Happy Weekend, my friends! I am so glad you've joined me today, as we share another pot of Advent Tea. Today I have some lovely posts from Leah, Kimberly, Lisa, Tammie, Denise and Helene ...
Kind ladies, thank you so much for your participation ... and friends, I hope you enjoy! :)
First up, here are a couple of links to my blogging friends ... a post from Kimberly at A Gathering of Days, where she welcomes us into her Cozy, Christmas Home ... and another from Lisa at Its Own Sweet Will who shares her family's Christmas Tree Trimmings. Both of these posts are brimming with light, warmth and good cheer ... and oh, how I wish we could really house-hop and visit for real. What fun we would have!
Now, here is a charming tree tradition, as told by Leah:
We go up into the "tree mountains" as my 7 yo son calls them. There are "rock mountains" and "tree mountains" out here ;-) The National Park Service (I think) sells a certain number of permits to cut down trees because it reduces the risk of forest fires (I had to ask ... it just felt strange to cut down the trees in the National Forest, but it is actually helping to protect the woods.)
We like to drive up to the mountains with a giant thermos of homemade hot cocoa and perhaps some cookies. We live out on treeless plains so just being in the woods is magical. The way the sun doesn't really beat down on anything, it flitters in like little fairies through the leaves and pine needles (it is mostly evergreen in the area we harvest the tree from,) and a completely different bunch of animals make for a very - well - magical day. We play around for awhile, look for squirrels (who knew there were squirrels in trees, not just on the ground!) and then we get down to business looking for a tree.
I will admit, they are not as full-bodied as the tree farm trees. They are typically the younger trees because we have a height limit and even the taller trees are not evenly full all around because the sun only reaches one side of them before the sunlight finds its way to the west side of the mountains. BUT, even if they are sparse little things, we have such an adventure in finding a tree, that it is how we like to do things now.
As for decorating the tree, we like to make a few things and put on some purchased ornaments. One year we strung cranberries (messy!) and popcorn (I don't know how much ended up on the string with the kids helping). This year, my husband suggested that we just do natural ornaments so we can toss the tree out in the back of the property (we live on some acreage and no one can see parts of our property so only the pronghorn and cottontails and jackrabbits will be the wiser). Then, the tree can provide something for them in the cold of the year, even if it is just shelter.
Leah, what a wonderful experience this must be for your whole family, but especially your children! "Magic" is the perfect word for it ... and boy does this whole tale fit perfectly in with my NEXT Advent post, too! (Magic + Meaning) Thank you for sharing your famlily's tree tradition with us ... you have me itching to get out into my own woods (we're surrounded here!) and take note of the dappled sunlight and frisky squirrels!
And now we pop over to Tammie's!
Thank you, Dawn, for inviting us to take tea with you! This afternoon I am sitting in a sun-filled nook at my desk in our bedroom with a mug of Numi Orange Spice Tea. My husband and I tried it last year in tea-bag form and enjoyed it so much that we ordered it in a 1 lb bag of loose tea for this winter.I am glad you asked us to share our trees here! We have a large tree in our living room, but I put up a special little tree here on my desk . . . a tiny silver tinsel tree reminiscent of the tinsel tree that my family had as I was growing up. Just looking at the sparkle and glimmer takes me right back to the excitement and anticipation that I always felt each Christmas . . . forty-something years ago!Last night when my husband came home from work, he suggested that we read something "Christmas-y." I knew right away what we should read ... a few selections from an Ideals Christmas issue:We both remember this publication in our homes as we were growing up and a couple of years ago he bought me the 70th Anniversary edition. This magazine first came out in 1944, right during the dark days of World War II. In the first issue, the founder set forth his vision for the magazine with these words: "Ideals is a book of old-fashioned ideals, homey philosophy, poetry, music, inspiration, and art - things that some of us may have overlooked during these busy days." It continues to carry out those same qualities today and we find the illustrations, photographs, & stories to be charming and uplifting to us in our own busy days. I think that tonight we'll be reading some more selections from this book.As far as projects I'm working on ... I'm cross-stitching ornaments for each of our five grandkids. Also, I'm putting the finishing touches on my Christmas cards ... I create our cards each year with rubber stamps. I hope to get these finished and sent out by the end of the week.Thanks again, Dawn, for your sweet hospitality!
And now, let's hear about Denise's Christmas tree traditions!
O Christmas Tree!
Our preference is live! However, the frugalilty of my self hasn't let us indulge in quite some time. :-) So, we get the next best thing: artificial. We normally put them up as soon after Thanksgiving as we can (depending on travel, time, etc) and leave them up until Epiphany! I don't have a favorite ornament.
