A Holiday Gratitude Journal

November generally signifies the beginning of the holiday season. No matter how you celebrate, the holidays can be stressful. Normal schedules instantly over fill with holiday activities, extra school events, party invites and family obligations. During all the hustle and bustle, focusing on the fun part of the festivities may seem difficult. Consider creating a gratitude journal.

What is a Gratitude Journal?

Basically, a gratitude journal is a diary. Unlike normal diaries, the gratitude journal focuses primarily on the positive aspects of each day. Even the most chaotic, stressful days have a positive moment. Being thankful and focusing on the special moments can help ease the stressful days.

Creating the Gratitude Journal

The gratitude journal does not have to be anything fancy. A simple spiral bound notebook or composition notebook will work. Other types and styles of journals are available. Pick one to inspire your journal writing time. As you begin to order holiday gifts online add one to your cart. Or get creative; make your gratitude journal into a cherished memento. Later on in life, you may find the entries funny, heartwarming or unbelievable.

Writing in the Gratitude Journal  

One of the most important aspects to consider in keeping a gratitude journal is making the time to write. Getting into the habit of writing journal entries may seem difficult in the beginning. After a few days, the urge to write may surprise you.

  • Make your gratitude journal time part of your daily schedule
  • Allow yourself at least 15 minutes to write
  • Try to expand on your journal entries by adding extra details
  • If you have children, ask them about their best part of the day
  • Expand on your children’s thoughts of the day

Remember there is no right or wrong way to keep a gratitude journal. Focusing on the positives may help reduce the stress of the holiday season.

Many people decide to keep the gratitude journal just for the month of November or just the week leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. Other people decide to keep the gratitude journal throughout the entire holiday season right into the New Year. Some find the journal entries inspiring and decide to continue. The length of time depends on your personal desire.

 

 

Santa’s List Day

Did you know there’s an official day for making out Santa’s list? Today, December 4, 2015, is Santa’s List Day. The interpretation of the unofficial holiday varies from site to site.

Santa’s Naughty or Nice List

One way to view, Santa’s List Day is to imagine him sitting at his large, old oak desk at the North Pole. Do you the image in mind, yet? Picture the newly fallen snow blanketing the entire area around Santa’s workshop and the reindeer stables. Better image? Now, imagine him picking up a magical white feathered quill to makes his list of who has been naughty and nice. As he writes out a name, the ink will glow Christmas green for nice or a candy cane red for naughty. Most years, the Christmas green is overpowering the red. Where will you name be?

Your Personal Christmas List

Another way to view Santa’s List Day is to make your own Christmas wish list. If you could get any wish this Christmas, what would you ask Santa for? Mine….peace for all mankind. I think the world needs a little Santa magic.

Did you make out Christmas lists as a child? I did. To this day, I believe in the wonderful magic on the holiday season. My childhood Santa list usually consisted of toys, a horse and a goat. I know what a combination to ask from Santa. Well, I usually did get a couple of toys from the list. We would also receive new clothes. I never did get the pony or the goat. Of course as an adult, I can understand why that wish was never fulfilled.

If you have children, I think Santa’s List Day could be a fun addition to your holiday season. Prepare the lists together. Of course if you are anything like my mom, she started her Christmas shopping months in advance. (She still does, well we both do now). I think making Christmas list could be a family fun project. You could be as simple as using a piece of paper and pen. Or you could make an entire art project out of the day. I think the most important part is the time spent interacting with your family.

Until next time….peace.

My Christmas Blog

I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. ~Charles Dickens

I actually began writing this blog last night while listening to Pop Francis’ midnight mass.  Even though I am not Catholic, I enjoy listening and watching the Christmas Eve Mass from St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.  There are numerous reasons why I try to watch this every Christmas Eve, I love the children’s choirs, pipe organ playing in the background, the opera singing, and the symphony with all the violins and cellos

The camera always pans over the crowd to the beautiful artwork and statues of the cathedral.  There’s the use of all the diverse languages from around the world; I always wanted to learn Latin which is used often in the mass. I really do not know what all the ceremony and symbolism represents; I am going to have to research the process one of these days.  I just find the entire setting beautiful. I also like the element of historical symbolism that is presented in the mass.  The Book of the Gospel which was placed by the statue of the baby Jesus was a replica of the one from 1506.  The history in the walls of the Vatican and Rome would be amazing to know and study.

