Open Hands

I find it tricky, celebrating Christmas as a season, rather than a single day as we did for most of my life, and certainly all of my childhood.  Only in recent years have I lost the intense urge to get the Christmas tree out of the house the day after Christmas.  Obviously, it helps that we don’t put it up until Christmas Eve.

As the end of the year approaches, I want to look forward, putting the stockings away, tidying the house, leaving Christmas and it’s disruption, albeit a joyful one, behind.  I can’t believe that I actually just described Christmas as a disruption.  It’s not that I don’t love this time of year, and it’s not that I’m ungrateful.  I’m certainly no Scrooge.  I just have a hard time changing routines, changing decor, changing focus.  I also recognize that we need these sacred times, these periods of weeks (not just days!) when we are forced to change focus, whether we are preparing or celebrating.  It’s like Sunday on a larger scale.  And just as we begin to settle into our old patterns, it will be Lent.  There’s a reason.

Yesterday the sky was gray and it rained on and off all day long.  I took a walk in the rain, just desperate to escape the trap of the dreary light indoors.  Do you have forsythia?  Is yours blooming?  Mine has been blooming nearly nonstop for months.  Typically there might be a few confused blossoms in the fall, but nothing quite like this.  I take it as a gift.  Flowers, sunny yellow ones at that, in winter.

I knit that green Claret Cowl for my sister.  I’m terrible for sharing it here, because I haven’t mailed it to her yet.  Of course she pre-approved the color and the pattern, so it’s not a surprise.  I also received a request to knit a ribbed hat for my brother in law, which I wanted to mail at the same time, but my hands and wrists are sore from all the knitting over the past month, and I can’t handle all that purling yet.  I may just have to mail my sister her cowl now, and the hat a little later.

Did you buy yourself any yarn for Christmas?  I bought myself a conservative three skeins of Quince & Co. chickadee, wrapped them up and placed them under the tree on Christmas Eve.  I pretended to be surprised when I opened the little bundle on Christmas Day, but everyone knew the truth.

Our tree is still up, the lights my kids have strung around the house are still shining, and there are no fewer than three nativities on display.  It’s still Christmas, and really I’m glad.  I’m due to make another set of Christmas cookies (though I shudder at the amount of sugar that has been consumed in our house this past week), and Silas wants to make gingerbread men to hang on the tree.  Next weekend, we’ll celebrate Epiphany.

But, I did clean out my little gray hutch and my pantry over the weekend.  I’m also thinking about the changes I want to make in the new year.  Surely I can do both:  celebrate Christmas and prepare to put 2014 and all it’s sorrow and the usual mess behind me.  2015, I am determined to welcome you with open hands.


  1. Ginny, I’m new to your blog and have really enjoyed reading your posts. I especially enjoy your pictures. They’re beautiful. You write very well, as if you are telling us a story. Looking forward to reading more and hope you have a wonderful new year.

  2. The cowl is stunning. The color is brilliant. I feel like you have read my mind with your thoughts on Christmas. I love it, but I am ready to start the new year in an orderly fashion. I am looking forward to getting back to routines.
    Have a very happy new year!

  3. I LOVE that Claret cowl, it is beautiful and I love the colors.
    I enjoy your pictures that you post and look forward to seeing them. Such a beautiful family.
    I know you have been through a lot this past yr.
    Remember…. “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
    God Bless!!

  4. happy birthday ginny! is it hard to have a b- day celebration in the midst of all the holidays? our daughter’s birthday is on new year’s day and it seems to lack the importance given to other birthdays that occur outside of the holiday season.
    i love quince & co. yarn. any project that you have selected for your “gift”?

  5. Praying that you are blessed with beauty for ashes in this new year, dear Ginny! Much love and hugs to you! 🙂

  6. Loved seeing all your busy family pictures! You’ve got a beautiful home and children. I ended up buying a bunch of the yarn you suggested above…I couldn’t tell which colors you selected (hint, hint). We had a total of 13 at our house over Christmas week and I thought of you Ginny with your housefull all the time. It was hard to find beds for everyone, but it was a blessing that 5 were kids under 5 so they slept on different ends of the twin beds and only one adult had to sleep on the couch. We give out enchilada’s to family and friends (secret family recipe) and ended up making 580 of them on Christmas Eve day. Needless to say everyone needs to shower before heading to my mom’s for Christmas Eve so we don’t all smell like enchilada’s. Have a wonderful New Year and thanks for keeping up with your blog. It’s my favorite!


