Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Let's Reflect God’s Light at Christmas



I love decorating for Christmas, especially decorating our trees. Of course lots of Hallmark ornaments grace the branches, but other ornaments are bought on vacation or are handmade keepsakes that inspire a walk down memory lane. I'm guessing your ornaments do the same.

Tuna can Christmas diorama, a brownie activity
The tree downstairs is decorated with felt ornaments I stitched and stuffed, along with several Santas my father carved and painted. My mother quilted the tree skirt. The most precious ornaments on the tree are those made by our children, now with children of their own. Anyone else still hanging a tuna can diorama, a plaster clown, or an angel with a pleated paper skirt and Styrofoam head? I’ll admit I don’t hang these ornaments front and center, but they’re there and immediately zip me back to the days when I was young with small children. I remember the joy in their eyes, their sweet voices as they sang Christmas carols each night, their hugs. 

One of my mom's handmade ornaments


Our great room tree is tall and decked in silver, blue, brass and rose, dripping glass icicles and birds. The sentimental favorites are the ornaments my mother fashioned from Styrofoam, velvet and beads in the 70s. Then there’s the glass ornament purchased the year our first child was born with a miniature Mary and Joseph watching over baby Jesus. Another orb holds pink sand from an anniversary trip to Bermuda. The tree is fancy but personal, too.  



I want to be a Shiny Brite this Christmas

The kitchen tree is skinny, sparse, decorated with my hand-painted gourd ornaments, ropes of beads resembling strung cranberries and miniature jingle bells with a few Shiny Brite ornaments that have seen better days, yet still shine.

Our trees are very different but have three things in common: Strings of lights, star tree toppers and glass balls.

I got to thinking about those glass balls. They’re different sizes and shapes but basically they’re simple, plain, the mainstay of our trees. Even without all the other ornaments, the glass balls would still make the trees beautiful as they glow with reflected light.

I like to think our purpose is much the same. We’re to reflect God’s light in this world, to shine for Him in such a way that we will attract others to the Savior lying in the manger.

If dropped, glass balls can smash to smithereens. Sometimes that's how we feel preparing for Christmas. If we're stressed, we can hide our reflected light
This woman is stressed.
under the proverbial bushel like some people at Christmas with down-turned mouths and flinty eyes snapping at clerks or gesturing at drivers in traffic
. The birth of God’s Son shouldn’t produce that kind of fruit. But upon occasion the best of us can lose our cool. Even if we don't react, inside we're fuming, tense and tired. 
Add in writing deadlines, either publisher or self-imposed, and something has to give. How can we simplify so we’re able to shine for God this Christmas?

Remember Christmas is a celebration, not a competition. Ease up on yourself. Let go of perfectionism. In contrast to the glory of Heaven, Jesus was born in a stable. I love the beauty in that simple, ordinary setting.     

Think outside the box: Homemade is not one of the Ten Commandments. If cooking and baking isn’t your thing or you don’t have time this year, buy what you need. My mom worked till three on Christmas Eve. Instead of preparing an elaborate meal for the extended family gathering at our house, the night before she made spaghetti sauce. Spaghetti is the tradition in our family and we love it. Your creative choice may just become a family tradition you'll cherish. 

Pare down: If you’ve got too much to do, think about cutting something down or out. Trim your card list or opt for eCards. Instead of exchanging gifts at work or with extended family, suggest donating to charity. Spending money we can’t afford on those with more than enough is a surefire way to add stress to our lives, especially when the bills arrive in January. Some limit the number of gifts to three, what the Wise men gave Baby Jesus. Another reason to call them wise. I cringe when I remember all the loot under the tree for our first grandchild. Took us a while to realize starting a college fund was smarter.  

Delegate: Some of us may not want to give up a single tradition. But that doesn't mean we can't ask for help. Trade services like babysitting, carpooling. Ask guests to bring a dish. Require family members to pitch in. Sometimes the busier we are, the less we ask of our family because we're too tired or busy to show them how and see that jobs get done. Think of it as a long-term investment in easing your load and the best way to build kids' self-esteem.   

Start early: Stress increases as the days till Christmas dwindle. I'm amazed at the number of houses in our neighborhood that are decorated inside and out before Thanksgiving. If that makes life easier, why not? If you like to send a photo card, look at family pictures for possibilities as you take them. Keep a list of what you need in your purse, things like stamps, baking supplies, paper products, candles, etc. and buy whenever you see them.     

Take care of you: Get your sleep, eat well, exercise. You'll function better and hopefully stay healthy during cold and flu season. Spend time with God. If you fail in these or other areas, don't beat yourself up. New Year's Resolutions follow Christmas for a reason. LOL 

Get in the mood: If you're feeling like Scrooge, listen to Christmas music. Burn a candle. Light a fire in the fireplace or better yet, under your family if they aren't lining up to help you. Simmer cinnamon sticks on the stove. Attend a concert. Do something for those less fortunate or forgotten. Set aside time to make memories with your family. Make a cup of tea and read a Christmas novella. How's that for a shameless plug? 

These are just a few thoughts I had to help us shine this Christmas. I'm sure there's countless other suggestions.  

How do you handle stress so you can reflect God's light? 

I brought an assortment of store bought muffins and fresh brewed tea and coffee. Leave a comment for a chance to win one of three eBook copies of Home for Christmas I'm giving away and enjoy Ruthy, Pam and Julie's novellas along with my story “A Daddy for Christmas.”  

