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I thought I would get some dialogue going if I can about the time of year that is upon us again. So far, and I know it is early yet, but I am feeling excitement about the Christmas holidays versus how I felt for some years and that is a feeling of being very "put upon" to do basically everything that was done here to prepare for the holiday. It might have something to do with having two grand children who will definitely love the whole season and all that is involved in it. For some years the only folks I was buying for or hanging out with were adults and that took a lot of the excitement spark out of the celebration for me.
I don't expect that any one around me will do anything differently this year and that basically means that John will shop for less than three gifts and if anything else is given I will have been responsible for obtaining the gift. For some weeks now I have already been in the spirit and am looking forward to having a less stressful season and hopefully not find myself growing resentful that I am doing a lot more than those around me.
Hopefully by starting early enough I won't find myself pushed at the last minute to do the things I had hoped to do. There have been years in which I didn't wrap any gifts, just put them in bags and there have been years when I have actually paid people to wrap gifts for me. Lst year I promised myself that I would send Christmas cards this year. If I can locate the cards I bought at after holiday sales I will try to start addressing them within the next week. I also purchased the ingredients for some cookies I want to bake and give as gifts and plan to do them soon too. The cookies can be frozen, so doing ahead of time is smart I believe.
Anyway...I am hoping that those of you who have found themselves sometimes getting stressed and resentful in the past will come along and give those of us who haven't yet perfected the getting through the holidays some hints, tips and ideas that you have used in order to make the season more peaceful and joyful for all concerned.
The older I get, the less pressure I am feeling to perform. We bought cards to send out. We will start writing those this week. Next week, the leaves will get raked, perhaps. I am determined to enjoy the month of December.
Good for you Huckleberry. Yep, I remember you mentioning that you and hubby made your cards in the past. I was impressed with that. Heck I haven't sent any sort of card for years now but wanted to send some this year. Now, to find where I hid the ones I bought on discount after the holidays last year.
Yes, I believe that age has something to do with allowing ourselves a bit of leeway and lessening of the pressure we put on ourselves to make this time of year be happy, darnit. hahaha I have often felt resentful that most chores fell on my shoulders in terms of decorating, gift buying, card sending, baking, cooking, etc., etc. I finally realized that it was me putting the pressure on me, and not anyone else. So, I too plan to have a more laid back and enjoyable month here myself.
A few of the bins are now within my access so I can begin deciding what to do with their contents. I see that much of what is in them is little gift types of things and not as much personal decor as I thought. I will have to come up with some sort of idea for getting rid of all the after the holidays reduced cost items that I seem to have a habit of stocking up on. They aren't doing any one any good sitting stored in my attic.
Just popping in to share an idea a friend of mine had one year when faced with oodles of misc small gift items she had acquired. She bought sox and stuffed one of the pair with misc stuff and donated same to a homeless shelter and a nursing home. For the larger items, she got her local library to set up a "free" box near the enterance and then maintained it for 3 weeks. Others also contributed items and it is now an annual feature. Some churches still have annual "rummage sales" and a frre table can always be part of a Bazaar.
Enjoying another fine day here, hope you all are too, enjoying!
All good ideas Cole. Thanks for sharing. One thing I found which could certainly be used by maybe a Women's Shelter is a big bag of children's stocking caps, gloves and character socks that I bought at the end of the season last year for a little bit of nothing. I already have several little ones to give to but as always I bought more than I have places for them to go, so I will definitely contact the Women's Shelter and see about taking some of these items by to them. Thank you so much for setting my mind in the right direction...giving to the less fortunate among us versus the children in my family who will certainly get so much stuff they won't know what to do with it.
I might start working on the donation project later today. It is pouring rain here this morning and I believe it is calling for it most of the day. So, I will be indoors for sure. I am excited about getting started with this.
Don't forget our wounded military families. There is a wonderful organization called Fisher House Foundation, and they are located in many states where the wounded are being treated. It is a home away from home for the families to be near their love ones. If you google Fisher House Foundation, you will find out more and will find out more about the location. Maybe there's one near you. In lieu of sending Christmas Cards, you can send a donation of what it would have cost you to send those cards. You will get an acknowledgement of your donation that you can use for income tax purposes. Do it not only to get the income tax deduction but for humanitarian reasons. The men and women in our military are fighting to keep our country safe. I'm sure there are many things that these families can use. Remember they are living on limited funds.
