"…And she smiles at the future." ~Proverbs 31:25

Posts tagged ‘gifts’

Christmas bucket list

Last Christmas, two sad things happened.

First, I realized too late (read: after school let out) that I hadn’t taken our toddler to see Santa Claus. I know, I know…she didn’t really know the difference. But I did. There are only a few short years to be able to take a child to sit on Santa’s lap, and I missed one of them. {Sniff}

Second, I realized AFTER Christmas was over that we’d never taken the time to go out looking at Christmas lights with the kids. Yes, we saw them as we drove to other places. But when I was a kid, one thing we ALWAYS did was set aside a special night to drive around…JUST to look at lights.

The holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day is always packed so full of motion and activity that it’s easy to let the things that are important to us—the special family moments, the cherished traditions—get squeezed out. So, this year, to keep that from happening, I decided to create a Christmas Bucket List!

We’ve done most of the items on the list and still have a couple of days left to do the rest. Hopefully this will jog your memory in case there’s something you wanted to do and forgot about. (It’s not too late!)

Amy’s Christmas Bucket List

1. Listen to Christmas music. CHECK (many times over!)

2. Decorate the house and yard, and put up lights outside. CHECK

We even put ornaments on all our bushes and trees this year! They make me happy every time I pull into the driveway.

3. Go look at Christmas lights together. CHECK

(Although, I think we’re going to have to go again, now that my friend, Chelli, found this cute printable—a checklist of things for the kids to try to spot.)

4. Make and drink LOTS of hot chocolate. CHECK

We even got special cups so we could take some with us while looking at lights. So fun!

5. Do plenty of Christmas crafts and school projects. CHECK

6. Watch Christmas movies. CHECK

7. Make “Reindeer Food.” CHECK

No, this wasn’t really for the reindeer. Can you guess when we ate it? (Hint: See #6.) You can get the recipe here. Warning: Don’t plan on leftovers…

8. Make Reindeer FEED. (This one IS for the reindeer.)

We haven’t gotten to this one yet, but as long as it’s ready by Christmas Eve night, we’re good.

9. Eat tamales. CHECK

(We’ll do this again on Christmas Day, but we were blessed already by a sweet friend who knows our love of tamales and showed up at our house with stacks of them!)

10. Count down to the big day. CHECK

Of course, this one is ongoing throughout the month.

We actually have four different countdowns going, including this cute one Remi’s been working on:

You can get the free printable here. (Thanks to my friend April for sharing her find!)

11. Sing Christmas songs. CHECK

Remi’s been singing, “We wish it was merry Christmas…” (No, she doesn’t mean to change the words; she thinks that’s how it goes.) The boys were able to go caroling with our church youth group. Addy sings all the time, and has been playing lots of holiday tunes on the piano, too. I love to hear my kids sing!

12. Make cookies together. CHECK

We’ve made them several times at home as a family…

…and the kids from Addy’s Bible class made about a gazillion cookies for our elders, deacons, and ministers. Aren’t they pretty?

13. Decorate the tree. CHECK

(You can read about our tree mishap here.)

14. Read Christmas books. CHECK

(But we still need to read my favorite, The Polar Express.)

15. Make ornaments. CHECK

16. Make homemade Christmas cards. CHECK

Our kids, along with the kiddos in one of their homeschool groups, made cards for a number of local Christian friends who are going through hard times. We hope the cards will brighten their day and remind them that someone is thinking of them at Christmas.

17. Mail cards to out-of-town friends.

Yes, this was on my list. But sadly, for the second (or third?) year in a row, it just didn’t get done. (To our faraway friends who are reading this: Merry Christmas! We really are thankful for you…even if you don’t have the mail to prove it.)

18. Make paper snowflakes. CHECK

I think Addy was already working on hers December 1st! I had hoped to laminate some and hang them from our trees outside—I think it was Troy’s idea, actually—but that didn’t happen. (Maybe next year?) Never fear, though. A quick glance around Addy’s room reveals that she was definitely working on her end of the project.

DSC_1845b

(I love how she just taped them right onto her existing wall hangings.)

19. Attend holiday parties. CHECK

20. Go visit Santa Claus. CHECK

21. Write a letter to Santa.

We haven’t done this one yet, either. But, I do still plan to let our newly-four-year-old daughter dictate her letter for me. Should be interesting…

22. Enjoy Elf on a Shelf. CHECK

This was our first year to do this, and it’s been so much fun for ALL of us! We named our elf Zanzibar, and the big kids love helping us find interesting places for him to appear each morning. Remi loves looking for him as soon as she wakes up each day. I’m thankful for the friends who gifted us with our little elf!

