Thursday, December 26, 2013

Extending The Season For True Lovers of Christmas!!!

Oh, merriest of happy Christmases past and present to the lot o' youse!

Now some of youse are reading that title, cringing and RUNNING back to Seekerville, hands over ears, eyes down, muttering words to Straight No Chaser's "Christmas Can Can" as you go....

Enough is enough, you say! And I respect that, I truly do.

Finn is already "Scootching" along... No, Finn!!!! STOP!!!


For those among us who revel in all things Christmas, I bring to you some fun ways to think about extending the season. Why, you ask?

Well, the Biblical telling of Jesus' birth isn't a one-day event, right? We've got a space of time from the Angel Gabriel's appearance to Mary to the twelfth night in early January. On a mother's and grandmother's practical note, this isn't just a reason to party on! That extra time gives us ways to get it all in, enjoy family, food and friends now that the days of Advent waiting are behind us!!!

Bake a Memory Day 2013, note the CLUTTER behind the scene. :) Kids don't care about clutter...
They just like to have fun with grownups!!!
1. Spreading parties out: Well, this is huge and  a no brainer if you've got lots of families involved. We have my family, Dave's family and our family together.... So that's three separate gigs right there. Oh. Wait. I have four married children.... AND THOSE ADORABLE IN-LAWS CAME WITH... WAIT FOR IT:  FAMILY!!!!   So now you add four (4) other families to the holiday mix, each one coming with their own set of customs, traditions and sometimes... er....gulp!!!  rules!!!!!!!

We do my family party mid-December. We realized a long time ago that weekends in December vanish into thin air, similar to weekends in June, so we plan accordingly now.... And that helps. We set a date because there is no date that is perfect for everyone, and we run with it. And it's fun!

Christmas Eve:  Dave's family

Christmas Day:  Our immediate family in town, the ones that don't get a better offer from in-laws!!!!  :)

Weekend between Christmas and New Year's:  Our family Christmas celebration with all the grandkids and as many of the first generation as possible.

2. Keeping Christ in Christmas:

Ach, a tricky one these days, but doable!!!!  We use our Holy Land Advent book and read a story each day while re-hashing the previous stories of Mary and Joseph's travels to Bethlehem....

This year we began a tradition of Mary and Joseph "walking" around the room, moving a little closer to the stable scene each day.... So the kids can "see" the journey unfold before them. And if they're good while we do our Advent stories, a bowl of chocolate candies in bright foil wrappers is their reward!

Hay or yarn in the manger: This is a sweet custom someone shared with me when my own kids were little. I used it in "The Lawman's Holiday Wish" and we use it with our little ones here every year. The manger was cold... clear.... stark..... a hay box isn't exactly the most comfy-cozy of places, so for every good deed a child does during Advent, they get to lay a piece of yarn in the manger. That way, when Jesus is born, his resting spot will be warmed by good deeds!

The waiting creche....

And now, the creche with baby Jesus, and the bits of yarn earned by our good deeds:

Services at church:  It's so easy to skip church now and again, especially with kids in basketball tournaments, cheerleading tournaments, holiday plays, concerts, fundraisers, etc. but going to church regularly during Advent stirs the anticipation of longing for Christ's birth. Such a simple way to show family the devotion and commitment to the reason for the season!


Life/time are precious commodities and if you find yourself stressed over the lack of cookies, sit down and read Max Lucado's "The Crippled Lamb" and you will then be able to shrug off cookies, watch a holiday classic, and support your local economy by buying a dessert at the bakery. I love baking and I love baking with kids, but full-time-working parents today need to cut themselves some slack: It's not about the cookie, it's about that first gift of Christmas: a child.  :)  I'm so glad there weren't Pinterest and Facebook perfect mothers back when my kids were little, because I'd have fallen WAY SHORT!!!! There's a reason they make red and green-filled Oreos!!!

We do schedule an annual "Bake a Memory Day" here at Grammy's house each December. We gather the grandkids, make a fun mess of the kitchen and do whatever we can to make a fun baking day filled with cheer... and memories. Nothing is more precious than that memory of baking with someone, standing on that stool, stirring in the flour or the nuts or the chocolate chips....

Making time to do good deeds privately or in the public view. I make sure to schedule bell ringing for the Salvation Army because they're on the streets, helping the homeless, the tired, the wretched every single day while I whine if I run out of coffee.... I'm such a stinkin' baby.

Okay, that's a good beginning of how to stretch the season without killing your wallet!  If you have family customs or ideas that make the season less chaotic, share them! I love stealing... I mean incorporating ideas!!!!  (BIG GRIN HERE!!!!)

And here's a little bit of fun nonsense that the littlest children L-O-V-E!!!!

