Christmas

My Christmas Tree Storage Habits

April 17th, 2014

I’ve never given much thought to Christmas tree storage before last year. I have alternated over the years between real and artificial trees. My first husband was allergic to real trees, so we always had artificial.

My first Christmas on my own, I bought an extremely inexpensive Christmas tree to decorate. I had a lot of fun putting icicles all over the tree and making it be exactly what I wanted it to be. That year Christmas tree storage consisted of putting it back into its box.

My father decided that he wanted a pre-lit artificial tree and gave me and my husband the one he had been using previously. This was a good quality artificial, one that would have been far out of my price range had it been new. We used that tree every year following until our divorce. He kept the tree and used the gigantic box it came in as Christmas tree storage.

I did not have a need for Christmas tree storage for the next several years. I used real trees for decorating and did not save the tree until the next year. I liked the smell of the real trees and thought that I would always use them. My second husband and I would get the largest tree that would fit in our home and decorate it together.

My third husband doesn’t really get into the Christmas spirit at all. He refuses to decorate and I think that if I tried to discuss my Christmas tree storage needs with him, he would laugh. I’m also pretty sure he would say no to the purchase. This would be categorized as silly and unneeded.

I think that I could use a better plan for Christmas tree storage. Last year, when I opened the box that my tree was stored in, there were cobwebs inside. I never found a spider, but it made me realize that there had to be a better way.

I’ve never noticed artificial Christmas tree storage bags before. I guess that I was never looking. I have found them priced as low as nine dollars for the size tree that I use now. I think I may just buy one and just start using it. They look perfect for protecting my artificial tree from bugs and dust.

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My Unitarian Universalist Take On Christmas

February 23rd, 2014

At Christmas, a Unitarian Universalist can feel caught right between Christ and Santa Claus. Most Unitarian Universalists are uncomfortable with the notion that Jesus is the reason for the season and they also don’t want to elevate the materialism of Santa Claus. Most Unitarian Universalists are left puzzled and perplexed at Christmas. It is important to reflect about Christmas and what you want it to mean in your home.

For the most part, Unitarian Universalists respect Christian traditions that celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus. A lot of Unitarian Universalists take Martin Luther King’s birthday very seriously, so why not the birth of Jesus? It is a good opportunity for Unitarian Universalist parents to talk with their children about the teachings of Jesus. Christmas and Easter may be the only times that you do this, but it is important.

Community service is a large part of a Unitarian Universalist’s life. A nice Christmas ritual my family has is related to the service of others. My children make a Unitarian Universalist Helping Others box to put money in for the coming year’s donations. We also light a special Christmas chalice that we made together and make promises about how we will help others throughout the year.

Some Unitarian Universalists celebrate the Winter Solstice with some intensity. I have attended many gatherings on this day to celebrate the cycles of the Earth. One family that I know does not celebrate Christmas at all, only the Winter Soltice. They have a big celebration that ends with Sun Shakes made with orange juice and vanilla ice cream.

We don’t have a name for it, but each Christmas my family all exchanges names. The idea is that you are supposed to do three good deeds for the person whose name you drew during the coming year. This is a little like a Secret Santa, but it has been altered to fit with our family’s values.

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Chocolate Christmas Gifts

November 14th, 2013

I think that the best Christmas gifts are chocolate. I have had a life long love affair with this tasty treat. I have never had a chocolate that I didn’t like.

I received a lot of Christmas gifts last year, but my favorites were chocolate. My husband was right on the mark when he bought me a tin of Mrs. Fields cookies and brownies. I served them at a tea party I had on Christmas Eve.

I have given my little sister some wonderful chocolate Christmas gifts over the years. She loves chocolate as much as me. Last year, I sent her dessert bars in three flavors: chewy fudge, zesty lemon and raspberry blueberry currant.

My boss appreciates Christmas gifts from employees even though she doesn’t celebrate Christmas. She likes chocolate, so I sent her Turtle Bars from Solomon’s Gourmet Cookies. She is Jewish and these treats were certified Kosher by the Chicago Rabbinical Council.

I sent my cousins containers of brownies for Christmas gifts year before last. They are still talking about them. Each tin had a pound and a half of brownies that were the richest tasting brownies that they had ever eaten.

