Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December - A Review (better known as "Blog Posts I Intended to Write...")

It’s so hard to believe Christmas is now behind us and we’re just days away from ringing in the new year. It seems like just yesterday, it was Thanksgiving! There were many things I wanted to blog about during the month, but didn’t because of time constraints (and more often than not, I forgot to take photos!) Now that things are settling down, I wanted to share some of the highlights from our December. While this may will likely be world’s longest post, I hope you’ll find it worth the read

• At the beginning of the month, I celebrated my 44th birthday. (You know it’s going to be a good birthday when your dear hubby serves you red velvet cake for breakfast!) Oh, I love that man! ; ) At work, I arrived to find cakes, cookies, chocolates and other goodies from my sweet co-workers. It was glorious! For dinner, Tom took me to one of our favorite local restaurants. It’s always a treat as they are known for outstanding food, and service that is second to none. (Even moreso when it’s a special occasion.) At the end of the meal, we were treated to a wonderful dessert, compliments of the owner. It was a lovely day!

• That weekend, Tom and I hosted the youth leaders of our church for a Christmas dinner. We used to serve with these great people and many are very good friends...we absolutely loved having them in our home…it was a great, great time!

• The following week…Christmas cards, baking and a little shopping.

• The second weekend was a busy one! Friday was an ornament exchange at work. It was great because several former co-workers returned and it was soooooo good to catch up. More baking on Saturday and that night, a surprise birthday party for our friend, Tracy Robertson. Yet another wonderful time (and I remembered my camera!)

On Sunday…our annual cookie exchange! Two friends who had taken part for years relocated since our last one - one to North Carolina and one to Ireland! Needless to say…we really missed them. We welcomed a couple of new friends this time, met for lunch, had a great time together and exchanged our cookies.

• It was also during this particular weekend that our local city officials were judging homes in our community for a Christmas decorating contest. For the second year in a row, our house was one of the winners! Tom had worked very hard and did a WONDERFUL job! I was thrilled for him because he absolutely LOVES Christmas! You need to know he never puts up lights to compete, instead it’s just an expression of joy (which makes winning even sweeter). The mayor and other city officials came to our house to present Tom with a plaque and a large, beautiful poinsettia.

Jesus, Mary & Joseph are on the porch, along with angels. On the far left, you can see the 3 wise men and on the far right, there is a shepherd tending his sheep. The photos below are the side and a little of the back yard.

Those candles were given to us by Tom's Mom. She used them for years at her house and they are truly vintage! We love them!

• Just a few short days later, our local newspaper featured Tom as one of four homeowners with beautiful Christmas light displays. As you can see, although we love all the whimsy of Christmas, first and foremost our display points to Christ. When the article was written, I was delighted to see the reporter made a point of highlighting that, both in photos and her story!

• Later in the week…it was time for more baking! We had set aside an evening and my Mom, my sister, Marcia and my niece Brooke all came over and we baked like crazy ladies! (As you can see from the photos...we take our baking very seriously! LOL) Several different kinds of cookies, buckeyes, candy, etc…soooo much fun!

• That weekend, two biggies…Tom narrated our church’s beautiful Christmas Program, “One of Us.” He did a great job, as did the choir and orchestra. It's been a couple of years since our church did a large Christmas program and we really enjoyed it. Later that same night…our kids arrived home! We could not wait to see them! Married life certainly agrees with both of them. We had a a great time “catching up” for an hour or so and planned a dinner together the following night. They’re so happy to be home and we’re thrilled to have them! Bless their hearts, they’re trying so hard to spend lots of quality time with BOTH sides of the family. = )

• The last few days before Christmas, more baking! This time - loaves and loaves of pumpkin bread, and also…this incredibly easy (and very addictive) snack, found on a great blog...Beneath my Heart!

• Since my first Christmas with Tom's family as his fiancée in 1983, we’ve spent Christmas Eve at the home of his sister, Nancy and her husband, Dan. They have a log cabin...so beautiful and cozy -- it’s hard to imagine being anywhere else. The fire in the stone fireplace and the Christmas decor make the house look extra special. We had a great time and if you saw the slides in the previous post, you know that the hit of the night was the digital frame we got for Bob & Millie. Nancy had compiled photos from all of us and grouped them into decades. There were over 300 of them! Bob and Millie absolutely loved it, as did the rest of the family. It was especially fun to watch Breezy as she saw many of her new family members as they looked “back then.”

