It may only be the first week of November, but for many of us, that means the beginning of all things Christmas!
I love Christmas, I also love Thanksgiving and for our family, the two holidays go hand in hand! Thanksgiving gives us extra time for us to set our hearts on what we are grateful for before we celebrate Christmas! Often in Northern Michigan, it likes to snow early so I say, if it’s going to look like a snowglobe outside, then it’s totally acceptable to bring out a Christmas tree or two!
Growing up, Thanksgiving and Christmas were all about spending time together, making memories and really just taking time to really be grateful for each other and all that we had. We didn’t have a lot (monetarily speaking), yet we had SO MUCH!
Christmas was never about gifts, food, the perfect family photo, or our house all decked out in Christmas decor. While those things are fun. My parents made sure that Christmas was about Christ, the greatest gift of all time!
My mom didn’t have new decor all the time. We didn’t shop for new matching stockings each year and definitely didn’t have a whole new theme, yet our home was beautiful and Christmas was always magical!
She never once portrayed that she needed new stuff to make the holidays special and I respect her so much for that!
If we wanted new decorations we made them! I remember making strings of popcorn for our Christmas tree more than once! My mom sewed our stockings and many times we handpainted ornaments that we made from clay, or dried fruit to hang on our tree! We all developed a love for DIY and it gave us a thrill to see what beautiful (but nearly free) things we could make together to decorate with.
When I look back over the years, the most memorable gifts I’ve received (or gave) where handmade gifts! They’re so meaningful because they required time and effort and a whole lot of thought!
I treasure those gifts!
These days, I know we don’t all have time to handmake everything…we are all busy, I get that. I know we don’t all have special memories with family and a lot of us have hard memories we’d rather forget, I get that too. I realize that we don’t all have the same income and what may seem extravagant to some may not seem over the top at all to others!
But I wanted to share these memories with you because I realize just how much my parent’s example shaped me! The way my parents raised all 12 of us children, was to love and value people and the moments we had together above “things”. To cherish our time together and to keep our hearts in a place of gratitude…regardless of where we found ourselves in life!
As we move into the holiday season I will be sharing all kinds of Thanksgiving and Christmas decor, traditions and fun family things with you! However, I want you to know that I really place no value on any of these “things”!
Sure decorating is fun and we all want a beautiful, magical, cozy home for Christmas, I do too! But I won’t be buying all new decor or sharing the latest and greatest sale on every last thing because honestly, that’s just not who I am!
I’ll be decorating with what I already own or with what I can find in my backyard. And if I do need something to decorate with, I’ll be supporting other makers as much as I can! I am a DIYer and I love handmaking things at Christmas so I’ll be sharing those kinds of things here on the blog!
I share this in hopes that if you’ve been feeling the pressure to “Keep Up With The Jones” at all this holiday season…that you would consider joining me in letting all that go! I would hate to think that the holiday tradition I am passing down to my kids is “the pressure to perform and put on a show” for the holidays! That would break my heart!
When my kids are grown and gone, I pray that they return with their families for the holidays because they know our home is a safe place. A welcoming place that is free of stress and any pressure to be perfect, have the perfect holiday outfit, cook the perfect meal or give the perfect gifts!
I’d love to hear what Christmas means to you and your family!
What are some of your favorite traditions and what makes them special to you? Do you have any thoughts or tips on how to keep our hearts focused on the beauty of the season and not get caught up in the hurry-scurry and forget what it’s really about?! I’d love it if you’d share and I hope this post touches your heart in some small way!
You are loved, my friend…Christmas itself is proof of that!
This is also how I was raised! The joy of Christmas what’s the tradition of bringing out the same decorations each year. It was never about the newest or the latest and greatest. My parents didn’t have much money while we were growing up and often couldn’t even afford a tree. But I never knew it. we would get one gift from Santa which came from my grandparents and then my grandparents each got us a gift. I grew up thinking parents didn’t give their kids gift just Santa and other relatives because my parents couldn’t afford to. It didn’t make any difference to me. So each year when I decorate my kids get excited about pulling out the box and reminiscing the decorations that we put out each year from previous years. when my mother died those are the things that meant so much to me to keep for the decorations that she put out every year. And a lot of them are the things that I had made her through the years. I grew up always making my gifts for others. And that’s one of our traditions that I practiced with my kids is making gifts for people they want to give gifts to. A lot of times it’s handmade ornaments or a painted or drawn picture or baked goods arranged sweetly in a basket we got from the thrift store. We use our same Christmas stockings each year because that’s our tradition. My kids would freak if I ever got new ones. I bought a bowl full of old glass hand-blown ornaments at a thrift store and my kids were surprised I wanted them because some of them are broken. I said look how beautiful the other parts are that are left and if you arrange them in a bowl or a glass jar you can’t see the broken pieces you just see the beautiful pieces. It was one of those poignant lessons where you teach your kids to look at what is and not what isn’t. So I guess that sums up what are Christmas traditions are, we look at what is and don’t worry about what isn’t. We enjoy our time together making crafts and gifts for other people, baking cookies, volunteering at our church for the shoebox ministry i(one of their favorites ) and finding neighbors or other families in our community that we can bless. I have seven children and my 5 youngest are adopted. We just want to raise them to be healthy productive humans who love Jesus as well as serve and help others. They all have varying degrees of abilities and so it’s about highlining the areas of strength and sharing that with others.
Merri, thank you for sharing your beautiful memories and family traditions with me! I’m sure you are a blessing to your entire family! What a kind heart you have!