Saturday, December 31, 2011

More Than a Day

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"Christmas is more than a day
at the end of the year,
More than a season
of joy and good cheer,

Christmas is really
God's pattern for living
To be followed all year
by unselfish giving ... "

A tinge of sadness as we wrap up the Christmas season, finish up the goodies, and box up the lights. There is a magic around this time of year that is sometimes hard to let go of. But in the bits of reluctance to let go of the magic, we stop - and are reminded that this is just the beginning, the start of a brand new year of love and of giving. 

"For if we lived Christmas,
each day, as we should,
And made it our aim
to always do good,

We'd find the lost key
to meaningful living
That comes not from getting
but from unselfish giving ...

For in the glad tidings
of the first Christmas night
God showed us the way
and the truth and the light!"

(Taken from 
"Let Us Live Christmas Every Day"
by Helen Steiner Rice)

Linking up with In Search of Beauty

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas

This post is mainly for my own records, but if anyone enjoys reading it, that makes it even more fun! I always like to make a bunch of Christmas goodies each year, and though the days were really full and I wondered if I would have time for much, I discovered that I actually had made 12 different recipes! Maybe a new tradition - twelve recipes for the twelve days of Christmas?

Just for fun, here they are:

1) Cinnamon Rolls - I make these every Christmas and have them on hand for Christmas morning.

2) Date Pinwheels - another recipe that I make every Christmas, one of my husband's favorites.

3) Wheaty Thumprints - another one of my husband's favorites.

4) Cranberry Bog Bars - an easy recipe, need to make this each year.

5) Chocolate Nut Cookies - don't usually make this for Christmas, but was a nice addition.

6) Chocolate Peanut Clusters - easy and another one that I make every Christmas.

7) Chocolate Billionaires - a new recipe this year; was very good (a little bit of a challenge with the dipping part, but it worked).

8) Sugar'n'Spice Nuts - easy, and great for snacking.

9) Dipped Pretzel Rods - my first time trying this recipe; was very good, but again, I had a challenge with the drizzling of a contrasting flavor over the dipped pretzel.

10) Fruit'n'Nut Stollen - first time for this recipe; probably will not repeat.

11) Chex Party Mix - a must-have for our snacking.

12) Brownie-Peppermint Ice-cream Pie - first time with this recipe; was good, but it was quite difficult to cut the pie after frozen; probably will not repeat.

I had planned to post more of these recipes throughout the season, but did not have time. Maybe will do so at a future time, as I have the photos all taken.

Our four daughters brought goodies to share, as well, and we had a delicious, beautiful spread - more than we needed, and a wonderful way to celebrate! Food is such a big part of family celebrations! And it was fun to have goodies on hand to share with others throughout the season.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wrapping up a Memorable Christmas

The final (of four) posts capturing memories from Christmas 2011 ~

We had three days of Christmas ~ celebrating with all our family home on Friday, Dec. 23 ~ full house of 23 on the 23rd! The house was a bit quieter over Christmas weekend, as family left ...

Ali (4), and Brianna (5) - such fun for them to have a cousin close in age ...

And Luke and Levi are both 9 years old - not for long, as Luke turns 10 on Dec. 31st.

As their parents were loading up, we were treated to piano solos by each of our Texas grandkids,
even the youngest one ...

A special brunch meal together before Mark & Cristy & family left for Dallas ...

A much smaller group, and quieter house on Christmas Eve - after a Candlelight Service at our church,
so special to have Lance join us for the evening and for night!

We talked around the tree until late into the night on Christmas Eve -
one of our favorite things to do, having conversations with our grown kids.

And the next day, Christmas Day ~ a very special tempura meal prepared together,
and enjoyed together! Followed by a special treat, a gift from Lance -
viewing of "It's a Wonderful Life" at Film Streams!

Thanking God for a Christmas beyond what we had even wished for - memorable in many ways, more than we imagined. All a gift from the Giver of Gifts ... and the first Gift at the first Christmastime the best gift of all. 

Snacks & Games

The third in a series of posts covering our Christmas 2011 ~ click here for the first, and here for the second one.

A favorite part of our Family Christmas comes in the evening ~ snacking on a spread of appetizers and sweets, and playing table games together. Taking time to put little ones down for bed, we often continue late into the night ... such fun memories of family enjoying spending time together.

Thanking God for the gift of family ~ more joy and love than we can hardly contain. It had been a very busy month leading up to our Family Christmas, and we were often tired and overwhelmed with the busyness of life. And we are thanking God for His strength in our weakness, and for giving us a Christmas above what we even hoped for. All because of His Gift that first Christmastime.

The incredible gift of nine precious grandchildren ...

And the gift of family ~ posing for the final goofy family photo (our favorite family photo is saved for a later date).

Time for Gifts

Part Two in a series of posts covering our Christmas 2011 ~ (click here for the first one)

Christmas - celebrating the Greatest Gift of all, the Babe who came to give us Love and all that we long for - and also, celebrating His gift of Love in our family. Although we have cut back in the amount of gift-giving as our family has grown, there are still many gifts under and around our tree. With 23 family members present, even one gift a person would equal to 23 gifts under the tree!

This was the first year that our grown children did not draw names and give gifts to each other. And they gave group gifts to each of their nieces and nephews, their grandpa, their uncle, and us (their parents!). 

We had fun purchasing gifts for each of our 9 grandchildren ~ and also, we had some little gifts for each of our grown children. Included in our gifts this year were some purchases we made while in Italy for our 40th Anniversary Trip this past September - a great place to shop! 

A little photo gallery of the joy of family opening gifts together ...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Family Christmas Dinner

So blessed to have our whole family home for Christmas ~ our four daughters, our two sons, our four sons-in-law, and our nine grandkids - 21 in all!  And, also so blessed to have my 90 year-old father, and my husband's older (single) brother join us - making 23 altogether! A full house - filled with the sweetest people in the world. :-)

Our two oldest granddaughters did a great job setting our big table!

Working together getting the food ready for 23 people ... our oldest son, and youngest daughter!

Beautiful - family in the kitchen ...

Sweet photo - love this! A granddaughter, two daughters, and our youngest son!

Gathering around the big table - nineteen of us ... and four more grandkids close by to the right of the table ...

My husband sharing some Christmas devotional thoughts before we start ...

So special to all be together - sharing around our table.

Luke and Levi (both 9), Ali (4), and Brianna (5) - having fun at their own special little table.

Ham, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, Dressing, Green Beans, two salads, and dinner rolls.

Lots to clean up!  And dividing out some left-overs for the four bachelors in the family ...

Posing with the four best daughters in the world - love having them home, and helping in the kitchen!

Our delicious Christmas goody spread ...
More photos to come ...

Click here for the second post about our Christmas ... and here for the third post.