Merry Christmas to you and yours, wherever you may be.
I hope that beyond the celebration of opulence or family or presents, this Christmas you see and experience the presence of love that created a plan for us to be restored, rescued, and redeemed. That plan was set into motion on the day Jesus came into this world humbly and sacrificially as a baby. And even more than that – there isn’t just hope because He came. There is hope because He’s coming back.
Hi friends! Christmas is 9 days away, and in some ways I can’t believe it’s almost here – the end of 2019 is near. But in other ways, it feels like it’s about time it arrived (maybe because I’ve had our house decorated since November 9th…). Either way, I am fully enjoying this cozy and hope filled season, and I hope you are too. If you’re finding it to be a struggle this year to get in the Christmas spirit, it’s not too late to turn it around. You check out this post to find some tips for combatting those Christmas blues and bring some extra cheer to the next 9 days.
Today I’m excited to share with you the ornament I chose to add to our Christmas tree this year. Even after 6 years of marriage, I still feel like we are establishing some of our own holiday traditions, but one thing we have done each year is add at least one ornament to our collection that in some way sums up the year for us. Some years I’ve made ornaments, and sometimes I buy them. Sometimes I even buy an ornament and add our own twist to it. (You can check out our 2013 collection and 2014 ornament here). But no matter how we acquire them, they always end up bringing a smile to my face when I see them hanging on our tree as I remember the moments they represent.
This year I didn’t have a specific idea in mind as I headed to Target to scan the aisles for an ornament, but I trusted that as I went along something would pop out at me. After looking through the bins for a little bit, I arrived at the idea of a tree, and here’s why: This year has been one full of a lot of growth for us and a tree seems to represent that concept well. 2019 has held a variety of changes, curveballs, and decisions for us – much more than I think we’ve been used to in recent years. Through those circumstances, we’ve both experienced some individual growth, but most specifically, our marriage has grown in entirely new and life-changing ways as a result of better communication both within and outside of those circumstances. God has significantly shifted our marriage this year, and I want to forever remember the growth that occurred in 2019.
Once I settled on that idea, I just had to find the right ornament. I had a different ornament in my hand that was good enough, but when I turned down the last aisle and saw this one, it was an immediate connection. Two trees to represent the two of us, inside a little house to represent the growth that has happened in our home this year. It’s the ornament that I didn’t even realize I was looking for.
Just like the rest of the ornaments we’ve added throughout the years, I’ll smile each time I pull it out and hang it on our tree for all of the years to come.
Do you add a new ornament to your tree each year? Do you usually put any meaning behind your choice? Let me know in comments! I’d love to hear.
I am sure I’m not the only person who has experienced a Christmas time or two where the spirit of the season seems to get choked out by the commercialism, or busyness, or stress that surround a holiday that is intended to focus on the greatest gift of all: the coming of a Savior. In years past, I have shamefully recognized a dullness of heart due to the familiarity and distractions that are sometimes intentionally designed to make the holiday about something other than what it is intended. The past couple of years, though, I have taken a little more intentionality towards the holiday and it has made all the difference. While my heart isn’t always perfectly postured, I have recognized a certain level of restoration in my spirit during this time of year. And I wanted to share some of the things that have helped me in case you might be needing the same thing too.
SET THE MOOD WITH CHRISTMAS MUSIC THAT FITS YOUR TASTE
There are those special souls that have a unique love for Christmas music. You know the kind: they have an itch to start those festive tunes by mid-July because they love it so much. But if you are not one of those people and you either get burnt out on Christmas music fast, or you’re just not a fan of the traditional choruses, then my biggest tried & true suggestion is finding some Christmas music that you actually like. If Mariah Carey’s voice drives you mad like me, then simply don’t listen to it. I promise you can find songs that stir up some Christmas spirit without making your ears bleed. Look up if some of your favorite artists have any Christmas albums or covers and make a playlist of them. I find that I get much more excited to listen to Christmas music over and over when I like the style of the songs I’m listening to. Here are some of my top recommendations:
Hillsong’s The Peace Project & We Have a Savior albums (some classic, and some original Christmas songs that really focus my heart on the reason for the season)
Future of Forestry’s Advent Christmas EPs
The Oh Hellos’ Family Christmas Album
Coldplay’s “Christmas Lights”
Jimmy Eat World’s “Last Christmas” cover
Andrew Belle’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” cover
And out of pure nostalgia, N*Sync’s Home for Christmas album
Want to listen along to my whole ‘Tis the Season playlist? You can check it out on Spotify here.
