Christmas Days

Small Things Christmas-2918

Yesterday I cleaned out my pantry, and today I got out of the house to grocery shop, along with Seth and my youngest three.  The woman behind me in line at my final stop said to me, “You’re brave.”  I replied that I was in fact feeling rather brave, but even more so, relieved that we were at the end of our shopping trip.  I arrived home and cleaned out the fridge before putting the groceries away.  I usually have my older boys put groceries away, but that isn’t really working out.  They just put things where they will fit, and while I appreciate the help, I think I need to go back to doing it myself.  I feel the same way about the girls’ laundry, though I am heading down a rabbit trail now, when what I sat down to write about is our Christmas.

As far as gifts go, we seem to do things a little differently each year, depending on a variety of factors, including where we are at financially.  Our children don’t have high expectations in the gift department, and that helps.  We at one point decided we would only do stockings for Christmas day, but that actually got expensive, and I ran out of ideas after the first couple of years.  I could probably swing it every year with the girls, but the big boys don’t need more than one pocket knife and watch.  This year I set an approximate budget of $50 per child (I figure some people wonder about things like that.)  Our three oldest boys just got cash in their stockings along with the candy, nuts, and clementines, and the younger children received wrapped gifts.  Larkspur and Beatrix requested these cloaks in red, so that’s what I bought for them.  Job got a balance bike, a little over budget, but I supplemented with saved birthday money.  Silas has been wanting a tool set, and I ordered him this one.  Jonny told me that I could have gotten everything cheaper by going to Harbor Freight, but I patiently explained that would have required GOING to A STORE.  I wrapped a few extra gifts for everyone, mainly TinTin books.  I bought The Action Bible, which some of my kids really like, and some (Seth) find distasteful.  I also finally bought Connectagons after considering them for years.  They are cool, but are currently spread all over the house.

Some years I make most of the Christmas candy.  I joked with a friend that my theme this year seemed to be, “Why make it, if I can buy it?”  Ha!!!  Those words did actually run through my mind when I spied a bag of high end peanut brittle at the grocery store, remembering that Beatrix wanted me to make some.  I didn’t want to make some.  So, I bought some.  She didn’t mind.

Larkspur picked up my slack in the homemade department.  With Jonny’s help, she made me a candle using beeswax from our bees and an old broken teacup she dug from a dump in the woods.  I love it.  She had gifts for everyone including scarves that she knit for both Silas and Beatrix.  In the photos above Bea is wearing hers, and Lark is wearing the one she knit for Silas.  (Hmmmm.) I also received a hand painted Our Lady of Guadalupe figure from Sue Dow.  It’s so beautiful, and I’m keeping it right next to my bed.  So there was a little bit of handmade in our Christmas, which was nice.

I’ve been knitting, and my barn sweater is finally almost finished!  I washed it last night, and if that thick wool ever dries, I will sew up the pockets and add buttons.  I’m also knitting a little hat for Beatrix (making up the pattern as I go) using a skein of indigo dyed yarn (this one) that she requested from my recent indigo dyeing day.  I think it’s going to be pretty!

Right now, my younger kids are making bread with Gabe’s help and the entire downstairs is a big fat mess.  I don’t mind.  I have knitting to do, and besides, my fridge is clean on the inside.  And usually, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

I hope that all of you can ignore the mess and enjoy the season for a little bit longer as well!


  1. I love when people share HOW they do holidays. I, as usual, went completely over the top budget and objectwise again this year and….am already making notes about what to do differently next year. I did want to pop back in and say that I took your suggestion for the guidecraft screwblock, and it is the favorite thing I bought this year. I will be recommending it to everyone I know with kids in the 3-5 range. I love “why make it when I can buy it”, pretty much my motto lately as well!

  2. Hello Ginny,
    I had to comment on the Tintin books! Being French, I grew up with them, and we loved them as children, I guess.
    However, I was terrified of the “Lotus Bleu” (translated “the blue lotus”?) taking place in China, which brought on a lifelong complete desinterest in China, bordering on fright. (It took me a long time to realise that and thus understand why I never ever wanted to visit China!) We were in Brussels with friends and all our children and walked past the Tintin shop, the theme decorating the window that time was everything around that particular book. My friend said “Oops, quick, let’s not let our son see it!” Her husband was already in full action mode, had grabbed the boy and walked away with him.
    She explained that her 5 or 6-year-old boy could not stand this book and its drawings, was terrified of it and any reminiscence would trigger terrible nightmares. That’s when realisation hit me, I hated it too and always had!
    On the other hand, I always absolutely loved the Tibet one, which had loads of snow, a yeti and an orphaned chinese boy!
    Some Tintin books have been taken out from the publishers’ shelves, labeled as racist and politically incorrect. Some of us quite agree with that judgement, even if it has to be softened by the fact that they were written half a century ago… But still!

