I wasn’t sure, at first, whether I’d do an end-of-December post. Probably many of our activities have been the same as yours, with getting ready for and then celebrating Christmas. But there were a few things unique to this month, so I decided to go ahead.
My oldest son is visiting, as he always does for Christmas. But he’s staying a week longer than usual, for two reasons. First, he usually leaves the Sunday after Christmas. This year, that would have meant leaving the day after Christmas, which would have been an abrupt end to our holiday togetherness. Plus, my middle son’s workplace is its busiest in December. On top of that, the temp agencies they work with this time of year promised 20 workers, but only two came. So Jason has been working nights and weekends for weeks. If Jeremy had left the 26th, he would not have seen Jason’s family much at all. So this week Jeremy is working from home here during the day, then we have more visiting time in the evenings. It has been nice to have the extra time together after the busyness leading up to Christmas subsides.
Jim and I celebrated our 42nd anniversary a few days before Christmas. We usually celebrate with a nice meal out and exchanging cards. This year we went to a ritzier restaurant than usual because when we sold our rental house earlier this year, at closing our realtor gave us a gift card to Ruth Chris Steakhouse. We had never been there before. It was very nice. I’m afraid I could get used to luxury all too easily.
This has been a banner month for card-making. I buy Christmas cards to send to extended family and friends, but I make them for immediate family. Plus we had some other occasions for cards this month.
This was for a friend’s birthday. The white part was done with a Cuttlebug embossing folder.
This was for our pastor’s surprise party for his 50th birthday. I got the idea from Pinterest and used the Cricut for the numbers and window. The words were stickers.
This was for our anniversary. My husband was a physics major, math minor, so when I saw this idea, it appealed to me.
This was Jim’s Christmas card. The deer and trees were done with the Cricut. I printed out the words for all the Christmas cards on the computer.
I did think about saying deer/dear instead of love, but I resisted. 🙂
This was Jeremy’s. I usually do something with a fox for him. But he has a cat, so I decided to use the feline influence. The cat was made with the Cricut, the presents from scrapbooking paper.
His cat isn’t totally black: she has some brown/tan/gold colors in her fur. But there was no way I could replicate that, so solid black would have to do.
This was Jason’s. I wanted to use the fa la la paper in some way, and he’s the most interested in playing different instruments. The instruments were done with the Cricut; the frame was done with decorative scissors.
This is Mitttu’s. The door was done with the Cricut. I printed the wreath from some free clip art and cut it out by hand.
Timothy’s is supposed to look like a snow globe. I was excited to work with clear acetate for the top of it. I had some little plastic bits from a package of snowflake confetti that I used for the snow–the snowflakes themselves were too big. But static cling keeps the “snow” from moving around much. If I ever do this again, I’ll use sequins. The snowman and trees were stickers.
Jesse’s contains something of an inside joke. For his white elephant gift for a young adults Christmas party, he found some pizza socks—a set of socks decorated with different pictures of pizza toppings, folded all together in a pizza box. So, I thought, since a pizza slice is the same shape as a Christmas tree . . . I’d use that as the base of his card. The pizza slice was done on the Cricut.
This year’s Christmas cards are some of my favorites.
Since last time I have completed:
- Christian Reflections by C. S. Lewis. His thoughts on literature, culture, church music, ethics, subjectivism, and more. Challenging, but good.
- Be Available (Judges): Accepting the Challenge to Confront the Enemy by Warren W. Wiersbe
- The Nature of a Lady by Roseanna M. White. I had just finished this last month but had not reviewed it then. Lady Elizabeth takes her maid to the Isles of Scilly to escape the marriage her brother is trying to arrange for her. But she is mistaken for another Elizabeth and given strange notes and packages. The local vicar—the other Elizabeth’s brother—works with Libby to try to decipher the messages and find his sister.
- Chapel Springs Revival by Ane Mulligan. reminded me of I Love Lucy, but with a Southern accent. Not my favorite, but if you like that kind of humor, you’d probably enjoy this book.
- A Quilt for Christmas by Sandra Dallas, a Civil war-era novel. A women makes a quilt for her husband while he is soldiering. It comes back to her in an unusual way. Plus her beliefs are tested when she is asked to shelter a runaway slave wanted for murder.
- A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson. A woman plans to update a seaside cottage she inherited in order to sell it. But her son wants to stay there.
- Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of World War I by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb. Four friends plan to meet for Christmas in Paris after WWI ends. But it lasts much longer than expected. Several decades later, the last of the four travels to Paris for his last Christmas to read the one unopened letter remaining from their correspondence. Excellent. One of my top twelve of the year.
- The Yuletide Angel by Sandra Ardoin. Victorian novel about an anonymous benefactor, the man who secretly guards and admires her, and another not so friendly stalker.
- The Ornament Keeper by Eva Marie Everson. Separated after twenty years of marriage, a woman unpacks the special ornaments her husband had given her every year, remembers their lives together, and tries to figure out if they can get past the resentment and lack of forgiveness.
- Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien. Tolkien wrote letters to his children as Father Christmas for several years, complete with disasters set off by the kind but bumbling North Polar Bear. Delightful.
That looks like a lot, but most of the Christmas stories were novellas.
I’m currently reading:
- Expecting Christmas, a 40-day devotional by multiple authors
- Treasures of Encouragement: Women Helping Women by Sharon W. Betters. One chapter left!
- 100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry and Anxiety. I had set this aside temporarily for the Christmas devotional.
- IBS for Dummies by Carolyn Dean and L. Christine Wheeler
- Be Wise (1 Corinthians): Discern the Difference Between Man’s Knowledge and God’s Wisdom by Warren W. Wiersbe
- The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow
I posted my top twelve books of the year here and all the books I read this year here.