PREPARE WELL FOR THE CELEBRATION OF CHRIST WITH AN ADVENT STUDY
Too often the familiarity of Christmas used to leave my faith feeling a bit dry this time of year (working retail during the holiday season didn’t help either). So a couple years ago I picked up an Advent devotional and calendar to help better prepare my heart for a holiday that is intended to stir up great rejoicing over the coming of my Savior. And I must say, it helped! Through simple readings, thoughts, or actions, I was able to better make room in my heart for the story of Christmas and see it flesh itself out better in my life.
I know Christmas is just two weeks away now, but it’s never too late to dive into Scripture to help prepare your heart for the coming celebration. One way I’m doing that this year is through She Reads Truth’s Advent reading plan. Each day there are a few passages of Scripture and a quick devotional to help you chew on what you read. If you’re interested in joining in, you can check out their website where they release daily content.
REPLACE MATERIAL GIFTS WITH QUALITY TIME
As I have gotten older, I have grown fonder of doing some sort of activity with loved ones in place of exchanging gifts on holidays. Gift giving can be tricky – it can feed into the commercialism at times, it can create pressure to get just the “right” thing, it can produce more STUFF – and if you are like me, you don’t have a need for more random stuff that you won’t use. A solution? Just spend time with the people you love and consider the gift that that is. As some examples, one year the girls in my husband’s family got pedicures and grabbed lunch together. Last year, my husband’s entire family enjoyed Top Golf and then had our normal Christmas potluck afterwards. Sharing a meal or an activity with loved ones can sometimes be more meaningful and memorable than exchanging gifts. I’ve especially grown an appreciation for this method because we live far away from family and only get to spend so much time with loved ones, so taking the time to do something goes so much further than handing over an object that may or may not be needed.
Something to note, though, is that there are many people that find great joy in giving and receiving gifts. So I’m not saying diminish gifts altogether. But it may be helpful to visit with your family about what brings everyone the most joy, and determining a plan from there – even if it is a bit unconventional. Maybe that means shifting HOW you exchange gifts, or maybe you alternate between gifts and family activities. However you do it, do what works best for you and your family.
IF YOU DO EXCHANGE GIFTS, SHOP IN A WAY THAT DIMINISHES STRESS
For many, the holiday season + retails stores = a hot mess of craziness. Aisles are cluttered with more people and more mess, and wait times are longer. If this makes you want to pull your hair out, it can put a big damper on your Christmas spirit. You can try and avoid the stress by doing some shopping online from the comfort of your couch next to the Christmas tree instead.
Or, if the endless options online overwhelm you (or if you just prefer to support brick and mortars), either plan to go shopping at a time that is a little less busy, or go in prepared for the craziness – give yourself some extra time to navigate through the mass amount of people and expect it to be busy so your patience doesn’t run thin. And please, please, please be kind to the retail workers – they’re usually doing the best they can in this busy season.
Also falling into this category is giving yourself enough time to shop so you don’t have to scramble at the last minute. This is advice that I certainly could take better myself, but the years that I do plan and figure things out a little earlier have always led to a less stressful holiday season.
No matter your shopping tactics, I suggest doing what works best for you, and brings you the most joy in the process.
There have been some Christmases that we haven’t traveled to be home with family for the holidays. We’ve hung back and celebrated just the two of us, or with friends where we live at the time (#militarylife). While this sounds a little sad, it brings a different benefit to the holiday season. There’s something really wonderful about slowing down and celebrating the holiday quietly, just like Mary and Joseph welcomed Jesus into this world in the quiet stable, away from all the noise in the inn. Quietly, unexpectedly. Slowing down can allow us some space to really see – really behold – the coming of our King. Because when we’re going, going, going, we might breeze right past it all. Don’t miss it. Take some time to slow down. Whether it’s a little bit each day, a day each week, or just a few hours one day leading up to Christmas to calm yourself, rid your mind of all the to-dos, and just rest in the anticipation of Christmas.
I hope that in the days left of this advent season that you are able to take some time to really rejoice over what Christmas is about – that amidst a broken and sinful world, Jesus came on a rescue mission for us all. And because of the success of that mission, we can have hope in Him to come again. I pray your Christmas spirit comes alive in new ways this year, and for all the years to come.