    When your children are done with Tintin, you could try Asterix for hilarious graphic novels, they are as much a classic as Tintin, and there is no such thing as incorrectness in there, just wonderful play on words and a bit of historical setting. You get the ongoing battle to stop the village bard singing, the fishmonger claiming that his fish is fresh, Asterix’ best friend Obelix claiming that he is only slightly round but not fat, and many more typical characters.

    Happy New Year Ginny and to all your family, and thanks for carrying on with this, for us to enjoy your beautiful photographs and the stories that go with them !

  3. Connectagons are a big hit here too, and at least they are less painful to step on than Legos!! Thanks for the Keva planks suggestion, my son now loves those too!

  4. I love that Gabe is serving out with the little’s. There are approximately really nice things about having big kids!

  5. I love your little girl in her Christmas cape. So wonderful!! And I join your son in spirit as he imbibes in the syrup!! What a great picture! Blessed Christmas to you.

  6. Merry Merry Christmas, Ginny, and thanks for this beautiful heart warming post. xoxo

  7. I have that exact broken teacup! Now I know what to do with it.
    Isn’t it sweet how little kids love to sleep near or under the Christmas tree? My youngest was snuggled behind it yesterday with a blanket, reading a book his older sister had written for him. Speaking of youngest, in the last photo I at first thought Job was sucking on a bottle, then I realized it was a honey jar!
    I only made one homemade gift this year – a cloak for one of my adult sons (I didn’t even have to go to the fabric store since I had a forgotten bolt of wool in my stash). I bought all my gifts online or dug them up from my stash of thrifted items I collect during the year. I only went to the store to get candy and food, which was pretty crazy-crowded and I wished I could have groceries delivered as well.
    I got out of bed at 10 this morning since neither my husband or I set the alarm last night. My excuse is I’m still on Christmas break from school. We’re having company tonight, so I had to get up and at least clean a bathroom (but I’ won’t let them look in the fridge). A very, merry Christmas to you all!

  8. Hi Ginny,
    Thanks for the mention of my Etsy shop. Just a heads up…. The shop is closed for orders this week and will reopen on January 2!!
    Thanks again and enjoy the Christmas Season…messes and all🎄❤️🎄

  9. Thank You for the posts concerning your beautiful family. They are enjoyable.
    May 2016 be full of blessings for you and your family.
    Marion and Family

  10. I love your approach. We kept things simple for our daughter this year, because her grandparents more than compensate . . . I bought her a couple books I knew she would love (she is 8 months). We also filled her stocking with a couple small toys we knew she would enjoy, like stacking cups. Our favorite Bible story book is The Jesus Storybook Bible. It is quite a bit above Rebekah’s head. But as she grows up, it will be wonderful. We still read it to her simply because we enjoy it so much!

  11. I used your gift suggestion of the wooden peg pop up people toy. It was a big hit from my 11 month old granddaughter up to the adults. Your Christmas sounds beautiful, almost like Laura Ingalls Wilder would write about.

  12. i feel the “why make it when i can buy it” felt like my theme as well this year. there was none of the usual baking or crafting but it really felt good to let go of it this year… i wasn’t excited about it like i usually am. the very thought of christmas crafting made my head spin. i really enjoyed this post.

  13. Ohhh that teacup candle is beautiful. I’ll have to add a cape to my almost 4 year old girl’s wish list now as she was looking over my shoulder while I looked at your pictures, haha. Merry Christmas to you and yours 🙂

  14. Thank you Ginny for discussing what you do for Christmas. For years we did the $50 per child limit (and I only had 3 little ones) and I was amazed at the people who spent thousands of dollars every year. It’s only slightly increased now that they are married I give them $75 for them and $75 for their spouse to spend and $50 each for the 6 grandchildren. I would rather they focus on Jesus’ birth than all the gifts they receive. We are generous with them throughout the rest of the year when they have a need. I love how you do their birthday celebrations! I’ve gotten The Action Bible as well and it doesn’t really do anything for me, but I think once the grandkids start to read, they will enjoy it. I laughed when you were talking about Harbor Freight. Yes, my husband is always saying he can get more for his buck when he goes there. Last time I went I got sucked into paying for some membership so we can get better deals/notified sooner on sales, etc. I think my husband came out on that one. Your barn sweater looks gorgeous. I can’t wait to see it on you. I was so surprised when I saw your new candle from the tea cup. It is a pattern I have collected for years. I can’t remember the name now. One of my girls will get the set when they are ready for it. My mom is good about going to the antique stores and picking up pieces when she sees them. I even got some pieces at the Goodwill Outlet a couple of years ago. Thanks for bringing us so much cheer throughout the year! I hope you have a wonderful 2016.

  15. Thank you Ginny. Was just starting to stress over the mess this morning, strewn gifts and pine needles everywhere. But family is in town, so everything will sit for a bit longer, while we enjoy the last bits of the holidays!

