Now’s the time to celebrate!
Day 11 1/2 – Gather your friends and family around you, eat drink and be merry! Relax and enjoy this time together. It may be hectic, children running, dogs barking, cats hiding from these ridiculous humans…
Just soak it all in and laugh.
And now we say good-bye to you all and wish you the best this holiday, we are off to enjoy our families.
Music is one of the best ways to lift your spirits. You knew we were eventually going to go here didn’t you?
Day 10 1/2 – Caroling – We hesitate to suggest this as a way to lift your mood on the off-chance you might ask one of us to sing. Be forewarned, this would be a terrible mistake.
In MB’s childhood home, Holiday Sing-along with Mitch was big. We often watched the Mitch Miller Show and sang along to the bouncing red ball. The thing is we didn’t sing well. We had a lot of fun though.
Must Be Santa was a big hit with us, even today we all sing along when we hear it.
For our children, it was the Muppets Christmas with John Denver or Disney Sing Along
Caroling with family is a great deal of fun. Be forgiving of those who can’t necessarily carry a tune but wish to take part, encourage those that can sing to lead and let your music ring out.
As our children matured, their tastes in carols changed a bit. And they cringed a lot when their parents sang-along.
If you really can’t bring yourself to sing in a group, then go to one of the free caroling events in your area. Karaoke anyone? Whether you Sing, Hum or Lip Sync, try caroling to keep the merry in Christmas this year.
Be sure to click on the links and sing along!
We often wish that our parents and grandparents had kept a written account of their childhood for future generations.
Day 9 1/2 – Write – Our 12 Days of Christmas are written to help you find serenity during this hectic holiday season. Keeping a diary is a wonderful way to not only reflect back on your day and express gratitude but to preserve your history for future generations.
Our advice would be to keep a separate piece of paper nearby if you feel the need to vent, then destroy it just as soon as you’re done. No need to save that for prosperity’s sake.
The journal should include names, whether they are a friend or a relative, dates and the experiences you shared.
We’d love to know how our childhood Christmases were different from our grandmothers.
I know that my parents grew up during the Great Depression so they usually received a hand-carved toy, rarely was it painted. On really good years they also received an orange. I don’t know if anyone came to visit, what they had for Christmas dinner, if Santa Claus was a fixture in their childhood.
Writing about everything you are grateful for helps improve your attitude.
Purchase a beautifully bound journal, have everyone in the family write a memory in it, add a few pictures, pass it down through the generations. Or start a private family blog where everyone can add their memories. Family members can read it anytime they like.
Documenting your family history is a truly a gift that keeps on giving.
It’s a time of holiday cheer and partying with those you hold near and dear, noise is all around us. As we head down the home stretch, take a little time to enjoy the silence.
Day 8 1/2 – Silence – Silence is a gift we rarely get to enjoy at any time of the year. During the holidays, finding time for a little silence seems crucial.
Silence gives us an opportunity to unwind, to de-stress. Turning off the TV, stereo and phone, blocking out outside noise is a blessing we should all give to ourselves.
When my children were younger we would gather in the living room with only the lights of the Christmas tree on, find a comfortable place to sit or lay down, relax and contemplate.
Being silent doesn’t actually have to be meditation, it can be prayer, reflection, or simply breathing. Practicing yoga in silence is lovely.
Sitting in silence, holding the hand of a loved one is not only soothing but healing. It creates a strong bond between you. It transmits the energy of love.
One of our favorite ways to sit in silence is around a campfire, the crackle of the fire keeps us aware, the dancing flames keep our eyes focused but relaxed. The smell of the campfire can conjure up old memories, the warmth calms us.
There is a full moon on Christmas Day, if it’s not too chilly, try sitting outside in silence, bathed in its light.
Try silence if you can, for us it brings a more individualized meaning to peace on earth.
Today is the last Saturday before Christmas to shop. It’s going to be crazy out there. We’ll keep it short and simple today so you can get on with it. 😉
Day 7 1/2 – Random Acts of Kindness – whether it’s holding the door open for someone or allowing the over-burdened person in line behind you to go first, acts of kindness will brighten your day just as much as it will theirs.
Giving a stranger one of your smiles may be all it takes to improve their day, adding a compliment would be icing on the cake.
Researching this blog we came across this site – RAKing. We haven’t printed the cards as they suggest yet but we are practicing what they preach.
The world is an uncertain place. Kindness makes it feel safer. Anita Rodrick said “The end result of kindness is that it draws people to you.” and “If I can’t do something for the public good, then what the hell am I doing?” Both of these quotes say it all.
Isn’t this what Santa is all about? Giving, otherwise defined as kindness?
This holiday season spread kindness as far as you can. Please share with us your acts of kindness. We welcome new ways to practice RAKing.
As is usually the case during the holiday season, I got so busy yesterday with my day jobs, shuttling back and forth to the airport and celebrating my birthday that Day 6’s blog got lost in the shuffle. So welcome to Day 6 and 1/2!
