It’s that time of year…

(Note:  I have hesitated in posting this, because I am not looking for charity or a hand-out for Christmas. Please do not misinterpret this post. Thank you.)

We’ve had some experiences this year that have stretched our budget beyond normal borders–and yet, I don’t feel a sense of suffering this time of year. (I have, however, been bothered with seemingly unending emails for Black Friday and Cyber Monday and posts on websites for giveaways and contests to win a certain amount of PayPal or gift card cash because, as one boasted this week, “Who couldn’t use an extra $500 this time of year?”). What???

If those who celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, or anything else this time of year are focused on cash, spending, getting, and receiving, isn’t something missing? Aren’t several things missing? (Don’t get me wrong–I’m all for a good deal, for living within means, and for smart spending–but this is getting ridiculous.)

Last week, as a family, we decided to draw names so each person in our home could give and receive a little something to celebrate Christmas.  As we spoke, we talked about the many blessings we have received this year, among them the gift of life for a child who might have died and the gift of sight for a husband and father who might have otherwise been blind. Our finances have stretched to pay for such services, and we are grateful for the ability to do so. And, while I will not find myself in a typical posture shopping on Amazon or reading reviews about the best winter boots or Lego sets, I am at peace.

Let me reiterate: I am at peace. Without the shopping, spending, stress of wondering and waiting to see if I got the “just right” present. All of that has been eliminated. And I’ve made room for other things I enjoy about the holidays–like singing. I will be singing tomorrow at a Christmas brunch and in a choir for Christmas services–and I will attend concerts for my children. And we will bake–sugar cookies (if I can find my cookie cutters) and other treats and dip chocolate pretzels and peanut butter balls.

And maybe, just maybe, this will be our best Christmas yet.

 

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I Used to HATE Valentine’s Day

I used to HATE Valentine’s Day…but, for the past several years, along with having a husband and sweet kiddos to share in the celebrating, I really do enjoy the day (and days leading up to it, as you probably imagined…hence the week-long posting of love-related songs and topics).

Here are some of our fun traditions:

on our normal, weekly family night, we share the story of our courtship/engagement/wedding with our little people
we have a dance party with love songs
we make homemade chocolate fondue and dip marshmallows, bananas, cookies, strawberries, etc. on long skewers
my husband and I share a quiet evening out (but NOT on Valentine’s Day…ever)
we listen to more love songs than normal that week 🙂
we make homemade Valentines for friends and classmates
I make (or add to) a playlist of love songs (prep for my anniversary playlist later in the year)
etc. etc. etc.

What are your Valentine’s Day traditions? What will you do to spread some love around to those in your circle of influence?

Love Heart

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