Happy December friends! Now that Thanksgiving has passed and it is officially socially acceptable to be in the Christmas spirit, I thought it would be fun to give you a peek into our home at Christmastime (although, I’ve been enjoying it since early November this year, #noshame).
This is our third Christmas in this home, and I must say, I’ve found my groove with where I like things to go. Just like my typical home decor style, I keep it fairly simple and modern with Christmas decor, with some personal touches. Much of my decor is the result of a slow accumulation of things from over the years, built from a foundation of gifted decor from my mom when we first got married.
Historically, I haven’t naturally enjoyed the winter, but as I’ve gotten older, starting out the cold weather season with some cozy Christmas decor has shifted something in me and not only do I enjoy it, but I look forward to it. The highlight for me is the magic that comes from those twinkle lights. This time of year I spend much of my free time cozied up on the couch by the tree so I can soak up all the feels. It sparks a special something in my soul and is one of the reasons I’ve grown eager to decorate earlier and earlier as the years go by.
Before I invite you in, to help set the scene, let’s pretend you’re coming over to catch up over a warm cup of hot chocolate. There’ll be a Spiced Apple Toddy candle burning and my ‘Tis the Season playlist quietly playing the background. We’ll chat the day away on the couch next to the tree. But, truthfully, with or without you, that’s probably where you’ll find me the rest of this Christmas season.
I hope you enjoy this mini tour of our home during Christmas time!
The little tree on our table used to serve as our only Christmas tree before I inherited our current one from my last job. Before that, this tree was my and my college roommate’s tree, and before that it was a “money tree” gift from my parents in high school. This little guy is still hanging in there after all these years.
A few years ago I started celebrating the Advent season with a calendar and devotional through All Good Things Collective to help center my heart on Jesus during this season that is meant to be a celebration of His coming. The calendar serves as a beautiful addition each year to my Christmas decor. Unfortunately this year is AGT’s last year of business (they’re having a major close out sale if you’re interested in filling your home with some beautiful scripture and art), but I will definitely hold onto the habit of intentionally setting my heart and mind on remembering God first in all of the Christmases to come.
One really personal touch this year is a piece that my Father in Law made us for Christmas last year. Alabama Christmas is about the only Christmas album that exists in my husband’s family, and so all four sons received a version of this last year to represent a line from “A Candle In the Window” that states that ‘Christmas is in your heart.’ It’s a true Pruim family memento.
And here’s one last shot of the tree lit up in the evening – the time when the real magic comes out.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this peek into our Christmas-y home. So tell me – what’s your favorite part of the Christmas season? Let me know in the comments below!
I hope that today and tomorrow (and even the days to come) are full of family, friends, joy, and peace. We’ll be celebrating our own family Christmas tonight before we hit the road tomorrow to head home for Chicago. Although this Christmas is a bit of a different one for us being so far away from family, we are so excited that Adam was able to get some time off for us to still be able to go home and celebrate a couple days late. One of these years we might be able to establish some sort of normal for our holidays, but with the military life who knows when that will happen!
So whether your holiday is spread out over the week like ours, or it’s all jam-packed into today & tomorrow, we want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
When I was a kid, it was a family tradition for my brother and me to pick out a new ornament every year to add to our Christmas tree. Usually that meant heading to Hallmark and choosing a figurine that represented what I had been interested in that year. For my brother, that meant picking out another super hero. This tradition helped fill up our family’s tree with more and more memories, and gave it plenty of character. Not to mention it gave me new “toys” to play with leading up to Christmas.
Last year was Adam & I’s first Christmas as a newly established Pruim family, so come December I wanted to put together some ornaments that would commemorate that. I ended up making a 4-piece set of ornaments using different pieces of decorations from our wedding.
One with petals of the flowers used in my, and my bridesmaids’, bouquets.
One with the paper I used to make windmills for the centerpieces.
One with our ceremony program shredded and curled.
One with the twine that was used to accent multiple different DIY decorations.
Even though some of them were a bit tedious to make (hello wrapping-twine-around-a-glass-sphere-awkwardness), I was thrilled with the outcome. They perfectly capture some of the more intricate details of our wedding, which was the most defining moment of the year for us.