Finding exceptional chocolate recipes has been a challenge. I like to order from online companies when I am sending Christmas gifts because they do all of the shipping for me. For people in the same geographical area as me, I like to make chocolate creations in my own kitchen.

I have Christmas gifts on my mind starting in late October. I make lists of who I want to give chocolate gifts to and what they might like. I have made biscotti for neighbors a few times and I like the way it comes out.

Biscotto makes great Christmas gifts. A good biscotti recipe is not very sweet and compliments coffee or tea. I have found that chocolate biscotto pleases just about every palate! It seems like most of my friends enjoy biscotti with gourmet coffee.

My sister had a Christmas Day wedding about ten years ago. I decided that one of her Christmas gifts from me was going to be the groom’s cake for her wedding. I made her a chocolate cheesecake with molded chocolate roses.

My niece shares my love of chocolate. She gave me a list of Christmas gifts she wanted the year she was ten and I just had to laugh out loud. She had listed twenty different things and half of them were chocolate!

I hosted the family for Christmas dinner last year. After we opened our Christmas gifts, I served a gourmet chocolate mousse for dessert. I had worked perfecting it for the occasion and everyone loved it.

I do think that making extra Christmas gifts comes in handy when you have a lot of visitors during December. I make up a batch of chocolate Christmas candies and have them already wrapped to give to people that drop by. I think that maybe some people just drop by my house during the holidays because they know that they will get some yummy chocolate to eat.

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Our Family Christmas Photo

October 23rd, 2013

Every year I get excited about the Christmas photo that will come in the mail from each of my kids. There is a tradition in my family that every Christmas, a family picture is taken and mailed out with the annual Christmas family newsletter. When my kids were young, I decided that I wanted to record each Christmas in a concise way.

The way I came up with to record each Christmas was with a family Christmas photo and a newsletter that summarized each of our family member’s year. This tradition continued until my oldest son went off to college. I had known that the day would come that not all of my kids would live with me, but the first one leaving was really hard.

That was the first year that our annual Christmas newsletter had two photos. The family Christmas photo was me with my husband and only three of our kids. The other photo that I enclosed was that of our son in front of the sign for his college campus. I missed him not being in the family Christmas photo, but he had grown up and moved on.

Our annual Christmas photo kept going in the same direction, with one less kid in the picture every couple of years. My daughter was the first to get married and she sent me a Christmas photo with her and her new husband to send out with our annual Christmas newsletter. I thought that it was sweet that our tradition had grown to mean so much to her.

This last Christmas, our family Christmas photo just featured me and my husband with our pets. The newsletter, however, was filled with six photographs. My granddaughter had her first individual Christmas photo included where she was standing in front of the same college as her dad had attended.

I got out the Christmas photo with my son by himself that first Christmas after he left home and made a copy of it. I had it framed right next to the photo of my granddaughter in the same location, in the same pose. I gave these framed pictures to my son and daughter-in-law for Christmas.

I have a file now that is full to brimming with Christmas memories. I plan to take the entire newsletter collection and bind them into a book which includes each year’s Christmas photo for our fiftieth anniversary which is coming up this year. I will give each of our kids a copy.

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Finding The Right Personalized Christmas Gift

September 23rd, 2013

Once you find the best personalized Christmas gift for a certain category of gift recipient, you will be so relieved. I was so happy when I found something that was good for boys or girls from age’s two to five. I just could not believe that I had found a personalized Christmas gift for such a large portion of my shopping list.

Kids love puzzles. The best personalized Christmas gift for a kid is a puzzle of their name. The idea is inspired. I will probably break my own arm patting myself on the back for figuring this out, but so be it. I’ve already given out a dozen of these puzzles and they are always a big hit.

The best personalized Christmas gift for a family is an ornament with their names inscribed on it. I have made these for my siblings and their families. I have also given a personalized Christmas gift of an ornament to new babies for their first Christmas.

There are many different people you can give a personalized Christmas gift to. I once gave an old boyfriend a personalized Christmas gift of a love poem etched into a Lucite heart. He was bowled over by the gift. We split up not long after that and I wish that I had gotten that Lucite heart back.

Technology has come a long way and it is never more apparent to me than when I am looking for a personalized Christmas gift for someone. I made my mother a pillow with a photograph of my late father on it. I had taken the photo and copied onto fabric. She loved it.

