I really struggle with “The Holidays.”
It includes Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I don’t know why I do, but I do. So each “Holiday Season” I do a few things that help me ensure that I at least have a somewhat positive experience.
Like . . . setting up our Christmas tree AFTER Thanksgiving but by the first few days of December.
Sharing salutations and messages of “Feliz Navidad” or “Merry Christmas” with everyone I can, wherever I go.
Taking time to tell those we appreciate being in our lives that year a BIG “THANK YOU!!”
Making a little gift to give to those that we see on a regular bases, while also sharing our thoughts and feelings about this special time of year.
Sharing delicious foods in a beautiful setting with those that touch our hearts.
And, last but not least, making and wrapping caramels to be given away to friends and co-workers. I love these family traditions and look forward to them each year, but this year I felt like we needed to do a bit more, especially since we don’t have the usual family/school/neighborhood parties to attend.
I got an idea, while attending an Area Presidency Area Plan meeting. One of the Area Presidency answered a question about “How does one attend Family Home Evening if they don’t have family that are members or do this themselves?” The answer he gave touched my heart. He said that he grew up in a home that did not have family home evening, whether they were members or not, I do not know. To solve this problem of his, he invited himself to homes that did have Family Home Evening.
I LOVED the idea! And I felt that I NEEDED to do this for those in our ward that didn’t have the opportunity. I looked at the calendar and with only 2 Sundays to act on this prompting, I got to work. I immediately knew who to invite, I also immediately knew who should teach the lesson, but planning the food was the cherry on top. Each meal was one that our family thoroughly enjoyed and wanted to share with other, but also included a fun activity for our dessert. This is something we rarely do.
For our first FHE (Family Home Evening) we tried something as a family that I had never done on my own before. I knew I could do it because the year before we had been invited to do this but with REAL gingerbread houses. It was SO MUCH FUN that I knew I could do it, just in a simpler format. I was truly grateful for ALL THE MANY YEARS I had volunteered as a room parent because I found the patience to put this all together and it was a hit. The kids AND PARENTS loved them!!
For our second FHE, I decided to try something I hadn’t done since I was a little girl. My mom had suggested it, so I thought I would give it a try.
She also had suggested these FUN ornaments,
as well as these yummy, homemade marshmallows and both of them turned out really nicely. So I expected these stained-glassed cookies would be a good idea as well.
Well . . . they were harder than I had expected. Maybe it was the recipe, maybe it is because I get nervous with sugar cookie dough, or maybe the house was too hot for the sugar cookie dough to work easily? But I ended up having to make and bake ALL the cookies and THEN “let” the kids help by putting the candy in the centers, before returning the cookies to bake for another 3 minutes, so the candy could melt. I was able to let the kids help by decorating the inside part of the cookies (the heart) and they did participate, but it just wasn’t as “hands on” as I had hoped. It felt more like a mostly-Mommy cookie recipe to me.
But they did turn out super cute and tasty!
And they do look like stained-glass windows.
Although I was exhausted that night, it did turn out to be a really nice night. I went to bed, after cleaning up the HUGE mess in my kitchen, and looked around at the dark room, dimly lit by the Christmas tree, and had a special feeling in my heart.
I HAD DONE IT!
I had sought out 2 groups of people, hoping they could come to our home and feel the spirit of Family Home Evening and it had worked. I was overjoyed and grateful, tired, but happy that everything had worked out in the end. I am delightfully happy to have had this experience this year. To me it was like receiving a Christmas gift. Thank you Mom for the suggestions, they were a hit! The kids LOVED the cookies the next day and we had TONS to give away to our guests. I sure do love you!