Joining in with the holiday link up where we share about our holiday season (and long post warning, please skim and go as needed – or come back later to read it).
If you want to join in – here is the link for more info:
1) Christmas Trees
For the last few years we decided to put out two table-top Christmas trees and some lights and garland The small trees are just the right size for us.
In 2016, we gave away the large artificial tree that we used since 1996. We got a pre-lit tree and it was amazing going from old school to the modern era. However, we only used the pre-lit tree for one year and then our son took it when he moved out and then they gave it away. I do not think we will ever have a full size tree again – maybe. In the meantime, I still hold onto a large bin of ornaments. Christmas ornaments can be magical little memory items and not sure I can part ways with some of them.
2) Christmas Carols
I like both modern and traditional Christmas Carols. I am a Christian and so I do like the Christian Christmas songs – especially this year as they have really been refreshing to my soul – so uplifting and really nourishes me. However, I can also see why non-Christians would not enjoy many of the Christian Christmas songs – but I sure do enjoy many of them (not all). And many of the Christmas songs can be enjoyed year round. For example, everyone sang Hark the Herald Angels Sing at Kip White’s (packed) funeral back in 2005. I guess he really loved that song so much and his wife said it was a highlight of the funeral service.
My LEAST favorite Christmas song is “Silver Bells” –
***side note on this least favorite song*** – I now like the song a little bit because after reading Terri’s Sunday Stills Song Lyric post (here), I saw so much beauty in the song. It really was a great example of how an artsy post can highlight things we miss.
My favorite Christmas song is probably Silent Night – especially at a candle light service – and just love when someone with a trained voice sings Silent Night with their flair.
3) Christmas Books
A fav is Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which is more of a short story – and the copy we have is in a book with two other Dickens’s short stories.
4) Christmas Movies
First, I don’t really like the “A Christmas Story” movie, yet when I see it playing on a loop somewhere I smile because it feels right – this movie seems to be part of our culture.
Second, a top holiday movie – well sort of holiday-ish – for us was The family Man (2000) with Nicolas Cage. The main character has a “glimpse” over Christmas and goes from living single in a penthouse to being a husband and father living on a budget. Great humor and encouraging message. We used to have a few movie lines memorized that would surface at various times. i.e. “But she got those Mary Janes.”
Third, my very favorite Christmas movie is the same as the book I mentioned – A Christmas Carol. We still have four or five different versions of this movie on DVD.
Out of all of the Christmas Carol movies, the 1984 one with George C. Scott is my fav – but we like them all – even the 1938 black and white.
We also saw the Christmas Carol musical as a family more than 20 times. Most of those times were at Randolph Macon College because they used to do a musical every year. Here is an old photo of us with Marley:
I also like when sitcoms or movies feature a version (often cheesy) of A Christmas Carol. You know, where a hardened and hum-bug kind of person meets up with three ghosts and then experiences a huge cognitive shift and personal transformation.
I think the Scrooge Christmas Carol message is a year round thing and I love to see when someone goes from ugly to beautiful inside.
Speaking of transformation, we recently watched a few episodes of “Locked Up Abroad” – I have not seen the show since 2017 and was pleasantly surprised to see they were in the 14th season. The show is filmed well. They have a nice balance with dramatization and interviews and also master showing not telling.
I remembered how much I liked “Locked Up Abroad” because the people in the episodes have paradigm shifts and life transformations. They usually discover what “really” matters as a human being and find that stuff and money is not what brings contentment. They get the boot in the head, get their butt kicked, or whatever you want to call it. If my boys were young and back at home – I would have them watch every single episode of this show because each episode offers entertainment with wisdom and admonishing. There is so much to glean from the raw stories of growth, hardship, and survival. The choices and actions that led to being locked up and how they overcame can be life changing for viewers. The show is very careful with how they mention God or faith connections, and that is understandable – but sometimes I do not think we get the full faith stories.
Anyhow, Locked Up Abroad depicts how people thought money would make them happy, how power lured them in, or how they just made a mistake or very stupid decision. In the King of Weed episode, S13 E7, they featured the story of Canadian Hockey Pro Ryan Phillips. Ryan learned some tough lessons while in the illegal marijuana business and my favorite line he shared was that he had the “disease of more.”
A few of us have chatted about what that line means – the disease of more – and if Pat Riley coined it – (don’t think so). The disease of more is not just related to money and possessions – because the want for “more” creeps in with schedules, stats, achievements, and even with appearance. And maybe at Christmas, some folks need to be reminded of this “disease” before they get caught up in consumerism or the trap of more.
5) Christmas Cake
No cake here. But maybe some type of “keto” dessert – like this citrus pie with almond flour and stevia crust. Notice the little potholder in the photo? My husband’s Grandmother Treena crocheted hundreds of these and I have a few unused ones in the attic to give to grandchildren some day. Although they might not even want them. Not everyone values heirlooms or they might only want certain items.
6) Chocolate, Nuts, Fruit
Chocolate: WE like chocolate just like so many folks do (esp. dark chocolate with almonds or a touch of caramel). But because we abstain from sugar and try to avoid additives and artificial ingredients, we had to find new chocolate options.