Make it a happy Christmas for those families. Show them you care.
I'm not big on food gifts. There is so much jam clogging up my fridge & it will never get eaten. The next time I move it will all be thrown out. Now, real vanilla, that would be a treat. If you got me a sushi-making kit that would be delightful. But if it went to someone who never got around to using it, the supplies would be kitchen clutter & weigh on he giftee's mind.
I take the opportunity to send Christmas cards as a way to get back in touch with my very far-flung family. So I take 2 whole days each year to make large cards & write a letter for each one. Since I'm an artist the supplies are already around the house so my only cost is postage. I buy festive stamps all year & decorate the envelopes too. One year I cut gingerbread men out of paper bags & hole-punched the edges so I could wind ribbon through. NEVER AGAIN.
The only things I buy at holiday sales are expensive ornaments that go begging at 80% off, like Swarovski snowflakes. They suffice for most of my acquaintance & hostess gifts.
Thanks Pippi for the information on Fisher House. I have never heard of the organization but will check it out. I have donated to Paralyzed Veterans Association for many years and one year when I had plenty to send I sent a big check. I am now on their larger givers mailing list and no longer have the ability to send a large gift and have to admit to feeling a bit resentful when receiving pleas for large dollar amounts.
In the past couple of weeks John and I have been blessed by a last Christmas gift from his died who died the day before Thanksgiving. He left us a very substantial check which certainly is appreciated and needed. His Memorial Service was yesterday and it was very well attended and was truly a great tribute to a truly fine example of a humanitarian. One of the speakers who shared was a Cambodian refugee who Mr. Watts sponsored to come to this country with her family. This many, many years later, when asked if any one in the audience had any thing to share, she shared her story of his sponsorship. I have been a member of the Watts family for twenty years and I never knew he had such a great influence on so many people. I had never heard this story of helping this family before. Another lady also spoke about Mr. Watts hearing of her and her husbands desire to adopt a child some years ago. Mr. Watts was an attorney and sought this woman out and offered to handle the legal end of things for her free. She too drove for many miles to pay tribute to this man who played such an important role in her life and brought her much joy.
Yes, I suppose if I were to begin looking at the charitable end of the holidays and not the resenting the fact that I had so much to do, it would be better for my psyche. I was able yesterday to write two checks to two very deserving young men who without Mr. Watts last gift to us would not have been possible.
Pippi, I was reminded of the Women's Shelter again yesterday when John brought the last of the storage bins down from the attic. I have a lot of cute holiday gifts that I can take there to donate. I could really do a good amount of de-cluttering if I were to get rid of the gift items I buy when seeing a deal throughout the year. I will probably always be a person who has a least a drawer or closet shelf with small gift items on hand in case of occasions coming up when it doesn't suit to go to the store or the pocket book won't allow a trip to the store. When my mom died, I found two dresser drawers full of gift items that she had bought and kept on hand for the same sort of occasions. Following another good example setter in my life.
You ladies all enjoy your week. It will be a busy one for me even without the things I need to do to prepare for the holidays. It is so grand to report that so far, I am in the spirit of the season and really looking forward to being able to bless some others. It feels so nice.
Take care all.
Yes, I heard many stories yesterday of a great man that only recently have I realized was so great.
We keep it simple and meaningful. We stopped giving adults gifts at Christmas long ago. None of us need anymore clutter and the things we really want, no one can afford. So we buy ourselves gifts if we want. We have no stress this time of year--no fighting the crowds, no trying to find just the right gift, no returning things we don't want or that didn't fit or were simply hideous. We just get together and enjoy each other and reminisce. That's the best part of Christmas for us. Some of my siblings and their kids are scattered about. But at Christmas, everyone makes an effort to come home.
I do make it a point to donate to Toys for Tots and Toys for Soldiers' Tots. If I eat out, I leave a little more cash for my server. I bake and leave treats for my mail carrier and for the sanitation workers.
And I try to find one person or one family I can help in some way--whether it's with toys, food, or something else they may need. Recently a lady who buys a lot of my used furniture and things told me her daughter was diagnosed with terminal cancer. And she's going to Chicago to stay with her while she does chemo. She asked if I would hold her last two checks for another month. I said "Of course". I also offered her a bag of John Grisham books and others by other mystery writers to take with her since she'll be doing a lot of sitting. She was touched.
