This file includes Belated Greeting, Photo Tips and Advent Idea. Also see Christmas Humor, Christmas Fun (includes card making), Christmas Albums, Christmas Poems, Christmas Pages and Winter.

May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope;
The spirit of Christmas which is peace;
The heart of Christmas which is love.
(Ada V. Hendricks)

A Thought for Christmas

Do you know what would have happened
If it had been Three Wise Women
Instead of Three Wise Men?
They would have asked directions,
Arrived on time,
Helped deliver the baby,
Cleaned the stable,
Made a casserole,
Brought practical gifts and
There would be Peace On Earth.

(Pass this on to the Wise Women in your life)

I think as you get older your Christmas list gets shorter because the things you want can't be bought.

Dear Santa

I've been a good mom all year. I've fed, cleaned, and cuddled my two children on demand, visited the doctor's office more than my doctor, sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground and figured out how to attach nine patches onto my daughter's girl scout sash with staples and a glue gun.
I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with my son's red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I'll find anymore free time in the next eighteen years.
Here are my Christmas wishes:
I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache after a day of chasing kids (in any color, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don't flap in the breeze, but are strong enough to carry a screaming toddler out of the candy aisle in the grocery store. I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy.
If you're hauling big ticket items this year I'd like a car with fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music; a television that doesn't broadcast any programs containing talking animals; and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.
On the practical side, I could use a talking daughter doll that says, "Yes, Mommy" to boost my parental confidence, along with one potty-trained toddler, two kids who don't fight, and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools. I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting, "Don't eat in the living room" and "Take your hands off your brother," because my voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can only be heard by the dog. And please don't forget the Playdoh Travel Pack, the hottest stocking stuffer this year for mothers of preschoolers. It comes in three fluorescent colors and is guaranteed to crumble on any carpet making the In-laws' house seem just like mine.
If it's too late to find any of these products, I'd settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container.
If you don't mind I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely. It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family; or if my toddler didn't look so cute sneaking downstairs to eat contraband ice cream in his pajamas at midnight.
Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is ringing and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back. Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the chimney and come in and dry off by the fire so you don't catch cold. Help yourself to cookies on the table, but don't eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.
Yours Always, Mom.
P.S. One more thing . . . you can cancel all my requests if you can keep my children young enough to believe in you.

 Merry Christmas


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Christmas Photo Tips

Most of us take a lot of photos at Christmas. There are photos of trimming the tree, hanging up stockings, unwrapping gifts, etc. Here are some ideas for photos that you might not always think of:

One good way to get photos you might not usually get would be to get your children involved. Give stickers or some small gift when they remind you of a photo that you might have missed. Also let them select photos of their favorite things about Christmas or things that make Christmas special to them.

Gift Wrap Idea

Wrap gifts for each child in a different kind of paper. Put a small piece of the paper in each sock so they know which gifts are theirs. This would also work with adults - especially if you have family members who like to shake and squeeze their packages to try to figure out what's inside.

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Belated Christmas Greetings

(JaniceDK, updated by Denny Davis)

Last year I didn't start my cards until the day after Christmas. Most of them were mailed in January. Many of my friends said they really enjoyed the card because it came at a time when they had time to appreciate it.
I used blank cream card stock cards, and using an embossing pen, wrote in my own none too stylish handwriting "A Joyful Epiphany", which I then embossed with gold embossing powder. For the inside, I printed this verse on vellum.

Hallmark is wonderful!
Their greetings are great,
But they don't make enough cards
For the habitually late.

Oh, somewhere I've seen
A belated birthday card.
But what about Christmas?
Is that so hard?

There must be folks like me
Across this great land
Who will thank me
For taking this stand.

To the following verse,
Hallmark, pay attention!
It's the first Tardy Card,
The Special Christmas Edition.

'Twas the night before Christmas,
When Greg heard Janice wail,
"Our Christmas cards, dear,
I've forgotten to mail."

What with family and fun
And all the holiday fuss,
Guess what, darling?
We've just missed the bus.

We love you, we do.
We're sorry we're late.
But, dear friends, you know us,
That's our usual fate.

What? Christmas isn't over?
Yes, Greg, That's right.
Epiphany is yet to come,
Christmas' twelfth night.

Joyful Epiphany, Happy Holidays,
And a Wonderful New Year.

