If I’m not careful, December can end up being one of the most hectic months of the year. The fact that the time when we celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus could end up being a stressor, really saddens me. To counteract the feeling of never getting enough done each day, I have found that being organized is key. It didn’t hurt that Thanksgiving was so early this year that we had an extra week to get ready! That enabled us to get the house decorated by the 1st, most gifts bought and wrapped by the 13th, and our holiday party done on the 8th. This allowed for more time to relax and enjoy the true meaning of Christmas. Here is what else the month brought…

Christmas movies – Each holiday season, we try to find movies to watch during the time leading up to Christmas. This year’s selections were all over the map, from vintage to newer offerings and included Love Actually, The Man who Invented Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, The Holiday, A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott version), The Bishop’s Wife, and White Christmas. Even though I know most of these classics word for word, rewatching them each year is like a warm hug for the holidays.

I found this vintage nutcracker at a thrift store, still in its original box…

Flexing my creative muscles – For me, one of the most fun things I get to do each holiday season is to find new and creative ways to decorate our home. This year, we added some nutcrackers to the decor, and I just love them. I also added more hits of red this year, and just that simple addition seemed to make everything else just pop! I made a pinecone wreath, cinnamon stick wrapped candles, and a tree forest with deer running down the length of the dining room table. For the tree, I quit using the velvet poinsettias that I’ve used for over 15 years, and instead, draped it in pieces of plaid ribbon. Few among us have the desire or resources to start from scratch each year. But a few simple new additions have made the whole house feel fresh and new this holiday season.

More blessed to give than receive – When I was younger, I typically had a list of things I would like to have. I remember when I wanted a mantel clock for our new house, circa 1992, I told my parents that was what I wanted for Christmas and waited patiently to receive it. Same for my first nice watch, a special coat, pearl earrings, and on and on. There was no instant gratification, but rather waiting patiently for the desires of my heart. Flash forward to today, and we have finally gotten to the point where we have more than we will ever need. Once this happened, it became even more rewarding to look outward and give as much as we could to others. Gifts to thank those who have been so good to us over the past year, baskets for families in need, extras for family members who could use it, as well as some random anonymous gifts to strangers, have been given. Paul was right; it truly is more blessed to give than receive.

Seafood chowder gathering – My husband is from Portsmouth, NH, and each year for Christmas, he makes the most delicious seafood chowder. This chowder is so rich and delicious, filled with lobster, cod, shrimp, scallops, bacon, onion, celery and Old Bay seasoning, all contained in a vast quantity of whole milk and half and half. Did I mention it was rich? We typically have it for the family, but this year we invited some of our neighbors, friends and family to join us for a seafood chowder celebration. It was so much fun, and the chowder was a big hit.

Table set for seafood chowder gathering…

To bake or not to bake – There was a day when I had three kids hanging on my legs and I was the official hosting house for the holidays, that Christmas baking was a really big deal. Homemade caramels, Chex Mix, shortbread cookies, various forms of almond bark, chocolate nut clusters and of course, Fantasy Fudge. This was a rite of passage that I carried on for many years. But in more recent years, we a) don’t need the calories, and b) as part of my “Zen for the month of December” movement, the only thing I made was white almond bark with crushed candy canes. It is easy, festive, and delicious. The rest of our holiday goodies were compliments of Costco and nobody seemed to care:)

Movie going – It seems like every year, there are one or two great movies released at Christmas. A few days after the holiday, we went to see The Boy’s in the Boat and it was great!! My husband, who had been a rower, had read the book but I had not. This was one of the best movies we had seen in a very long time, and we may even go see it again, we loved it that much. Great casting and very well done, and in case you can’t tell, I highly recommend it:) We also want to see the new version of The Color Purple. but my husband has come down with a very bad cold/flu so that will have to wait a bit.

Rainbow Falls, Hilo, Hawaii…
Mount Rushmore with the gang…

2023 – The year was good to us, and much better than 2022, which was tough. Some high points included celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary with a trip to NYC and a Canada/New England cruise. We also embarked on a 2500 10-day trip from Kennewick, Washington to Aberdeen, South Dakota with our neighbors and dear friends. He is from Aberdeen and wanted to show us the sites, not as a “fly over” but a real old fashioned road trip. We saw Crazy Horse, Mount Rushmore, the full width of Montana, parts of Wyoming, and into North Dakota. It was a great trip. In the fall, we took a 10-day cruise from Vancouver, BC to Hawaii, which was beautiful, fun and relaxing.

On the home front, we undertook a master bath remodel and replaced countertops in the two guest bathrooms. As we say good-bye to this year, we are grateful for continued good health, wonderful friends and family, and the fact that God has continued to meet our every need.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t thank you, the people who take time to follow my little blog, which allows me to flex my creative muscles and strive for new ideas to share with all of you. Thank you so much, and Happy New Year to you all. I can’t wait to see what 2024 has in store!

Good tidings,

Diane

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