"A Daddy for Christmas"

When Rafe Rafferty discovers he’s a father, he returns to Bountiful, Indiana, to marry the mother, only to learn she died after childbirth and her sister Tess is raising his child. Rafe falls head over heels for his daughter and for Tess Russo, a woman who doesn’t trust easily. Especially the man she thinks abandoned her sister. Can Rafe prove he’s worthy and conquer the protective walls Tess has built around her heart?


The Bounty Hunter's Redemption is releasing January 5, 2016! 

Staking his claim

Recently widowed Carly Richards is shocked when a bounty hunter declares her seamstress shop belongs to his sister. But Nate Sergeant has proof—the deed her lawless husband gambled away without her knowledge. Now Carly must fight for her home and her son’s future. And until a judge arrives to settle ownership, she’s not budging…despite Nate’s surprisingly kind demeanor—and dashing good looks.
Nate’s faced the meanest outlaws in the land—but this petite, strong-willed seamstress may be his greatest challenge. He owes his sister his life, so he’s determined she’ll have the property that’s legally hers. But as Nate and Carly battle for ownership, Nate realizes there’s something he overlooked—the hope of building a family with Carly and her adorable son. 

110 comments:

Marianne Barkman said...

Great post to reflect on, Janet! Breathe. Read. Breathe. Do one thing at a time. We don't do elaborate Christmas. We are 4 adults in the family. We don't buy each other gifts, though we do give to charity. I make my own Christmas cards, and though I started early, our list is not extensive. I decorated the place outside, but not so much inside.
I would love HOME FOR CHRISTMAS! Thank you for the chance to win.

Just Commonly said...

Thanks Janet for a lovely reminder to exemplify the true meaning of Christmas. Let His light shine on. Have a very Merry Christmas!

(I already have a copy of Home for Christmas, so no need to add me to the giveaway. For those who haven't read it yet, it's a must this holiday season. If you don't win, it's currently on sale at Amazon for 99 cents -limited time only!) Merry Christmas everyone!

Vince said...

Hi Janet:

Stress is almost always the result of trying to meet expectations. Work on those expectations and stress will take care of itself.

I just loved "A Daddy for Christmas". It was real and romantic at the same time.

Vince

Helen Gray said...

Coffee's brewing.

Thanks for the timely reminders, Janet.

Terri said...

Janet, I loved looking at your trees. Thanks for sharing. We also do multiple trees and the way we do that without stressing is not rushing, but starting early.

Part of the fun for me at Christmas is reading. I love reading Christmas stories.

I'd also love the chance to win your new book. Notice how I slid that in.

I have a large family so limiting gifts is s must or I would stress!

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Mary Preston said...

We keep it all very simple. I got rid of the stress years ago.

My favorite Christmas tree decorations are those made by my children - many years ago.

Count me in thank you.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

COFFEE.... thank you, Helen!!!!

I love my kids' handmade ornaments. They're a walk down memory lane. In preschool, Zach made a paper plate angel... and that angel still tops our family tree, every year.

I love the ornaments you make where you tuck a child's picture into it. Our Emma hangs Aunt Sarah's every year and laughs because she looks like her Aunt Sarah's mini-me... and the one of Luke on Christmas morning, so excited! Now he's a hedge fund manager in New York.

The years follow their own dance, but those precious memories of children in our care last forever.

Cindy W. said...

Thank you for the great post Janet. Your trees sound beautiful. We aren't putting up a tree this year because I am having surgery on January 4th and I know I wouldn't feel like taking it down. My husband could do it but we have a lot of Hallmark ornaments that all have their boxes to go back in and I do it in a special way. We also have precious ones that have been made and other collected through the years, each with a story. Part of decorating and un-decorating the tree each year is being able to 'visit' the memories that the ornaments hold from year to year. We are however setting up our nativity and stockings and a few extra Christmas decorations to make the house look festive.

I would love to be in your drawing for Home for Christmas. Thank you for the opportunity.

Have a blessed week everyone!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

The Artist Librarian said...

For me, most of my stress during the holidays comes from finals and the end of the semester (yes parents, go ahead and laugh) ... ;-) I try to kind of take breaks in between and kind of spend some time with my siblings and the rest of my family --school is important, but I do want to make memories with the people important to me. =)

Glynna Kaye said...

Great reminders, JANET! We've allowed ourselves and our society to pile so many demands and expectations around a single day of the year. Simplify, simplify, simplify--and make room for worship and reflecting on God's great Gift.

Jackie said...

Thanks for the reminder that Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season.

With all of the tragic events of the last few weeks, I'm less stressed over the little things. I'm trying to focus on what really counts. God. Family. Country.

Merry Christmas!

Janet Dean said...

Hi Marianne, love your mantra to read and breathe. You have mastered simplifying Christmas and sharing with those in need.

Are you a rubber stamper like me? I make six cards for my little group of stampers but that's it. Once I have the design, I can make them in the evening while watching a Christmas movie.

You're in the punch bowl for Home for Christmas!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Just Commonly, thank you for your lovely endorsement of Home for Christmas and for reminding everyone of the sale. Four Seeker novellas for 99 cents is quite a bargain. I've read all the stories and I'm blessed to be part of such a lovely collection of Christmas stories.

Merry Christmas!

Janet

Mary Hicks said...

Janet, thank you for a very good reminder.

I feel less stressed after just reading your tips and ideas for enjoying the holidays.:-)

I have a box full of those precious, fun, tree decorations from the past.