For the sake of tradition, (and for the sake of filling up the tree that one day will reside in our home during the holidays) I wanted to make another ornament this year. I saw this idea on Pinterest and immediately fell in love with it. As many of you know, we’ve gone through two military moves this year. Our year has revolved around the Air Force’s plans for us. With Adam commissioning in May, it’s been a non stop transition to get where we are now. What better way to memorialize this year than by using moving stickers to cover an ornament.
These stickers were used to mark each of our boxes for our trip to North Dakota. So with this idea in mind, as I unpacked I collected as many of the stickers as I could. Once I had enough I took a plain, cheap ornament that I already had, and began to place the stickers all around the surface. They had lost some of their stickiness after being pulled off of cardboard, so they weren’t laying as nicely as I had hoped, but they stayed. Once I covered the entire ball, I took some Mod Podge and covered the entire surface. This helped to set some of the looser ends down and hold everything in place. Once it dried, I gave it a second coat. A few of the corners still stick up in some places, but I decided that it gives it a little character (& I also didn’t feel like fussing with every little piece). Finally, I added the finishing touch of writing the “2014” in Sharpie.
Overall I’m really pleased with the outcome. This ornament perfectly summarizes our 2014. It’s currently hanging off a light strand in our kitchen/dining room, because we are still sticking with our tiny, table top tree this year. Maybe one day we’ll become adults and actually buy a tree. Until then, I’ll enjoy getting to see my ornaments on display in the most passed by part of our house.
So tell me, What kind of ornament(s) are you getting for your tree this year?
The more I live out the days of my life, the more I grow to appreciate the things within them. I’ve learned to appreciate the colors of the fall, the warmth of a winter coat on a cold day (like the ones we’ve been starting to have in Minot this week), and the therapeutic nature of the world’s most precious puppy (a.k.a. our lil Boone Pruim). Bigger than all of that, I deeply appreciate the joy that exudes from fellowship & solid friendship, the grace and mercy that God grants me on a daily (probably hourly, or maybe even minutely) basis, and the freedom that has been granted to me in this country that so many people around the world don’t know. In light of Thanksgiving this month I’ve been trying to focus a little more on the things I’m thankful for. Cliché? Yeah maybe. But regardless of what holiday is coming up next, or what holiday it is, I would still be thankful for a whole lot.
Today, on Veterans Day, I’m inclined to be extra thoughtful of my appreciation for the men & women who have served and are serving the United States in the military. The people that have defended my honor and fought for my freedom. The people that sacrifice their comfort, their time, and a normal life for something bigger than themselves. Today, these are the people that are being honored & appreciated.
As time has gone by Veterans Day has become more & more personal for me. I have friends that spent years in the Army and others that have made commitments to the Army National Guard. I have friends with family members that have served or are serving in all branches of the military. I have friends that are preparing to serve in the Air Force through ROTC. My cousin Billy served in the Army years ago. My cousin and lifelong best friend Jordi, and her husband Aaron, have recently finished their own journey with the Army and are adjusting back to the civilian world. & it wasn’t until a couple months ago that I began to understand that civilian life and military life really are two different things, because after a four year ROTC commitment through college, Adam began his active duty career as a missileer in the Air Force. Now I’m meeting and living amongst the people that have followed suit of people before them that have chosen a path of life that demands more commitment than most establishments in existence. I foresee my appreciation for these honorable people to increase tremendously as my own life is saturated in military influence and demands.
Just a quick story to share with you: This year there are many restaurants and companies that are honoring those who have served or are serving in the military with special offers. This morning we took hold of this opportunity and went to Denny’s to receive free Grand Slams. The place was packed with veterans, active duty members, and their families from the moment we got there to the moment we left, with no end in sight. Now drinks weren’t included in this special offer so as we and our friends went to the counter to pay, the employees took our receipt and told us that a man that was in the restaurant earlier had purchased a $200 gift card and gave it to them to apply to everyone’s bills stating that he wanted the entirety of their meals to be paid for. This man had already left Denny’s, so I couldn’t give him the hug that was dying to burst from within me. All we could do was repeatedly thank the manager. I don’t know who you are stranger, sir, but you are incredibly kind.
I’ll be the first to say that the United States has its problems. It’s got issues and messiness within it that make me cringe. But today, especially through this one man’s generous act of kindness and hospitality, I’m so grateful for days like today when people choose to honor their neighbors; when we choose to focus on something bigger than ourselves.
So happy Veterans day to the men and women of our country’s armed services – past and present. You are appreciated. You are loved. And today we honor you.