Faith, family, Home Life, Uncategorized

A Homespun Christmas Part 3

One of the most enjoyable holiday crafts I’ve done is what I lovingly refer to as ‘song trees’.

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My initial goal of 6-8 paper song trees, quickly grew to a couple dozen, as they were so beautiful, and easy to put together, that I gave away about as many as I made for myself.

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Here is one of my best, time-saving, holiday decorating tips: I use quilt batting, torn into shelf-size pieces, in the bookshelves to create a ‘snowy’ background. It can be purchased by the yard or in a roll. Rather than empty the bookcases of the regular, year-round décor, I simply push the items toward the back of the shelf, draping and covering them with the torn pieces of quilt batting. (See examples above) There you have, an instant, simple backdrop for all those festive & beautiful holiday colors!

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As a child, I never realized how hard my Mother must have worked in order to assure that all her children would wake on Christmas morning to the hope and promise every child holds on to during the holidays.

I believe the most precious memories about Christmas are rooted in the traditions which are repeated every year….things that are sure….and predictable. It’s an unspoken expectation that everything which is perhaps unstable about this present life will, at least for a brief moment, come back into order and take the shape of something familiar which we can recognize.

No matter how simple that tradition may seem, it causes the uncertainty which threatens our peace of mind to lose some of its power, even if only for a short time. One of those traditions in our house is waking up to lots of goodies in our Christmas stockings.

I have to say (or confess) though, that a few times over my past 30 years of motherhood, “Santa” has been a little late in filling the stockings before the children woke up on Christmas morning! I think he was too tired from the long night of delivering presents all over the world, and he slept in just a little too long…. or maybe he forgot to set his alarm clock….

The kids were so good about waiting patiently for “Santa” to get out there and magically cause those empty stocking to become overflowing with surprises, never calling him out for his untimely oversight.

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To my recollection, my Mother… um.. I mean Santa… never forgot to fill the stockings of my siblings and I.

Every year, we knew exactly what we would find… a large orange in the toe of the stocking, topped off with assorted nuts still in-the-shell, lots and lots of old-fashioned ribbon candy, colorful hard candies, peppermints, and yummy old-fashioned chocolate-covered crème drops! Every now and then, the hard candies would stick to the felt-stockings, but it made no difference to us! We just pulled it off and savored it anyway! These little morsels of sugary sweetness kept us happy all day long!

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”

~Arthur Conan Doyle

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Faith, family, Home Life, Uncategorized

A Homespun Christmas Part 2

Rustic & cozy. Warm & soothing. Outdoorsy & simple.

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These were my goals in creating a wintry, get-away feeling right here in our own home.

 

The next mission was to gather lots and lots of branches to make walking through the house feel like a stroll through a woodland. Now, where am I going to find the branches?

 

Luckily for me, Andy knew someone who happened to have a humongous mountain of branches from their orchard. With gloves and cutters in hand, I sifted through the heaps to find the perfect ones, while my patient husband assisted. Not all branches are alike, and not just any would do! No! I had a vision and they had to be perfect!

 

Once home with our bounty, we sorted them, grouped them, potted them in small containers of plaster, and sprayed them with white texture which, once dried, looked like a dusting of delicate snow. (See picture below)

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The beautiful branches were placed strategically around our home and imparted that warm feeling you get when you sing…”Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…Jack Frost nipping at your nose….Yes, you know the one!

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Growing up, it was always tradition that very early Christmas morning, still in our pajamas with sleepy eyes, and before any presents were opened, we gathered around together and listened as the story of Christ’s birth was read from the big family bible.

 

We knew about Jesus and that this time was a celebration of His birth, and though we tried to listen, our youthful minds were filled with the anticipation of tearing open the colored packages which had our names on them.

 

Andy grew up with slightly different traditions, so we merged many of them and created our own special moments to remember. Taking a few minutes out of the excitement of gift-giving, to honor Jesus Christ and remember His birth was an important tradition that we agreed to continue as our children grew up.

Now, as our grown children bring our grandchildren to our home on Christmas Eve, they are hearing the same story of Jesus’ birth, as we open our big, family bible and read aloud the very same words that I heard as a child, the same words that were inspired by God Himself and were written into His Word, to be read and passed down to each generation, piercing the heart of man with the knowledge that God loves us so much, that He sent His perfect Son to a sinful world!

Here is this wonderful scripture of hope!

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Luke 2:1-14 (King James Version)

 

 

family, Home Life, Uncategorized

A Homespun Christmas Part 1

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It has long been my little family’s tradition that we deck the halls (our home) the weekend following Thanksgiving.

The marvelous invention of more ‘realistic’ artificial Christmas trees has made it more of an achievable goal. My apologies if the thought of a ‘fake’ tree makes you cringe! I truly do love the feel and aroma of a freshly-cut pine but it doesn’t allow for a lengthy, month-long display, which we love.

 

 

 

Midway through 2016, a vision of the upcoming Christmas season began to fill my heart and mind. I felt like the world was in such a state of chaos, and in fact, it still is. The election was in full-swing, all the relentless arguing and conflict in the news and between people in general, everyone shouting to be heard while no one actually listened to anyone else, was just too much for me.

 

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I needed to get back to my roots and retreat to a simpler time, to be soothed down to my soul, and make our home the one place we could all go to escape the madness. Being a simple, hometown girl at heart, I longed to create an atmosphere that would impart a feeling of warmth, comfort, and peace.

 

I wanted to bring outdoor elements into my home and re-create the comforting simplicity of an old-fashioned Christmas. I enlisted my husband’s help to make my vision a reality. Lots of planning and prep work paid off, and the end result rewarding. (Pictured on the right: hand-woven garland. By Robin Abrams)

 

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Over the next few weeks, as we enter the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I’ll be sharing glimpses of how it all came together, along with a few special memories of my past family traditions. I hope it will bring a smile to your heart, memories of Christmases long ago to your thoughts, and inspiration as you create your own traditions and bring your own vision of the holidays into your home, no matter what that looks like for you.

Feel free to use any of these ideas. I hope you enjoy.

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The first part of my plan was to leave all the shiny-gold, fancier ornaments packed away, and to display the rustic, home-made themed instead. With natural elements being my inspiration, I began gathering sticks, twine, and branches. I looked online for inspiration, and then added my own ideas and personalized touches. (All the items pictured here handcrafted by Robin Abrams)

 

I put my love of thrift stores to good use and found gently used ornaments that fit my theme perfectly, plus I already had quite a collection of nature/country inspired baubles. Even my local dollar store had many ornaments that were exactly what I was envisioning. When the time came to put up the Christmas tree, there was no shortage of beautiful, simple, and whimsical ornaments.

(Ornaments by Robin Abrams)

(All pictures by Robin Abrams)

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I still clearly remember my favorite ornaments from my childhood years. The elves, whose long legs bent at the knees, enabling them to tuck underneath its folded arms, and the colorful little glass birds with long, fuzzy tails.

And we adorned the tree with plenty of shining tinsel!

Tell me, which ornaments were your favorite as a child? Which traditions came with decorating the family Christmas tree?

If you would like to take a stroll down memory lane, here is a wonderful resource for beautiful, vintage ornaments!

ThisThatAndChristmas