It’s a week before CHRISTmas Eve and I have a lot to do. It seems like time goes at warp speed from the moment we dump our Halloween candy from the pillowcases we collected it in, to the count down of the crystal ball drop in Time Square, NY. I always wish I had more time to do what I want and need to do.

That said, to me, this season is a true celebration of Christ’s coming to Earth to fulfill God‘s redemption plan. Because of this, I try to do things that remind me of the love He has shown during the year and I try to show love to others hoping they will see Him in my actions. (Of course, I have my moments when I quote Fred Flintstone and say “rattin, smattin, rattin…” regarding traffic at malls, tape dispensers that keep getting lost, or gifts I bought but misplaced when I tried to hide them from our kids. Still, it is my desire to truly honor the Baby, who is now the King.)

Here are a few that have worked fairly well:

CHRISTmas DECORATING – Instead of having one big tree, I put up a few smaller alpine trees in different rooms. (I got mine at Hobby Lobby.) The small alpine trees are super easy to erect, take fewer ornaments and give me a chance to savor the thoughts of CHRISTmas in more rooms. This year the ornaments on one tree are earth-toned and I love how the tortoise glass orbs reflect the light – which remind me that He is the light of the world. Small aluminum ornaments are stamped with peace, love, joy, or faith. One tree has a glass cross near the top rather than a star. The smaller trees make me feel like it is a little less about the gifts.

Alpine Tree, from Hobby Lobby

On the stairs, I love the way garland looks. I top mine with fabric ties. I bought a few yards of paisley fabric and stitched them into scarves. Just cut across the width of the fabric and then sew around the three sides to finish the edges. They last forever and are a unique way to connect your decorating to your home décor.

Fabric Scarves on Newel Posts

Babbles in pretty bowls look very festive. I just add a little reminder of the season to enhance the items I already have. Greeting cards can be corralled in small baskets too.

Since my trees are not “real” I cut a few branches from a pine tree in our backyard and placed them on the mantle in a glass vase. The aroma is nice and they remind of the wonder of God’s creation. Can you imagine entering the world that You created? Amazing….

Vase with Pine Branches from the Backyard

Take-out Containers from Meijers

GIFT-GIVING – CHRISTmas is a great time to say “thank you.” Most years I make homemade fudge to give to our kid’s teachers and coaches, my girlfriends, hair stylist, mail carrier, etc. This year, I saw the cutest paper “takeout” containers. They are the perfect size for three or four pieces and look even better when placed inside of a cellophane gift baggie. (Plus the bag keeps the fudge fresh longer.) If you don’t bake – buy a yummy treat and package it up with love and a hand written note of affirmation and encouragement.

CHRISTmas MORNING – One of our traditions came from an article I saw in Women’s Day magazine many years ago. The author said that her mom didn’t have very much money when she was growing up and to make the small number of CHRISTmas gifts seem like more, Mom would blow up a dozen or so “party” balloons and toss them on the floor with the presents. The author went on to say that she continued this tradition with her family and for her, CHRISTmas doesn’t seem like CHRISTmas unless there are balloons. And… our kids agree. So my husband and I blow up 15-20 red balloons and we scatter them on the floor amongst the presents. Ironically, the kids almost always play with the balloons as much, if not more than the other items. What a cool reminder that we are celebrating a birthday.

Balloons remind that CHRISTmas is a Birthday Celebration (2010)

To continue the birthday theme – we have birthday cake with our CHRISTmas breakfast or brunch. Yep… we sing Happy Birthday and just eat the cake right along side the scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, toast and hominy grits in homage to my Southern born parents. Sometimes I buy a sheet cake from a local bakery. Other years I bake one myself. And I suspect that this is a tradition that our kids will take with them to their families in the future.

I hope one of these simple ideas will enhance your celebration.

Home-ista Kelly

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Great Expectations…

December 2, 2011

In 2004 my husband bought me a puppy as a surprise. He thought she would be a helpful distraction to ease my sorrow during the first Mothers Day that followed the death of our infant daughter, Kennedy. We named our puppy “Kondilisa” in honor of then Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. Our version starts with the letter K because all of the names of the members of my nuclear family start with the letter K. Only my sister-in-law, Kathy, calls our dog by her full name; the rest of us called her “Kondi.”

Kondi has always been a smart, determined and optimistic doggie. When we moved into the house we live in now, we would put Kondi into the basement when we’d leave the house and when we returned she was always out. Hmm… “Kenny, you didn’t close that door tightly because Kondi keeps getting out.”

Kondi, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, 2011

One day, I put her down in the basement and waited quietly. From the bottom of the stairs, I saw Kondi stand on her hind legs and then use her paws to push down the universal door knob, to escape 1-2-3. (For those who haven’t seen them, a universal doorknob often has a handle rather than a round ball. It is designed to be easier for all human beings to use, especially those who might have physical challenges.) Clearly, these knobs work well, especially for smart doggies.

One of the best things about Kondi is that she has great expectations. She is always looking for something good to happen. This morning when I was getting ready to leave the house, I opened the pantry where I keep my soy bars and her doggie treats. She ran over looking like – “I sure hope I get a treat!” So I gave her one. The morning before, I was slicing an apple into pieces for my daughter to eat on the way to school. Kondi smells the aroma and sees me at the counter and she gives a quick happy wag of her tail. To me, it was like she was thinking, “wow, I might get a piece of apple.” And so I give her one.

Later it dawns on me – that I – am rarely like Kondi in this regard. And this is extra sad, because my “Master” is my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and He is waaay more generous that I could ever hope to be. I wonder how much stuff I miss out on, because I am not expecting anything “good” to happen. I am often not expecting anything or if I am brutally honest I am worried that something bad is about to happen.

I am praying for God’s help to enable me to have a more expectant heart for His goodness.  Psalm 27:13 says “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.” (NASB)

So, now that I have had this aha moment, I will be looking to see even more of His goodness. And I will be thinking of new ways to to meet and maybe even exceed the expectations of people in my life. Said another way how can we home-istas more intentionally meet and exceed the God inspired expectations and hopes of the people who live in and will visit our homes, especially during this season of Advent?

I’d love to hear what you are doing or will be planning to do. And… I will report back as I make progress.

Home-ista Kelly