Category Archives: Christmas

Setting the Mood for Christmas AKA Big Crunchy, Andrew Broccoli, and Roger

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Christmas music. I usually try to wait until at least after Halloween to start playing my jingle tunes, but I reserve the right to listen to a few of my favorites any time the mood strikes, be it December or July. Before any of you call me out as one of those people who wants to skip Thanksgiving just to get to Christmas, I’d like to say I’m not hating on Thanksgiving, but you can only sing “Count Your Many Blessings” so many times. Let’s face it. Thanksgiving gets the short end of the music stick, too.

For me, music helps to set the mood for Christmas. Even if my decorations aren’t completely up and my presents aren’t wrapped (or bought, for that matter), Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” makes my days merry and bright (even though my Christmases are rarely white).

Speaking of Bing Crosby, our family has given the great crooner a new nickname. From now on he will be affectionately known in our house as “Big Crunchy.” He has my daughter to thank. See, last year for Christmas, Kelly gave me XM radio for the minivan. I’ve loved having it, especially since the holiday stations started up after Thanksgiving. The box isn’t that big, so from the back seats it can be hard to read the names of the artists and songs that are playing. This became most evident when my youngest hoped aloud the other day that we would hear more Big Crunchy Christmas songs. We had no idea who she was talking about until Bing and The Andrew Sisters started singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” and she gladly exclaimed, “There he is! There’s Big Crunchy!” And so he shall be for the rest of our days.

She’s in second grade and she’s a very good reader, but she’s still stumped by some of the harder words, especially ones that aren’t in her native tongue. A few days ago she was looking at things I’d bought for one of the many white elephant gift exchanges I’ve participated in this season. For a couple of parties I bought Christmas CDs that were on sale at Walmart, a small Christmas candle, a bar of chocolate, and a Christmas mug that I filled with a bag of my spiced/Russian/Christmas tea mix. I stuck one of each in a bag with a card labeled “Holiday Spirit Picker Upper.” One of the CDs I bought was Andrea Bocelli’s “My Christmas” CD.

“Who’s Andrew Broccoli?” she wanted to know.

Close, sweetie, but not quite.

Maybe it’s a vision thing and I should take her to get her eyes checked. She was sitting across the table from me this weekend as I perused the latest ad from the Lifeway store. She noticed one of the books that was advertised on the cover and wondered aloud, “Heaven is for Roger? Who’s Roger?”

“That’s Heaven is for REAL, dear.”

“Oh!” she said, “I was going to say, that doesn’t seem right that it’s just for Roger.”

So maybe my tree isn’t decorated yet. (I told the kids that we’re going organic this year and that since green is the new black we may just be enjoying the tree in all its naked beauty. At which my boys said, “Eww! Naked!!”) But I have Big Crunchy playing in the background and my Christmas candle is burning. My family’s nestled safe in our nest and for this moment in time, life is good. I hope it’s good for you this very moment, too.

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Making My Lists, Checking Them Twice

Sorry I’ve been missing in action the last couple of weeks! I’ve been trying to take my own advice about keeping the focus where it needs to be this season which means I’ve had less time to spend here at Snoodlings.

I don’t have much time set aside to spend here today, but I did have a few ideas I wanted to share with you today. Many of you are probably sitting in your completely decorated houses beside your beautifully decorated tree with all of your elegantly wrapped gifts underneath its branches, sipping homemade hot chocolate from a mug you made and fired yourself, munching on baked goods, and making your gift list for next year. Aren’t you something? Others of you may be struggling to catch up….like me.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m no expert on getting it all together and keeping that way, but I have picked up a few tips along the way that have helped me. During this time of year, I am never far away from my Christmas notebook.

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The notebook contains my kids’ wish lists, family members’ sizes, the list of what they’re actually getting, my grocery lists, my To Do lists, my price comparison lists, etc. Not only is this notebook helpful now, I keep my notebooks from year to year. They remind me of what presents I’ve given previously and also give me ideas for presents.

Another thing I keep in my purse this time of year:

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I keep all of my Christmas receipts here. In case we need to exchange something, I have the receipts all in one place. They also help me keep track of my Christmas spending.