Janet Dean said...

Hi Vince,

I sometimes think we can be our own worst enemy by putting expectations on ourselves that may not even be what God wants for us or from us.

I'm delighted you enjoyed "A Daddy for Christmas"! Thank you. Romance that feels real is a writer's aim.

How are you doing? is the pain better?

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Helen, It was lovely to arrive this morning to the aroma of brewed coffee. Thank you!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Terri. Yay for starting early and keeping stress at bay. I'm not stressed by decorating because my dh is a huge help. He enjoys the decorations as much as I do.

I love reading Christmas stories, too! Thanks for your interest in Home for Christmas.

Our family is small but the grandkids are growing up and knowing what to give them is getting harder. We rely on their parents, but I think even they are struggling this year.

Merry Christmas!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Mary P. Our kids' handmade decorations are such a lovely connection to when they were young and over the moon with excitement for Christmas.

Any secrets on simplifying??

Your name is in the punch bowl.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Ruthy, Thanks for sharing your ornaments! And your mother heart. My mother used to say she could believe how old she was but couldn't believe the age of her kids. Now I know what she means. LOL The years fly but our love and commitment to our children just expands with the addition of their children. We're blessed beyond measure.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Cindy W, you've chosen to remove stress by simplifying this year. Please remind us of your surgery when the date gets closer so we can pray for you.

My dh decided years ago to save time by wrapping the Hallmark ornaments in tissue and putting them into one box. I was a bit appalled as I enjoy fitting them back into those perfect molds to protect them, but his method is more efficient and so far none of them have broken. We did save the individual boxes.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Artist Librarian. I'm not laughing at the stress of school finals. I remember. :-) Good for you for finding a balance to study and make memories with your family. Hope you nail those tests!

Janet

Jill Weatherholt said...

Thank you for the great reminders, Janet. Your mother's ornament is beautiful.
As the years pass, I've learned to slow down and enjoy this time of the year. We never know what next year will bring, so give the gift of time to God, family and friends...that's really what's important.
One thing I continue to do, is send handwritten Christmas cards. I've saved cards from special people, who have since passed. Each year, I read them and I'm grateful they took the time during the hectic holiday season to remember me.

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Glynna. You've given us wonderful advice to make room in our day and in our hearts for Jesus, the reason for Christmas.

Janet

Rose said...

Hi Janet!

Your trees are lovely. Thank you for sharing them with us.

How do I handle the stress? I start early. I try to have the bulk of my 'store' shopping done in November and order the rest online. That way I don't have to fight crowds and traffic.

I also pared down my baking. We were eating some items until February and one year, I said enough! So I try to do two types of cookies (small batches) and Chex mix. At a recent family gathering I was asked if I bake and decorated cut out sugar cookies like my mom did. My reply: Nope! They were good and I have fond memories of them, but that was her 'thing' not mine. Seriously, she liked to decorate cakes and cookies so mine would not compare!

Janet Dean said...

Hi Jackie. Tragedy brings perspective. Most of the things that stress us are small, not likely to matter. Thanks for helping broaden our focus!

Janet

DebH said...

I love the idea of keeping things simple for Christmas, Janet.

When I was a poor college student, I started making Christmas ornaments from blown out eggs because I couldn't afford giving gifts. After college and my first "real" job, I bought gifts and everyone wanted to know where the egg ornaments were. So, until I got married and had Guppy, I created egg ornaments for family (with drawings of the significant thing that happened to/for them that year). It got up to 14 ornaments. My brother's Christmas tree is covered with egg ornaments. Post Guppy, I've struggled to get any ornaments created because of so much to get done. I think my brother is okay with that because there isn't any more room on the tree for more *heh*.

I'm just getting started with Guppy on making ornaments. Last year though, he made the star for the top of the tree because we didn't have one. He told me a tree MUST have the Star of Christmas. I guess the little angel I had wasn't big enough for him.

Thanks for the reminder about keeping the focus of Christmas on Christ and to not stress over the details, Janet. Don't put me in the draw. I'm taking the advice about supporting my fave authors by buying the collection this time around. Of course, the sale price makes it easier for my budget. A true win-win. I am so looking forward to reading the Seeker Christmas collections. So far, all the Seeker collections are MUST READS!!! They are so awesome.

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Mary H. Your box of tree ornaments from the past is a treasure. One of the reason I love decorating Christmas trees. Thanks for taking time to stop in Seekerville!

Janet

DebH said...

p.s.
anyone have good links for Advent stuff for youngsters? This is the first year Guppy really grasps the concepts of Christmas and I want to be sure to give him a solid foundation of Christ in Christmas to counter the excess of Santa stuff he's exposed to everywhere else.

Janet Dean said...

Jill, Thanks for the reminder that each day with loved ones is a gift to be cherished. Your handwritten Christmas cards bless the recipients. I admire your sentimental heart.

Janet

Leslie McKee said...

Thanks for the post and the great reminder that Jesus is the reason for the season!

I love your trees/ornaments :)

Thanks for the opportunity to win,too. Have a blessed holiday!

Leslie

Cindy Regnier said...

Beautiful trees and ornaments. Great message. Thanks, Janet

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Rose. I'm impressed you have your shopping done early. We wait for lists from our daughters and those can take a while. But they're great at giving specifics or even buying the gifts and we pay them back. Still it's often close to Christmas before I get the wrapping done.