  16. In these days of excess and too much, your celebration sounds just right. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    • I agree with Alice R. Your Christmas celebration was to be envied. “Stuff” can be lots of fun, but it can’t compete with what your kids got for Christmas. By the looks of it, they are creating wonderful memories and developing lifelong friendships with their siblings. What a wonderful family!

  17. stockings are fun in theory but actually challenging. My daughter and son in law flew in from CA and I could not do little liquid things, like hand sanitizer, lotions…all the stuff I would ordinarily buy. I adore the tea cup candle, such a treasure!!

  18. Hi Ginny,
    I’ve been popping into your blog for a few years now, and just wanted to tell you that you’re photos might be my favorite thing in the internet. Also, the way you write is just captivating. I have 6 kids, but not one crafty bone in my body and I enjoy seeing others who do. You are such a gift to this Catholic blogging world. Merry Christmas!

  19. *The boys only need one knife and one watch, each.* This has been my dilemma as well. Two ideas to tuck away for the future: a proper old fashioned stainless steel razor with replaceable blades, a zippo lighter. The lighter idea felt weird at first because everyone in our generation associates it with smoking. But having a reliable way to start fire is a good tool for a young (responsible steady) man. Both gifts were inexpensive and received with enthusiasm. I would love to hear other ideas, as now my seventeen year old has a watch, knife, razor, and lighter. I see only socks, chocolate, and cash in his future.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    • My boys enjoy head lamps and hair stuff (gel, combs), and this year I tucked inexpensive bike flat repair kits, new bike locks, car chargers (for phones as they seem to take mine and I need it for my gps) and mechanical pencils. Add in beef jerky and their stockings were easy this year.

  20. Dear Ginny,
    A very Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family. I could go down that rabbit trail with you…
    And we also spend about $50.00 per child or so..
    Can’t wait to see what the new year brings you and your family.

  21. Wow – the capes! Who wouldn’t want one of those? It was so good of Lark to knit scarves for siblings – a lovely gesture.
    Yes, it is what’s on the inside that counts. 🙂 Enjoy the Christmas season!

  22. Candy was a challenge this year with the damp and rain. Mine set up but was soft. It can really ruin my day to expend the effort to make candy and end up with nothing but a mess. You made the right decision!

  23. What a pretty tree! Jeff loves Harbor Freight and goes there regularly, so I smiled when I read that. The little teacup with a candle made with beeswax from your bees was such a thoughtful gift from Larkspur, I love it. And I love the indigo dyed yarn you’re knitting Beatrix’s hat with, that color is gorgeous!

  24. Seconding the vote for The Picture Bible. We have both but my husband and I prefer it to the Action Bible. Thanks for your recommendation a while back for Rebecca. One of the best reads I’ve had in a long time. Your Christmas photos are lovely.

  25. Seconding the vote for The Picture Bible. We have both, but overall my husband and I prefer the Picture Bible. And, thanks for your recommendation a while back for the book Rebecca. One of the best reads I’ve had in a very long time! Your Christmas photos are lovely.

  26. We got that same tool set for my oldest and he LOVES it, particularly the drill 🙂 So now I’m thankful for all the scrap wood the previous occupants left at our house that we haven’t had a chance to burn, because there are plenty of places for him to drill random holes!

  27. Pine needles everywhere and I can’t even vacuum because I might suck up a Lego because they’re spread from one end of the house to the other. Couch cushions built into forts. Christmas lights on all day. It’s nice and I’m able t0 ignore the mess because I’m crafting.

    Larkspur is very talented!

    I love that Gabe is helping out with the littles. There are some really nice things about having big kids!

  28. I love Job licking (drinking from?) the HoneyBear in the last photo. It makes me feel a little better about the fact that in our house we have a HoneyBear for the kids, and one for the rest of us. 🙂

    Merry Christmas!

  29. I have spent every day since Christmas day cleaning out and while I still have more to do just knowing what I’ve accomplished already feels gratifying.

    My fridge is all clean too, my old one died the day after Christmas so I have a brand new one . Fingers crossed that it lasts years and years.

    Merry Christmastime my dear friend!

  30. Sue Dow IS amazing. I gave my friend the Mary and she LOVED it so much! It’s so fun to give something so incredibly special.
    You did such a good job with Christmas, Ginny. You’re smart.
    Yay for the knitting. The barn sweater sounds wonderful and I can’t wait to see it finished.
    Larkspur is a very creative little girl. I love that kind of kid. When I was teaching, I really tried to encourage those creative and innovative ones. They are so fascinating.

  31. Mess here too, but slow and relaxing is better for the moment.
    Merry Christmas! 🙂

  32. The gifts sound lovely, especially the teacup candle. And I understand Seth’s opinion about the action bible. We have it too, and while our boys enjoy it, I do shiver a touch when I flip through it. I enjoy the picture bible a lot more 😉

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