When you think of the holidays and Thanksgiving, do you think of a quiet family time where everyone is sharing what they are grateful for? You sit down at a long table surrounded by family and friends. You set the table with the special thanksgiving plates and the fancy goblets. Your napkins are folded to look like turkeys. You have the pilgrim salt and pepper sets out, one for each end of the table. The turkey is golden brown and steam is rising from its crispy skin. It is overflowing with stuffing and surrounded with an artistic display of fruits and veggies. There are bowls of heaping mashed potatoes and more stuffing, some with oysters and some without. Don’t forget about the sweet potato casserole and the fluffy hot rolls. Over on the sideboard is sumptuous display of desserts that is making your mouth water. You are right on time with the scheduled meal time. You take turns sharing what you are thankful for this holiday season. Is this what happens at your house?
Or maybe it is a bit different at your house. You are scrambling at the last minute to pick up the house because company is coming. Your voice rings out telling everyone what they need to be doing. You feel like you need to be everywhere at once because it is not all coming together. You are hoping the turkey will be done by the time you sit down at the table. If you are like most of America, your turkey is already carved and sliced up before it ever hits the table. There is no artistic display, but simply a platter full of turkey slices that look delicious. You are trying to come up with enough plates and silverware and they will not all match. The rest of the food display will probably look like what was described in the first paragraph. You may be up to an hour later than the scheduled meal time, but everyone is pitching in and helping to get it all together. It is loud and boisterous, with lots of conversation and laughter. It is finally ready and everyone comes to the different tables you have put in the dining room. You bow your head and thank the Lord above for the people around the room and the food you are about to eat. You may go around the table and share what you are thankful for, or you may just share it in conversation as you all dig in.
Two totally different scenarios, but neither one is wrong. Many of us strive to have the first one, but our expectations are not wise for our family. My family experiences (either side of the family) are more like the second one. It causes a whole lot less stress if you realize that and don’t shoot for something you are sure to miss. Stop putting unreal expectations on your day and enjoy your family and share your blessings with each other. Remember the day is about thankfulness and gratefulness. Many stress the thanksgiving part but leave off who we are thankful to. God is the one who gives us all our blessings. God is the one who allowed you to be part of the family you are. God is the one who deserves our thanks and praise. It is hard to have a heart full of thanksgiving, when you are stressing over the details of the day. So who cares if you eat an hour late. Look at all the fun you are having with your family and friends, trying to bring it all together. You will still have a delicious meal and wonderful fellowship.
I would love to hear about your Thanksgiving. Please leave a comment below and tell me if you are more like the first scene or the second one. I would also love to hear any special tradition that you have at your house!
We were able to watch the movie, Saving Christmas starring, Kirk Cameron. From watching the trailer I sort of knew what to expect. Here you can watch the trailer below.
He brought out some very interesting points that some might not connect the Christmas story with modern Christmas traditions. Parts of it are very entertaining and I did love the fact that the woman who plays Kirk’s sister in the movie is his sister in real life. I think on some of the connections he tried to make, he was stretching a little bit far. It would be a great movie to give your family some things to discuss about your Christmas traditions and who or what do they point to.
I will be offering the set you see below, which includes the following: A SIGNED Saving Christmas movie poster (by Kirk Cameron), the soundtrack to the film, and a car air freshener that smells like Christmas trees!
And the winner is: LYNN l…………firstname.lastname@example.org!! Congratulations and thank you to everyone for entering!! Lynn, please send me your address.
To be entered into the drawing simply leave a comment on one Christmas tradition your family does each year.
The contest will end on Tuesday, November 18th at midnight.
Official Website: www.savingchristmas.com
“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”
It is that time of year again. Our thoughts shift ahead to the upcoming holidays. Time with family and friends around the Thanksgiving table and gathered together at Christmas. Lots of food and treats, both family favorites and traditions and new ones to try out this year. For many this becomes one of the busiest times of the year. There are still regular family special days like birthdays and anniversaries. Then there is the work Christmas party, the church play or cantata or maybe even the church Christmas party. There is the light show at the zoo and the neighborhood, that always goes all out with the decorations, that we love to drive through. There’s the shopping, wrapping and hiding of gifts. So many cookies to bake and decorate. There are the decorations that have to go up at home. When does your tree go up? Thanksgiving week? Before? Closer to Christmas Day?