I'm with you on making cutout cookies. They're festive but very time intensive. I made them with our kids when they were little but no more. I can still remember all the frosting and sprinkles on the counters and floor. The licked fingers while they were spreading frosting. Shivering. LOL Truthfully they were happy memories, if I could just forget the cleanup.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, DebH! Love the idea of egg ornaments, especially the way you personalized them for the recipients! I've blown eggs to decorate them for Easter and know it isn't easy.

Marriage and children have a way of making us simplify. :-) Guppy sounds delightful. The innocence and excitement of children add so much to the festivities! I don't have links to share, but when our girls were small, we lit a candle each night before they went to bed and sang a couple of Christmas carols. No secular songs were allowed then. One year when the girls did a good deed for someone else, they could put a straw in a doll cradle to make a soft bed for baby Jesus. We also asked them to act out the Christmas story on Christmas Eve. Little things but they add up.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

DebH, meant to thank you for your lovely praise and support of the Seeker collections!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Leslie. Thank you! I wish we all could share our trees and traditions. Know we'd get some great ideas for our own celebrations.

Merry Christmas!
Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Cindy R, thanks! We're often busy with activities and parties, but my favorite way to spend an evening is to sit and soak up the beauty of the decorations while listening to Christmas carols.

Janet

Sandra Leesmith said...

Love this post Janet and reminder to rest and not get stressed out. I used to bake this traditional orange bread for all the family and friends. But it took a lot of time. Now I do what you suggested. I go to Sees and buy candy. So much easier and no one seems to mind. LOL.

Sees gives a discount to Vets by the way. 40% off. You have to go to their main distribution center in whatever city you are in.

Jeanne T said...

Loved this post, Janet. I did the same sort of post on my own blog last Tuesday. :) Tips for thriving through the season are always welcome. :)

This year, I am purposing to not walk through this season stressed. I've focused on trying to get to bed and get a good night's sleep. Letting go of things that add stress (one year, we skipped the Christmas letter because Hubby was out of country and t was just too much for me). I'm trying to make great memories with our kids on a regular basis, and make sure we do those traditions that are important to them (like decorate the tree and watch The Muppet's Christmas Carol).

Sometimes, I make a list with a timeline of when things need to be done--decorations up, Christmas gifts mailed to distant family, etc. This helps me stay on track.

And honestly, writing often ends up taking a back burner during this season. I'll take a couple weeks off from blogging to focus on my family.

Marianne Barkman said...

Janet, I do rubber stamping, but this year it's fussy cutting and dry embossing. And I make about two dozen.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Deb H Love the blown egg decorations. I bet those are treasured now.

I would light the candle in the morning and tell a little bit more of the Christmas story each day. that's what I do fir me anyway. Can't see why it wouldn't work for a child. Keep it simple.

I always loved the nativity scene. Mom let us kids play with it. Like playing with dolls. We would walk the animals around and the people. We would rearrange the setting.

Sandra Leesmith said...

I finished my Christmas cards early for a change and that makes it so nice. Forced to actually because there just isn't room in the RV for them to sit around. Got the candy out too mainly so I wouldn't dig into one of those boxes. LOL

Myra Johnson said...

Wonderful and timely reminders, Janet! I felt more at peace this season just reading your post. Thank you!

One thing I'm enjoying in this season of Advent is spending some peaceful moments coloring the pictures in the Advent devotional "adult" coloring book our music ministers gave the choir members as a Christmas gift. With some Christmas carols on the stereo and a cup of hot cocoa by my side, it's a lovely break at the end of the day.

kaybee said...

Hi Janet, thank you for a great post and helping us to focus on what matters.
I don't do cutout cookies any more. My husband and I are both diabetics and our children are grown. I don't miss the mess! I do bake, but it's things with less effort and equal rewards. And I try to do as much ahead of time as I can.
My top tips for general holiday prep are: 1. Do food ahead and freeze. 2. Buy cards on sale after Christmas and address them on one of those long, snowy weekends in January or February. Then when late November comes, you just need to write a note, if that's your practice, and stick on a stamp. Bingo, and you can write your notes on the long THANKSGIVING weekend.
My holiday time management tip for writers is to finish major projects in November. That isn't always practical, but it is for self-imposed deadlines, the unpublished and the indie-published. Take a month off from "major" writing in December and work on shorter things such as blog posts, reviews of friends' work, resume polishing and Web site cleanup. You're still supporting your writing, in the case of the blog posts you ARE still writing, but with shorter projects you won't get as frustrated. This doesn't work if you've got an outside deadline from a publisher, but it will work for everyone else.
AND have a cup of tea and read a Christmas novella!
Best,
KB

Sandy Smith said...

Enjoyed the post, Janet. I tend to get stressed trying to get everything done at Christmas and have learned that sometimes I do have to let go. I cut out the baking and just make a few favorites. With my two jobs of subbing and working at the book store, I don't have much time left. That bothers me because I love to decorate the house for Christmas and wish I could have it all done by Dec. 1 but that doesn't happen. This week I have not had any sub jobs so am able to work on it. We have two trees and I am planning to work on them today. But I have taken the time to read Christmas books, which I started Oct. 1 so I would have time. I already have Home for Christmas and loved "A Daddy for Christmas" so you don't need to put me in the drawing.

Janet Dean said...

