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Ways to Celebrate Togetherness While Separated This Holiday Season

Holiday Together

It will be a different holiday season. On that, we can agree.

No need to run down all the reasons why. We’re very much aware of each one, but Thanksgiving and Christmas will come nonetheless.

Neither set of my parents, nor my aunt and uncle, will gather around our farm table this Thanksgiving. Who will crack the corny jokes, or whip up the family dressing, or clap for the grandkids when they perform from the top step?

As we navigate the holiday seasons of 2020 together, maybe one of the following ideas can ease the disappointment and help make way for gratitude.

 

7 Ideas for Cultivating a Spirit of Togetherness This Holiday Season

 

  • Choose joy. Lately, we’ve been talking to our grandkids about the half-full or half-empty scenario. Now I need to talk to myself. Yes, the holiday season will likely look and feel different. But, who will be around our table? Will it be a spouse, sons and daughters, a pup or cat that feels like family, or the warm presence of the Lord? We can choose joy over disappointment.

 

 

  • Do those missing from your dinner table live nearby? Fill up plates with turkey and all the fixins’. Don’t skimp on the pie! Deliver with a smile and a holiday-sized air hug.

 

  • Plan a Facetime or Zoom session ahead of time. It will give everyone something to look forward to.

 

  • Donate. Give the money usually spent on additional groceries to feed those in need of a hot meal that day. (Bonus: Donate it in honor of those missing from your holiday table.)

 

  • Create a table runner. Ask children and/or grandchildren to draw pictures and write positive messages on a Kraft paper table runner, as seen here at Hobby Lobby. Drop it in the mail by November 19th, or drop it by their home. Loved ones will surely feel your presence as they enjoy their meals.

 

  • Create a “Why We Love You Jar”. Much like the “Gratitude Jar” recently shared in our Facebook Group, “Creative Pauses”, simply write the different reasons why you love a person (or couple) on slips of paper. Cut, place in a jar, and add directions asking her to choose one slip to read aloud each day beginning on Thanksgiving, and ending Christmas morning. Is there a better gift than knowing we are loved? (If your loved one lives out of town, mail the slips only.)

 

Will there be empty chairs around your holiday table this year? How will you choose to cultivate a spirit of joy and togetherness despite the disappointment?

 

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Family Advent Calendar 2020

 

Thank you for stopping by Creative Pauses from The Tiny House on the Hill!

Bi-weekly posts invite you to come in from the craziness of life, take a seat, and pause awhile, allowing your soul to be refreshed with God’s truth and promises.

Each month, subscribers of this community receive a letter from The Tiny House on the Hill that includes:

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It’s pithy but packed with grace-filled goodness.

So, come on over and sit a spell. I’d love to get to know you!

Meet My Family and You’ll Know Why I’m Grateful

There’s no way I could have a series on gratefulness without highlighting my sweet family.

This month, we gathered to celebrate all the grandchildren! One has a birthday towards the end of October, two have birthdays in November, and one just recently arrived from Uganda. So, as you can see, there was much to celebrate!

When I look at the picture below, my heart is filled with gratefulness and my eyes fill with the tears to prove it. 🙂

I see a hubster who is the most faithful man I know. He makes dreams come true that I didn’t even know existed.

I see two sons who not only love God, but pursue Him, as well as community with other believers. I learn from them…often. I take no credit for the amazing men they’ve become but truly give God all the glory.

I see two a-mazing daughter-in-laws whom I began praying for when our boys were in elementary school. Of course, I didn’t know exactly who I was praying for…but God did! They are godly women who love their families well. Brian and I often talk about what amazing wives and mothers they are (which is no surprise if you knew their mothers!)

And the grandchildren. Oh my. Well, when I see them, my heart bubbles up with pure joy. Each, already with their own personalities and strengths (note: Grammy’s don’t see weaknesses.)

Many of you prayed for Judah, Liv, Brandon, and Megan while they were in Uganda for 60 days. Thank you! Judah is a happy little boy with a quick bright smile that lights up any room. I have no doubt that he, and the story God is writing for him, will one day be used to bring true Light to dark corners around the world.

I pray this Thanksgiving — and every day — we will be reminded of the treasure found in our families. One day, when all is said and done, it will not be the temporary things of this world we’ll remember, or be grateful for. It will be our families and how we loved  one another well. Yes, that will matter most.