For many this is a very hard time of year. Maybe it is their first holiday season without a loved one. Or maybe they lost a loved one around this time. Many are stressed out feeling overwhelmed by all they are supposed to accomplish with so little time or so little money. Some are still paying off last Christmas and here it is time to start again.
I think it is time for each of us to stop and examine our lives and activities and see what can be let go of, changed or what needs to be kept. I want to say here that we are not saying what we do is “the right way”!! We know that we each have to find what is best for our family. So, please don’t think I am judging you or saying you have to do it like we do.
Many years ago we dropped out of all the gift exchanges around us, even extended family ones. Gifts and gift buying can be a big part of the stress of the season. The time and effort to find something they will like or need, plus all the money that has to be spent to get them. I know people all over the spectrum with gift giving. I know people who don’t do any gifts and all the ones in between. Many times the gifts are also what makes our focus about this season all wrong. Why do children really get excited at Christmas? Do you think it is because we celebrate the birth of Christ? Tell them they aren’t getting any presents because it is not their birthday that is being celebrated and you might find out different. I saw something on the Skit Guys. It was a video about how one of the guys wanted to change the focus of his family during this season. He shares what he did in this video. His idea works for his family. I know a family that the children get some needed items like underwear and socks, and maybe 2 toys or items they want. Then they do a larger family gift like a trip to a local fun place or a day of snow boarding. They have 10 children and this works for them. One family limits their children’s gifts by a dollar amount they will spend on each child. The last I heard it was $100. Some families have no control and it looks like they bought out the department store. We are at a different place than many families, in that we have no children at home and we do not have grandchildren yet. We do either one gift each for our son and his wife, or one big home type item. I also pick them out an ornament each year and they each get a Pez. I always got my son a Pez when he lived at home, so I have continued it with his wife.
We began to look around one year and realize that not only did we not know what to buy for others (family and friends), but that most of them did not NEED anything. I would still like to go one Thanksgiving or one Christmas and serve at a soup kitchen. I would like to buy food for a family that is struggling and do it in the name of someone who does not have a need. I am not sure how that would be taken though. I want people to know that I love them and care about them not because I can buy lots of gifts and stuff, but because they see it in the way I interact with them, or how I help them, or in little unexpected blessings I can give. We live in a society of overindulgence. I want to step out of that part of giving. I don’t want someone giving me something just because they felt they had to. I don’t NEED anything. I am blessed on so many levels. This topic always reminds me of a story I heard a long time ago. A mother and her 6 children went to the mall. While they were there, she bought them each a small vanilla ice cream cone. They were thrilled and it was obvious they were enjoying them. A man came over to the mother and asked her what her secret was. He said his children would not be satisfied with a small vanilla cone anymore. They had to have sundaes or banana splits. I loved her answer. She told him that when her children were not longer happy with a small vanilla ice cream cone, they would get fewer small vanilla ice cream cones. Are we caught on the cycle of doing more and doing bigger?
We have lost the wonderful art of gratitude as a society. There are still some who practice it, but it is becoming more rare. I heard something on the radio about developing gratitude in our children, but it is really good for all of us. Gratitude is a choice. We can complain and whine or we can give thanks. The speaker said that being thankful is a matter of the will, it is a matter of obedience. It is a muscle that needs to be exercised in our hearts.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Here are some ideas on helping cut down on stress, spending and to make it more meaningful. Make your gifts. I started talking earlier this year about doing just that and I fell down on the job. You can check out this post for lots of ideas.
I like to give gifts that people will use and I especially love gifts that are consumable. My Dad and his wife and my in-laws do not need anything. We like to give them food gifts like homemade bread, farm fresh eggs, meat from our freezer, home canned jams and anything else we have. I also make them each a gift that they both LOVE. I make them a calendar that has family pictures on each page. You can use Snapfish or Shutterfly or my favorite is Picaboo. Sometimes each page has one big picture, but more often it is full of family photos from through out the year. I make sure I have at least one of everyone. I get our siblings to send us pictures or I snag them off of Facebook. I also put all the birthdays and anniversaries on it. I know my Mother-in-law keeps them all as a sort of family history. Do you knit or crochet? You can make dishcloths, scarves, hats & mittens. What about coupons? Our Wonderful Neighbors used to give us each a gift of a book of coupons. Each coupon would be for something like garden help, stacking wood, an hour of housecleaning, kisses and hugs from the youngest. Sometimes they bought a gift card for coffee and that was attached to a page. It was very creative and I think those are my favorite gifts I ever got from them. Is there a young mother in your family? Offer to do laundry so many times, or to watch the children so she can grocery shop alone. Stop and think of each person on your list and think what would most help them out or what is most near and dear to them. Start making a list.