Sandra, who would complain about receiving Sees candy?? Nice that they honor Vets! Another reason to buy from them.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Jeanne T! Your priorities and attitude are terrific! You're making great memories with your kids and teaching them a lot about handling life. Bravo!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Sandra, I love that your mom let you play with the figures in the Nativity. We have a Precious Moment's non-breakable nativity set that our grandkids played with. Our main crèche has a removable baby Jesus so they could tell the Christmas story and move the figures around. Now they're grown up. I'm missing those days.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Sandra, I still have the cards to address and mail. Planning on getting more done on that today.

Janet

Keli Gwyn said...

Your trees are lovely, Janet. I've done my best to keep our Christmas traditions manageable, although I didn't wise up until our daughter was a bit older. Those days with too-long to-do lists added stress at a time when I wanted the focus to be on fun, so we made some changes. I stopped making pan after pan of fudge, which was far too tempting anyhow. We set a limit on our gift-giving. One year we created drawstrings bags made from Christmas fabrics, one pattern per person, which we used in lieu of wrapping paper. "Wrapping" our presents took very little time, and the bags did a great job of disguising what was inside.

These days our gal is grown. She's been living in Europe the past three years, so our Christmas traditions have changed. The biggest is that Carl and I no longer exchange gifts. We've reached the point in life when we have all we need--and then some. We struggled to come up with gift ideas and asked ourselves why we still felt the need to purchase presents. We chose to forgo that tradition and put our focus on experiences instead. These days instead of anticipating presents under the trees, we look forward to Christmas concerts, plays and our church's candlelight service. While I do miss the joy of watching our gal ooh and aah over her gifts, I'm enjoying this new season of life. And who knows? One day she might marry and bless us with grandchildren. =)

Janet Dean said...

Myra, do you have a link to the Advent adult coloring book? I want to see it and maybe order one. Though I am having a few minutes of fun each morning with a cyber Victorian Advent calendar.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Kathy B, thanks for all these wonderful tips! You very organized and efficient! Thanks for sharing your wisdom. I'm taking notes.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Sandy, Two jobs must keep you hopping. I'm glad you have today off so you can start decorating your trees.

I'm delighted you enjoyed "A Daddy for Christmas". Thank you!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Keli, Your Christmas bags are far nicer to the environment than wrapping paper and a great timesaver. Love the idea!

Experiences/events make the best gifts. My dh and I still exchange gifts but the emphasis is on the kids and grandkids. Like you say, we have all we need.

I enjoy seeing your visits abroad with your daughter on Facebook. It'll be great fun to one day share in her wedding and the growth of your family. Until then have a blast with your sweet hubby.

Janet

Meghan Carver said...

Homemade is not one of the Ten Commandments. Amen, sister!!! For years, I struggled to make homemade rolls. I didn't enjoy it, and they didn't taste very good. I think Heaven opened and the angels sang the year my husband said, "Let's get some Hawaiian rolls."

Great post today, Janet, and I appreciate the encouragement to keep it simple and worshipful. Please enter me in the drawing. Those novella collections are terrific!

Jana Vanderslice said...

DebH the Great! We had a non breakable nativity set that Mom let us play with. We would set it up, & she would move the pieces around to see who would notice first. When I started teaching, my dad made me a wooden nativity set that my students used (yes, even my big kids loved it). I can't find the patterns but Pinterest would have some. Or print a nativity set on cardstock & glue them to magnets for the refrigerator. Guppie could even color them. You could do one a day & talk about that part of the story. Merry Christmas to you & Guppie!

Sarah Claucherty said...

Janet, great post! I especially like your tips on delegating or scaling back if you have to. Add a college graduation five days before Christmas, and your holiday season gets a little crazy!

DebH said...

oooh, Jana
thanks for the Nativity magnet idea. Little man will love that. I think my husband (who has a wood shop) would love the wooden Nativity set patterns. Will look that up.

We do have a child Nativity set that goes under the tree that he can play with. He tends to play with the larger credenza Nativity scene as well. He's always liked to hide baby Jesus from Mary and Joseph for some reason.

Thanks everyone else who has shared. I like the lighting candle and share part of the Christmas story each night ideas. Guppy is learning to read and I thought maybe drawing and writing the Christmas story in his words might be fun. Work on it a little each night. Hmmmm... maybe plant seeds for a future author *heh*

kaybee said...

Myra, I LOVE to color!
KB

kaybee said...

Janet, thanks. My organizational efficiency has been hard-won because I DO like to do everything. And I can be too organized, i.e. buying things at after Christmas sales and stashing them till the next year only to find out people's tastes and preferences have changed. Hard to do with children, but even with adults the person you buy the George Foreman Grill for could turn vegan over 11 months. It's a delicate balance.
Dave and I put up a menorah this year to show solidarity with Israel and he lights candles every night. A lovely and new tradition.
KB

kaybee said...

Not everything has to be homemade. I have also gone to Pillsbury pie crusts because my own weren't all that good and not worth the angst.
KB

Loves To Read said...

Wonderful post and I vote for the cup of tea and Christmas novella!

Vince said...

Hi Janet:

The pain was as bad this morning as it has ever been. The pain keeps changing. What causes the pain changes. What actions that can be taken to reduce the pain keeps changing. What and where it hurts changes but not as much.

Sometimes the pain pills seem to be just placebos. The only thing to do, as all the doctors say there is no treatment for this problem, is deal with the pain all the time trying to work it down. Also, doing something else, like writing these comments, distracts the brain from the full impact of the pain. So these comments are truly therapeutic.


