You really had vowed last year to give away many of your material possessions. You had decided last New Year to declutter your physical and emotional life. But as Santa and the merriment rolled around again this year you looked around to find stuff everywhere.

Ok, so you have unwrapped many presents this Christmas and it is in the unwrapping that the all too familiar feeling has overwhelmed you again. Not wanting to be a joy kill you find yourself annoyed and even angry. Why did Uncle Bobbie think I would like a mug covered with dogs in Santa hats? Didn’t sister darling remember I had have done the whole “I quit sugar program, twice now” when she purchased the bulk Lindt Chocolate gift pack for me? Even the nice stuff – some of the gifts were obviously expensive but you either just don’t like them or you have one/two/three of them already.

This is a common response to the season of giving – a feeling of disappointment when you unwrap a gift and realise that the person who has purchased for you, really does not know you very well at all. Is it the thought that counts? Hmmm, I wrestle with this one. As my kids have made purchases for their siblings this year I have tried to persuade them to look for useful gifts, adding to what he or she might really need and use. They have done ok, albeit the annual tub of slime made it into someone’s sack this year.

So do you regift? Recycle? Reuse?

Charity and thrift stores are great places to visit after Christmas because everyone has made a quick dash to pass off their unwanted presents. But is it ok to keep the dog in the Santa hat mug and pass it on as a Kris Kringle gift next year?

This is a dilemma. Have I re-gifted? Yes. Have I received a regift? Yes….I think so.

The give away and the wake up call was when I received a book with the inscription made out to another friend. This was a difficult one to process!! Perhaps a mistake.

Some would argue that if the gift is new, in perfection condition, not ugly or offensive and not a family heirloom then re-gifting is acceptable. Think chocolates, wine, books.

However, I think that the reason this has even become an issue and a hopelessly first world issue at that is because we have too much stuff. We need very little. One solution to this problem is to give services or experiences – a voucher for the hairdresser, beautician, a car detailer, local theatre company or cinema. And you can do all this in your local area. Fabulous. Alternatively, give your time and bless the ones you love and live with, by being present. Babysit for them, visit with them, garden with them, wash their pet with them, exercise with them.

I would hope that your presence with those you love is something to be gifted, over and over again.

Ridiculous, everything all at once.

Are you still with me? Maybe you have not been checking in on me either! It has been a crazy December here in the Southern Hemisphere. We like to do EVERYTHING at once. Truly.

We do the end of school break ups, teacher presents, class parties while simultaneously having our small people performing in nativity plays, carol services and special end of year assemblies. The end of the school year is an important occasion to mark and celebrate, however it coincides with a ridiculous number of Christmas parties for work, committees, volunteer groups, sports and church groups, book clubs and of course your friends! Then there is Advent (we tried and have officially failed this year!), Christmas shopping, wrapping, decorating and much Christmas baking. After the third night in a row in early December when I was juggling royal icing at 10 pm I did wonder what I was doing!? We had accumulated a crazy amount of white poison (icing sugar).  Little people had sampled gingerbreads, fudge, chocolate truffles and Christmas cakes and as they ate and licked and rubbed their tummies trails of sugar were left all through the house.

We also decided that December was a good month to complete the upstairs renovation and install carpet into all the bedrooms. Now it has been an amazing transformation. I cannot tell you how good it is not to be living with dusty, rickety floors anymore. But this mini ‘project’ meant that we had days of moving furniture and kids camping in strange places.

On top of it all we have had more illness, a birthday, friends visit and crazy busy work demands.
My own research is a faint memory of something I do/did/will do after Summer holidays, perhaps.
So as we rapidly approach Christmas day I want to wish you a blessed celebration of Jesus’ birth. May your day be peaceful and may there be joy and hope to follow the busyness and stress on Xmas day. Cheers. S xx

Blind Date with a Book

Don’t you love this idea? I found a local bookshop promoting this idea for adults and young adult readers. So many of us continue to read around the same genres and authors. We don’t take the necessary risks to find a new favourite style or text. Well here is a great way of being daring with what we read – take a blind date with a book.

I think you could do this with your work colleagues, book club, girlfriends as a Kris Kringle. Note the book is wrapped in brown paper but tagged with a few key words: Daring, Authentic, grim, Tropical. I guess this helps you choose, a little!

Are you ready for a blind date?

Christmas Baking

Christmas baking. I am about to scan my files and recipe books, blogs and Pinterest for some Xmas baking inspiration. The interesting thing as my family gets older is that I have more volunteers for help with the baking and a few bigger girls who want to cook on their own. Think family kitchen in chaos, covered with dirty utensils and layered in a fine dust of icing sugar!

In the past favourites have been homemade fudge, shortbread, biscotti, coconut ice, chocolate bark, gingerbread and mini fruit cakes. This year I need to find something that fits the gluten and dairy free, but sweet and decadent category. Plus I need to make bulk of a few things – so we have gifts for family, friends and neighbours. How are you going with that Christmas baking? I have soaked my fruit for our Christmas cake but have not made it…yet. If you have a great idea or recipe are you happy to share? We could have a plan for Christmas baking by the end of the week.

Overall, I think the fun is in sharing the cooking time with others and then making the most of your bounty by wrapping them in boxes, bags and bows. But I know that cooking is not for everyone. And I love this image that came via Pinterest. Huh! Has this ever happened to you?