My favorite Christmas season

Christmas, Jesus
our mantle

our mantle

So far, this has been my favorite Christmas season to date….the least stressful and most relaxed. I have been reflecting on that, and wondering, why?

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

1. We don’t have a huge list of people to buy for. We have never practiced the Santa tradition in our family (gasp!) but since our kids are high school and college, we don’t feel the need to go nuts with presents. They’ll have some things to unwrap and hopefully a couple of surprises. One of our extended families (mine) played the draw-a-number-then-pick-a-present-or-steal game instead of the huge, expensive normal gift exchange this year, and it was fantastic. I highly recommend it!! Lots of fun and we all went home with something we liked but wouldn’t have bought for ourselves.

2. I’m not going crazy baking, cooking, or crafting. I love doing those things, but I’m just doing them throughout the year as I feel like it. No pressure to do anything added to our normal stuff this Christmas.

3. Minimal Christmas decorations. One partially decorated tree in the living room, a wreath on each window on the front of the house (which I think looks really cute and simple), some greenery with berries and stockings on the mantle. The end. Still looks a little festive, but nothing crazy around here.

4. No Christmas card with Christmas letter. Are you thinking, what a Scrooge? Well, at our house it’s kinda opposite….If you have all kinds of Christmas craziness going on, then you probably have one cranky mama on your hands. I’m a little cranky today, but not because I feel pulled in million different directions with Christmas craziness.

I don’t think Jesus minds that we’re celebrating Him this year with a little less excess and a little more joy. That equals a Merry Christmas around here.

christmas mantle

christmas mantle

Our simple but festive house

Our simple but festive house

Thanksgiving tradition

crafts, gratitude

Here’s one of our favorite family traditions for Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving tablecloth!

We started this tradition over ten years ago. I think it originally came from a magazine. I purchased an off-white cheap tablecloth from Wal-Mart, some acrylic paints, and a leaf stamp.

Every year, whoever is at our house for Thanksgiving signs the tablecloth. We always put our name, the year, and something we’re thankful for. It’s so fun to look at who visited us in years past or what we wrote last year! Some of us write paragraphs, some only a word. For the younger ones, we ask them what they’re grateful for, then write for them until they’re old enough. It’s also sweet to see how our kids handwriting has changed through the years, along with their priorities.

Some write a little, some write a lot. We love to see both.

Honestly, the next two pictures are the cutest ever! You’ll see both of our kids quotes for different years, but close together.

Christian (who is now 20) at 11 years old says he’s thankful for his life and friends. When he was 8, he says “food”. I love it!

Danielle is now 14, but when she was 2, she says she’s thankful for God. At 3 years old, it was her brother. She was too young to write, so I did it for her.

Yes, there are a couple of grease stains here and there, because we actually serve food and eat on this tablecloth each year. Just use stain remover on the wicked stains and overall, it’ll be okay. Nobody cares about the stains, and I know that it’s clean.

Here’s how you can start your own tablecloth:

Mix brown, red, and orange paints on a paper plate and stamp the leaf in paint. Stamp on paper first to make sure you have the desired color combo and amount of paint you like. Then stamp on tablecloth in different directions. Have a couple of Sharpie markers available sometime before or after your meal and ask everyone to write something they are thankful for with their name and the year. Be sure to have some paper for underneath where they are writing so the permanent marker doesn’t transfer to your table!

Yes, I still try to initiate a verbal gratitude moment. I often ask everyone to state out loud something that they’re thankful for. It’s guaranteed eye-rolling, and everyone may or may not participate. But everyone likes the tablecloth.