In any event there can be healing going on in different areas of my body without me feeling much improvement. My range of motion is far better than a week ago. This is my hope. One day the last trouble area will be healed and the pain will stop.

Ironically my wife, Linda, is seeing a back doctor for the same kind of trauma as me. She is a few months ahead of me and is off the strong pain pills. There was also no treatment in her case either.

I really like your post on these Christmas ornaments. What do you think about giving them as gifts at other times of the year? (If you know they are not against Christmas.)

For example: what if I gave you a present (for Christmas or your Birthday) that was a ball with a photo of the cover of "Courting Miss Adelaide" on it? What if I gave Tina a ball with a photo of her accepting her Carol award?

Would such gifts be appropriate? Do you think they would be used on the recepient's Christmas tree?

I'm just playing as they sing in "It's all about the bass."

Vince

Janet Dean said...

Good afternoon, Meghan. Your comment had me laughing out loud! Can feel your joy at being released from homemade rolls. :-)

This makes me think of my mom. Her mother-in-law made fabulous flaky, sky-high biscuits. My mom tried to duplicate them and never could. She finally gave up trying. We all have different talents. Though I wish I could make a banana pudding as delicious as my grandmother's. I think she must've whipped the ingredients because it was light and fluffy. When I asked for the recipe, she didn't have one.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Jana, your idea for DebH is excellent! Guppy will enjoy making the figures beautiful with crayons!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Sarah, congratulations on your graduation from college!! That's a huge achievement! I peeked at your profile and saw your college is a sports rival of my alma mater. :-) Wishing you all the best with your career.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

DebH, isn't it fun to think your child might one day want to write? Whatever talent God has given him, you're nurturing his mind, body and soul. Enjoy this special year with him.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Kathy B, I've always hesitated to buy ahead for that very reason. But hopefully that's the exception not the norm.

A menorah is a lovely way to show support for Israel.

In our family a pie made with a Pillsbury pie crust is considered homemade. :-)

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Loves to Read, your blog name tells me where your heart is. :-) We love readers in Seekerville!!!

Janet

Pam Hillman said...

Janet, can you come decorate for me? :) It's not that I don't enjoy it, and love it once I get started, but it's that I never seem to find the time.

My Decembers have always been chock full, either from the day job that was mega busy during the winter, to contest deadlines, and now contracted deadlines. With a huge thank you to Barbour, Tyndale, AND the Seekers! I'm not complaining about deadlines!

But... next year, I think I'll block out DECEMBER for a change! :)

Janet Dean said...

Vince, I'm so sorry the pain is bad, constant and hard to control. We'll keep praying until you and Linda are through this hard time. Wish we were all closer and could take turns bringing in food. You both need some TLC!

Hugs, Janet

Janet Dean said...

Vince, I'm waving my hand wildly in the air for the Courting Miss Adelaide Christmas ornament you described and would gladly hang it on my tree! I'm sure Tina would agree.

Though not homemade, one of my cherished ornaments supported my dream of publication. In 1995 Hallmark sold ornaments you could personalize. The one my friend gave me was a mouse with an open book. She added the title of the first book I wrote with "by Janet Dean" under it. I was touched she believed that one day I would be published.

Janet

Valri said...

Hey Janet, loved your post! Christmas is my favorite season! I don't do elaborate either - I try to make things as simple as possible and enjoy as much as I can. Now that we are empty nesters, things are quieter at our house but I miss the "noise" in some ways! Our two little granddaughters are far away and I only get to Skype with them so I have to make that time count!

I would love to be in the drawing for the ebook! All the books sound great! Good luck on the release of your book in Jan. too!

Janet Dean said...

Pam, I'd love to help you decorate, if we lived closer. You could tell me about your special ornaments. :-)

Read Jeanne T and Kaybee's comments if you're looking for encouragement to block out next December.

Janet

Deanna Stevens said...

Love the decorations!
please toss me into the drawing :)

Janet Dean said...

Hi Valri, I'm thankful that Skype helps to keep you connected to your little granddaughters. When a friend's grandkids were little, she reproduced pictures of her and her husband and taped them inside notes and greeting cards so the little ones wouldn't forget what grandma and grandpa looked like. Technology is way nicer!

Your name is in the punch bowl. I'll be doing a giveaway of The Bounty Hunter's Redemption in January or perhaps Christmas Eve. Stay tuned.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Deanna, you're names tucked in the punch bowl.

Thanks for taking time to stop by.

Janet

Trixi said...

Good early afternoon Seekers & Villagers (I am PST and it's before noon my time)! I missed commenting last night at 9pm my time (Midnight blog time) because I was in bed with a massive migraine/sinus headache. Thankfully I don't get them often or I don't know how I'd function! Anyway, I've read through the comments and that's one of the best parts for me, reading what others have to say :-)
I've decided this year I'm going simplistic. I have to agree with you Janet in that! Each year seems to go by so quickly, Thanksgiving & Christmas are just too close together to rush around doing things for both....at least for me. I just haven't the energy anymore to do that & the older I get, the more I realize what's more important in my life. The tree will still go up, but less presents will be under it (even for the grand-girl) and even paring down the decorations. May even decide not to cook this year as our local grocery store has pre-made dinner you simply heat & eat.....and it really IS tasty! I'll still bake my pies and cookies, that's a tradition I can't NOT do :-) I'm feeling a lot more relaxed already about Christmas. I'm just going to enjoy the time with my grand-girl, daughter and her boyfriend, my son & husband. After all, family is the real presents along with the Presence of the Lord!
Oh, and since my mom lives in New Zealand, we always Skype video call her! I just love technology where you can keep up with loved ones clear across the world. I miss her so much, and it's not the same as having her here....but it's better than not being able to talk to her :-)
I have this novella collection already so no need to throw my name in the candy dish. I enjoyed your post today. Let us all be the light of Christ this season :-)

Deanne Patterson said...