Wishing you/us all an ongoing Christmas season filled with love and laughter... and may your visits to the cemeteries of life be filled with joyous memories of forgiveness and grace while taking hold of the life God gives us!

God is good, all the time: And all the time, God is good!


  1. More Ruthy wisdom for the holidays. Love the memories you are creating. Your family is blessed!

    Because I live alone I have a tree decorating party where I invite friends over to help me decorate my tree. I always serve fruity crepes complete with whipped cream and grated chocolate. Yum. I give all my guests an ornament...sometimes they are homemade, sometimes not. :-)

    Oh - and a group of us get together at the beginning of the season for a potluck evening and along with food we have to bring along some sort of Christmas entertainment. It can be anything from a puzzle or word game to a story or music. Makes for a fun evening and sets the tone for the holidays.

    Happy Boxing Day, everyone!

    1. Kav, this is a wonderful tradition! It's fun, sweet, encompassing and we had fruit crepes yesterday morning!!!! I made strawberry and apple and the gang was H-A-P-P-Y!!!! :)

      Potluck evenings. That rocks. I think I'll see about incorporating that into some kind of fun Christmas thing, but I'm not a good game player. I think I'm a brat. ;)

  2. Thanks for the suggestions to help us celebrate this joyous season for more than just one day. At our home the manger with the Babe waited until Christmas morning to be placed in the stable; we like your idea too! (Our Nativity was made by me in a ceramics class in 1983.)My hubby, Pat, now does the baking, using recipes his great grandparents brought from Germany: Stulla bread & Pfeffernuesse cookies. That is such a help to me; giving me time & energy to write the many messges we like to send across the country. Have a joyous day. Judy Sheridan Smith

    1. Judy, I used to make Pfeffernuesse cookies for my dad. He was the only one who liked them.... and I made another cookie for him, too, long German name.... Fattigmans, the diamond shaped cookies.... I've never made Stull bread. And my dad was just a tiny bit German/Dutch, but he liked those German cookies. Of course back then we had German bakeries, Polish bakeries, Greek bakeries, Italian bakeries.... and if you went to the ethnic neighborhood, there might be two or three there, all doing a good business!

      And now we get a cleaned up variety in grocery store bakeries, not the same at all! I miss those little bakeries, the white boxes, tied with string. :)

  3. I love the way you do Christmas, Ruthy!

    Life is too precious to waste it either hurrying through the celebrations or complaining about them.

    Since we're so far away from our extended families, we do it up big with our children...well, these adults who used to be children. We spend Christmas day together, and whenever we can during Christmas week before and after. All four have jobs in retail, so the today they're back at it!

    But we center our celebration around church and home. We might take in a movie or a concert the week before or after...and I know my dear husband and I will squeeze in a little shopping today...but mostly we just stay home and enjoy each other.

    And our Christmas Eve tradition continues. After church, we come home to a supper of finger foods and get out a game. This year it was Solar Quest (kind of like Monopoly in space) and I was kind enough to let everyone else win.

    Wasn't that nice of me?

    1. You are truly nice, Jan Drexler!!! I do that too, much to the annoyance of any partner I might have, because I don't stop talking.... :) I'm such a dork.

      But I feed them so they tolerate me!

      And those peaceful nights at home.... SWEET. I think we can track our married life through the Mass choices of Christmas.... tiny kids, we went to the late afternoon Christmas Eve Masses or first thing Christmas morning... church always came before presents.... and then when the kids got older, it was the 6:00 service, and then the party with Dave's family at our house.

      And then on to Midnight Mass when everyone was old enough to stay up. We had Dave's family over first, then everyone went to Mass.

      What happens when I get to old to stay up or too hoarse too sing???

      Early morning Mass again, LOL! Full circle, as it should be.

  4. U need to put that red and green filled Oreo line on your next Christmas book! :-).

    Hey yLl guess what!!?? This year T my aunts I ate some of the jello mold stuff!! I have never done this and decided since she's in her 80s and u just never know that I'd better go forint..didn't eat much of the white stuff in it but. I ate a spoonful! Now the bad thing is that is was kinda good...and she's the one who know how to make it..maybe it's like Missy's recipe,,did find out it wasn't miracle cuz sais that one got the axe as soon as my dad passed and uncle Larry quit coming over!

    1. Susanna, some of them are great.... the pretzel bottom one that Tina and I were talking about is to die for.... and a crowd pleaser, for sure! And I've had some others that are marvelous... and Jello "fluff" with evaporated milk or whipped cream folded in?

      LOVE IT!!!!

      I'm so glad you tried it. Good girl!!!!! So grab that recipe, girlfriend!!!