Well, I spent two days in the kitchen. I have decided the past few years and that I’d rather do all the work in a short period of time and then the mess is over than baking every day a little bit. And the girls have helped a lot this year. The first morning I made all the dough that needed chilling. In the afternoon the girls had fun with cookie cutters, while I made some of the simpler cookies. The second day I dealt with the dough that needed overnight chilling and baked the gingerbread house. The girls decorated it by themselves! I am so proud of them. These are some of the goodies we made:
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Saturday, December 24, 2005
I have had no time blogging these days and probably will not until the holidays are over. Just wanted to post some pictures of the simple decorations my girls and me did for our house this year. I still have some ribbons I bought six years ago while still in the US and my mom makes a few vine wreaths each fall. With some evergreens from our neighbors yard (with permission :-) ) and a bit of skill, we made everything to give our house a bit festive look. It’s great to see that my girls are starting to enjoy creating with their hands and they have a talent for it. I handled the hot glue gun this year and helped with the bows, but the rest is their work.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Sally at Two Talent Living is hosting a Carnival of Beauty. This week's topic is The Bauty in Tradition. I have submitted my Christmas Memories entry. There are many interesting pieces entered this week. You can find links to them here.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
It’s interesting to realize how different my children’s Christmas memories will be from my own childhood memories. Times are changing, there are many outside influences and although I know my children will cherish their own memories, I wish they would know something of what I treasure from my childhood. I do not associate Christmas in my childhood with tree, decorations or presents. In our family those things were at the bottom of the list. I don’t think we ever had a Christmas tree. We lived as missionaries among Yugoslav people in the huge city of Munich, Germany. Money was tight and values were always placed on spiritual rather then material things. If mom could somehow manage to get a branch of something green for a good price, we made a table centerpiece or made an arrangement on the piano. But that was it. We also didn’t get presents every year and frankly – we never missed them or expected them. I do remember two Christmases as a child where our parents did give us presents. One time we needed boots and sweathers and so my parents bought them and instead of giving them to us right away they waited for Christmas Eve. By the way, that is when presents are traditionally given, not on Christmas morning. Another year, I was probably 9 and my brother 7, my parents called us on Christmas Eve to the living room and gave us each a tiny present. We were surprised, because we didn’t expect any. In each was a wrist watch! We felt so honored and grown-up to receive such a gift. Sometimes our grandparents from Austria visited and then we always got some presents from them though. What I do remember about Christmas in my childhood has mostly to do with the church and it’s activities. There were songs, Christmas plays that we did as children, poems, musical numbers, sermons and Christmas tea parties. I remember all of those vividly. The focus was always on Christ’s birth and the whole Christmas Story as well as any applications it holds for our lives. There were always many events surrounding this holiday that focused on the true meaning of Christmas that we children never really desired any of the “other” stuff, although we did take several nice strolls through the beautifully lit streets of Munich, loved to look at the beautifully decorated store windows and always walked through the Christmas Market (Christkindlmarkt). But it never occurred to us to desire all that was sold there. We were rich in our hearts and I guess that made the difference. There are still other things I remember. Often we would spend the actual Christmas at my grandparents in Modra, Slovakia. They lived in a two room house and I often wonder how in the world did we all fit in there. There was only a kitchen and one other room. We didn’t mind. The thing I mostly remember besides our sled being pulled by grandfather’s large white dog =), are the Christmas programs in church. It was a small church, but children and youth always prepared wonderful songs, poems and other programs. And there we did always get a little plastic bag full of some goodies at the end of the service. That was such a treat! When we moved to Yugoslavia (now Serbia) in 1981, Christmas changed a bit for us. Here there was even less decorations, but the church services stayed the main focus of the holidays. Actually there were many more services. One on Christmas Eve, two on Christmas day and if I recall still another on the second Christmas Day. But us children didn’t get to attend all of them, because during communism we never got off on Christmas, unless it of course was on the weekend. We went to school like any other day. The wonderful thing that was added to our Christmas experience though was the caroling. Living in a small town it was easy to walk to any house of the town and even at night there was no danger of us walking alone. When we were smaller we would go after the Christmas Eve service and visit all our relatives (believers and non-believers) and say our poems and sing a few songs and they would always give us some fruit, nuts, cookies or even chocolate. By the end our pockets (or plastic bags) were pretty filled. As we got older, we started caroling with our youth. On some years we would go and only sing to the older and sick people who couldn’t come to church. Other times we would expand our list to more church members. One year, I was maybe in 9th grade, we decided as a youth to visit ALL the church members. I remember walking around town all night long as we stood in front of every house and sang songs and wished them a Blessed Christmas. Some we woke up, some gave us cookies, others invited us in for a cup of hot tea. I remember that year we caroled probably until 5 o’clock in the morning, came home and had to be in school already at 7am! But that was always the highlight of our holidays! These are the things I wish my children would experience as well. Meanwhile, some of our children were born in the US and we spent all together five Christmases over there. That certainly has influenced our family traditions. The children love opening their presents on Christmas morning, they do consider presents part of the holidays, we have many Christmas ornaments that we either got as presents or bought while oversees, so our children like to have a Christmas tree. But we still try to focus on Christ first and foremost. We have advent devotions with the children, we read the Christmas story and pray before the presents, we give church services priority, learn poems, songs and prepare Christmas program. We visit our relatives and spend time with them. We only buy one present for each child, but they do get more from relatives and friends. We hope to add some more worthwhile traditions to our family over the years, those that focus on Christ, love and giving, rather than material things. We want to celebrate His love, His sacrifice, His gift – not our traditions.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
This year we started having Advent devotions with our children every (almost) night. To make things more special, and since I didn’t have any advent wreath, I put four candles on a candle holder and we put a red ribbon around it. I wanted to add some greenery, but didn’t find the time. Still, the children absolutely love lighting the candles at night, listening to God’s Word, praying together and then blowing out the candles (the favorite part for our 2 year old =). I think we are going to make a family tradition out of it. Yesterday we put up a little Christmas tree. We have been giving our children one special ornament each year and it’s fun putting them on and remembering when and where we got each one of them. We hope to plant the tree in spring on our new property next to our house-to-be.