Like you I put up the ornaments every year my children have me on the tree. I have an angel made my son made from a paper plate when he was in kindergarten with his picture on it. He is now 23. It really is fun decorating the tree of memories is what I call it. Please toss my name in for the drawing.
Thank you

Cnnamongirl at aol dot com


Deanne p.

Missy Tippens said...

Janet, such good suggestions! I gave up mailing Christmas cards years ago because it put too much stress on me when I had small kids. I've decided now that the kids are grown, I may pick that up again (but not his year because it's probably too late already!).

I love the idea of asking others to bring side dishes for a meal. And I love buying gifts through something like World Vision. Several years ago, my agent Natasha Kern gave me a gift certificate to Kiva (which does micro-loans to individuals and small businesses in developing countries), and I'm still re-loaning that money each time it gets paid back! It feels good to help that way in honor of your loved ones.

Barbara Scott said...

As the years go by, our Christmas keeps paring down. We went from an 8-foot tree to a 4-foot one. Most of the decorations were made by my mother-in-law and given as gifts every year. A box or two of old glass ornaments we've had forever. Other handmade ornaments by the grandkids, and of course, candy canes. Our topper is a porcelain child "angel" with a red knit hat. It's a real children's tree.

Now we're lucky to put up the tree a week before Christmas. That's okay. My parents, who didn't have much money when we were kids, always waited until late Christmas Eve to buy a tree when they were all marked down. We had a few Charlie Brown trees, but we didn't care. It was Christmas!

Please throw my name into the dish for the drawing!

Janet Dean said...

Trixi, my heart goes out to you! I used to get frequent migraines and they're debilitating. Glad you're feeling well today!

I'm guessing your pies and cookies are fantastic! What do you usually make?

With carryout and premade meals none of us need be trapped in the kitchen unless cooking is our thing. One of our daughters brings Christmas cookies and candy and the other hosts a meal at her home. They both help me in the kitchen and the men help clean up afterward. Even the kids clear the table. We all pitch in!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Deanne, I'm sure your grown son gets a kick out of seeing his handiwork topping your tree.

No need to leave your email. Just check back in the weekend to see if you've won.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Missy, I hadn't heard of that organization. What a lovely idea! Kudos to Natasha and to you for carrying it on!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Barbara, you've found ways to pare down and still honor your traditions. I knew some families waited to put up the tree until Christmas Eve. For others Santa brought the tree. Sounds like your parents managed to give you wonderful memories of Christmas on a shoestring budget.

Janet

Myra Johnson said...

JANET, here is the link on Amazon for the Advent Coloring Calendar:

http://amzn.com/1612617654

Janet Dean said...

Thanks Myra!! I'd be behind if I started now. Not sure I could handle the stress. :-) But your link provided several other coloring books to choose from. I'm asking for one for Christmas.

Janet

Wilani Wahl said...

Thanks for the great post. Every year I end up crossing off things on my list to do because it is not worth the stress and I just can't do it all, no matter how much I love it. This year I decided to type my addresses onto labels. I think it will help when I get ready to do the cards.

Don't include me in the drawing. I already have the book, just now to have time to read it. I try to buy gifts all year long and even to stock up on baking supplies ahead of time.

Debby Giusti said...

The perfect blog, Janet, for this busy time of year. I've been running since Thanksgiving! :)

Spent the day watching our grandson's Christmas program at his pre-school. Then off to lunch to celebrate his great singing and hand-jive and bell ringing ability as performed on stage! :) So cute. So little. Such joy for those loving parents and grandparents in the audience.

For the last number of years, I've been on deadline during December. This year I'm waiting for revisions on my recently submitted story. Trying to get everything done before the manuscript appears in my Inbox. :) Is there ever enough time in December?

You mentioned the importance of prayer. My daily time before the Lord is what keeps me on track and usually smiling. :) Advent is a beautiful time of watching and waiting for the Christ Child. I plan to be ready when he arrives. :)

Hugs and love!

Sallie said...

Get enough sleep and spend time in the Word.

Mary Connealy said...

STRESS? How do I handle STRESS?

I give the adult kids cash for Christmas.
I buy nearly all gifts on Amazon.
I don't have any events at my house.
I have a system of Christmas decorating that takes 20 minutes.

What stress?

Mary Connealy said...

For me the joy of holidays is gathering my family around me (at their houses!).

I used to write and direct the Sunday School Christmas Program at my church.

Now THAT was stress.

I seriously did quit because I thought a few times I was having a heart attack. (as if I'd get so lucky...nope, I remained alive and had to show up)

I did get five of my Christmas plays published though. That was a funny story about an elderly deaf woman who convinced me I was a brilliant playwright and wanted a typed copy of my play, when what she was really saying was she was hard of hearing and didn't get what the play was about.

By the time I found out about her deafness I'd already mailed the plays off though and they sold.

:( --- :)

I officially have mixed feelings about the whole experience. I must've really wanted to hear how great I was.