  7. I grew up the same way, but Christmas seems to linger longer here in my own home. There was only brown & mud at Christmas this year (the whole month of December) and thus I feel like Christmas is owed its due. I still light the tree everyday and enjoy the decorations tucked here and there throughout the house, but I think we will retire the season on New Year’s Day. Your home is so very cozy & inviting, Ginny–I always love to linger over your photos. I bought three skeins of the same yarn (in the colorway Belize ) for myself last Christmas and I still have one skein in reserve. Such a happy yarn. xx

  8. The decorations are a reminder of where our hearts should be focused, not just at the Christmas season, but year round…. Christ centered…training our children to live out Christmas each day of the year.

    This year, I bought myself yarn on the hoof-I welcomed 7 Gotland sheep to my farm in December. Now I wait and watch their gray curls grow in anticipation of having Gotland yarn for knitting and their wool for felting with in 2015.

    Wishing you a blessed 2015- full of His glory, His grace, and His love.

  9. We also try to decorate the house for Christmas as late as possible. During the Advent we only have Advent candles and we save all our decorations for 12 days of Christmas.

  10. Hi Ginny! I love your blog, I don’t even remember how I found it a few months ago, but I am now a faithful reader. You have encouraged me to begin knitting even. But I was wondering, how did you learn to knit? Books or people? I have some books, but no knowledgeable friends to instruct me. I’ve got the garter stitch down, but that’s about it. If you have any good books you recommend I would love to know how you became so proficient. Everything you post is just beautiful!

    • If you’ve got garter stitch down, you are doing great! That’s about how much I learned from people, and from there I moved on to books and videos. There is some information on my F.A.Q. page!

  11. I struggle with this as well. Each year I think maybe we’ll try to get to Epiphany before trying to get back to “normal” but I usually cave before then. This year my family is coming over New Year’s for a belated Christmas celebration, so we’ve left the tree and decorations up (which makes the kids happy), and will make more cookies, but oh, I’m ready to start thinking about next year and new beginnings.

  12. I love Christmas and being Catholic I fully embrace the whole celebrating it into January, but there is a sense of “deep sigh” relief when the last bow and bauble have been packed away and the house can get back to normal. In 2015, my big goals are to continue my learning to knit journey that I started in August of this year and strip down/simplify everything to the beautiful less that is awaiting under all the “more”. Much love to you and your family as we head into the new year.

  13. I just discovered your blog and it’s so much fun to read and see all your activities. I too knit and crochet. I just finished the Coastal blanket from Attic24 and it was so much fun to make. I knitted up some simple socks from worsted weight yarn and I was surprised how fast they knit up compared to sock yarn. I took down my Christmas trees today since they’ve been up since Thanksgiving weekend! I wish you and your family a Happy New Year and all the best for 2015.

  14. My forsythia is blooming too!

  15. Beautiful post Ginny! I wish you and your family a Happy New Year!

  16. 2014 was probably the worst year of my life (and I turned 56 this past October). But still, I feel blessed!
    I purchased 16 skeins of yarn to make an afghan ala Lucy at Attic24! I’m working on her Coastal afghan right now.
    Our live tree will probably be taken down by New Year’s Day. I’ll see about leaving our artificial tree up until Epiphany. I always hate letting go of Christmas!

  17. I understand how you feel about Christmas. My Mom was a Christmas person and she always made it very magical for us. I realize, now that I am a Mom, how much it cost her in energy, time, and probably irritation – to give eight children that sense of other worldliness at Christmastime. I do it for my kids because of that, because of her! And the week after Christmas with all my kids home is very fun! But I have to admit that Easter and that first scent of Lilies is the place my soul expands the best!

  18. I ordered way too much yarn for myself for Christmas this year! I don’t have difficulty buying it, it’s figuring out what to make with each special, beautiful ball of yarn~

  19. I was fortunate to read Maria Von Trapp’s “Around the Year with the Trapp Family” when I was first married and decided to adopt some of the old customs in our family. So for many years we have been putting the tree up Christmas Eve and not taking it down until after Epiphany. It does get pretty messy and tired looking to me, but when I start taking things down Jan. 7th the kids always say, “Can’t we leave it up longer?” I’ve kind of had it with needles and droopy lights and garlands (and candy wrappers!) by then, but I try to say nicely, “No, it wouldn’t be so special if we left it up any longer.” We do try to make the time in between special by playing family games together, baking more, sleeping in and being lazy about housekeeping (which is stressful to me but nice for the kids). I don’t think about new things starting with the New Year. I just kind of tuck Jan 1st into the whole holiday/holy day season and aim to make my “fresh start” somewhere in January. That’s still kind of hard because it’s cold outside, we’re limited in activities and I can’t garden. Why doesn’t the new year start in spring? That’s when I feel like making a new start.