I haven't decided yet whether I'll serve Christmas dinner to the homeless at the Salvation Army this year. My family does Christmas on Dec 26th; that's when my sis in OH can be here. We won't do anything on Dec 25 and I've been wanting to help with serving Xmas dinner but never have. Maybe this year. I'm sure the experience will give me a new perspective. Have any of you done that before?
Butterfly, you reminded me of something funny. My family has also stopped adult gift giving for the most part. I bought myself one of those "stick" blenders so I don't have to transfer hot food from the pot to the blender to make creamy soup, etc. I started watching Ellen DeGeneres' show and she happily exclaimed "I have finished all my Chrismas shopping. Now I just have to get a few gifts for others!" That got a big horse laugh out of me, as I was oogling my new blender and feeling a tiny bit guilty that it was the only thing I have purchased.
I got most of my cards sent. I do my people and hubby does his. We divide the labor for our mutual friends and neighbors' cards. I do a few fewer each year. Down to 35 cards total.
Ruby, sorry to hear of your father-in-law's death. I am happy to learn he was a man who helped others. A fine example and a good reminder of how to spend one's resources in life and even beyond the span of one's life. Bless him.
Coleup, what a great idea a bottle of real vanilla is for a gift. I would think kindly of the person who gave it to me every time I used it.
Summerkid, I am guilty of gifting jam to people who likely never eat it. My GD discovered mixing jam into the tart gravenstein applesauce I also make and gift. That way she sweetened up the sauce and made exciting flavor combos too. I also mix jam into sauces such as BBQ., etc. Good way to use it up and actually want more! ;-}
That reminds me, eggnog tastes great combined with bananas. Try a splash of it on top of your cereal with milk and bananas. Or in banana bread. Or a banana-eggnog smoothie. =^..^= =^..^=
Each Christmas my brother gifts all of us with pretty little containers of Granny M's jams, jellies and glazes. I'm not really a jam or jelly fan. But Granny M is my brother's former boss' wife. And these are her concoctions which a store chain here (Heavenly Ham) sells. With our first batch, we all received Granny M's cookbook that shows recipes for using her products. And now I look forward to this new Christmas tradition.
One of the ways to use her jams and jellies is to mix them half and half with cream cheese and spread on a cracker. My friends love it. They mix it themselves when they get ready to eat it. It's now a treat I save for small gatherings. We use all different kinds of crackers--cheez-its, wheat thins, triscuit, etc. Y'all might try it with your unused jams/jellies. Mrs. M's rasperry glaze is my favorite. I think I could eat my weight in it!
I don't know about all of you but I have catalogs coming out the wazoo...geez they start sending Christmas ones in September then winter then last winter then last minutes gifts...etc etc...I'm done shopping so I just grabbed my stack of catalogs and threw them all in the recylce bin because I know I'll be getting all the after Christmas sale catalogs soon.
Sheesh...goal today get my work desk cleared off!!!!
I've been so busy, I was in charge of the Christmas brunch at church and I made all the decorations so I had them spread out all over my hubby desk and on the floor in the family room...here's what I did...
FlowAjen..those trees for your Christmas Brunch are so cute. How did you attach your candies? I had a pleasant chuckle when I saw your picture and thought "All that Sunday School Candies!" My dear Mother always carried wrapped peppermint candies in her pocketbook to church, in case her mouth got dry or if she had a tickle in her throat or a cough. One time when she was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's, I was taking my 2-3 week turn taking care of her, and I took her for a ride. Wanted to look up a dear friend that I hadn't seen in probably 15 0r 20 yrs. This friend lived about 35 miles away. Got there, but never found the friend because Mama started expericiening what they refer to as "Sundown Syndrome" in the Alzheimer's/dementia world. I had borrowed my dear FIL's car to drive to NC in as I didn't trust mine anymore on long distances. In the console, there was a small mason type jar of wrapped peppermint candies, like yours, and I remember my dear Mother picking up that jar and saying something like " What's my "Sunday School Candy doing here?" Well, we were about 5 miles from being back home and I look in my mirror and see a mustang with a red light on top(Unmarked Highway Patrol)so I pulled over on the side of the road. He had clocked me doing 68 in 55 mph zone and gave me a ticket. When I pulled off for the patrolman, she asked me why we were stopping there and I told her the patrolman was stopping me. I really thought the speed limit was 65 and he told me Highway #17 wasn't an interstate road..After he gave me the $50 ticket to ruin my day, and left, she pops up with "Well, that wasn't very nice of that policeman, we were so close to home!" I cracked up laughing at her but was glad we were close to her home because she had started her ranting and raving of the afternoon. Went to the local bank the next morning and purchased a money order and mailed it off the next morning for the ticker.