A few weeks ago at a meeting, a speaker gave us a list of great ways to make this time of year easier. I don’t have time to share all of them with you, but today I’ll tell you about the one that impacted me most.

Spend a few minutes and write down your top three priorities for this time of year. Then choose a personal “theme” for your holidays that reflects those priorities. Here are a few ideas:

Faith, Family, & Friends
Keep it Simple
Better Done than Perfect
An Old-Fashioned Christmas
Less is More
Unplugged for the Holidays
Time Together
Change it Up with New Traditions

I couldn’t pick just one, so I’m using “Faith, Family, & Friends,” and “Better Done than Perfect, Good Enough Will Do.” I want to have more time to spend with my family and friends so I don’t have to agonize over the perfect teacher and hostess gifts. I can pick up a dessert from a favorite bakery if I don’t have time to bake something from scratch. I don’t want the stress of getting everything done perfectly to take the focus from the meaning of this time of year. I want more time to reflect on God’s perfect gift and how I can live like someone who knows what it means to have received it.

So what theme would you choose for yourself? Do you use a Christmas notebook?

P.S. Sorry for the repeated notices about this post. I tried a new posting format today and I obviously need more practice!

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An Open Letter to Tim Hawkins

Dear Mr. Hawkins,

First, I want you to know that I think you’re one of the funniest guys I don’t know and I don’t know a lot of funny guys. I was excited to hear that you’ll be coming to my church for a comedy concert this weekend. It has always been a dream of mine to hear you sing “Chick-Fil-A” in person. Well, that’s not exactly true, but I am looking forward to it. For some reason, my husband is especially hoping you’ll sing “Things You  Don’t Say to Your Wife“. I’m sure a great time will be had by all when you’re here.

However comma Mr. Hawkins comma all is not sunshine and Christmas puppies between you and me. You see, Sunday night at our church’s Christmas program, my family saw an advertisement about your upcoming show. Specifically, we saw this video:

Do you know Bing Crosby, Mr. Hawkins? I’m guessing you don’t since he’s dead, but I’m sure you’re familiar with his work. He really knew his way around a Christmas song, didn’t he? “Mele Kalikimaka,” “White Christmas,” “Adeste Fidelis” (That’s Latin for “O Come All Ye Faithful,” but I guess you knew that since you speak Latin, being from “a homeschool family” like you are.)–these are songs that I look forward to hearing every Christmas season. They just feel like home. And until yesterday afternoon, Mr. Hawkins, I always looked forward to hearing Bing Crosby sing “Do You Know What I Hear.”

But do you know what happened yesterday afternoon?  Let me tell you. When we piled into the minivan and turned on the radio, Bing’s rendition of “Do You Hear” was playing. Thankfully, we’d missed the “tail as big as a kite” part, but do you know what happened right after Bing crooned, “Let us bring him silver and gold”? As if they had practiced and in perfect unison, my three children called out, “How ’bout a blanket?! How ’bout some soup?! The child’s shivering in the COLD!” My oldest son even threw in the “throw some gold on him; he’ll be fine; Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!” line for good measure. At that moment a little Christmas magic died right there in that Honda Odyssey. It was just like when Frosty melted into a puddle after the magician took his hat away. I felt like Rudolph must have felt when he was not invited to participate in the reindeer games. (Are you crying yet?)

So, thank you, Mr. Hawkins, for ruining that Christmas classic for my family forever. From now on, whenever we hear “Do You Hear What I Hear,” we will be thinking of you. I certainly hope you’re proud of yourself. It’s almost enough to make me want to hear that “hippopotamus for Christmas” song instead. I said almost.

With great sadness and an overwhelming sense of loss,

Whimzie, Mother of Three

P.S. Please be sure to do the “Do You Hear” bit when you come this weekend so that song will be ruined for all the other families, too.

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Merry Christmas

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While visions of Sugar Plum fairies danced in her head…

I took The Princess Little Person to see The Nutcracker for the first time last night.  She’s the cheerleader of our family, so it’s not a huge surprise when she’s excited about something. New cereal? “Did you buy this for US?! YAY! I’ve wanted to try this cereal for all my life!!” Her dad gets a haircut? “You look WONDERFUL! I LOVE your hair!” Her brothers are playing Wii? “Woo hoo!! High score!!”  She’s pumped about a trip to Costco, so I knew she’d show even more enthusiasm for a fun, new experience. I found a few videos on YouTube of Nutcracker scenes performed by different ballet companies and she watched enthralled, thrilled that she recognized several of the songs from Classical Baby and Little Einsteins.