Day 6 1/2 – Game Night – This has long been a tradition in my family although we don’t limit it to Christmas. We starting having game night when I was just a child. My mother bought a game called Tripoley, popped up a big batch of popcorn, and taught us to play.
Game night has evolved through the years, we have had marathon nights of Risk where the last 2 players were still competing the next morning while everyone else had fallen asleep. We have tried quite a few new games and added a few to the regular mix. Two of our current favorites are Telestrations and Camel Up Supercup. Telestrations had us laughing so hard we had tears in our eyes.
Game night is a great way to de-tress, stop focusing on the things that need to be done during the holidays and reconnect with loved ones. Enjoy those fresh-baked Christmas cookies from The Twelve Days of Christmas – Day 3 while engaging in some friendly competition. Be ready to laugh, tease and create some great memories.
We are always open to new ideas, what board games do you recommend?
Let the games begin!
In all the noise of the holidays, we sometimes wish for a little peace and quiet.
Day 5 – Walking – Walking is beneficial in so many ways, healthy and uplifting. We love walking during the holidays, whether it be after a snowfall or to view the holiday lights. So grab your loved ones and head out.
There is a special joy in bundling up and heading out in the brisk air. When the sunlight hits the new-fallen snow it seems to glisten with diamonds. I am always tempted to make a snow angel. My decision is based on how far it is to the house. Breathing in the fresh air is both invigorating and calming.
Our favorite walk during this season is to see the lights, strolling along the creek path with the tall trees covered in white lights while the bushes are draped with multi-colored lights until we reach the LED tree. This enormous pine in its cloak of many colors is a beautiful sight to see.
Or a visit to the botanical gardens with its covered trellises, whimsically lit butterflies, dragonflies, and strolling carolers. Every year there is something new, but our family tradition remains the same. We buy hot chocolate, a bag of roasted chestnuts and head down the path. Once we are sufficiently chilled, we step into the warm atrium filled with poinsettia of every color. I love to sit on a bench near the fountains for reflection. It’s so serene.
There are so many places to take a holiday walk and escape the noise of the holidays. We have Zoolights, Butterfly Pavilion, our neighborhoods, the Civic Center and many more. One of these years we will manage to see them all!
If you find yourself getting a bit overwhelmed this year, head outside, it’s good for the soul.
Today there is an emphasis on eating healthy including your holiday treats. I’m more than willing to give it a try.
Day 3 – Baking – Baking during the holidays for me is about the camaraderie and family bonding during our annual bake day. While I love using the cookie recipes that have been passed down through the generations, I also get that Crisco shortening is not all that good for my general well-being. Yes, the traditional sugar cookie recipe we use calls for Crisco. This year, I’ve been researching healthier recipes for baking day.
Vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, honestly, I’m not likely to hit all those milestones. Organic, real butter not margarine, almonds, and honey I can do.
Shortbread cookies are a holiday favorite in our family. This year we’ll try these gluten-free, almond flour shortbread cookies. I found this recipe and several other gluten-free cookies on the King Arthur Flour blog.
We choose a day, a few recipes and do our grocery shopping.
Baking day starts with breakfast and a bit of discussion, we get organized; which recipe needs the hottest oven, which cookie do we want to taste first, are we frosting any cookies this year?
Once all the cooks are present and accounted for, the teasing begins, for while baking day does involve some actual baking, it’s more about revisiting the great family moments throughout the year and holidays past.
We reminisce about our mother/grandmother, who taught us all we know about proper baking and our father/grandfather who taught us all we know about eating all those wonderful baked goods and showing appreciation for them. Always kiss the cook!
And the end of the day, we’ve shared many laughs, made new memories , consumed a few calories and stored dozens of cookies for our Christmas Eve celebration.
Day 4 – Charity – There are many, many charities competing for your dollar. You know which ones you are interested in helping. We could give recommendations and advice on how to choose, however, last night’s 1″ to 3″ snowstorm became today’s 6″ to 12″ blizzard, changed the direction of this blog.
An unexpected storm brings many opportunities to be charitable.
I was fortunate to witness a few during my commute today.
I had a closing scheduled this morning, fortunately, my brother was also attending. I called him and asked if he would be willing to pick me up as my tires aren’t the best. Without hesitation he said sure, even though it meant going out of his way.
As we traveled Interstates, we saw spin outs, cars and semis stuck everywhere and of course, accidents. Be charitable to your fellow drivers, to yourself and your family – Slow Down! So many of the problems we saw were caused by impatient drivers thinking that 30-35 mph was too slow for them. What is more charitable than letting everyone get home to their loved ones safely?
At one point, traffic slowed to a crawl due to an accident, standing in the highway was an off-duty state patrol officer directing traffic. He did not have to stand out in the blowing cold, trying his best to keep everyone safe, but he was going above and beyond.
The maintenance crew in my complex were continually shoveling the walks today. One kind resident brought out hot drinks for them.
We are sure there were many more examples today, we simply were not privileged enough to witness them. Those we did helped to make this season bright.
Charity is often just a simple spur of the moment thoughtful act.