So when I see peppermints, I always think of my dear departed Mother who was a sweetie pie..That incident happened probably in about 1989.
Wow ladies...what great pictures to lift our spirits. I looked back to see the date when I started this thread, and then disappeared for so long. Sorry, it has been a really very hectic time. I do want to report that I made it through the entire season without freaking out, becoming resentful or losing my cool once. The only time I panicked a bit was last Monday morning when I basically finished up my shopping and was in a Bed, Bath and Beyond Store, when before I even made it to my car from shopping, I had somehow lost the receipt for my purchases. I always try to check my receipts before leaving the parking lot. Dang it, we are talking about being parked in a handicapped space too which was as close to the store as a person could get. I had purchased a one hundred dollar gift card and when the cashier handed me the receipts, she said there was a separate one for the gift card purchase. That took the wind out of my sail for a bit, I must admit. I checked the bags, my check book and the floor board of the car several times before re-entering the store and asking if a receipt had been turned. No go on that. Anyway...the gift card being the most expensive item I bought, I was able to go on line and see that the card was indeed for the correct amount, and I was happy when finding that out.
Cole, I loved the answer to the five greatest toys of all time. Yep, it does seem to be so. After wrapping what seemed like two or three dozen gifts each for my grand children, twenty month old Issac seemed to be most interested in the toothbrush I bought for him.
Jen, thank you so much for sharing the lovely pictures of your candy theme decor for your church party. How cute, all. I checked the date on the post where you said you were finished shopping too and that put me to shame. I was still shopping on Thursday of last week.
I am with those of you who love the jam and cracker combo, I have eaten a few of those myself in my day.
I want to close by thanking each of you for posting here. Made for some very light reading after several weeks of not having time to read any of the threads here. I hope that everyone had a very nice day.
Just though I should report in that all in all, I had a wonderful holiday season. I knew with the close of the holidays of 2010, I needed to examine my holiday practices and make some changes. I was able this year to enjoy the entire season from beginning to end. Believe me, that is certainly saying something because in previous years I could have been compared to Ebenezar Scrooge or the Grinch. I always felt put upon and pressured. When I began giving the whole idea some though, I saw that no one other than myself was pressuring me or putting upon me.
It was amazing the difference in just making up my mind to enjoy rather than resent the holidays made. At the beginning of the season, I thought that it was going to be a very tight one with no idle spending, but every dollar made to count. Before the season was over, both John and I were gifted with some financial gifts which made the difference in what I was able to give this year. Because some funds were given freely to me, I was able to bless a few people that I wouldn't have been able to prior to this. Knowing that I was in the position to help some others, really put me in the holiday spirit. I want to hold on to this great feeling.
Anyway...the new year is now upon us. My wish for each of you is a blessed and very best year ever coming up.
I agree summer. All it took was changing my attitude towards what was going on around me. Not always an easy thing to do, but the rewards are many. I hope that things out your way are still working in the positive realm and that your plans to relocate will be just what the doctor ordered. Keep us updated.
Hi Everyone, as usual I am late finding this thread, but I am offering an idea that has really been meaning full for my family. 4 years ago My sister lost her job as a mortgage underwriter and my brother has been very ill and has also not been able to work. We agreed not to spend money for gifts ( except for the little children ) and instead, we would each make a card and write a note telling each person what we would do for them if we had unlimited funds.
For my sister, (she is now a full time artist) I would take her on a tour of the Louvre in Paris, we would tour the museums and countryside and the canals in Venice, and then to Italy to see all the renaissance art. I described all of the places I knew she would love to see that in reality we probably won't ever get to take in. We each did the same for everyone and it was so sweet and meaning full. There was not a material gift in the world that could ever top those thoughts and imaginary vacations spent with those we love. All it required was some time spent thinking about those we love and things we know they love and how we could spend time doing things with them doing things they love. A little heartfelt creativity went a long long way.
It was awesome.
Nobody that I know missed having a material gift in anyway.
