Great Christmas Exchange Wrap-Up

Ain’t no exchange like a Christmas gift exchange!

The day we’ve all been waiting for!  The reveal of gifts sent/received through the Great Christmas Gift Exchange that Samantha & Elizabeth organized.  It was a great secret santa exchange with bloggers from all over the country (or maybe world!).

I was exctied to secretly stalk my girl Jess in order to shop for gifts for her box to send off.  I was often jealous of her trips to Disneyland (which she loves, let me tell you!) and her walks on the beach with her man and her pup.

Since I’m a lady who loves making things for others, I knew an ornament was in order.  And what else to make but Minnie Mouse!

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In all of my excitement to get Jess’ gift to her, I forgot to get a picture of everything before wrapping.  So hopefully she will do a little post and link it up so you can see the other goodies (maybe??  no pressure!).  :o)

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Now this would be the part where I share my awesome gift that I received.  Unfortunately, after many days waiting for the mail, no box came.  While it’s a bit sad that the box didn’t arrive (not really sure where it is, must be lost somewhere in Post Land), I am very thankful for the friendships that I have made through this exchange, and consider that my gift!

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How Christmas went down.

Oh, what a wonderful time of year!  And I was super jazzed, because I had Christmas off from work!  A real Christmas miracle!  (I was supposed to work, but thank the Lord above – enough people volunteered to work it.)  I worked Christmas Eve, but that wasn’t a problem, because the family and I typically celebrate on Christmas day anyways.

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Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday, but this year was a little extra special since it was my little niece’s first Christmas!

We all got up around 9 o’clock in the am, had a little something to eat, then to the couch in front of the tree.  Such a beautiful sight!  The lights glittering from the tree, family all around, and Baby Jesus laying in his manager of the nativity scene.  Stockings were emptied, gifts were unwrapped, books were read, and movies were watched.  It was a splendid day!

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Some highlights were a Keurig machine to J & me from Santa, a standing jewelery box repurposed into my new sewing cabinet, the ‘Young House Love’ book, and a few movies to watch with the family.

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Miss Annabelle also hit the jackpot this year.  She got her first dolly, which she just giggled at when it gabbed to her, and a new sled from Grandma and Grandpa!  Since it was a little cold out, she got sled rides through the living room from her mommy and daddy.  She also said her first word Christmas morning – ‘dada’ to my brother as she tried to get his attention.  I also started the tradition of giving her a handmade ornament each year.  This year was an adorable little fox!

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Overall, it was a wonderful Christmas full of love and laughter, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more!  One of my favorite parts of my Christmas day?  Sitting in front of the lit Christmas tree in the evening, cuddling with my niece as she fell asleep on my chest.  There is nothing more peaceful than a sleeping sweet little baby.

Those I am thinking of this holiday season.

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As I sit here listening to Christmas music next to the tree with my loved ones around me, I think about all of those that may not be so fortunate this Christmas.

… I think of the men and women who are not able to be home with their families as they are serving our country and may be in some far-away land, celebrating Christmas in the sand.

… I think of my family who are in other states, and were not able to come to celebrate the season with the rest of us.

… I think of my brothers and sisters who are keeping the streets safe while the rest of us are in our homes with our own families.

… I think of the parents who are barely scraping by, and were not able to give their children all they had wanted to for the holiday.

… I think of the poeple who may not have family left to visit them in the nursing homes or care facilities.

… I think of everyone who does not have a place to call home, who is not able to keep a roof over their heads or food on their table.

… I think of the children who are celebrating Christmas in a hospital room because they are too sick to go home.

I pray for each and every one of these peole, and that they may see a bit of joy this Christmas and holiday season.  And know that they are loved by the one above.

I wish you all a joyous and wonderful Christmas, and a new year full of happiness and good health.

What’s with the bah humbug?

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this lately, but it seems that there has been a lot of bah humbing around lately.  Now, being one who loves…and I mean LOVES…Christmas, I always wonder what has people in the bah humbug mood.  And I then feel like its up to me to get them out of it.

Maybe it’s the short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.  Maybe it’s everyone and their mother asking for donations when things are already a little stretched thin.  Maybe it’s the snow and people forgetting how to drive in it with each storm.  Maybe it’s the lack of Vitamin D when the sun won’t come out and play.

I’ve been seeing it everywhere from work, to out in the stores, to the post office, to my own fiance.

Now, I understand that everyday can’t be a sunshiney, happy happy day.  But it’s the jolliest season around!

Plus with some of the holly jolly videos floating around the web and Facebook, they can’t put you in anything but a jolly mood and in the Christmas spirit!

Here is one of those videos that has been floating around; you may have already seen it.  Now, I’ve already watching it 4 times, and can’t help the ginormous smile and tears in my eyes that I get everytime.

Have you seen this video before?  Isn’t it just the greatest!!

An ornament tradition continues.