However her elation waned a bit the night of the big performance. I had pulled several dresses out of her closet for her to choose an outfit for the evening. As she looked over her choices, she asked offhandedly, “Are you going up there with me?” 

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“When I’m up on stage. Are you going to go up there with me?”

Wow. As gently as possible, I explained that we were just going to watch other ballerinas dance and that we hadn’t been invited to perform anything on this particular night. I should have seen this coming. She took ballet last year and after the dress rehearsal for her recital, she ran to me and asked, “Did you see me?! I was ON STAGE!” The night of the recital, she danced and smiled as if performing in front of hundreds of people was a nightly happening for her. 

She listened to my explanation and when I asked her if she was disappointed she said, “Well, yeah. I thought you said I was going to get to dance. Can we at least get popcorn?”

Popcorn? I’m not a regular patron of the arts, but the few times I’ve been to performances, popcorn was not a refreshment option. I assured her that if there was popcorn, we would certainly buy some but that maybe she shouldn’t plan on it being offered to us at the ballet.  I was glad when we arrived at the theatre that they were selling refreshments in the lobby. She never mentioned the popcorn again and I was glad to purchase a chocolate Nutcracker sucker and some bottled water.

After we’d found our seats, I gave her a brief synopsis of the story of The Nutcracker. She listened intently and fidgeted in her seat a little and asked at least a half dozen times, “So when’s this starting anyway?”  When the curtain rose, she sat up straight with her eyes wide and bright and breathed, “Whoa..” The costumes were beautiful, and the graceful dancers took our breath away. During the performance, I think I watched her face more than the dancers.  

About two songs in, she leaned into me and asked,”Isn’t anybody going to say anything? Is somebody going to sing?” Again, I realized I may not have adequately prepared her as I explained that instead of words, the dance told the story. She interjected several questions and comments throughout the performance, none of which gave me much pause until we came to the first  scene of Act II. In this scene, several cherubs and angels heralded Clara and the Prince’s arrival to the Land of Sweets. When I explained that the dancers in the beautiful white costumes were angels, The Princess whispered, “So is Jesus in this thing?” No, I told her, Jesus would not be dancing in this particular version of the Nutcracker. She looked at me baffled, “Well, why not?” I told her that I didn’t really know but that maybe we should just watch the rest to see what happened next. The show continued without much ado and we clapped and clapped and clapped at the end.

On the way home, she asked me to turn on the radio and we listened to Christmas music all the way home. At one point I turned to look at her and her sleepy eyes were taking in the Christmas lights and decorations along the way and she had an enormous smile stretched from ear to ear. “Why are you smiling so big?” I asked her. She just gave a big sigh and breathed, “I just love this.” I didn’t have to ask if “this” was The Nutcracker or the Christmas songs on the radio or the beautiful lights or a girls’ night out with her Mom. It was all of the above. And I felt the same way.

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Thou shalt not show favoritism….

favorites-party

When I saw the invitation on LifeAt7000Feet’s blog to join the Favorites Party, I think all I saw was the “party.” I didn’t even think about what was meant by “favorites.” I just thought about it when I heard the topic for today’s blog. Today we were supposed to write about our favorite gift. Oh, I get it! We’re going to be blogging about “favorites” every Tuesday for the rest of the year. Somebody just shoot me now.

What’s the big deal, you might ask? Well, you might ask that if you don’t know me very well. See, I’m not very good at making lists of favorite anythings. For example, ask me what my favorite color is. Well, what exactly do you mean? Favorite color to wear? Favorite color of sucker? Favorite color to paint a wall? I know a lot of really great colors. It seems wrong to let just one be the favorite.

But, you have a blog, you might say. To have a blog, you must have definite opinions on things, right? (Are you getting a little tired of me putting words in your mouth? I mean, you might not say that at all. I realize that, but just play along for now, please.) Well, for me, I guess the answer would be yes and no. I have strong opinions on many things. I just also reserve the right to change my mind at any time.