The message I got from listening to the Pope was the fact, “the world needs tenderness”.  I agree with this statement from him.  I think the world could use more tenderness, good will toward fellow man so to speak. I spent most of today, Christmas Day with my family.

I brought my 95 year old great aunt out to the family gathering.  If you really want to learn about people, you should talk to someone who has been around for as long as her.  She always shares stories of time past; the best learning experience anyone could ask to receive. She also provides insight; we often go through life thinking we shouldn’t do certain things.  We hold back in telling people how we feel out of fear of rejection.  Or we fail to try something new because we think we are too old to learn. But wouldn’t you rather look back when you are 95 and say, “wow, I can’t believe I did that” than say “I should have done that when I had the chance”.

Life changes so quickly.  Be with the ones you love and show no fear.  Try zip-lining, mountain climbing, a new class or anything else that makes your heart sing.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old, familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet

The words repeat

Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

From my house to yours….

Merry Christmas!

Peace always,

The Joy of Christmas Cards

A diverse variety of Christmas cards spread out across the kitchen table, my favorite radio station is blaring loudly throughout the house. I am sipping hot tea as I glance down at my lengthy Christmas card exchange list.  I send numerous Christmas cards out each year (when I say numerous, I mean hundreds).   I even write little notes or long letters in some of the cards depending on if I get to see that person on a regular basis or not.  Enclosing a letter or decorating the envelope with stickers just adds to the overall creative process.

Since we live in technological world where social media provides an instant response to a greeting or letter; I have had people tell me that the tradition is no longer in style. In fact, I was told the tradition was a dying art. However, I love sending and receiving Christmas cards.  When a friend or family receives my card, I want them to know that I was thinking about them during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

The first Christmas card was given by Sir Henry Cole in 1843 in England.  John Horsely, an artist, was a friend of Sir Henry Cole and made the first design.  And, actually the design was criticized by some since the artwork showed children with a glass of wine.  I can only imagine what would have been said, if these critics could see some of the cards that are designed today.

As time went on, the sending of Christmas cards became more popular.  Some of the cards that were sent in the 1910’s and 1920’s were designed by hand.  The cards were decorated with art work created by ribbons, foil, and pieces of cloth.  The home crafted cards were given by hand since they could not be delivered through the post. I can remember making Christmas cards in school when I was younger to bring home to my parents.  I always used lots of color and glitter.

The Christmas cards that I send and receive remind me how delicate life can be at times.  I look down my list and realize that some of the people that I sent cards to in the past are no longer with us this year.  So, create a list, make out a card and let people know that you are thinking about them this holiday season.  Because the list may be reduced next year and you will miss the chance to tell someone that you care.

Rooftop Landing Reindeer Farm

Over the weekend, I was fortunate enough to visit the Rooftop Landing Reindeer Farm.  Growing up on a farm, I love animals, I had never seen a reindeer up close.  The trip to Clare, Michigan was worth the extra miles.  The Reindeer Farm is great for photo opportunities especially if you have children. You can even get your photo done professional right there in the little gift shop area.

 

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I was able to get my photo taken with Santa. There was no cost, you just had to use your own camera.  (please ignore my hair, the day was windy).

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I went on a small wagon ride.  During the ride, I get to hear the story of Rex and Harley, the two Belgium horses who pulled the wagon.  Rex and Harley were rescue animals who were abused.  The two beautiful horses will pull the wagon for another season before being put into retirement.  Hearing the story and the amount of work the couple put into their horse ranch/farm made paying for the wagon ride a small gesture. (The couple keeps all the proceeds from the rides).

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On the wagon trail, a tree was decorated which created excitement for the children on the ride.  I also loved the mom singing Christmas carols to her son as we went through the wooded area.  The little boy who I would guess was around three years old seemed a little apprehensive on the wagon being pulled by two huge horses.  The singing from his mother made him smile.

 

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The area where you could view these magnificent reindeer had signs filled with information and facts.

I would recommend this little farm experience for all those who are in the area of Clare, Michigan especially if you have small children.