December Did Not Go As Planned…

Going into the holidays, I usually have a perfect picture in my mind of how things will play out. I absolutely love Christmas! In the past, hitting the ground running as soon as the Thanksgiving dinner is cleared away, I know exactly what I need to accomplish each day to complete the December of my dreams!

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Every year, there is a new theme for decorating and, this year, Silver Bells were ready to don our home! I come up with lofty goals- including Christmas decorations, parties, presents, productions, guests and food – all falling into place within my anticipated timetable.

The first week in December, however, life threw us a big curve. Our son-in-law, in the middle of producing a huge Christmas program, was in a very serious accident.

Virtual Open House Tour 2015

Welcome to our home and our Second Annual Virtual Open House! To get started with the tour, make sure your speakers are turned up.

As you may know, we live in Southern California where you have probably heard that it never snows. Well, hardly ever!

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See that huge wreath? People can see it from a block away, shining from the second floor window over the entryway. We hope you feel our love of all things Christmas! Welcome!

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Candy canes line our walkway to our door and of course, Santa must know he is welcome.

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Duane and I are happy you’re here so come on inside to get out of the cold.

You Can Be the BEST Gift-Giver EVER!

It is NOT too Late!

Christmas is the perfect holiday in the year for passionate gift-givers. Yes, I will publicly admit, I LOVE gift-giving. Oh, if only I were wealthy, my children, grandchildren, family, friends and co-workers would be so blessed by my gift-giving!

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But alas, I am on a serious—and, some may say pathetic—budget.

As a true, self-proclaimed, passionate gift-giver, I lie awake nights thinking of clever gift ideas to make recipients’ hearts feel something as they open the hand-picked gifts I have chosen just for them. The exhilaration is immeasurable when the perfect gift surfaces in my brain! Today, I will share the process with you!

There are simply THREE secrets to buying the perfect gifts:

Storytelling at Christmas!

Our kids loved bedtime stories year round. At Christmas we told them Christmas stories.

Why is it, we only tell the Joseph and Mary story at Christmas?  Why do we assume kids already know the small, seemingly insignificant, parts of the story?

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Our son, Mark, said it surprisingly well the Christmas he was about seven, “Mom, I’ve only heard the Christmas story six times; and, I bet – the first three times – I didn’t even pay attention.”

We had been putting the wise men across the room from the manger scene in our living room; because, the men from the East hadn’t seen the baby Jesus until He was close to two years old. Mark was fascinated! “The wise men didn’t go to the manger with the shepherds? But, everyone puts them by the shepherds! ”

Christmas Decorating Made SO Easy!

Finally, I will tell MY secrets!

Yes, I admit, I decorate Christmas over the top! From our front porch to the fence in the back yard, everything is Christmas at our house this time of year.

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Friends and family, over the years, have wondered why our house seems “more” decorated than theirs.  Now, I will divulge my secrets.

I have it down to a science, and would love to explain how easy it is!

Our main, lighted, tree – artificial, since our children left home – goes up the first of November. It becomes our Thanksgiving tree and is covered in fall foliage and crayon colored pictures of pilgrims etc. by our grandchildren. This is not only a hit with our grandkids; but, I have found it cuts my Christmas decorating time in half once December arrives!

The day after Thanksgiving, the foliage and beautiful pictures return to a

Fall decoration storage box; and, extra large empty cardboard boxes come down from the attic!

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HELP with Christmas Shopping for Kids and Grandkids!

Let me help!

YES! In answer to your questions, I am an intentional, experienced shopper! Let me help you!

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With six kids (includes our three and their spouses), ten grandkids under age 13 and nephews and nieces all over the country, I love to Christmas shop! I take it seriously. A gift should benefit the recipient. I stick to my budget, and get meaningful presents so they enjoy each one. Truth be told, I started in August.

First, I LOVE books! In a world dominated by technology, I want the kids in my life to hold, read and love BOOKS too!

After extensive research, here are some of my very favorites:

JESUS or SANTA?

I have been bombarded with questions about whether to celebrate Jesus, or Santa for Christian homes this holiday season? My answer, (and you asked for MY opinion, right?) is celebrate BOTH! I believe in Santa Claus. He is the FUN part of Christmas. And, Jesus is the reason for Christmas!

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When I was a child, Santa Claus always came through with one great gift on Christmas morning; but, interestingly enough, Jesus was the One we thanked.

It wasn’t rocket science. I knew who had created Santa Claus! Duh!

It was not a struggle bringing up our three kids in the same manner. The important foundation of Christmas has always been the birth of God’s Son! Santa Claus is simply lots of fun.

Admit it. With little kids, there is nothing quite as much fun as Santa Claus! There are pictures to be taken with him, stories about him, Santa movies, the north pole and his elves, watching his flight plan on the internet Christmas Eve, the excitement of waking up and finding his gift! Enjoy it! Before you know it, they are grown and gone!

The WORLD celebrates Santa; so, of course, we must do our part honoring Baby Jesus and His TRUE story, keeping a balance in our own homes.

Here are a few suggestions as to how it is done in different homes:

Virtual Open House Tour

Welcome to our home! To get started with the tour, make sure your speakers are turned up.

We live in Southern California where you have probably heard that it never snows. Well, hardly ever! Duane and I are happy you’re here so come on inside to get out of the cold.

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See that huge wreath? People can see it from a block away, shining from the second floor window over the entryway. We hope you feel our love of all things Christmas as you come inside. Welcome!

My House is All Dressed Up for Christmas

I’m a YELLOW who decorates our home every Christmas like it is the last hurrah in my life. This year, friends have been asking me to have an Open House so they can take a peek and share in all my fun.

Wait, let me think about it…okay, yes I’d love to!

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But why limit it to just a few friends?  I want you to come, too! That’s why we’ve turned this into a Virtual Open House Tour—tomorrow, Dec. 21, 2014. Don’t worry. You won’t have to drive. You will get an email tomorrow morning along with the