Growing up, my grandma and grandpa on Dad’s side gave my brother and I gold ornaments with the date inscribed on them each year for the Christmas tree.  It started our first Christmas and carried on for many Christmas’ after.  Those gold ornaments have donned the tree branches every year and have some of the most meaning.

When Fiance and I were getting ready to celebrate our first Christmas season together, I knew I wanted to continue the tradition in our family.  Every year, we find an new ornament for the Christmas tree.  The ornament represents an event, a memory, something special that happened that year.  For our first Christmas, I went a little overboard.  I got more than one, but it was our first Christmas, how could I pick just one??

I first found a pair of ice skates and a coffee cup ornament from Caribou Coffee.  The ice skates for a time we went ice skating before we started dating, quite a lasting memory!  And the coffee cup because we had many study dates at Caribou Coffee during our first year.  (I hoped to have a picture of these…but they are buried in the back of storage right now, womp womp.)

We also found some awesome ornaments at a booth at the Renaissance Festival; amazing laser cut wood ornaments.  So those were added to the collection.  I also made a bacon strip with a mustache for Fiance, because naturally – he is a man obsessed with bacon.  I think I may lose out if it were between me and the bacon.
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Last year, I continued with the handmade idea.  I made us a set of mustaches.  We are quite enthralled by the whole mustache craze as well.  And yes, the bacon craze is still there as well.

This year, our big, happy special event will be encapsulated in a special handmade ornament by yours truly!  I spent a little time sketching out ideas, and finally settled on one.  I present to you, this year’s ornament!  (the ring is usually on the finger, just couldn’t pass up a photo op!)

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I have also decided since this is Niecey-Niece’s first Christmas, I am going to start the tradition with her as well.  I will make her a little ornament each year.  It isn’t quite done yet…almost.

Do you have any special ornament traditions in your family?

I’m linking up with The Girl Between the Lines this week.  Join in the fun!

Girl Between the Lines Link up

Dreaming of Christmas

J and I had some time today to kill yesterday while waiting for an appointment, so we did what we do best – we went to browse at Target!  And of course, with the season, I dragged him to the Christmas section to dream about what Christmas will be like when we finally have  a house of our own.

What kind of tree would we get? What would be placed on top? How would we decorate the house?

It was fun to walk around dreaming and imagining what our house would look like.  Maybe more so for me since he’s not in love with Christmas like I am.  There were a few times that he was wandering and looking at things himself though, so that is a good sign!

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We found this adorable gnome tree topper (we have a thing for gnomes), a Marine ornament for him, and a police car ornament for me.

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I loved the color scheme of the red, white, and gray. Very classic and traditional yet modern.

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And of course, you can’t forget about a monogram for each, or Darth Vader and Snow White!

The dreaming and wishing will continue for a while longer; until then, we have the decorations and tree at mom and dad’s to hold us over.

It’s {finally} beginning to look like Christmas

Growing up, my family had always decorated for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving.  Dad would be outside putting the lights on the house, then come in and help Mom get the tree down from the shelves in the storage room.  Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas CD’s would be playing on speakers throughout the house.  Dad would put the tree together while Mom and I got the bins of decorations down and start trimming the house.  Certain decorations had their place, and others would move around each year.  The advent calendar that Mom made at the beginning of their marriage went at the bottom of the stairs, the music snow globes went on the buffet table in the dining room, the stockings went on the fireplace screen near the tree with the Dayton’s bears and Snowden nearby.  The manager was set on the coffee table near the tree, complete with straw, the shepherd and his animals, the three wise men, and the angel sitting atop the roof looking down at the manager where Jesus would lay.  Next to the manager sat the old family bible from my grandfather’s side.

This year was different.  Decorations are going up a week late since the winter crud decided to come for a visit Thanksgiving week.  Unfortunately, Dad wasn’t able to be home since a snowstorm was expected, so J and I were out putting the lights on the house.  Then back inside we went to warm up from the single digit temperature with Christmas cookies and hot tea.  Mom and I got the tree down and set it up.  Fewer bins were taken down, and fewer decorations were put out this year.

While less was put up, the staples were all still there.  The advent calendar at the bottom of the stairs (though a different one – one that mom and I made together – we each have one), the Christmas tree with the trimmings, the stockings on the fireplace, and the manger on the coffee table.  And of course, Clifford was trying to help the entire time.  And by help, I mean playing on the bins, chewing on the tree, and chasing the tinsel as it was thrown on the tree.

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The beautiful lights on the house.

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Clifford doing his best to “help”.

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The Christmas ornament I made for this year. My favorite by far! And, oh, that ring!

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The gorgeous tree! And the stockings hung with care.

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A book that we read when I was little, and a few handmade ornaments.

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An officer for me, a Marine for J, a couple handmade of felt, and the cross-stitch – my very first ornament!

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And of course, the reason for the season, the manager. The townspeople, three wise men, the angel, but no Jesus yet. He hasn’t been born yet!

What are your staple decorations each year?

Lets Get BananasLinking up over with these fine ladies!  Go check out all of the other fabulous decorations!