Thank you so much Linda for sharing this lovely way of celebrating the holidays and the love between you and your family members. Yes, indeed some thought had to be put in to these fantasy vacations and that truly does make the thought a lot more respected. You mentioned that no one missed receiving the material gifts and that brought to mind a question my four year old grand daughter asked me last week and my response.
Emily asked me last week what I got for Christmas and I was hard pressed to answer her because no material thing stood out in my mind. I finally remember the garden stone that her family gave to me for my garden in the spring. Many years ago I reached the same point that my dad reached many years ago. At Christmas time there isn't really anything usually that I want or need. By the time a person reaches this stage of the game, mid fifties, I have found that we usually purchase the things we want or need as the need or want arises and don't usually wait around for someone else to buy it for us nor do we wait for a special occasion to buy it.
To me the Christmas season is about young children receiving goodies that they may have waited all year for. It is about being able to give to others where we might see a need. The very last thing it means to me these days is what I am going to get.
Anyway...thank you so much again Linda...what a wonderful way to share your love with each other.
Congratulations all especially your attitude adjustment Ruby! Suspect this will make next holiday season better, too. Also like that another difference this year was going with John to more social events and meeting the neighbors, etc. Cool to put a face and a voice with a name and a story.
I really didn't do much differently this year but did do a shift in my approach to Holiday greetings delivered to my newspaper customers, Each year I put out a newsy little card to each customer on my route. This year I consciously delivered each card focusing on gratitude for that customer, and the next, and the next, etc, as each one is an important part of the whole. Additionally, I took a giant step forward in my own estimation of the good and valuable service I perform 365 days per year. This season my attitude is that I deserve to be appreciated, acknowledged and "tipped" for what I do. Sure enough, good will creates good will and I have been much more appreciated for what I do and tipped more generously by more than in previous years! This has given me a bit of a financial cushion and good service capitol with which to head into 2012.
Pippi, your story reminded me of a time I picked up my mother to bring her home with me for a while. I met my brother half way and picked up mother. In Nevada the speed limit is 65mps unless posted. We were on our way back to Ls Vegas and I was going about 60mph. Mother always told me how to drive and I just smiled and drove. Well I got pulled over. I looked down and I was going about 62.
When the Highway Patrol gentleman came over to my window, I handed him my license and insurance and told him i was sorry but I did not know what I did wrong. At that moment, mother pipped in and told him for a least a minute every thing I had or was doing wrong. He explained to me that the speed limit was 55 in that valley but it was obvious to him that I thought it was 65 because I did not hit the brakes or any thing like that.
When mother was done with her complete rundown of my driving, he gave me back my license and proof of insurance, told me to slow down, be care and have a great day And he walked to his car and drove off. I think he thought I had enough on my hands without a ticket.
Ruby, I would get man made wood floors. Much easier to keep clean than carpet and about the same price. I had some put in my bedroom. The rest of the house is real hickory and you really cannot tell the difference. Just make sure it is thick enough.
Thanks for bringing back a funny memory Pippi. Sharon
Way to go on spreading the good will and being rewarded for it Coleup. It is very true about what we send out usually has a way of coming back at us. I know that I am the type that likes to share with others when I find myself with some extra of whatever it is, food, money, friendship...you get the idea.
So great to hear from you Sharon. Yep, I believe the cop read the scene correctly. I have to giggle at the thought though...because in my mind's eye you are this strong and capable women who wouldn't allow too many people to step on your toes...I tend to forget that we all have or have had mothers to deal with, so I know what you are saying. My mother too had a tendency to ride me in regards to certain areas of my life. It is kind of mean for me to say it, but I often said after she had Alzheimer's is when we had the best relationship...because she got off my case. I did and still do love her and with each passing year that I live, I become more and more grateful for the sacrifices she must have made in order for me to have been able to live the somewhat spoiled and usually able to get what they wanted kind of life, when that wasn't the norm among my playmates.
Anyway...Sharon...I have considered getting hard wood floors and John has always poo pooed the idea. Let me bring the topic up with him and see what his reasoning is again and see if now that I will be the one paying for them, and not him, I may as well get what I want if I am not in agreement with his hold back.
This probably won't take place for another few months anyway...so I have plenty of time to think about it.
Hi Jen - I read a bit about the cork and bamboo floors a few years back. I will need to refresh my mind and these possibilities before making my decision. Thanks for pointing out these possibilities also.