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Christmas Ornaments From Bronner’s

August 23rd, 2013

You can buy Christmas ornaments year round in Frankenmuth, Michigan. There is a place there that is open 361 days a year named Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland and it is a magical place. They sell artificial Christmas trees, Christmas lights, Nativity scenes, Christmas ornaments, decorations and collectibles.

Not only does it feel like Christmas every day at Bronner’s, but you can attend the Silent Night Memorial Chapel for meditation. I have seen so many wonderful Christmas ornaments for sale at Bronner’s. It seems like they have something for everyone. I know that I have found more Christmas ornaments there than anywhere.

My sister buys dated Christmas ornaments every year. She likes to pick out one special dated ornament for every year and place it on the tree. She says it helps her remember all of her blessings. I think that her collection of Christmas ornaments is lovely.

I have a few Christmas ornaments that fall into the category of super fragile or incredibly old. I still want to display them, but not on my tree where they could be damaged. I have purchased ornament stands at Bronner’s for these Christmas ornaments. I can display them very nicely in the lighted curio cabinet in my den.

I changed my decorating habits when I started having kids. I used to have very delicate and sedate themes for my tree and mantle, now I decorate with Christmas ornaments that convey a feeling of fun and whimsy. My daughter was with me when I visited Bronner’s when she was four years old. She immediately became enthralled with the pink smiley face ornaments. I was a little taken aback at just how pink these Christmas ornaments were.

I ended up buying those smiley face Christmas ornaments for her. My son thought that it made our tree too girly and he asked me to take him out to Bronner’s to even the tree out a little bit. He found some really odd Christmas ornaments and I told him that he could pick out twelve individual ornaments or one box of twelve ornaments that were all the same.

The Christmas ornaments that my son picked out that year were all individually chosen. He picked out a slice of pizza because it is his favorite food, a taco, a snowman, a multi color round ball covered in sequins and many other colorful and interesting items. The tree was so sweet that year, because my kids had so much fun deciding how everything would be.

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Decorating With Poinsettia Christmas Flowers

July 20th, 2013

I love Poinsettia Christmas flowers. My mother used to buy a lot of them and place them around the house during the Christmas season. The bright red and the milky white ones both make me remember my childhood and all of the great Christmases that I’ve had.

I was visiting Frankenmuth, Michigan when I came upon a place called Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. This place was absolutely amazing. I had never heard of this place before and saw a bunch of billboards for it when I was leaving Detroit on a road trip. I stopped to see if they had any decorations with my favorite Christmas flowers.

Bronner’s had a lot of ornaments and decorations that featured the Poinsettia Christmas flowers. I was surprised because up until then, the only decorations I had found with Poinsettia Christmas flowers were artificial flowers at the craft store. Those don’t look very realistic to me.

The selection of Poinsettia Christmas flowers at Bronner’s was good. I bought ten sets of six shatterproof Poinsettia Christmas flowers for my tree. In one afternoon, I had found and purchased the ornaments that I had always wanted and didn’t know existed. They are exquisite and so brilliantly red.

I decided that I would come back again before Christmas to see if Bronner’s had any more Poinsettia Christmas flowers on something that I needed. I’m glad I decided to return to Bronner’s because when I did go back, they had a shipment of new silver Poinsettia Christmas flowers holographic light set. The sets only had ten lights per string, so I only bought enough sets to decorate my mantle.

While I was on my way out, I spotted some three inch glass ornaments on a display near the main entrance. I hadn’t noticed them on my way in. They had Poinsettia Christmas flowers hand painted on them. I bought all that they had on the display and was done with my Christmas decoration shopping trip. My tree and mantle looked glorious that year featuring my very favorite Christmas flowers.

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Different Styles Of Christmas Decor

June 23rd, 2013

I have come to realize that Christmas décor can encompass anything. I have seen so many different types of decorating and love them all. I think that I just love the spirit of the individual that shines through the creativity.

I have used many different themes for my Christmas décor over the years. I have had a single color theme several times. I had fun decorating for the Yellow Christmas and also for the Purple Christmas. My kids thought that those years were the most fun.

My mom had a friend when I was in high school that worked as a linguist for the United Nations. I thought he had the coolest job I’d ever heard of. He had a Boxing Day party one year at his house and his Christmas décor was very interesting. His theme was international flags. I was so jealous of all of his adventures.