I think I can say without too great a debate with myself that I have a favorite movie (The Man From Snowy River), favorite Bible verse(s) (Jeremiah 29:11-13), and a favorite comic strip character (Charlie Brown, who’s known for being wishy washy, so that fits). After that, I have a hard time nailing anything down as an absolute favorite.  I would say, for example, that Coke is my favorite soft drink. But there are days when only a Dr. Pepper will hit the spot.  This may become known as the blog where the fact that I have “issues” became even more widely known. Oh, well. It was all bound to come out eventually.

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The “Yay, Lord!” verse….

I love Christmas music. I usually try to wait until at least Halloween to start playing it, but I’ve been known to play a certain song or two in the middle of summer when I get an itch that only hearing it will scratch. I was so excited to discover that several radio stations up here actually begin playing Christmas music at the beginning of October rather than waiting until after Thanksgiving, so I’ve been “getting my Christmas on” in the car this month. I’ve also been getting some strange looks from fellow travelers. Did I mention that I love to SING Christmas music? Loudly and with animated expressions and hand motions when appropriate?  Side note: Isn’t it interesting that nativity scenes may not be allowed in public places, and stores may say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” but every Christmas-playing station I’ve listened to thus far has a number of openly Christian Christmas carols in their playlists?

Speaking of carols, I love it when we start singing Christmas carols in church. My favorite is “O Come All Ye Faithful,” but only if we get to sing my favorite verse.  What’s my favorite verse, you ask? You may not know it, because for some reason, it’s the verse that usually gets chopped.  It’s a crying shame, too, if you ask me, because this is the happiest, most exciting verse in all of hymnaldom (I made that word up). Just listen to how it starts:

YAY, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning!!! (I may have added the exclamation points, but they’re inferred in the song)

Before you nitpickers feel compelled to point out that the verse actually says, “Yea, Lord,” I need to point out that when I was a little girl hearing this verse for the first time, I didn’t hear “yea,” because I didn’t know what “yea” meant. I heard, “yay!” which blew my mind and thrilled my soul, because who knew hymn writers even said “yay!” back in the day? I couldn’t believe my ears! A hymn that you could cheer! And it stays upbeat as it continues to say that Jesus was born this happy morning! You just find me a more upbeat stanza in the hymnal! Go on, I dare you!  So of course, with happy, grateful hearts we follow that with:

Jesus, to thee be all glory given…

He certainly deserves all the glory and more!

Now the next part of the verse requires you to use your imagination just a little. Close your eyes–scratch that. You can’t read with your eyes closed. Just try to imagine with me a huge, heavenly movie or theatre marquee adorned with glittering jewels that defy description. And in enormous, majestic, diamond-encrusted, black letters are these words:

Word of the Father

Now in flesh appearing….

That’s what my mind saw when I first heard that verse. Like some heavenly birth announcement from a very proud Father who couldn’t wait to get the word out that His Son had arrived!  Or an announcement about the ultimate artist and (Morning) Star appearing for a limited engagement in the role of a lifetime! Isn’t that exciting?

Finish out the chorus with me:

O come, let us adore Him,

O come, let us adore Him,

O come, let us adore Him,

Christ the Lord.

O come, let us adore Him indeed!

So now, maybe you, too, will find yourselves a little bit annoyed when you sing this at church or hear it on a CD or the radio and you don’t hear the “Yay, Lord” verse. Just do what I do and go ahead and sing it in your head (or out loud if you just can’t keep it in!).

 

That’s all for now.  Maybe later we can talk about “Christmas Songs That Have Always Bugged Me.”  I immediately think of “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.” Why around the Christmas tree? Isn’t that just asking for broken ornaments? Someone’s bound to trip on the electric light cords. Especially since everyone’s dancing merrily in the NEW old-fashioned way. I mean, if it’s a “new” way of dancing, it’s probably going to be unfamiliar and the chances of bumping into something will be even greater. What does that even mean, “new old-fashioned”? Is that just another way of saying “old school”? These are the things that keep me up at night….

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