We have four trees we normally put up. We are only putting up three this year; I'm not putting the one up in the Grands' play room, as we won't be in there much this season.
One is a wooden tree, made by my sister- and father-in-love. They worked together on it! (He has since passed on.) It is adorable! I put this one in our over-sized hallway.
Another tree is my snow-themed tree. White lights, white snowballs, white crocheted (purchased) snowflakes, and gold (they didn't have silver) jingle bells with red ribbon. I *reeeeeally like this one!* I learned several years ago that I don't like "hodge-podge." Now no offense intended to anyone who does, and I, in fact, do put one up, it is just not my preference! I discovered that while shopping during the Christmas season one year with Mom & baby sister (who had a baby of her own we were babysitting while she served our country in the Air Force). I saw different styles of trees, all together. The one I gravitated to most was the one that only had a few different things, but several of those. I liked it! I discovered I liked things that looked *similar,* had some semblance of order, so I purchased what I liked & put up the tree! You know what? I actually enjoyed putting up that tree! I think it was a first. Ok, well that's not quite right, I always like putting up our live trees!!
Now, under this tree, we have our selections of Jesus Gifts. This is usually all that is under this tree. These are just things that represent some options. Our grands work throughout the year to earn money towards the gifts. We then match what they earn. Then at some point through the holiday, we select how they want to spend the money. Oh my goodness! What JOY this brings!! It is something they look forward to throughout the year. The money is spent locally and overseas through different organizations. Some of the gifts have been: money for the food bank, shopping for the food bank, sports equipment to a family, gift certificates to a shopping center, "Christmas meal baskets," clothing for homeless shelters (all local), Bibles, money to help fund translators, wells, providing animals, sewing machines, bicycles for missionaries, oh my goodness, the list goes on. It is always interesting to hear what our grands have picked & why they have chosen it!
The last is the Family Tree that goes in the family room. THIS is the hodge-podge tree. Ornaments handmade by little beloved hands, or handed down, or that have a special meaning. The Grands always decorate this one with us. It is not decorated yet; we just didn't have time last week! It is all set up, lit & just waiting! We *will* get to it next time they are here! Afternoon tea, carols on Pandora (thanks to granddaughter/13), decorating the tree! Yes!
Advent Tea Journal
Refreshments I am enjoying this week:
Apple-cinnamon has been my tea of choice for a bit. I seem to go in 'spurts' on what I crave. :-) Grands and I baked Peanut Butter Blossom cookies. So yummy!! Grands have been drinking their favorite, peppermint. They don't branch out too much. :-) If they do, it is for hot cocoa or vanilla milk (one can't have chocolate).
What am I reading & listening to?
Christmas readings and music, of course!! "Hope is Alive" by Ellie Holcomb is a favorite right now!
"So sing with the angels they fill up the sky! Heaven broke through & now HOPE is alive! He is right here among us, our God is with us tonight! Into our aching, into our breaking, into our longing to be made whole! Your arms are reaching, your love's holding us close! And into our suffering, into our weeping, Into this need we have to be known. Your arms are reaching, your love is holding us close."
What am I working on?
Enjoying the Advent season. I have a Christmas funny I'm working on for my dear, sweet grands, who like to tease me, so I am going to *tease* them back! I hope I don't regret it.
What is happening in nature?
Still hunting the elusive goose! Grandson/15 just can't get out here at the right time. They always come land on the pond at some point. However, they must be wily creatures, as they know you can't hunt 30
mins before dawn/dusk. Guess when they come in to land?? The times he CAN hunt & is here, it seems they are too high.
Thoughts I am pondering:
My thought this week in Advent, continuing my *Faith* theme has been:
If I have the *faith* to believe, to take God at His Word, that Christ was born of a virgin, (Bible Scripture: Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23, Luke 1:27) (and I DO!) then I need to apply that same *faith* to the impossible situations in my life today! I need to have that faith that HE is faithful to His Word and IS IMMANUEL, God with us!!
Beautiful as always, Denise! Thank you for sharing your Tea and Trees with us! How I love to hear about your Grands and the love you all share ... all your trees sound lovely, but that Jesus Tree is extra-special! (Not just in looks, but in purpose!) I love what you had to say about Faith, too ... it's such a GIFT, this ability to have Faith in that which seems impossible. God is so good to give us this gift because it is so very necessary throughout life!
And finally, here are some Tree thoughts from Helene:
Do you prefer live or artificial trees? Cut-your-own or pre-cut?