(Left to right – Brian, Zach, Piper, Gabe, Sarah, Judah, Me, Brandon, Liv, and Megan)
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! Psalm 100:4

Writing Out Our Gratitude at Thanksgiving

by Cathy Baker

Some of my best memories are those that surrounded the holidays. For an only child, I was blessed to have a large family that gathered every Thanksgiving and Christmas. Grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins. I didn’t realize what a blessing I was experiencing until it was over, for the most part, after the passing of my grandparents.

We must grasp the power of showing our gratitude towards others while we can.

A few years back, Brian and I took time to brainstorm specific ways we’re thankful for those who would sit around our Thanksgiving table that night. We wrote both serious and funny reasons on slips of paper and put them in tiny Thanksgiving-themed bags. I printed off simple tags that read Why We’re Thankful for You, tied them to the bag, added their name, and used them as place cards.

After we finished eating that night, each person took a turn drawing a slip of paper from their bag and reading it aloud. It added a little more meaning (and laughter!) to our time together, and for this I am grateful.

{If I do it again, I may get everyone involved by writing down one reason for each person before the meal.}

Practically any place card can become a personal opportunity to show our gratitude. The tent-type works especially well. I’ve used these for tea parties before.

Thankfully, it’s not about our level of craftiness—it’s about finding simple, meaningful ways to show our gratitude towards another person—and there’s no better season to put our feelings into action.

I pray that you and those you love will have a very blessed Thanksgiving. 

 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
Psalm 100:4

 

When Gratefulness Shows Up in A Jar

The spirit of gratefulness permeates the month of November like none other, and for good reason. Thanksgiving, filled community food pantries, families gathered, memories made, etc.

In celebration, every Monday and Wednesday during November, I’ll share specific and creative ways we can shift gratitude from a feeling to an action.

Today’s project will give us plenty of time to gather all our gratefulness into a glass jar before Thanksgiving. I touched on the subject back in 2013 and felt it was time to bring it up again because I know the impact it made on those who received my gratitude in a jar.

 

 

{Start A “Why I’m Grateful For You” Jar Today}
  • Small Mason jar or any pint-sized jar (based on how many pieces of paper you use)
  • Paper and Pen
  • Ribbon, markers, or peel-off lettering to decorate jar

Cut paper into small tag-size pieces. On each piece of paper, write out one specific reason why you are grateful for that person. The more specific, the better.

It can be something small or seemingly insignificant. Share a memory or a specific way that person makes you feel. You can use a random number of tags to be opened at any time, or…

I made one of these jars for each of my grandmothers a few years before their passing. I gave it to them at Thanksgiving, filled with 31 tags, asking them to read one tag every day in December. They both shared how much it meant to them to read the specific ways they’d blessed my life. I didn’t want there to be any question in their minds as to how much they meant to me, how much I loved them.

Gratitude in action is a beautiful thing.

How can you put your gratitude in action through a “Grateful for You” jar this Thanksgiving?

Congratulations to Heather, the random winner of the tea mug filled with tea, and especially prayers. I just need your address! 🙂

 

Why I’m Mentioning Christmas Today

by Cathy Baker

If you’ve attempted to balance simplicity with trying to create Christmas memories for the loved and lonely, maybe you’ve found (as I have) that it’s not as easy as it seems. We’re all wired differently, but for me, intentionality is the game changer. 

As mentioned in a 2008 Christmas post, we kept a Nesquik® Chocolate yellow box nearby when our boys were growing up. If they behaved, they got to pick one, sometimes two, activities from the box that afternoon. We never knew exactly what we’d be doing that evening but we were intentional about it—and our family created some meaningful memories as a result. 
 

The blue hand painted tray is a fave of mine.

Our boys are now adults with families of their own. Life changes, but wherever we find ourselves this year, it’s never too late to embrace the season in all its beauty and simplicity as we anticipate the celebration of Christ’s birth. 

In this same spirit, beginning Monday, December 1st, I’ll be posting one brief, simple way to infuse a meaningful moment into your day during this wondrous season. 

I’m excited about this journey! I hope you’ll make plans to join me.

[I know, I know. After this post
from a week ago, it may seem a bit odd that I’m writing about a new Christmas series when we’ve not yet celebrated Thanksgiving, but I’m
taking a blogging break next week. And December will be here before we
know it!] 

So from my home to yours, I pray you and yours will have a blessed Thanksgiving. 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 100: 5, 6

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