I have a friend that teaches environmental science at the local high school. He had a Christmas party for his friends this year. I don’t think I’ve ever been to his house during the holidays and seen his Christmas décor before. He had an awesome blue nautical theme for his tree and mantel. It looked so serene. He had blue lights up on the outside of his house and an inflatable Santa surfing on his roof.

I have another friend that has decided to use St. Patrick’s Day decorations for her Christmas décor. She has a lot of fun hanging up four leaf clovers and putting Santa hats on leprechauns. She used to tell her kids that being Santa was St. Patrick’s other job. Her kids grew up with some very strange notions.

I’m not really very crazy about licensed characters all over my Christmas tree. It is just not my favorite Christmas décor at all. I still remember the Year of the Bob. My son was intent on decorating our whole house one year with Spongebob Squarepants decorations. It was hideous. I had to institute some more guidelines for acceptable Christmas décor after the Year of the Bob.

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Christmas Collectibles For My Children

May 23rd, 2013

One of the things that I decided when I started having kids was that they would each have their very own Christmas collectibles. My sisters and I still fight about who is going to get which pieces of our childhood Christmas collectibles that were treasured equally by all of us. It has been impossible to decide and our mother has had to remain in possession of everything.

When my first child was born, I bought for her a small Snowbabies figurine. This was her first of many Christmas collectibles to come. I have gotten her a new Snowbaby every couple of years. She has a favorite figurine; it is named “Love Will Make It Grow”. I bought it for her the year she was in kindergarten.

My son has a completely different collection of Christmas collectibles. When he came along, I decided that I wanted to have two Christmas trees, one for the whole family in the den and one for the kids in their bedroom. I started buying my son reproductions of Klaus Reinhardt tin ornaments. He has a collection that includes over fifty tin stars.

My second daughter was also included in my Christmas collectibles shopping after she came along. I bought just one Jim Shore figure for her first Christmas, and then I didn’t buy her another piece until she was about eight. Since then, we have added four more. Her collection is not huge, but it has some really nice pieces.

My last daughter has been adding Precious Moments Christmas collectibles to her collection like crazy ever since she got her first job. She just loved the few that she had gotten from me over the years so much that she decided she was going to continue the collecting with a vengeance.

I think that having their own Christmas collectibles is going to be good for my kids. When they leave home, they’ll be taking part of their identity within our family with them. I will be a little sad to see my son’s tin stars or my daughter’s Jim Shore snowman go. It will be nice to be able to visit my kids and their Christmas collectibles in their new homes and with their new families.

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My Christmas Cards

April 23rd, 2013

The week after Thanksgiving, the Christmas cards start arriving. I enjoy displaying Christmas cards all throughout December. I pin them to red ribbons and they hang everywhere. The number of Christmas cards I receive usually increases by a couple every year. I currently send out eighty three cards to family and friends and receive about sixty.

I enjoy Christmas cards because they seem to come from all points over the globe. I have made many friends over the years and have been very vigilant to remember to include them all in my mailing of Christmas cards each year. I like to let everyone that has affected me in my life to know that I remember them and care about them.

My favorite Christmas cards are the handmade ones. Those are the only ones that I have ever done anything beyond saving them in a large envelope with all the others from that year. I have taken a few of the super creative Christmas cards and had them framed for display. My favorite handmade Christmas cards come from my niece. The best one featured three sparkling trees and I had it framed.

I don’t dislike any Christmas cards. They are really just a way for friends and family to reach out to one another and let them know that they are still thought of and cared about. I don’t usually display the bulk Christmas cards with plain pictures in my living room, though. I’m also not a big fan of overly religious Christmas cards. I do not put the Christmas cards with nativity scenes out in my den.

I think that sparkles and glitter are wonderful additions to Christmas cards. All of the extra embellishments are what makes them so special. In addition to the appearance of the card, I like to send and receive cards with personal notes inside. I am always excited to hear good news from old friends. Christmas cards with included photos also keep me feeling like I am part of my friends’ lives.

I encourage my kids to send out their own Christmas cards to their friends. Even if their friends don’t reciprocate, yet, someday they will. My kids make their own Christmas cards with white tags and craft items. My daughter prefers using stamps and ink to create Christmas cards. My son prefers to glue lots of small shiny objects to make his masterpieces.

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