After Nancy & Dan's, we came back to our house to celebrate “Our Christmas” with Brennan & Breezy. We had such a sweet time together and they absolutely loved their gifts. They surprised us with a beautiful wedding portrait. LOVE it!

• Christmas Morning at our house was quiet. Had my devotional time and then after a little while, finished wrapping a couple of things and we headed to my parents’ house to celebrate with my side of the family in the early afternoon. We enjoyed delicious lasagna and homemade lemon meringue pie, cheesecake, cookies, etc. (I love my Mom's cooking, but especially her desserts!)

As to our gift exchange, we did things differently this year. Because we’ve all felt the pinch economically, we opted to forego the usual gifts and instead each person brought only 1 gift valued at $10-15. They all went into a pile in the middle of the floor and we drew numbers to determine the order. You could choose a gift, but the person after you could either take it or choose a new one. Our family had an absolute blast with this! There were movie certificates, blockbuster certificates, gift cards for food, ice cream, Starbucks and even some board games in the mix. Besides spending only about 15% of what we normally would, there was so much less stress and time spent running all over town looking for this or that gift, which made for a much calmer, more reflective Christmas. Definitely helped me keep my focus on Christ like never before.

As we wrapped up our time at my parents' house, we headed to my in-laws to once again join the rest of his family for a little while on Christmas night. Every year, as we leave their house to head home, Tom and I simultaneously thank God for granting us yet another Christmas with them. Both his Mom & Dad are in their upper 80’s and every year is truly a gift.

• Saturday evening (the night after Christmas), Tom and I went along with Brennan, Bri, Bri’s Mom, Lisa and our friends, the Robertsons to Bethlehem Blessings at the Creation Museum. Despite very cold temps, we really enjoyed our time together there…we were especially partial to the vignette of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (played by a wonderful family friend) and the live animals.

• Sunday was a day of rest! (And boy, did we need that!) Hope you and yours have had a wonderful and special December celebrating CHRIST and making some great memories with family and friends.

• If you’ve made it this far and you’re still reading…I want to say THANKS! Leave a comment and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a $10 St*rbucks gift card (a Merry Christmas gift from me!) If you share your favorite December memory in your comment, I’ll enter your name twice! Feel free to enter up until midnight (Eastern time) New Year’s Eve…I’ll draw and announce the winner on New Year’s Day!

Love & sweet blessings!


Carrie @ Cottage Cozy said...

Wow, Tracy, what a wonderful December you had! Your house looked beautiful...and everyone looked like they were having a great time. How was the "Creation Museum"...I would love to be able to visit there!

My favorite thing this December was making a "Love Box" for my dear friend and watching her joy as she opened it. I posted about it recently on my blog.

Thanks for the chance to win a Starbucks card...you are sweet!

Stay Cozy, Carrie

Carrie @ Cottage Cozy said...

Actually even more fun than the "Love Box" was my family's visit to a Long Term Care Home on Christmas Night...where we caroled, hugged, visited and passed out gifts. We were sooo blessed...

Sue said...

What great Christmas memories. Our family enjoyed many of the same things:)It was always a treat for us to drive by your house. So beautiful, and I'm glad you won the decorating contest. Woo Hoo! (We actually sat in your driveway and listened to Tom's Christmas station for awhile!) Blessings to you, Tracy, and Happy New Year!

Kristi said...

That was not the longest post in history. I loved every word. What a delightful, Christ-filled Christmas. YOur home is absolutely gorgeous and every picture filled with joy. My husband's extended family is so big that we celebrate with his aunts and uncles and cousins, 53 total, the weekend before Christmas and we do the same gift exchange. It really is a lot of fun. We have 2 gift piles, a girl pile, and a guy pile and you can only spend $20. There is always a lot of laughter.

Kristi said...

PS. I am having a blond moment, I forgot to share my favorite memory. This year my favorite Christmas memory has to be when Rachel announced to her neurosurgeon and to us that she hasn't had a headache since her surgery. Glory!

