Our family has decided to scale back on the slightly overboard gift-giving we've indulged in in the past, and instead take on more tangible hands-on charitable giving this year in addition to just writing checks to our favorite charities. Although it's been hard to find the time in the midst of pageant and choir rehearsals and goings on at the schools, it has turned out to be so worthwhile to incorporate service projects into our holiday traditions. There has never been a better antidote to the gimmee-gimmee-gimmee epidemic that comes over the kids at this time of year than our family shopping trip to Target with our sponsored children's wish lists in hand. We chose Salvation Army stockings tagged for boys the same ages as ours, so Lars and Anders were really able to think about what would be the best small toy to put in each stocking along with the hat, gloves, markers and toothbrush, for little boys who might not get any other toys this Christmas. We were assigned a family of girls for the A Child's Place Christmas sponsorship, and although the minimum commitment we agreed to was to provide a grocery store gift card, one article of clothing, and one new toy for each child, we were able to come up with almost everything on our kids' wish lists thanks in part to the generosity of an old high school friend of mine who is actually mailing me a tricycle from a U.S. military base in Germany (thanks, Jennifer!!). With the economy still limping along feebly and so many people still looking for work, there are more families in need than ever. Does your family's holiday tradition include service projects, or did you add any new service projects this year? If so, please tell me about it in the Comments section!
Now, for the photographic meat and potatoes: Christmas Decorations! Woo-hoo!
|Christmas Tree ornament in paper, Elmer's Glue, crayon & glitter, made by Anders in preschool|
|Another fave, this is a varnished and glitter-painted cookie Lars did in preschool|
Now, last year about this time, I was knee deep in piano research, feeling very discouraged about how expensive pianos were. So every time Bernie asked the kids "What should we get Mom for Christmas?" Anders stubbornly replied, "I'm getting her a piano! I have $25 in my piggy bank! She only wants a piano!"
So, this is the little red sparkly piano that Anders got me for Christmas last year:
I added this blown glass golf clubs ornament for my Lars this year, who loves any color as long as it's orange, and who has been taking golf lessons after school:
...And I couldn't resist this blown glass pair of green Converse sneakers for Anders. He wears those green Chuck Taylors almost everywhere he goes:
At the bottom of this tree, soon to be completely obscured by wrapped packages (if I ever get around to wrapping them, that is), my tree is wearing a crazy-quilted Christmas tree skirt that I worked on off-and-on for about two years, more off than on. It was a fun way to use a variety of Christmas-themed quilting cottons, and I used the project as a sampler to try out lots of decorative stitches on my Bernina Artista sewing machine. I experimented with bobbinwork techniques (wrapping threads that are too big for the sewing machine needle around the bobbin instead, and sewing upside down on the project so the bobbin thread shows on top -- LOTS of fun), hand embroidery, and hand beading.
This was a relaxing project, but it took forever to complete and you really can only see the fruits of my labors around the outer edge of the skirt. Even crawling up under the Christmas tree with my camera, I still couldn't get a picture of all the embroidery and beading at the center of the pole. Uh, duh! Poor planning strikes again. If you're reading this thinking that you might like to try making something similar, I definitely suggest concentrating on the outer edges of the skirt when you embelllish the patchwork seamlines. In hindsight, I wish I'd made a table runner instead of a tree skirt. Then it would have taken me way less time, required a lot less
Happy Advent, Folks!