23. Make a family hand wreath.

This is another item from my list that just hasn’t gotten done. I wanted to trace each of our hands and put them all together in a wreath with the year on the back so we would always have a record of what size our hands were this year. With four kids ranging in age from four to seventeen, we have quite a variety of sizes! And, they change quickly.

24. Make a hand-and-foot reindeer. CHECK

Addison did this when she was younger, and I was anxious for Remington to make one, too. So, even if we don’t get the wreath done, we still have a record of the youngest child’s hand and foot size this year. Oh, and the nose is her thumbprint, so we have a record of that, too.

25. Make homemade gifts. CHECK

We did LOTS of different handmade gifts this year, as always, for friends, family members, and neighbors.  The kids love to make and give, and it’s always a good reminder for me that the best thing we can do for others is to give of ourselves.

26. Make gifts for our church elders and their wives.

I seem to get to this later and later each year. I hate that, because our elders are amazing, sacrificial men, and they need to know how much we appreciate them. (But I think this year they’ll be getting “Happy New Year!” gifts from our family instead.)

27. Make gingerbread men.

Here’s another one we haven’t managed to cross off our list yet. But, even if we have to do it after the holidays are over, I still really want to enjoy this activity with my kiddos.

28. Make gingerbread houses. CHECK

While the gingerbread men may not be crafted yet, their houses are ready and waiting for them. Or, they were…until they got eaten…

Addy's gingerbread house

Addy’s gingerbread house

Remi's gingerbread "princess palast" with patio

Remi’s gingerbread “princess palast” with patio

29. Visit the sick and/or elderly. CHECK

Last year we did more of this between Christmas and New Year’s, but we’ve already gotten a head start this year by visiting our sweet, senior citizen neighbors. We really want our kids to understand that it’s not all about them and what they receive. (And thankfully, I think they get it!) We hope these visits bless those we go to see; we know for sure they bless our family.

30. You decide!

What is missing from my list? Do you have a favorite activity on your own holiday list that hasn’t been mentioned here? What should #30 be? Please leave me a comment telling me what you’d add.

So, do you have a Christmas bucket list, too? If so, how’s it going? Several of the things on my list don’t have to be confined to this particular time of year. Make a plan to do the things you deem most important for your family, and start checking them off your list! (And remember to add #30 to mine.)

Thanks for stopping by.

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Happily stuck with them

They’re home! My family is all together again! And yes, I am smiling!

(Photos by Larissa Thompson)

Two weeks ago, Addy went off to visit her cousins for several days.  I really missed her! Then the boys were gone to camp all last week. I missed them, too! But even as I was missing them, I thought back to a time when I didn’t expect to feel that way….

It was more than eleven years ago. Our firstborn was almost old enough to start school, and we’d been examining our options. I’d become convinced that homeschooling was the way I wanted to go. I’d read the research. I knew the advantages. But, I had one BIG hangup.  One hurdle I wasn’t sure I could take. Can you guess what it was?

They’ll always be with me.

That’s what I couldn’t get over. Our first two were born just twenty months apart, and I remember vividly how HARD it was having two babies.  I had consoled myself in the toughest times with this thought: This won’t last long. Before I know it, they’ll be off to school and I’ll be able to catch my breath again.

But now I was looking at the possibility that they wouldn’t be going OFF anywhere. That school would be here, which meant they’d be here…all the time. Which, in turn, meant there would be no going out shopping alone for me; no lunch dates out with friends; no actually being able to clean the house and have it stay that way for a few hours. On and on I went, trying to figure out whether I could handle always having the kids around.

Well, we took the plunge, and a funny thing happened. The more time I spent with my kids, the more I grew to like them. Not just to love them, but to really LIKE them. I enjoy them now. I like who they are. We have fun together. I treasure their uniqueness and their sweet personalities. I learn so much from them. I cherish our time together–it’s going by too fast!  And yes, when they’re gone, I actually miss them.

I do enjoy getting a break sometimes. In fact, I need those breaks, and so do you! But it sure makes me sad to hear parents lamenting the coming of summer because their children will be home with them. It breaks my heart when I hear people complain about the approach of spring break, since they will have to spend–*gasp*–a whole week with their kids. Really? Are these not wonderful opportunities to enjoy the children that are growing up way too fast? Wouldn’t it be fun to actually get to know them as individuals?

Maybe our outlook only changes as we come to truly believe the psalmist’s words:

“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord. 

The fruit of the womb is a reward.”

Psalm 127:3

If you have children, I hope you cherish each moment with them today, recognizing them as His gifts to you. You just might be surprised how much you enjoy them!

Thanks for stopping by…

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