Find a way to serve as a family. Pick out a needy family and let the children earn money to buy things for those children and to come up with food items that will help. Serve in a food kitchen as a family. Go visit in the nursing home. Maybe you could take some small treat or homemade item. They are so grateful that you came to visit and even the tiniest gift is so appreciated.
Try setting a limit that is smaller than in the past, on what you will buy your children. Get them involved in ways you can cut back or reach out to others. They need to be part of the process.
What do you do to overcome the stress and the over indulgence in this season? Please share it in the comments below so we can all glean from each other. Like I said in the post about the Amish, bloggers love comments. It lets us know that we are reaching people and we want to learn from you as well.
I love stretching one chicken over several meals. With only 2 of us here at home, it is pretty easy. On Sunday, we cooked a chicken in the crock pot like this. We used some of the meat for a late supper. Since it was on the late side, we just had a chicken sandwich. Then on Monday we had chicken and a side of vegetables. I put water in the crock pot to make some bone broth. I love that I can put my crock pot on low and it will go for a long time. It is good to add raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) to your broth to help pull all the goodness out of the bones. I added my super tonic to the broth, which has an ACV base. Today, I pulled the rest of the chicken out and picked the meat off the bones. I put the chicken back into the broth and added another dollop of super tonic. I love that stuff. I also added some left over mixed vegetables that were in the fridge. I was going to add rice, but changed my mind at the last minute and put a cup of quinoa in. I let it cook in the broth. It still had big pieces of onion and garlic from when we cooked the chicken the first time. This soup was so good, that I had 2 bowls. Plus I have left overs for lunches this week.
What are some ways that you use to stretch a chicken. I would love to hear about them in the comments below.
We live among the Amish. If you are basing your knowledge of the Amish on the movies you watch or the books you read, you might be surprised by reality. I love to see the beauty of their farms though. The shocks of corn in the fields at this time of year always makes me stop to take pictures.
We provide a service to the Amish and have done it for almost 13 years. We take them death notifications. If someone in their family, who lives far away, dies, they call us or have a neighbor call us and we take the information to the local family. They don’t like to see us pull into their driveway, but if we are on another type of errand, we are quick to let them know why we are there to put their minds at ease. Often the person has been very sick and they are expecting the news. Other times, it is an accident or something else very sudden and they are surprised. I have had to take several notices of small children passing away.
We are given the name of the person we are to deliver the message to. They give us the name and age of the person who has died. They always make sure they give us the name and age. In many Amish communities there are many people with the same name. I was talking to a local midwife one day and she said she had an appointment set up for someone. Because it was a common name, she asked for the husband’s first name. She had more than one couple with both names, so she asked what road they lived on. She actually had 2 couples with those same names on that road and had to ask the children’s names to get the right one. They also give us the area or address where the deceased lived. Then we are given the day of the funeral. Occasionally, one of them will give us some details to pass on to the family about the death itself.
As we have shared this over the years, many people ask me what their reactions are when we take the notice to them. They are very curious and most of the adults and older children will gather around and read over the shoulder of the one holding the note. I always wait to make sure that they understand all the writing and that I am in the right place. They usually tell me how they are related to the person and will also often ask me to take the notice to other family in the area who are also related. As far as their reaction, there really is not one. They rarely act sad. They might save that for when an outsider is not among them. In all the years we have been doing this, only once, did a woman come close to crying. Her eyes teared up and she had a trembly voice as she shared with me that it was her mother who had died.
They are always grateful to us for bringing the notice and often offer to pay us for our time and gas (which we decline).
I delivered a death notice this morning to the farm you see in the picture above. The sun was still low in the sky and the light was so golden. I had to stop and take pictures. I will share a few more with you below. If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear them. Comments mean a lot to a blogger… hint hint!
I shared with you about this little guy in my last post. We are holding a fundraising party to help the family out on the financial end. Would you please share this post wherever you can and would you please consider helping out? This is a great time of year to get some Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers. All of my profits are being donated to this family. The hostess gifts for this party will go to Christopher’s mother, Missy.
If you are brand new to Lilla Rose and you buy 3 items, I can offer you an additional item for free (up to $16 value). I will be happy to answer any questions you have and to help you choose the right size. Here is a way to help you choose the right size and also a video to help you.
You can read more about Christopher on Facebook at this link: