Whaaaa….?? Is it already time to start thinking about Christmas??? Well it is if you plan on giving homemade gifts this year – you’ll need a running start so give yourself plenty of time. I’ve written many times about our Christmas traditions here on the ranch. RancherMan & I try to make our gifts homemade and we’re almost always successful in giving our family & friends great gifts from the heart. Of course there are times when gifts must be purchased instead but even then we try to make sure the gifts we give are gentle to the earth.
Looking for ideas? Well you’ve come to the right place! Today I’m sharing a roundup of my Christmas Ideas posts. Grab some coffee & come stay a spell…
Special family holidays like Thanksgiving & Christmas require two non-negotiable dishes to be provided from the Taylor Household: It’s requested that I bring my desserty dish that I make with cherry pie filling, whipped topping, crushed pineapple, and my own quick homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk. Sometimes I add chopped pecans if there are no allergies to work around – we’ve named the dessert ‘Cherry Shtuff’. Also on the must-have menu is RancherMan’s Famous Green Bean Casserole.
Now I’m not exaggerating here, those dishes are NON NEGOTIABLE. We can bring other dishes to the gatherings if we like as long as these two specialties are included! I’ve already shared my Cherry Shtuffrecipe with you dear readers, but I’ve recently had several requests to share RancherMan’s most-requested dish. Today’s the day!
OK y’all, if you follow me on Facebookyou already know that I can’t sew because I’ve complained about it for years. I know I must have been a bitter disappointment to my grandmother who sewed all her life (who even homemade patchwork quilts. For FUN??) and my mother who was a skilled seamstress herself. I could just never do it. I was gifted an old Singer sewing machine and I promised myself I’d learn to use it. But. I. Didn’t.
One of my New Year’s Goals(not resolutions) this year was to finally learn to use my sewing machine. My very first project was to make these cute small denim baskets with repurposed denim from RancherMan’s old worn jeans. Y’all know that I love all things denim & I think these baskets are ADORABLE! And if *I* can do it, anyone can. Check out how easy this is, y’all!
I’ve read how people are oftentimes negatively affected by reading about others’ festivities on Facebook. You know, holiday pics, vacation photos, or lavish special-occasion dinners, etc. It’s common knowledge that many people start to feel inadequate when reading about Martha-Stewart styled Christmases or picturesque views one of their FB friends enjoyed on their vacation.
The reader might begin to compare their normal everyday life to the sparkly perfection they’re reading about from their friends’ posts. Their perfect holiday or perfect children. Their perfect vacation or perfectly made & presented home-made meal.
Now I’ve never really been affected negatively by reading Facebook posts because I look at it this way: People are NOT gonna post the boring blah parts of their lives, only the shiny parts. And that’s ok! I actually enjoy reading about what’s going on outside these four walls. But it got me to thinking…
On a Christmas morning long, long ago as I sat in our living-room floor with a steaming cup of coffee in my hands, my heart was full as I listened to the excited chatter of our children as they opened their gifts. But soon after that gift-opening frenzy I stared with dismay at the mountains of trash that was left behind.
As I loaded up multiple mammoth trash bags with all that trash I thought there had to be a better way.
I mean that paper was purchased (of course shrink-wrapped in dreaded plastic) and used to decorate that gift under the tree for such a short time. Then in less that a minute that beautiful paper was turned into landfill-based trash. There just had to be a less trashy way to adorn my gifts without contributing to an already-bulging landfill problem.
So I sat out to change the way I wrap my gifts. Although I’ve written about it before it’s been awhile so I thought it would be helpful to see what works well for us.
One year I just got completely frustrated with all the consumerism associated with the holidays. Every year we were struggling to equal or top last year’s gifts. Then there was the shopping, the crowds and the mounting EXPENSE!
Now don’t get me wrong I’m not against gifts. They’re a fun way to share our love with those around us.
But whatever happened to our vision of the real meaning of Christmas? You know, gathering with family & friends and spending time together in celebration of the birth Christ?? When did that get shoved aside & it all become about the GIFTSand the tunnel-vision mindset of “what’s in it for me??”
RancherMan & I had a heart-to-heart talk with each other that year & decided although it would take much more effort on our part, we wanted to give more personal gifts. Something from both of us, straight from our hearts.
We’ve now been doing this for several years – way before I had my own blog. So I don’t necessarily have pictures of everything to show you. But I thought it would be helpful to know some of the gifts that we’ve given that were well received.
OK, I’ve just gotta ask. Is it just me or does it seem holiday commercialism has really gotten out of control? I mean, when you think back to past Christmases don’t you think about the days when children’s eyes lit up over the magic of it all? And the excitement of opening a gift that held that cherished doll or a new baseball glove?
It seems now it’s more represented by expectations of a higher and higher stack of gifts each year. And incredibly expensive & elaborate gifts & electronics even for very young children. And did I REALLYjust see a commercial where a small girl sitting on Santa’s knee was demanding a new car for her busy lifestyle??
Now I’m not saying that gifts aren’t fun – they are. It’s wonderful to be able to give that perfect gift. And Christmas is a beautiful season of sharing. But when did it turn from the simpler times of the past to “what’s in it for me” and frenzied attempts at Martha Stewart-caliber holiday decorations? It’s all just gotten so crazy.
We’re finally in the Christmas season and time for us to put up & decorate our tree. When the children still lived at home we always had a standard 7-8 foot tall Christmas tree, fully decorated from head to toe with mass-produced glass-ball ornaments of all shapes, colors & sizes. Oftentimes it was a fresh tree cut at a Christmas tree farm.
But when the kids were all in their teens we purchased a 7-foot artificial tree. Each year RancherMan would drag all four clunky sections of it down from the attic. Together we’d assemble all the little branches – their exact trunk location based on their length. Assembling and decorating that tree took quite a bit of time & RancherMan was NOT fond of this task.
One year he’d had enough. He pulled the top quarter off of the tree since it was the only section that was permanently intact. Then he stuck the plastic stand on the bottom of this tiny section and declared “From now on, let’s make THIS our Christmas tree!”
I love Christmas, it’s my favorite time of year. Especially the tenderness of heart it creates for most people – a little more thoughtful, a little more willing to share. I love making homemade cookies for friends & neighbors. And I really love the excitement on children’s faces as their twinkling eyes light up at that perfect gift they had wished for.
One year when our children were younger and we had just enjoyed the spectacle of them ripping into those brightly-colored packages and giggling at the excitement on their faces, I was shocked when I noticed the two huge 32-gallon trash bags that were needed to discard all that trash. I was further shocked when I realized there were multiple mammoth-sized trash bags behind each & every house in our neighborhood as well.
Such a short time under the tree and then in a flash – it was trash! I started wondering about a gentler way to use less waste wrapping techniques. You know, one where we could still enjoy the festivity and fun colors but could also be easier on the environment. Every household is different but here’s what we do. It works beautifully for us…