Christmas Gift Exchange

For groups of siblings or cousins who live far apart here is a great idea for a gift exchange. Instead of shopping, wrapping, mailing, etc. make scrapbook pages of your family. You won't have to worry about sizes, colors, or whether the gift will be a duplicate. For mailing purposes the 8 x 10 album pages are best (and they will fit in a 12 x 12 album as well). You can do a page of each family member or a "year in review". Each person can do a set number of pages or you can each do ever how many you want. You can do the pages over to make as many as you need or you can do one page and have it color copied. Depending on the type of computer and printer people have you might be able to scan it and send it by email. This is a great way for people to stay in touch with each other's lives no matter how far apart they live. Even if a few family members are not motivated to do this they might appreciate receiving the pages from others. You might be able to at least get them to send photos and some notes for the others involved to put on pages for themselves.

Twelve Days of Christmas Gift Idea

Think of someone who has been special to you the past year or someone you know who is in need of cheering up. One each of the twelve days before Christmas leave a gift on their porch. You can ring the bell or knock but be sure to leave before they see who it is. If you want to you can reveal who you are on the last day. Better yet you can just leave them a note to pass the idea on to others by doing it themselves next year. This can be an individual or a group project and the gifts can be simple or silly or meaningful or a mixture of all those things. You can try to find things that go along with the original "Twelve Day's of Christmas poem or just use the numbers.

Here are some ideas:
Day 1: a frozen turkey with two pears in a pear box from the grocery store; a basket of pears
Day 2: a box of chocolate turtles and a dove ornament; a bag of chocolate turtles and a bar of Dove soap
Day 3: an ornament with three hens side by side; chicken soup
Day 4: a cedar bird feeder filled with seed; four place mats
Day 5: five gold napkin rings; pineapple rings; five Christmas candles
Day 6: a half dozen eggs; six-topping pizza
Day 7: plate of 7-Layer Bars
Day 8: eight kinds of Christmas candy
Day 9: nine Christmas ornaments
Day 10: cookie bouquet with ten cookies
Day 11: eleven rice crispy treats piled to look like a present and "tied" with red licorice
Day 12: twelve fresh-baked rolls

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Advent Idea

(compiled by Jean in TX. Other contributors: Terri in TX, Susan in Detroit, Denny, countrymama, Maribeth on Long Island and late night CMC. There is a related idea in the Thanksgiving file.)

(This list would be a good start for a blessing book.)

Several years ago, Jean was in a Sunday school class that handed out a paper about "getting ready for Christmas". It involved concentrating each day on things we take for granted, and then adding something representative of the thoughts to a box for the needy. Around December 20 take the box of things to a food bank, homeless shelter, nursing home, etc. You could gift wrap the items and indicate on a tag what was in them or leave them unwrapped. It wouldn't hurt to add your "list" to the box, maybe a worker at the shelter or soup kitchen will pick it up and share it with someone for next year.

Pick one idea for each day that pertains to something in your life--or think up ideas of your own.

Christmas is for Everyone

(from a 1970 magazine article - Good Housekeeping, I think)

The Children: Now there is magic in the very air, and every prospect pleases. The world is full of delectable secrets--large lumpy packages upon the closet shelf, running feet on the stairs, whispers and laughter and snatches of singing, the dazzle of spun glass and the smell of sugar and spice. The unaccustomed tree is in the house, where trees don't grow, looped with its tinsel and twinkles, and everybody suddenly listens when the children speak. Laps become more readily available, and there are stories for the asking--old, old stories for new ears. Who can doubt the benevolence of life when the rumored one, by means not exactly clear, showers down largesse on Christmas morn and makes dreams come true--the red dump truck, the doll that walks and talks? Who can doubt anything when, as one lies stiff and sentient in one's bed, the listening ear has caught (just before sleep overtook one) the phantom sound of hoof beats of reindeer: There is more here than meets the eye or the experience - a kind of magic.

May they never lose it. May the eternal possibility of miracles attend their days.

The Grandparents: So many Christmases have rolled over their heads; there are so many things to remember. If the old house is strangely neat and curiously quiet, and the bubble and squeak of the season have stilled to the low murmur of orderly existence, they will soon rise and go where the action is - where their own progeny have begat and taken up the cudgels, and the cycle is beginning again. They will be welcomed with glad cries of parental relief and pure childish pleasure. They will spoil the children without stint or compunction, and they will have the time for it. They will not concern themselves with what's cooking on the stove or who's paying for it. They will sit calmly in the chaos of the second generation's living room and harvest the fruits of their labors. "Do you remember that Christmas when you were between jobs, and the Christmas tree fell over in the fireplace and caught fire and broke the bottle of cologne you'd bought me?" she asks. " I was out of work." He says, "not between jobs, and I was broke in the bargain." She smiles. "But then you got a job, and that made Christmas that year." He grins. "I don't remember about that. I do remember that nine months later we got Timmie!"