We love live trees! I’d love to cut our own but that’s not an option down here, at least not in my area.
Are there any special tree-trimming traditions your family follows each year?
Not really - my husband trims the bottom and gets it into the stand, then he and I put on the lights. After that we all start hanging ornaments. This year my little guy was really into hanging ornaments for the first time, so I spent my time digging out non-breakable ones and handing them to him to hang. We never hang all the ornaments we have, but it’s fun to go through them all and choose which ones to hang from year to year.
What is your favorite ornament?
I love old-fashioned looking glass ornaments in various motifs. I have a “bride’s set” from my husband’s grandmother (years ago, not long after we were married) that I adore but that does not get hung up right now, because if little hands broke those I’d be pretty sad, as Grandmama has since passed away and I like having those as a remembrance of her - we were kindred spirits, despite the fact that I didn't get to know her for very long.
When do you put it up and when do you take it down?
We usually get it early-mid December, but got it earlier this year because my husband was going out of town for a week and we wanted to get the tree up and decorated before he left. I love it, actually, because we get to enjoy it longer. I usually try to wait until Epiphany to take it down, but the last few years I’ve caved and done it early. By that time everyone seems to be a little over it, and we often travel for New Year, and it’s a bit sad coming back to a drying, drooping tree.
Colored lights or white lights?
White on the tree, but the lights on the house are colored.
What refreshments are you enjoying this week?
My morning cuppa, and I’ve been downing Emergen-C trying to avoid the colds and other bugs that seem to be going around lately. As you said, illness can really put a damper on plans. My daughter seems to have a cold coming on, and I really hope she’s able to kick it as my sister and I are planning to take her to her first Nutcracker performance this Saturday.
What are you reading this week?
I pulled out my copy of "Forever Christmas" as well, actually. And I just picked up the latest in a cozy mystery series I read (Library Lovers mysteries) from my library, so I’ve got that to look forward to. Also a book called "Labor Day" that’s a collection of birth stories by women writers.
What are you listening to this week?
Handel’s Messiah has made a few appearances. I just found the "Ancient Noels" album you mentioned on Spotify, and I’m listening to that as I type. It really is lovely music, thanks for sharing your discovery!
What are you working on this week?
Trying to finish up a knitted baby hat and booties for a friend’s daughter’s baby. And also I did a huge deep clean of the apartment on our property - it needed a lot of attention, so now every surface has been cleaned, all soft things laundered, and am finishing up the washing of literally every dish and utensil out there (and we don’t have a dishwasher!). But now it’s all sparkly and ready for holiday guests to come and stay. Now just need to give our house a good scrub too, when I recover my motivation! :)
What's happening in nature this week?
Our neighbor let us pick a ton of bush beans from his garden this week. Our beans are finishing up, our collards are going crazy, and the carrots and broccoli romanesco still look good—at this point I’m still hopeful of a harvest! Plus the strawberry season is kicking into high gear, and they’re probably shipping some up north by now—if you see berries in your grocery store from Plant City, FL, they were grown right near me. :)
Any projects with the children this week?
Not really, my husband has been gone for work all week, so we had a scaled-back week that may have involved a few Christmas movies in the evenings and also some playdates with friends, all of which helped mama stay sane.
Thank you Helene, for sharing your Advent Tea Journal! I loved hearing about your Advent doings - so glad you found Ancient Noels good listening! And I had to smile at your mention of The Nutcracker - another magical moment I can remember from my own childhood. My grandmother and great-aunt would take my cousin and myself in (by train!) to see The Nutcracker in Boston and it was SUCH an experience. Full of mystery and wonder and magic. I cherish those memories!
Also I must tell you - I will be keeping my eyes peeled for those strawberries! I tend to stick to produce "in season" as much as possible, but I will not be able to resist enjoying berries raised near where you live! :)
Dear Friends, I hope you have enjoyed all these Advent thoughts, shared by my kind friends. Leah, Kimberly, Lisa, Denise, Tammie and Helene ... thank you all SO much for the time, energy and love you put into your posts. I appreciate your participation so much! I look forward to hearing more from you (ALL of you, dear readers!) as we continue along in our Advent journey. On Monday we have a new theme to chat about and I can't wait to dig in ...
"Magic and Meaning": Making Advent Memories Our Children Will Cherish.
(And don't forget, I'll be announcing the Book Giveaway winner, too!)
See you here on Monday afternoon, everyone ... thanks so much for stopping by and I wish you all a peaceful evening!