
LIFE IS TOO SHORT: Enjoy each day. My husband had an employee come in for work and never leave. She had been employed there for ten years, so she had some great friends. She went in to work & had a brain aneurysm that took her from this life. It can happen that quickly, so cherish each day, kiss those you love, and offer kindness to all those you meet. Make each day count. You never know. This holiday season embrace the chance to be with those you care about.
A COUPLE GREAT STORIES to share with your family this holiday season: taken from Squire Rushnell’s book (noted above) Here is a story to help us remember that we are always surrounded by a divine LOVE.
When God Winks at You is the story of Ken Gaub. Ken was going through a period of uncertainty with his ministry. In the 1980’s is family did an entertainment ministry that they would take to churches, schools, and the back roads of America traveling fifty-thousand miles a year. On one trip, a couple of his sons were driving. They kept in touch between the cars with a CB radio. One son told the other to stop at an exit. While his family went to a diner, Ken decided to take a walk. He walked by a gas station and an empty phone booth. The phone began to ring. Ken stopped and looked around, but the phone kept ringing. He thought it might be for the attendant or an emergency. Because he thought it may be an emergency, he picked up the phone. An operator on the line said it was a person to person call for him, Ken Gaub! He thought it was a joke, but continued. The operator repeated that the call was for him. Ken went ahead with the call. On the other end of the phone was a woman named Millie who had seen him on The 700 Club. She remembered his name and wrote it in the suicide note she was writing. When Ken asked her how she got the number, she said it just came to mind while she was writing her suicide note. Ken explained where he was, but then explained how God was watching over her, that her worries were temporary, and God was the only answer and she would find peace thru Jesus. After a few years, Ken met Millie face to face performing on the road. Today, Ken is still on the road.
ANGELS IN THE BARN by Joan Wester Anderson (She has many wonderful Angel stories that are in numerous books by her)
The after-Christmas snowstorm had blanketed a wide patch of rural eastern Pennsylvania, and Chris Clark Davidson probably should have waited until the roads were plowed before she, her mother and her two small sons attempted a drive. But Chris’ grandmother lived alone more than 100 miles away and couldn’t get out to the store to buy groceries. “We’ll be fine,” Chris assured her mother. “We’ll take that shortcut that we use all summer.”
However, Chris had forgotten how narrow the short-cut road was, especially with drifts piled high and wind blowing snow across the fields. When another vehicle roared around a curve. Chris swerved and skidded into a snow bank. The other car kept going.
The wheels spun uselessly as she tried to pull out. “Mommy, are we stuck?” toddler Philip asked from under his blanket in the back seat.
“Looks that way, honey,” Chris admitted. They had only seen that one car since they’d turned onto the shortcut. How long would it be before someone came along? How long before the freezing temperature invaded the car’s interior? And why, oh why, had she worn stylish open shoes instead of warm boots?
Chris got out, her almost-bare feet plunging into a high drift, and looked around. Lord please send us some help, she prayed. Then she saw it—a silo and barn roof about a quarter-mile away. “Mom,” Chris leaned in the car, “I’ll walk down to that barn and see if anyone’s there. Keep the kids warm.” Her mother nodded, her face worried.
The journey was incredibly cold and by the time Chris pushed open the barn door, her feet were icy. A welcome blast of heat greeted her, along with the mooing of heifers in their stalls. It was a working dairy, clean and well organized, with a shiny window fan circulating the air. Although she had passed it during previous times on the short cut, she had never really taken a good look. Now, she realized with joy, there were young male voices coming from behind a stall.
Maneuvering around the livestock, Chris followed the sound and came upon two farmhands in overalls and flannel shirts, kidding and teasing each other as they pitched hay. They stopped and smiled when they saw her, and quickly she explained the situation.
“Stay here!” one said, tramping past the cows, grabbing his jacket and going out the door. A moment later, Chris heard a horn honking in front of the barn. There he was, driving a blue pickup truck. “Get in!” he shouted.
Chris hesitated. She didn’t know these men, and her family, down the road, was vulnerable. Yet, there was something so merry about the men that she couldn’t feel afraid. She and the other farmhand scrambled into the pickup and bounced down the road. There was the car, her toddlers bundled up and Mom waving. The driver roared across the field, spun in a wide circle and screeched into position behind it. “Way to go!” his buddy yelled.
Chris gripped the seat. “Do you always drive like this?” she asked, only half-joking.
The driver shrugged. “Well, it ain’t our truck.”
Within minutes the men had freed Chris’ car, and she opened her purse to reward them. But both backed away. “It was our pleasure, Ma’am. Just drive safely.”
Not like you, Chris grinned as she pulled away. But their happiness was infectious, and they were wonderful guys.
Chris didn’t realize just how wonderful until several weeks later when she and her mother decided to make a return visit to her grandmother. Since the snow was almost gone by then, the shortcut was safer. “When we get to the barn, I’d like to stop and let the guys know we made it to Grandma’s that day,” Chris told her mother. But when they pulled up in front to where Chris had climbed into the blue truck, she could hardly believe her eyes.
The barn was vacant, shabby, with paint peeling and door hinges hanging loose. Bewildered, Chris wiped away a heavy film of dirt and cobwebs on the milk house window and peered inside. Where were the heifers, the floor littered with fresh manure? Even the fan was rusty.
“You couldn’t have seen any farmhands or cattle there,” the woman at the next house told Chris. “No one’s worked that property for years.”
Chris got in the car. “Am I crazy, Mom?” she asked, bewildered.
“No.” Her mother was firm. “This is definitely the place.”
Then how….? Suddenly Chris understood, and like the shepherds at that first Christmas, she was filled with awe. Her angels had worn blue jeans and flannel shirts instead of white robes. But they had delivered the same timeless message to her and to anyone willing to listen. Fear not! The Savior is here! Alleluia!
See more of Joan’s stories at http://joanwanderson.com
Have a beautiful holiday season. Best wishes sent to you & your family. -H