Trixi said...

Janet,

Even my baking is simple. I make two from scratch pumpkin pies & a batch of chocolate chip cookies. I used to bake a lot more, but in recent years, not so much! We just don't eat all the sugary stuff anymore, neither my husband nor I really need it :-) In years past, I've made about 3 kinds of cookies & 2-3 kinds of pies...can you imagine what my kitchen looked like, lol! But I LOVE baking, so it was no burden to show my love through my food :-)

And yes, with all the pre-made dinners grocery stores do now (they actually taste good to boot!), one doesn't have to slave in the kitchen all day....cooking or cleaning! Although, my husband does do the dishes and clean-up on Christmas day, one of the things that attracted me to him, his willingness to clean...haha!

Like one of the sayings I like, " A burden shared is no burden at all", there's no reason for just ONE person to do everything. We all pitch in to make it a fun day!

Lyndee H said...

Hi Janet,
I'm looking forward to your next book. Been eyeing it on the Harlequin site, but the last time I ordered, I was informed it would be available SOON. Hopefully, I'll be able to order it this week.

Christmas will be a breeze for me this year as my daughter and her little family of three boys will be in Australia visiting the other side of the family. They left today! So I have about a month to make cookies and wrap their gifts. I remember those years in the past when I knocked myself out making Christmas special, honoring all the family traditions and decorating every square inch. This stage of my life, I don't feel as compelled, which is nice. I can really concentrate on the reason for the season.

Merry Christmas!

Vince said...

Hi Janet:

Here's a question I have, "Do people really want to reduce their stress?"

Every year, at Christmas and Thanksgiving, I offer to buy the family the complete Turkey dinner, all cooked and with all the trimmings -- including pecan pie. The women always say, not this year, next year. But they never will let go of this very time consuming and stressful task. "Besides, it's just as much work anyway. You still have to set the table and clean the dishes. You men just don't understand this."

Then there are the many little jobs I offer to do year round and the answer is often, "No, I'd rather do it myself and know it was done right."

Sometimes I think that stress is worn as a badge of honor. What do the womenfolk think of this?

Vince

CatMom said...

What a wonderful post, Janet. I loved reading about your different Christmas trees, and can relate to the special handmade ornaments (my kiddos also made them years ago, and they bring back sweet memories). I want to be a Shiny Brite too! :) Such an important reminder for us in this sometimes-dark world. I hope you'll have a very blessed Christmas!
Hugs, Patti Jo :)

The Artist Librarian said...

@Janet - Aw, thank you! Definitely trying. =)

Janet Dean said...

Wilani, Labels will be a big help getting out your cards now and for years to come. I should do the same but never seem to get around to it. Shopping ahead is a great idea. My problem is knowing what to buy.

Hope you find time to read the novellas!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Debby. I'm sure your grandson looked precious ringing his bell and doing the hand-jive. Isn't it wonderful to be close enough to attend those performances?

Hope you get everything done before your revisions arrive. Or better yet, maybe you won't have any.

We may not get everything done exactly as we'd like, but when our hearts are ready for the arrival of the Christ Child, we're prepared for all that matters.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Sallie, brief and to the point, excellent advice for keeping our shine.

Thanks!
janet

Janet Dean said...

Mary, thanks for sharing the secret for a stress free Christmas! You earned it after all those years writing and directing Sunday school Christmas plays at your church. Congrats on selling them! I'm impressed. Are they still available?

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Trixi, pumpkin pie and chocolate chip cookies are favorites of mine. I'm sure your family loves yours.

You and your husband make a good team. Have a wonderful Christmas!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Hi Lyndee, Yay, great to know the book will soon be up on the HQ site.

Just hearing about your laid back December is relaxing! Hope your daughter and her family have a wonderful time in Australia and you have a lovely Christmas upon their return.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Vince, maybe the women in your life aren't ready to give up control of what they see as their role, their area of expertise. To buy the meal could make them feel purposeless or replaceable and that can be stressful, too. Or maybe they just love the traditions that go with cooking of the meal, the bonding in the kitchen, the satisfaction of feeding the family well. But you're sweet to offer.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Patti Jo, you are a Shiny Brite!

Merry Christmas!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Artist Librarian, know you are.

Hugs,
Janet

Edwina said...

Janet,

I enjoyed seeing your trees! Wonderful, thought-provokiing post!

Merry Christmas!

Janet Dean said...

Hi Edwina! Good to see you here.

Merry Christmas!

Janet

ohiohomeschool said...

Christmas stress. . .For me this year, I have been trying to reflect on advent more to stay less stressed. I also took all my kids for a Christmas milk shake the other days when things were getting stressful. I was happily surprised how it changed us.
Thanks
Becky B.

Janet Dean said...

Becky B, sometimes it's the little things that melt the stress away and bring us joy. A chocolate milk shake sure would for me!

Janet

bonton said...

I enjoyed your wise tips and viewing your beautiful tree ornaments, Janet - thank you!!

I wish I had realized at a much younger age than I did - the value of a simple, relaxed Christmas, and the importance of the resulting increased concentration on the real meaning of Christmas!! It makes for even more wonderful memories. I now employ the tips you mentioned, as well as shop for Christmas gifts through-out the year. I do what I can, and feel like doing, on a leisurely basis, and no longer worry about the rest.

Thanks for the giveaway opportunity - however, I already own each of the Seeker collections.

Christmas blessings to you and yours!!