What is Important to You and Your Family This Christmas Season?

“Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall,
the genial flame of charity in the heart.”

~Washington Irving

It seems we grow so very busy around Christmas time.  What are we busy with?  Is it shopping, cooking, cleaning, worrying that we aren’t buying enough…doing enough?  Could it be that maybe, just maybe, we need to rethink the whole month of December?
What’s most important?
Who’s most important?
Can we make a choice and a plan right now to focus on those two things?
The goal is to spend this month doing those thingsthat really matter with those who really matter.

First, set some time aside, fifteen minutes, an hour, and afternoon, whatever you have.  Use this time to brainstorm what is most important to you and your family this month.  This will be different for each family.  It may even be different for each family member.  Now is the time to get your thoughts on paper; then, speak with your husband and even your children.  Consider traditions, hospitality, giving, creating things, cooking, Advent activities, church activities.  Which things are most important?  Which things are you ready to let go?  Think about how much time and preparation each of those things will take.

Next, think about who’s most important.  Your husband and children are a given.  Extended family?  Friends?  Church members whom you don’t know well but would like to get to know?  Your children’s friends?  Business associates?  Your best girlfriends?  The new family in the neighborhood, strangers?  You get the idea.  Who do you want to make sure that you make time for this month?

Now, think about your home, family, homeschool, business, and church activities.  How do they fit into the calendar?  Do they meet the most important criteria?  Is there anything that needs to be pruned for a season? 

Now’s the time to think and plan for all these things.  Fit these things into the calendar leaving white space on your calendar for quiet evenings at home and for spontaneity and rest.  This will be challenging but worth it.  You can do this.   You can make this the best Christmastime ever by doing what is most important to you with those who are most important to you.

Be blessed,


Happy at Home

Modest Mondays – Mom’s the Word

Do You Celebrate Advent?


Christmas Tree 2013Do you celebrate Advent?

Advent is a personal thing.

Perhaps you attend a denomination that celebrates with certain liturgical rituals.  That’s great.  Rituals bring meaning and reverence to our worship.  Perhaps your church doesn’t celebrate Advent.  Perhaps you’ve never even heard of Advent.

Advent is simply a way to focus our thoughts and our hearts on Jesus and the celebration of His birth, death, resurrection, and His offer of salvation to us.  It’s a time of reflection and heart searching.  It is a personal, holy thing.  What you do isn’t as important as what you do in your heart.

We light candles on an Advent wreath each night in December, read our Advent Book, pray, and on good nights, sing a carol.  Do we do it every night?  No.  We miss a few, but that’s okay.  We just pick up the next night and keep going.

I encourage you to focus on Jesus as the excitement of Christmas continues to mount.

Christmas Blessings from Harvest Lane Cottage,


Christmas Gifts for Children… Precedence, Disappointment, and Gratefulness

I heard some mothers talking the other day about how their children were disappointed when they didn’t receive a lot of gifts for Christmas.  It saddened me.  I have a word that has guided my gift giving with my children.

Precedence…. What does that word mean to you?

I looked it up on http://www.dictionary.com/. As I was looking for definitions, most were related to law precedents. That tells me it’s a pretty strong word. I am most interested in the first definition that the American Heritage Dictionary presented:

“An act or instance that may be used as an example in dealing with subsequent similar instances. “
This is the definition that has been a guiding thought for me. In the past, my family has been much more affluent than we are currently. Nevertheless, I have always thought about the precedents that I am setting with my children when we give gifts for celebrate special days and holidays. For instance, even when we could afford it, and wanted to give my children their first bicycles, I would not buy such a gift for Christmas or a birthday. We don’t give many big gifts; we never have.

During the year, I look for gifts that I think they will enjoy. I put them away in a box until their birthdays, Christmas, or an I Love You day. Because I don’t give big gifts, they don’t expect them. Because I don’t give them often, they are thrilled when they receive one.

Does this mean my children are disappointed with their Christmas gifts?  On the contrary, they are happy with what they receive.  Thrilled in fact.

When we don’t set a high precedence of expectation, our children are free to be grateful for the gifts they do receive.  They can truly enjoy their gifts without thought of cost or quantity.

I love my children.  I am not required to give them gifts.  I want to give them gifts.  They know that.  They are thankful and enjoy the gifts because they know I am giving them out of love.

Just something to think about…
Blessings from Harvest Lane Cottage
Keeping it simple for our Savior

Give Lavishly….

I had to shorten my list quite a bit.  That is, I had to shorten the list of things that will be finished before Christmas.  Who says gifts can only be given at Christmas or on birthdays?  This week, I’ll finish knitting mittens for two of my kittens.  I’m going to order some yellow yarn from Knit Picks for my other little kitten.  She knows her mittens will be coming.

Don’t despair if you haven’t met your handmade goals.  As Teddy Roosevelt said, “Do what you can with what you’ve got where you are.”  What our family and friends really want is our acceptance, our companionship, our time, and our love.  Give these lavishly and all will be well.  That’s giving heartmade.

I’m Making a List…

I’m busy busy knitting, sewing, and painting gifts already. It’s going to be a homemade handmade heartmade Christmas at Harvest Lane Cottage. I’m even helping my children to plan homemade gifts.

Here are some of the things to come from my needles, my sewing machine, craft table and kitchen…

Fuzzy Feet Slippers

Knitted Christmas Stockings

Dresses for my girls’ Vision Forum 18″ dolls


A skirt for my older daughter

A dress for my younger daughter


Painted blocks with winter and family sayings

An apron for my son

Drawstring Bags


Scrapbook pages for the kids’ books

Candy Cane Cocoa

Simple Fingerless Gloves

Wool Mittens

Wool Hats

Wool slippers

Polar Fleece sleep sacks

Crocheted Soap Bags

and homemade cookies,


and gift mixes.

Oh my, I’d better get busy! Links to some of these patterns are on my Harvest Lane Cottage blog  if you’d like to share the link.


Happily Preparing for the Most Blessed Season

Just Something to Think About… Angel Tree Party

Last Sunday  was a special morning at church.  We meet at the YMCA here in town.  There are 50 or 60 of us or so.  We gave a party to local children who have a parent in prison.  Of 13 families, about half showed up.  We had a puppet show, and told the story of Jesus’ birth and the plan of salvation.  We then shared cookies, muffins, fruit, juice and coffee.  Last of all, we sent them home with a pile of gifts that were signed from their absent parents and a new Bible from our church. 

This Sunday, we’re taking up a food collection for a local family that has fallen on hard times because of job loss.  One of our members killed the fattened cow  just for the purpose of sharing with families in need.  The rest of us are going to raid our pantries.

Have you thought about who in your community might need a little Christmas cheer or a little help?

 Christmas Blessings,