Becky said...

How fun! Your December looks full and fun-filled. Good job on the house, Tom...it looks fabulous!

A belated Merry Christmas, and a wonderful New Year to you and yours!

Jennifer said...

I loved this (long:) ) post...just like a letter from a friend! So many exciting memories in December - glad you got them all down so you can look back at just how good God has been! Maybe I should try this at the end of each month...hmmmm, its an idea.

So glad you had a great month - and hope you're looking forward to more of the same in the new year.

God bless -

Kathy S. said...

Tracy, what a wonderful light display. I enjoy looking at them so much over the holiday!

I "lol" over all your desserting from birthday onward! By the time the holidays are over, it is almost a "food relief"!!

I think one of my favorite memories this Dec. was meeting my husband halfway between where he was working and home for dinner in Red Wing, MN. A small historic river town south of the Twin Cities. Every building was lit up, and it was snowing. After we had dinner, we drove around town looking at the lights, chatting, and on our drive, we saw a deer eating at a birdfeeder on the sidewalk. We stopped, rolled down the window, and just watched her. Dale tried to scare her, but she was pretty confident she could keep eating....

New Year blessings!

Traci@ Beneath My Heart said...

Hi Tracy! I loved your LONG post. You did have a wonderful month full of fun! Your house is decorated so beautifully. Congrats on the win! I can tell you have a beautiful, loving family. There's nothing better.
My favorite December moment would have to be putting up my mom's Nativity and carrying on all the special traditions she did with us as kids.
God bless you!

Victoria said...

How funny! I came over to tell you that you won our Giveaway! I mistakenly thought it was Traci from Beneath my Heart but it was YOU that won instead!

So now I get to be entered in your giveaway too. :)

Email me and let me know if you would rather have a pillow or the "Every Day is a Gift" vinyl wall quote.

southerninspiration said...

Hey my new friend, thanks so much for coming by my blog today and leaving such nice comments. I loved reading about your December! What great times....and I love your idea of everyone taking a gift from the pile; that's a smart idea!!!
And very fun!
My favorite memory I guess was having my kids home a few days before Christmas so a lot of collaborative gift buying went on!! It was so fun just to have them home!
Happy New Year!!!


Just a little something from Judy said...

If everyone of your posts were this long I would still be coming by every day. Your gift of writing and your fun pictures added joy to reading every word. Your home looked so beautiful! I did not know you both were talented in this area also. What an honor to win this award and then to have the message you wanted, shared in the newspaper. I like the idea of the simple gifts in the middle of the room. I am thankful for the pumpkin bread recipe, and I am thankful for you!

My favorite memory this Christmas was holding and caring for my new twin grandsons. I realize anew how precious each of these little lives are, and what a huge sacrifice it was for God to give us His precious Son as a baby in the manger. Grandparenting has proven to be more of a gift than I ever realized.

Wishing you and your family a joy filled New Year!

Mary said...

Tracy~ It's Jennifer @ Smelling Coffee (on my mom's computer. Didn't want to sign her out of everything!)

Your home is beautiful! Congratlations on being recognized for that. I enjoyed reading about your Christmas, too! You continue to stay in my prayers, and I look forward to all God will do in all of our lives in this coming year. :-)

I think that my favorite December memory was Christmas Eve and Christmas day - very different for our family this year, as we stayed at home and enjoyed a special and peace-filled two days. First time to be in our own home for Christmas in my whole 18 years of marriage. Very special...

Blessings to you and your family...

The Bramble Patch said...

I just found your blog today and I LOVE IT! I can't wait to read through all of your posts! :)

The Bramble Patch said...

I forgot to mention my favorite Christmas memory. It is when I was a child and my grandparents came for Christmas and my parents were still married. I felt so happy and secure. I think I was around 10 and my brother was 8. I literally shook with excitement to see what Santa left for us.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Hate that I missed out on the Starbuck's give-away but love reading about your Christmas, post-Christmas! Just think... in another 11 months we can do it all over again.

Have mercy... this one nearly wore me out!

The pictures are great, and the house? Wow, my son Jadon would like to be adopted by you all. We don't do outside lights.

Have a great weekend, friend.