    Your sore hands reminded me of a question I had. Is it possible to get knitting elbow? Since I’ve been knitting more than usual I’ve noticed issues with my left elbow and shoulder. Maybe I should take more calcium.

    • Yes, it is possible to get knitting elbow, I do believe! I think that knitting injuries are more common than people think. Sometimes I have to just put it down for a week or two, which is hard!

  20. I love advent as the build-up to Christmas – with setting up the tree the weekend before Christmas – even if that makes it Christmas Eve – then its good until Epiphany when it comes down – for what people have forgotten, or never learned, the 12 Days of Christmas are Christmas Day to Epiphany – 12 days of joy and excitement. Just as St. Nicholas’ Day is for celebrating and a small token gift, so is Epiphany for it is the day that the Three Wise Men finally arrive at the manager to give Jesus their gifts. Then the tree goes outside placed against a fence or whatever – decorated with popcorn strings, cranberry strings, popcorn balls, peanut butter and sun flower and pumpkin seed covered pine cones – all tied on the tree – it becomes a gift then for those who we give thanks for, the funny squirrels, the beautiful birds, the raccoons with their silly faces, the voles and mice and assorted littles that you share your space with. So from the first Sunday of Advent until Epiphany, we wait, we worship, we gift, we feed (ourselves and others and God’s animals and birds) and we share what we have, what we have made, our stories and memories, we make special foods, we cleve unto each other in a loving and caring way.

    • It makes me glad to think that for my own children, the observance of Advent and the celebration of Christmas (not just one day)and Epiphany will be second nature to them, rather than something they learn little by little as adults. We do the same thing with our tree each year: move it to the garden and redecorate, this time for the birds!

  21. Merry Christmas, Ginny and crew! We also celebrate Christmas into January, ending with Epiphany. It is something we brought to our family ourselves, as both my husband and I had more conventional childhoods lacking spirituality in which Christmas was declared over after the last present was opened. That never sat well with me and I recall the sorrow I felt at the emptiness it all seemed to mean. I was craving more. So, in my family now, we have a nativity and we celebrate Three King’s with those leftover handmade gifts that didn’t get made in time for December 25th. So there is still busy-ness around here and last minute crafting, but at a less frenzied pace. It all seems rather relaxed, in general. Peace and calm has arrived and I cannot bear to end the season now, with all the soul-nourishment going on.
    xo Jules
    P.S. I’m wishing a very good year ahead for you. I hope the end of December brings some sense of closure for you all. xo

  22. 2014 was a rough one for me! We had our tree and (broken) decorations up the day after Thanksgiving. So the day after Christmas I was happy to tuck everything away. All the embarrassing lawn decorations were packed into my husband’s truck and taken to the dump. I will be happy to not have to pick the five foot angel up ever again (I only had to do it about 10 times a day) oh and not look at the half lit other decorations. We still continue to celebrate the season at Church. But for our house I’ve ripped up carpets redecorated and am ready for 2015 with open arms too!!! I’m ready for happy and healthy new year 🙂

  23. As we prepare to celebrate Epiphany, I wonder if you have any good children’s books on the topic to recommend?

  24. Ginny, I have violets blooming in my yard up here in Massachusetts–not just some, a whole lot. Violets in December–amazing. I found them on December 23rd and called in to the kids “Do you wanna see something pretty?” (just like Mrs. Walton in “The Homecoming” lol).

    I, too, am looking forward to the end of 2014. But, I’m being very cautious about making resolutions for 2015. Instead, I’m going to make a small “bucket list” for the year: things I would like to do, places I would like to visit before year’s end–something positive to look forward to in the months ahead.

    I’m not on the internet much anymore, but I wanted to drop in and wish you and your family a blessed Christmas and 2015. ♥

    • Hi Susan. I hope you are ok? I miss your blogposts very much. I am subscribed to receive them and I hope to see your name in my inbox soon 🙂 Have a beautiful day!!

