Monday, December 1, 2014

From Autumn to Advent

Dear friends,

Thanksgiving is over, and Christmas is coming! We're transitioning from the Autumn season of pilgrims and pumpkins to our celebration of Advent with Jesus and the manger. 

There are a lot of helpful links in this post. Please click on them if you like pretty pictures and practical ideas! You can open them in a new tab and look at them when you're done with this post.

For starters, you can see our Thanksgiving pictures here: Happy Thanksgiving from My Home to Yours!

After Thanksgiving dinner, we laid towels on our air hockey table to use it as extra space to dry our china plates. I just haven't gotten around to putting them back yet, though I did at least stack them. I kind of like the way the light reflects off of the pile! It takes so much effort to put them in the high cabinet over the refrigrator that I might just leave them down in a more out of the way place a few weeks until we use them again at Christmas. 

On Black Friday, I started a little bit of Christmas shopping for my family. I didn't get up that early, and I only went to Target and Walmart. That was quite enough for me, especially since I took a few kids along! With ten children and four grandchildren, I've still got a long way to go on buying presents. Whenever I get something, I put it in a bin in my bedroom so I can find it easily later. When there is a lot more, I'll start sorting it into bags for each person.

On Saturday morning, I made our first scrapple of the year, using the blender to mix leftover turkey and stuffing with chicken broth and cornmeal. Then I cooked the mush to a stiff consistency, chilled it in loaf pans overnight, sliced it and fried it in my electric skillet. Yum! It's a favorite family heritage recipe for me!

On Saturday, we also started putting away the autumn decorations...

And getting out the Christmas decorations!

Daddy got out the Christmas decoration bins
from our storage unit for us.

"Something old...

Something new...

On a little stand outside the front door

Something borrowed... 

(Actually, I inherited this from my mom.)

Something blue..."

Our mailbox used to be an ugly black.
You can see its springtime transformation here:

Not-So-Extreme Makeover: The Front of Our House

Something broken 
and fixed again, too...
The base of our lighted Christmas star came off,
so I had to rig a way to attach it to the tree.
I used a paper clip, a green rubber pen grip,
and a rubber band colored green with a
permanent marker.
Yup, it worked!
The tree still isn't fully decorated.
Just the lights are on.
I honestly don't have the patience
for much else right now.

In the middle of all the cooking and decorating on Saturday, we took the time to stop and see some of our homeless friends near a bus stop about a mile from our house. Many of them live in the woods, and some have physical and psychiatric disabilities. We brought them oranges, blankets, tarps, a backpack, huge zip-top plastic storage bags for keeping their bedding dry on rainy days, and lots of warm clothes, including new underwear and socks. These dear people are so worth it to me. And what is Christmas, but for giving to those who really need it? You can read more about ministry to the homeless here: What Love Looks Like: Reaching Out to the Homeless.  For the record, there is a lot that is screwed up in my own life. My point is not to make myself look good, but to extend the same kind of mercy I have needed and received from God and others.

These fleece blankets were on sale
for $1.88 each at Old Time Pottery,
so my friend Charlotte asked me to pick up
ten of them for her to donate
to the homeless here in the Casselberry area.
These blankets aren't as thick
as the fuzzy ones at Deals for $5,
but they still make a good extra layer of warmth.
When I bought these on Sunday, there was another
lady with a cart full of them, too. She's giving them
to homeless people who live in downtown Orlando. :-)

Yesterday was the First Sunday of Advent at Lake Baldwin Church (a small Presbyterian congregation), so our liturgy was full of carols, Scripture readings, and prayers for the Christmas season. You can see more here: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee (Strength in Hymn: Advent)

This morning, we got out our box of Christmas books and filled our basket in the living room. See: My Favorite Christmas Books.

I'm just home schooling my nine year old daughter this year, and we're taking the month of December for our Advent Adventure unit study. Books, crafts, cooking, music, Bible, Christmas around the world and throughout history... And yes, we'll keep up with our math, too.

A booklet I made for my family years ago.

My favorite posts on Christmas with kids!

This afternoon, we took a trip to Leu Gardens to enjoy the Leu House museum decorated for Christmas, as well as the rest of the extensive gardens... I'll try not to compare my house and garden to theirs!

Lots of botany for a science field trip, right? 

 You can see the rest of my photos here: Christmastime at Leu Gardens.

I've still got a whole lot of organizing to do in the house to transition from Autumn to Advent, including sorting out more of our warmer clothes. (We're in Florida, so this process is delayed a bit.) Then there are still the regular piles of laundry and paperwork and everything else! It may be the Christmas season, but we still have to live our daily lives.

At least we can do it listening to Christmas music!  Celine Dion has a good reminder for us: Don't Save It All for Christmas Day.

Don't get so busy that you miss
Giving just a little kiss to the ones you love
Don't even wait a little while
To give them a little smile
A little is enough

How many people are crying
People are dying...
How many people are asking for love

Don't save it all for Christmas Day
Find a way to give a little love everyday
Don't save it all for Christmas Day
Find your way
Cause holidays have come and gone
But love lives on
If you give on

How could you wait another minute
A hug is warmer when you're in it
And Baby that's a fact
And saying "I love you's" always better
Seasons, reasons, they don't matter
So don't hold back
How many people in this world
So needful in this world
How many people are praying for love

Don't save it all for Christmas Day
Find a way to give a little love everyday
Don't save it all for Christmas Day
Find your way
Cause holidays have come and gone
But love lives on
If you give on

Let all the children know
Everywhere that they go
Their whole life long
Let them know love

Don't save it all for Christmas Day
Find a way to give a little love everyday
Don't save it all for Christmas Day
Find your way
Cause holidays have come and gone
But love lives on
If you give on

What does your family like to do in December? Do you have special traditions?

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles


  1. I really loved your post! How nice that you took the time to visit the homeless in your community, homelessness has been on my heart a lot lately, thanks for the ideas! I would love to invite you to share your post at my 2014 Christmas Homemaking Hop Linky Party. :)

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, April! I just linked on your blog party!