12 Day of Christmas – Giving

The final day of my journey through the things that mean Christmas to me is of course giving.  I love to give!  It can be giving presents, giving time, giving of your heart, etc.

I have always tried the best I could to try to find that “perfect” gift to give someone that WOW moment when they open a present.  I delight in watching my daughter open her gifts.  I don’t think I can ever top the year I got her a new instrument (a piccolo).  She was completely unaware and really surprised.  No big surprises this year but I do really hope she loves her Crazy Frog Lady shirt.

At this time of year I always wish I had more energy so I could give of my time more.  Volunteering to be a bell-ringer for Salvation Army.  Or work at a the homeless shelter to feed the hungry.  I do it more in small personal doses.  Giving time to my Dad to just visit a while.  Writing letters to friends and family I cannot visit.  Some of those small gift that are “free” can mean a lot too.

Around the holidays people often give to charities as well.  Whether it be a toy drive or your favorite charity with an end of the year gift it is giving for those who need help.  Just once I would like to win the lottery to be able to do more than a $5 or $10 donation.

No matter what you give do so freely and with pure love in your heart.  I have learned if you give with strings attached it can just cause heartache.  Giving freely and without conditions is the only way to guarantee it will not hurt you in the end.

I hope you take the time to embrace all that Christmas means to you.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!!!!

In case you missed the other 11 days they were…

12 Days of Christmas – Nature

12 Days of Christmas – Friendship

12 Days of Christmas – Music

12 Days of Christmas – Cards

12 Days of Christmas – Spirituality

12 Days of Christmas – Children

12 Days of Christmas – Family

12 Days of Christmas – Love

12 Days of Christmas – Winter Snow

12 Days of Christmas – Food

12 Days of Christmas – Decorations

12 Days of Christmas – Decorations

Everything is so shiny and sparkly this time of year.  From twinkling lights to glitter galore homes are transformed into a wonderland.  And through the years I have seen so many things that drew my attention.

As a child we would pile in the car and drive through town sometime during the week of Christmas to look at all the light displays people had put up on their houses.  I can remember through the years many familiar houses I would always anticipate seeing the latest creations they had done.  From the simplistic glow of all white lights to a collection of rainbow colors, it all would dazzle the eyes.

Indoors I recall a heavy cardboard fireplace we would assemble every year to hang our stockings on.  It even had a motor and light that simulated the fires glow.  Sadly it only held up for so many years before the cardboard began to degrade.

There was the anticipation of seeing my Gma’s holiday village display when we visited our grandparents.  It was a hand-made village created by my great-grandmother.  The tree would be a work in progress for days until the tinsel had all been placed one strand at a time, one branch at a time, bottom to top.  It took a long time but it was so beautiful when it was done.  And the Christmas cards that would line the doorways and mirror of our living room.

Today the decorations are minimal compared to when I grew up.  The tree is still the focal point.  There are the bells on the door, the vinyl clings on the windows and some stand alone decorations – my favorite being a snowman with a lamppost a friend gave me.  I still at 50 years old delight in seeing the light displays in the neighborhood and all over town.

What are some of your favorite decorations to see this time of year?  What is a must in your home to add sparkle to the holiday?

12 Days of Christmas – Food

Just like many holidays there always seem to be some sort of food when friends and family gather, and Christmas is no different.  There are three main themes in my Christmas traditions around food.

Growing up we would always have some kind of sweet rolls, coffee cake, cinnamon rolls, etc. for a light breakfast before we would open gifts after a little bit of food.  That is a tradition we continued with my daughter.  In recent years we have had to alter that sadly to fit with schedules, but on occasion it still happens.

There is always a big meal. Growing up it would be an afternoon to evening meal depending on how early we woke up that morning. This year it will be a lunch with my boyfriends family consisting of a pot luck type meal where we all share food… we are bringing chili.  But we will also have a nice pot roast simmering in the crock pot to have for dinner with all the trimmings later when we return home to open gifts of our own.

Then the fun stuff!  Growing up I always remember going to my grandparents house and my Gma having the best sweet treats left out on the table to snack on throughout the day.  One of my favorites was always the white chocolate covered pretzels.  When I grew up and started family traditions of my own I had to include sweet treats.  What I bake and cook up has changed through the years, but there is always pretzels!  My daughter helps me make them now and hopefully will carry on the tradition when she has her own family too.

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Pretzels, potato chips, and peanut butter cracker bites
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Chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies

Just today my daughter and I made up cookies and candies.  We sampled as we created and approved of this years treats.  It makes for a long day to try to get them all done in one day.  And as a matter of fact there is still the new recipe item to make yet another day… a honey nut cookie ball.  We will share treats with friends and family.  Gather to eat a good meal.  And create more memories each year that passes.  What do you eat that is a special treat on Christmas?

Day 100 – 100 Days of Happiness

This has been an incredible journey.  I questioned whether or not I would make it, stumbled upon happiness in unexpected places and learned there was always a happiness no matter how small that can be found.

I think it is quite fitting that my final day of happiness revolves around one thing that always brings me happiness – my daughter.  This was the day to bake cookies and make candies for Christmas.  She came over to help with the candies and we laughed, had a chocolate fight, drank a little wine and listened to Christmas carols.  We did also find time to actually make some goodies during all of that too… 😉

The kitchen smelled of sweets and sounded of laughter and music.  I am so glad she enjoys carrying on some of the traditions we had when she was little.  She took a few goodies to share with her coworkers tomorrow and a few to keep herself.

I hope some of you try this challenge even if you choose not to write about it.  It really has been fun.  And it was good for me to push on my days that the depression was stronger to find something that was happy.  Those are the days I learned the most. To quote Bobby McFerrin – “Don’t worry, be HAPPY!”

12 Days of Christmas – Winter Snow

It is hard growing up in the Midwest not to think of a Christmas being snowy white.  I can remember getting sleds for Christmas and taking them out right away to try them out.  With today being the first official day of winter I had to include snow as part of what I associate with Christmas. This year is not going to be a white Christmas as we are expecting highs near 50° F.  There is a chance of precipitation but it is not snow and actually thunderstorms instead.  But I will hold on to the memories of the snow falling on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day… I guess I will just be dreaming of a white Christmas.

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