    • By the way from the blog The Impossible Way had said she received a magazine from you. I could not find a way to contact you via your blog. Can you explain how to get one please? Thanks 🙂

  25. Best wishes for a joyful and peaceful 2015 – and many thanks for all your sharing, it helped my 2014 to have it’s own joy and peace, despite the mess life can be. Very grateful!

  26. Yarn for Christmas: yup! I got a whole set of Knitpicks Harmony needles and their “macaron” palette sample, which is a bunch of gorgeous pastels. They call it a sampler but I’m pretty sure they’re full-size yarn balls. I hope so, anyway. 🙂

  27. Yes, I’m hoping for a better year here to! I’d love to see pictures of your three nativities. I bet they’re beautiful… 🙂

  28. We’re still getting used to have Christmas Season after Christmas too. The last two years I’ve had to go back to work the weekend after Christmas after a nice long break and I have to admit I like not having to rush getting everything cleaned up and put away the day after (or even the day of) Christmas.

  29. I realised this year that Christmas Day is actually my least favourite day of the holiday season, actually it comes a close second to New Year’s Eve. I dislike the feeling of being forced to celebrate in a certain way, the stress of rush of it all. But I adore the unstructured days that come afterward, where we find our own rhythm according to where we all are this year. I’m also enjoying the energy that the extra sleep brings, now I’m full of plans and creativity, something I was definitely lacking before the holiday. In the old ways this season is called Yule, so wishing you and yours a peaceful Yuletide.

  30. I, on the other hand, am glad that Christmas is more than one day because I never manage to get it all done beforehand. We set up the tree and a few decorations only two days before Christmas and didn’t listen to Christmas music during Advent, so I’m not Christmas-ed out yet. I still want to make gingerbread houses with the kids and those cookies I meant to give as gifts will be 7th or 8th day of Christmas gifts. 🙂

    • Really, I am glad, it’s just been a longterm adjustment and not always easy for this creature of habit. I only listened to chant during Advent, and was very ready for Christmas music!

  31. I think the drive to clean and put away the decorations is part of the new year and new start. It’s like a push to restart and take back control and order. Not necessarily a bad thing. We have a “new” day celebration after we put all away. A new food to try, new piece of clothing to wear (often underwear or socks so not necessarily fancy:) and a new book. It’s a party atmosphere to celebrate the start of the new year. This way they aren’t as unhappy about the tree going out. I strive for January 1 but it’s sometimes been a tad bit later!

    BTW I love the cabinet. So much more lovely to look at than plastic bags with wire ties on them spilling out (hmm that’s mine:)

  32. This has been a rough season for many. I had a very hard time getting into “the Spirit” of it all this year. Our oldest (22) is in a relationship we have not been allowed to be a part of, she didn’t come home (she lives down the street) for Thanksgiving so I was so fearful she wouldn’t come for Christmas. Normally she puts our tree up with us Thanksgiving weekend, she wasn’t here for that. Which we didn’t get done until the week before Christmas… Just didn’t feel like dragging it all out. Yes, I too am looking forward to a new year, leaving the hurts of this one behind and moving on.
    I am praying hard. Praying for peace in my heart for the things that are to come. Forgiveness for the things past. AND knitting until my hands ache too! 🙂

  33. oh my goodness….it’s like you are having a conversation with me! It’s so hard not to just put everything away….and the needles from the tree are EVERYWHERE!….even though we only put up ours on the 20th. I put the nativity right on the middle on the kitchen table….on a cake stand…so it’s the focus. And we lost all of our snow on Christmas day….it warmed up and rained! AHHH. And the sun hasn’t been out in days….but I went for a walk to escape (just like you) even though I froze my face off. But I love Christmas….LOVE it. We will make gingerbread houses today…or tomorrow. So much candy. It’s all crazy. Just need to take a deep breath and enjoy it.

  34. Beautiful images of your lovely family and welcoming home! Merry Christmas!

  35. I’m feeling the same way about the season; it seems to have settled into a peaceful place for me this year. I’m going to clean up a bit of the decor so it’s not an all day affair later, but am leaving some to enjoy until New Years. I’m also feeling the clean up and out bug very strongly, ready to make a better more workable home for us all. I hope I succeed this year.

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