Watching and Listening
My husband and I aren’t binge watchers. He can barely stand to spend two hours viewing something. We started watching the last season of the remake of Lost in Space on Netflix here and there. Then one night, after a long and busy day, we got pizza and watched the next episode. And we had to find out what happened next, so we watched on . . . and on until we finished it. It’s such a good series. I love the emphasis on family. It’s much more intense than the original version.
We also watched A Castle for Christmas, a pretty cute movie about an author who travels to the castle where her father’s family worked in Scotland and finds out its for sale. The owner needs to sell but doesn’t want to, so he tries to sabotage her plans. Then we watched Elf with Jesse and Jeremy and found out later that Jason and Mittu had also watched it. I’ve seen it once or twice before, but still enjoyed it a lot.
I listened to a podcast series by Audible set up like an old radio serial: The Cinnamon Bear: A Holiday Adventure. It was a little too much at times—a little loud and bizarre. And the opening note of its intro music is the worst in the history of intro music. But it was cute and clever in places.
In the last month, I have shared:
- Celebrating His Coming by Neglecting His Presence. So much of what we do for Christmas is symbolic of what Jesus has done for us. Yet we do all this running around in His name and neglect Him.
- Is Love More Important than Doctrine? They are both needful, but we err when we emphasize one to the neglect of the other.
- Why Does God Make Us Wait? Waiting for anything isn’t easy, but God doesn’t make us wait for things to torture us. There are several things He wants to accomplish in us through waiting.
Of course, writing has taken a back seat this month. But in January I want to map out time to make it a priority.
I wasn’t quite sure where to mention this. We found out a few days before Christmas that my husband’s second oldest brother died from Covid and his wife was in ICU with Covid. It’s been something of a shock. He’s the first of any of our siblings to pass. We’re still processing and waiting to hear more.
December has been a full month. I enjoyed the time with family so much. But I am kind of glad the Christmas hoopla is over and the last few days have been more relaxed (for me anyway—maybe not so much for those returning to work). We’ll still have some time together this weekend. Then it’s on to new calendars and a bright shiny new year.
I’ve shared this before, but I love this quote from Captain Jim in Anne’s House of Dreams by L. M. Montgomery:
“Welcome, New Year,” said Captain Jim, bowing low as the last stroke died away.
“I wish you all the best year of your lives, mates.
I reckon that whatever the New Year brings us will be the best
the Great Captain has for us.”
(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)
Barbara, I am so sorry to hear of your brother-in-law’s passing and that his wife is in ICU with COVID. The family will be in my prayers.
Thanks so much, Dianna.
I am SO very sorry to hear you lost your brother in law to Covid. That’s so sad. I will pray for his wife…how is she doing?
You had a good month despite the loss and I LOVE LOVE LOVE all of those cards. You are very creative. God bless you as we say good bye to 2021 and ring in the New Year!!
Thanks so much, Faith. My s-i-l is doing better. Happy 2022 to you, too!
Life has its joys and sorrows. It looks like you’re keeping things in the proper perspective.
You create such beautiful cards, Barbara. I’m sure those who receive them feel your love with each card. We started watching A Castle for Christmas but got distracted early on and never returned to it.
I’m so sorry to hear about your brother-in-law passing away. 😦 We haven’t lost any siblings yet either and I dread the day. My brother-in-law told us today that he tested positive for covid. We were together on Tuesday, so we’re all being extra cautious and staying home as much as possible for the next week in case we’re carrying it now as well.
We’ve had people at church and my my middle son’s work test positive, too. My husband’s oldest brother and his wife got Covid a second time, even though they are vaccinated and had it before. I am praying so much that God makes it go away soon.
So sorry to hear about your brother -in-law. When my husband’s sister passed away it felt SO alarming and sad.
Your cards are so personal and meaningful. And it’s great that you had a spectacular anniversary dinner!
Thank you, Michelle. It’s jarring, to be sure.
I’m glad you had some good family time over Christmas, but I’m so sorry to hear bout your brother-in-law’s death. Praying for his wife to recover, and for all the family as they mourn his passing.
Thanks for showing your beautiful cards! I love how you’ve designed each one specifically for the recipient and I’m sure they will have loved them.
Thanks so much, Lesley.
I love a good personalized card like the ones you created. It takes me forever to buy cards because I am always looking for the one that speaks directly to the person, something that will touch them in a special way. Making them is a great idea. Sorry for your loss.
I do the same thing with cards. Often I like the insides but not the front, or vice versa. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out exactly what to say when making them, but when it all comes together it’s a pleasure.
I’m sorry to hear about Jim’s brother. The first sibling loss feels especially wrong somehow.
That’s terrific that Jeremy could stay on a bit after Jason’s crazy work schedule. Hope he’s recovering from that pace. Sounds exhausting!
I especially like the pizza tree card. Very fun!
Jim and Jesse had the Monday after New Year’s off. I wish the other guys did as well. It made it nice to transition back into the work week. I’m hoping Jason can take a few days off soon.
Barbara, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I will be praying for his wife. Each of these cases is so hard to hear about.
You truly make the sweetest cards. Each one is so special and I am sure very treasured.
Thanks so much, Joanne.
Oh my, what sad news and I am so sorry about your loss. We will keep you, the family, his wife in our prayers. Be safe and take care.
I have to add on a different note: I love the embossed card – WOW! Shared on SM and thanks for linking to #SeniorSalonPitStop
Thanks so much, Esme.
So sorry to hear about your brother in law. I enjoyed hearing about your sons visit, and your cards are beautiful. Blessings.
Thank you, Paula.