Saturday, November 15, 2014


My most favorite time of the year has arrived once again!!!!  I love Christmas so much!  And yes, a lot of it has to do with the magic of Santa.  More on that in a sec.  But UNTO US A SAVIOR IS BORN! I have childlike glee over the thought of that tiny baby being born to scared, first time parents.  This time has grown even more special to me over the last decade as I finally understand, for myself, what awe and terror the first child brings.  Did Mary worry what kind of a mother she would be?  Probably.  Did Joseph regret scolding young Jesus (debate away on whether a sinless man was a rowdy vote is kids are kids)?  I'm sure he did.  But on that first night, they were made a family and tears of joy were shed by all of mankind.  Whewwwww!  I get goosebumps just thinking about it.  So how do we celebrate according to Burkeology?

In the cheapest way possible. Ha!  

Seriously, we have never been loaded with cash in December.  I don't care how fat our hog was earlier in the year, it's always slim pickins at Christmas.  So we have tempered our children's expectations with reality but never shorted them on the mystery and magic of the holidays.  We have celebrated Advent for a number of years now and I wonder why I didn't do this my whole life.  Did y'all know that December 1st to January 6th is one long Christmas celebration?  Yep!  Hooray!  December 1st through the 24th is Advent (the coming of Christ) and the 25th is the culmination.  We do an advent calendar now but in years past we did a Jesse tree.  This was a particularly fun way to get the kids involved in learning the Christmas story.  There are tons of sites to find scripture and the ornaments that go with them.  Ann Voskamp wrote a book titled The Greatest Gift which explains the Jesse Tree and here you can download the printable ornaments for free.  We handmade a lot of the ornaments we had and loved them until they tore, crumbled, or broke beyond repair.  

What about Santa?  Well, we are full on Santa lovers here. We taught our children about St. Nicholas.  Here is one version of his story.  A story of selfless giving by a faithful man?  Definitely want my kids to know about him.  The Polar Express came out when the kids were little and that was a huge hit with my son.  Hello? Trains. Enough said.  We would let the kids have their Santa gifts on St. Nicholas Day (December 6th) for a little while but it was hard to explain to their school friends why Santa came to their house before he did everyone else's.  So back to December 25th it went.  Now that we are homeschooling, I think we will return to St. Nick's Day and leave the 25th for seeing family and praising the Lord.  Our kids always get ONE BIG THING from Santa and a few odds and ends from us. A stocking full of do dads.  Even Santa presents are probably second hand at my house though. Last year, I got my daughter a well loved wooden dollhouse from a church bizarre for $5 and my sweet brother in law and sister painted it and repaired it. They helped me get the cutest dog family to live in it. And even mounted the house on a board with a lawn. A friend, who I am forever indebted to, sold me vintage doll furniture (NEW IN THE BOXES) for a song. When it arrived, I was in tears. It was an entire house of furniture with teeny silverware, rugs, the whole kit and caboodle. See? The magic of Christmas and Santa ARE real!
there is even sheet music with the wee piano!!!
how stinkin cute is this doll house?

 It was just too cute not to share again.

We have parties at my mom's, my dad's, and my sister's house most years.  That is a lot of family and presents to try to get.  One year, I was able to do some major thrifting in a resort town and I got things like a Prada wallet, swimsuit cover ups new with tags, souvenir T-shirts new with tags, well made purses, and more for practically nothing.  This year I am going back to my roots and making everyone homemade goodies in reusable containers, of course.  I found a killer recipe for "Swiss Miss" (I omit the cayenne but hey, spice it up!) and since Jet-Puffed makes marshmallow bits now, it's the realest deal you can get homemade!  And cheap.  I also saw this pin with cute dips mixes and you just add them to a tub of sour cream.  I may throw in some spicy pretzels and Christmas crack.  Trisha Yearwood needs a nomination for sainthood, sharing that recipe.  I don't even like toffee and I consider it crack!

Then on December 26th we start the 12 days of Christmas.  I take this time to binge on leftovers and wish for warmer weather and no ornaments to put away.  That's what February is for, right?

My birthday is New Year's Eve and it is cursed so we won't discuss it.  Except to say that one year my husband was out of state and forgot to call me, another year I got food poisoning and had to get my daddy to drive me to an urgent care clinic at the crack of dawn New Year's Day.  You get the picture now?  I will say that my family always makes it a blast.  We weather any storm together.

And just when you think you could not stand another round of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, it's EPIPHANY!!!!  Three Kings Day is another name for it.  Lots of other cultures really play this day up.  For the last several years, we made a valiant effort to celebrate this day with our dear friends The Guidos.  Funny story...their last name is actually Gonzalez but the husband, Guido, was our priest when we first met them and we all called him Father Guido.  My wee kiddies assumed that was his last name or that the people belonging to him were Guido's...I'm not sure exactly but they always called them The Guidos and it stuck.  Sadly, they moved away last year and we are working on a new tradition.  While I don't know that we will read Twelfth Night, there is a cake.  So I'm in!

One thing I have not mentioned is how we give to charity during this time.  On and off for the last 13 years, I worked for a Christian group home.  I helped make sure those kids had the best Christmas we could, to the tune of 50 kids at times.  And now that the group home has closed, we are looking for new ways to give during this season.  It will be something we decide on the 1st day of Advent and I can't wait to share it with everyone.

Ok, so now that all my family knows what to expect for Christmas (I never could keep a present secret) and I've explained how I manage to get 37 days of celebration (give or take) out of Christmas, let me share my final favorite tradition.  WINTER WONDERLAND.  Actually, it may be called Christmas Wonderland.  I don't recall even though we've gone every year for the last 7 years.  There is a dirt road in the backwoods of Chilton County, Alabama and on that road is the holy grail of Christmas lights.  An entire street filled with lights, animatronics, music, THE WORKS.  They even have Santa there.  I have no idea why these people do it and we always put what we can afford into their "light bill" donation box but my Christmas would not be complete without a drive through it.  I am seriously getting misty thinking about it.  Pure, unadulterated celebration of our Lord and it is lit up for everyone to see.  It is the star that I follow every year to remember why I love Christmas!  So corny but the childlike love I have in my heart wouldn't have it any other way.

I cannot even do it justice in these panorama shots.

16 days!

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Like George Washington Carver said:

1. Be clean both inside and outside.
2. Neither look up to the rich nor down on the poor.
3. Lose, if need be, without squealing.
4. Win without bragging.
5. Always be considerate of women, children and old people.
6. Be too brave to lie.
7. Be too generous to cheat.
8. Take your share of the world and let others take theirs.


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