Let them remember that responsibility was never a burden--always a blessing.

The Mother: Motherhood is a diurnal round. She can hardly remember a time before they came--running noses, damp snowsuits, wet and muddy puppies, flushed faces, fevered brows, walking the floor in the middle of the night, smiles, tears, anguish, joy, hope, faith, and terror--all to the persistent music of the washer and dryer. Was she ever really a girl, with that pack of ridiculous ideas? How could Christmas have meant anything to her before she found out what it's about? But it's so old-fashioned to go around feeling like a mother, experiencing that blaze of satisfaction when they are once more bedded down, rosy in sleep, while visions of the regulation sugarplums presumably dance in their heads, safe again for at least a few hours. She should be searching for her true identity, except that she already knows what it is. She's a mother, and that makes her at one with women since the dawn of time and still leaves her unique. But there's no time for philosophy--must stuff the turkey, trim the tree, help Daddy assemble the mechanical toys, fill the stockings, and put out the light, taking a moment to peer at the star, shedding its radiance on her little stockade against the fearsome world.

Give her a moment of exultation--the exaltation that knows no counterpart.

The Lovers: They were married before man and in the sight of God a short while ago, and now they are at home. They have their first four walls and not much else, if the truth be known; but the place is scarcely large enough to contain what springs between them--the pride, the confidence, the desire and the fulfillment. Christmas has come, and he yearns for dragons guarding treasure, so that he could slay them and lay the plunder at her feet--silks, jewels, attar of roses. She dreams gifts of unimaginable splendor to wrap him and deck him and speak of her love. She has bought him a flat pin-seal wallet, and he has bought her a thin red purse; but all they really want or need is each other. She confronts with pardonable dismay the cold, raw turkey, which she will somehow manage to roast and he will manage to mangle, since he has never carved. They will then collapse in laughter and kiss and cling, for their hunger is of a different order.

May they never, ever forget.

The Venerable One: She is old and wise, they say, and has survived many a Christmas. They treat her with the deference and respect accorded a fragile artifact and never listen to a thing she says. They shield her from drafts and hasten for shawls, push up the footstool and deprive her of fruitcake and talk across her, saying how remarkable she is. Well, she is old; there's no denying that. If she could ever see seventy-five again and her arthritis did not plague her so, if she had her strength, she would belay them with her cane and make them listen. During the long years she has come to a few conclusions that need to be passed on. It's the way you look at life that turns it bitter or sweet--a matter of attitude. If you see it as a vale of tears, even the skies will weep. Nobody is in position to promise you anything, so why do people all expect too much? Love is a complicated thing, not a condition in the body. Love is interdependence and mutual trust and caring more for another than for oneself, and when all passion is spent, love remains. The turning earth is beautiful in all its seasons, more beautiful than words can tell, and life is good. Never doubt that life is good and that love's uncertain glory is worth whatever it costs.

When the time comes, provide her with the curiosity that welcomes the unknown.

The Adolescent: Knowledge informs her, and there are no solid rewards to replace lost credibility. There are only questions without answers, problems without solutions, rebellions without reasons. Her heart yearns toward the familiar past (Make me a child again just for tonight!) and stares down the awesome road of the future with a tremble of fear, for she knows so much and so little. There is an ache which cannot be staunched by the baubles of her new estate--the long white gloves and the glistening boots, the hood contrived of fur--for she now decries possessions. Whey do they tell you lies? Or are they really lies, because who knows the truth, if it comes down to that? Who knows anything for sure?

Let him happen by soon--the one for whom she waits without knowing it. Make her a grown woman for all time, who is still half a child.

The Youngest: Regard the youngest one on Christmas Eve with all his frailty so shaped to beguile that a ring of adoring faces bends above him and tired hearts resolve to make the world a better place in his behalf. His large unfocused eyes reflect the age-old scent and freshen it. For is he not the secret of it all--the new, untried, unblemished vessel of all possibility? Could he not wax and grow and come to man's estate and lead us down new paths of goodness? Inherent in the downy head, sleep-crumpled face, and starfish hand, the awakening spirit, lies mans hope. The baby smiles, inspired by instinct or some little pleasure of that mystical realm he inhabits, but a gift of pure delight to those who hover. He is enfolded in love, surrounded by champions.

In all the years to come--the weary years--far ahead and long away, may he sense without knowing why, having neither memory nor proof, that he was once a king.

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