I hope you are all enjoying the fruits of your labors to make whatever constitutes a Christmas celebration at your home special for your family...and that you are getting to slow down and appreciate all the many blessings that surround us all.
We are finally finished with all "necessary" things, such as the trip to WalMart for dinner supplies, decorating, mailing out cards and gifts, wrapping, and such, and now there is just the fun stuff left...like seeing how many kinds cookies we can bake over the next few days, snuggling on the couch with cocoa while watching a favorite Christmas movie, driving around to see the Christmas light displays, or singing carols around the piano while mom does her best to play them (out of her easy arrangement books!)
I took a picture of the kids the other day sitting around the piano and I wanted to share it with you.
Merry Christmas from Blessing Farm!
That's Cowboy up top (age 6) and Tex to his right (age 14), with Boo on his lap (age 2)
Then Ladybug is on the left (age 8) next to Firefly (age 4) in the center
Here's a separate one of Bubba and his young lady, Miss A.
They are at my parents' house.
I thought I would share a few photos of the house and how we've decorated this year. If you read my previous post about the Christmas Dinner Table Crafts, you will know that we only found one box of Christmas decor this year...no ornaments for the tree, no Christmas cds (I miss the James Taylor one the most), and so on. We did, however, find just enough of the important things to not really mind at all that Christmas will be understated this year.
We found the manger scene, the Jesse Tree ornaments we made last year, the kids' advent calendar (just not the one my Grandma made...sigh), and some cute felt Snowmen and a stuffed Santa (my kids know the secret that Santa is just a symbol of giving and that Jesus' birth is the reason we have Christmas) who keep managing to migrate all over the house, having adventures with the angels and the reindeer. The usually all make it back to the base of the tree by nightfall, so they can go out again and have more fun the next day.
You can see that the plastic candy canes I bought at the Dollar Tree keep winding up on my chandelier. (I spent about twenty dollars and got colored balls, hooks, bows, tinsel, candy canes, stockings, and a few crafting supplies to make some ornaments and napkin rings for the table)
The cat also keeps winding up on my table, tempted by the tinsel and dangly things...silly Molly. The stockings are from the Dollar Tree, too. We usually have the traditional red ones for decoration, but we don't fill them up. We always did that when I was a kid, but after Ladybug was born, then Cowboy less than two years later, and so on...it got to be too much (time AND money).
Usually, we generally do three gifts per child: one to develop a gift they have (this usually costs the most), one symbolically cuddly gift (blanket, pj's, stuffed animal, coat, etc...to show we are loving them always), and a book (any reason to give a book around here...right?). This year we agreed to do just one bought gift per child at a lower amount than usual, to use the extra savings to put up a fence around part of the yard so Boo will be safer when he plays outside. I have, however made a few gifts for the kids. What do you do in regards to gifting at your house?
This is our manger scene, the most important part of the decor. The shepherds regularly move their sheep around, and the wise men are traveling...(the kids know they didn't arrive the night Jesus was born, but they love the camels and don't want to give the traditional wise men up.) I found a bunch of these older pieces at a flea market years ago. This year, Joseph, from the set my folks used when I was a child, is getting to be a shepherd (one of our shepherds was broken). He likes it, I think.
This is a hoot. I thought Cowboy stuffed poor jolly Santa upside down in the chimney of the tissue holder house my grandpa made, but it turns out it was Tex who had the sense of humor...This is the reading corner. Thankfully, our Christmas books were in the box we found! Yay!!
The kids made snowflakes at their homeschool 4-H meeting last Friday. I think they make fantastic decorations, don't you?
This is what has traditionally been the kids' advent calendar. The pieces are fluffy and it is made of sturdy cloth. They play with the pieces all the time, so it had better be! Jesus is still waiting to be placed in the manger...
Here's the piano with all the random other stuff that was in the box: the light up tree, some angels, a random angel snowman ornament...since I have so many helpers this year, I am not surprised when I find any of these things (well, not the glass stuff...they do know to leave that alone) elsewhere in the house, visiting Santa or the snowmen under the tree.
We were happy to find our Christmas carol music in the box, too, plus my mom found the best hardcover Christmas carol book with classical Christian art masterpieces on the facing pages at the library for a DOLLAR!! I just love it, and the arrangements are easy enough for me to play (thanks Mom!!). I have one book that is pretty, but every arrangement uses tons of flats or sharps and I just can't keep up with it. You have to keep it simple for me. The kids have been practicing Jingle Bells, Silent Night, and Carol of the Bells. That is sure nice to hear. They don't seem to mind my less than perfect playing, or singing, for that matter. ;-)
Here are our favorite homemade placemats that we love to use every year. Taking them out and using them at breakfast, lunch, and dinner really makes the kids aware that Christmas is on its way. You can also see one of the napkin rings we made with our crafting supplies. You can check out my post on how to make both the placemats and the napkin rings/ornaments (see picture below), if you have time to fit in one more Christmas craft. They are easy and fun to do.
This is the green tinsel wreath Ladybug made the other night. She was very proud of herself, and so am I! She did a great job, and I think our simple tree looks fabulous!
Last of all is the primitive wooden manger set on top of the kids' easy reader bookcase...and yes, this one gets a lot of play time, too. Well, I think that is just fantastic because Jesus is the reason for Christmas, and the more the kids think about him, the more they will appreciate the meaning of the special day when it finally arrives...and the more likely they are to make Christmas an EVERY day thing, which would be good for us all.
Peace on Earth, Goodwill Towards Men...
Love God, Love Each Other...
and above all Praise Him!!!
Blessings to you and yours, and a very Merry Christmas to you all!!