Lily’s brand is a hot new item – sold at so many stores (seems to be everywhere and that is a great thing when traveling) – Lily’s offers DELICIOUS chocolate treats – all without sugar and without chemicals. Brilliant.
However, even though Lily’s chocolate products are amazing – they are still a packaged food item. We prefer to make our own treats and it is not difficult to whip out a batch of chocolate goodness (shocked at how quick it can be). They taste amazing, were not made in a factory, not stored in wrappers, and can be 1/3 the cost of store bought. Also, we can vary the ingredients. For times we want more of a fat boost, might add extra butter – other times, we might add more cocoa, more coconut oil, or lots of chunky ingredients. The other things is that when the ingredients are so healthy, the treats take on a more nutritious role and is not this huge assault on health. I found three old Priorhouse posts with some keto chocolate recipes:
- Here is a 2018 post “Chocolate Cups without Refined Sugar”
- Here is a 2017 post with “Fat Bombs Chocolate Treats”
- Here is a 2021 post with a recipe for “5-Minute Dark Chocolate (No-Sugar)”
Nuts: We buy the large bags of RAW nuts (side note on almonds – it is actually healthier to not have raw almonds so we make sure they are pasteurized – or we blanch them). Sometimes the holidays included getting bags of nuts that were still in the shell. How fun it can be to slowly crack open various types of nuts, use a pick to get the pieces out, and just savor and enjoy nuts right from the shell. In fact, some folks remind us to not eat handfuls of raw nuts because if nature intended them to be cracked into slowly – perhaps we were meant to eat them slowly too.
Fruit: This year we are looking at giving out fruit baskets (with some ket chocolate treats) rather than cookie and treat plates (we give little goodies to our neighbors on Xmas Eve) but still thinking about what we want to do. I just don’t want to do a big sugar dump (because that is not us anymore). Here is an old photo of some treats we have out over the years.
Anyhow, the problem with fruit is that it can sneak in a lot of sugar. And anyone who has an auto immune disorder or illness should be limiting ALL sugar consumption. It makes me sad that our culture has been so dumbed down about many things that relate to health. It is actually scary. For example, we checked out a show called “1000lb Sisters” and in one episode – the 350lb father reminded his 600Lb daughter to be careful about eating too much fruit because of the high sugar. She responded by defending the fruit and said she was not dipping it into chocolate (something like that). We paused the show at that point and talked about the misinformation that exists about food and eating. The lies about how fat makes you fat, how canola oil is okay, the lie about how meat is bad, and the brainwashing that chemicals and corrupted foods are okay. And I guess recently China approved using GMO on crops – and will those be sold to the US? More chemicals coming our way.
Anyhow, if you are going to fight for your right to have so many servings of fruit a day – I just want to remind you that if your body needs healing and immune help – sugar hinders immune function. Fruit does have life-giving phytonutrients and vitamins – but if the gut health is off (and many people have candidiasis infection connected to their poor health) and if you need to heal – daily fruit might not be helping (but eating fruit sure is better than eating cookies made with cane sugar and canola oil).
7) Christmas Traditions
Not too many holiday traditions for us. We like a simple kind of Christmas that does involve some gift giving with some holiday activities – but over the years we intentionally scaled back. We had one really big Christmas (with gifts) but then if we had certain big gifts to give our children, we actually preferred to wait until spring to give them – did not want it connected with Christmas and then create all those expectations. Balance, flexibility and less stress became our focus. After we decided to stop traveling for the holidays (which was a tough thing to do but so helpful) we had the Christmas tradition of going to Ron’s empty house at Lake Gaston for a few days right after the Christmas Eve service. Those years were nice (and thanks, Ron).
8) What’s on the Table?
Ham used to be a regular Christmas dinner for us. I wonder if people still have a Christmas ham? Do you? My husband and I had our first Christmas together in 1995 and his mother made a huge Christmas ham. I still remember how good it looked with all those pineapples on it. She also had salad, asparagus, and other side dishes. Such a special Christmas because it was all about exciting new love.
9) Christmas Memories
In 2013, I had to chance to visit Buffalo, NY twice (where I grew up). The Christmas trip was last minute and was such a gift. (I have written about the trip before – the snow storm and treacherous driving conditions). Anyhow, after we arrived, I had a few days to myself because my boys were shuffled “away” from Buffalo and went to visit cousins in Ontario Canada. One night, I was in my Aunt’s guest room and had a memory lane experience. I looked out of the window and the snow was lightly falling on the street. The houses looked like they did when I was young. Suddenly I was 11 again. For a handful of years my family went to my Aunt’s house on Christmas Eve and snippets of those memories flooded back. It was an unexpected flashback and that experience still brings a smile now.
10) All I want for Christmas is….
All I want for Christmas is….. “world peace.” That was kind of a joke – thinking of Miss Congeniality – but I do pray that there will NOT be a war – and pray for peace between nations and within nations.
Photos in this post were all pulled from the archives. 🙂