Monday, December 7, 2009

Let's Pretend

I cannot count the number of times as a child that I remember saying to my sister, "Let's pretend..." Worlds of fun open up in the times following those two simple words. Now, I overhear Benjamin and Hannah saying it to each other multiple times a day as well. 


Let's pretend that you live just down the street from me, and Mark and I invite you to our Parsonage Open House (which occurred in reality yesterday).  Even though it's frigid outside, you bundle up in your warm coat, scarf and gloves and head over to my house.  Here's how it will go.

Welcome to our home!

As you sign our guestbook, take note of the sweet message left for you from Benjamin and Hannah.

Our mini-host and hostess will be glad to serve as your tour guide if you'd like them to!

First things first!  Grab a plate of goodies to munch on while you are perusing our home.  There's lots to choose from...

here's fudge, apricot balls, and chocolate-caramel apple slices...

and peanut clusters and macadamia-craisin clusters...

dipped apricots and pecans, or maybe a cheeseball is more your thing...

there's hot dips, too--jalapeno and bacon or spinach-artichoke...
(I have no idea why Blogger is turning my pictures sideways...let's pretend they are turned the way they are supposed to be!)

I always love summer sausage, cheese and crackers, and maybe you will, too!

You can have a brownie or piece of strawberry bread to top off your plate.  And don't forget the cider!

Why don't you have a seat and enjoy your munchies?  If you had an hour, I'd tell you all about our tree and how almost every ornament has a story behind it.  But I know you are busy, so I'll just tell you about a few of my favorites.

This delicate laser-cut paper nativity always hangs near the top in the center of the tree--signifying why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.

This little nativity ornament caught my eye last fall when I was in Cancun.  I collect nativities, but this one is housed inside a little gourd, making it very unique.

This is the ornament that started it all!  Mark and I bought this on our honeymoon in Hawaii in April 2000.

This one comes with lots of memories attached.  I bought it in San Luis Obispo, CA over the Thanksgiving holiday in 1993.  I played basketball my freshman year in college, and we were in California for a tournament.  The ornament signifies my love for basketball, but that trip was an especially difficult one for me.  It was my first time ever to be away from my family for Thanksgiving, and just three weeks earlier, my roommate/best friend/teammate had been killed in a car accident.  My introduction to "life" as a freshman in college that year was a little more than I bargained for.

Bittersweet memories here, too.  This "Beary Christmas" ornament belonged to my sister, Susan, a lover and collector of all things with teddy bears.

This sweet Fitz & Floyd teddy bear was my gift from an ornament exchange in 1997.  We went to the party assuming it was a "get-to-know each other" party with my sister's boyfriend's family.  What it really was was an opportunity for both families to be together for that "boyfriend" of my sister's to become that "fiance" of my sister's, complete with Santa delivering the engagement ring!

Over the years I've been given picture frame ornaments which have become great ways to capture my children's pictures over the years.  The one to the left was given to us at Benjamin's baby shower and has his first picture as an infant in it.

And here's Hannah in her "First Christmas" ornament and with me in the "Mommy's Little Angel" ornament.

Since you've finished your goodies, feel free to look around.  There's decorations all over the house, so make yourself at home!

Being a pastor's wife, I'm a little partial to churches.  Here are a few of my favorites!

Right above the churches on the mantle, "the stockings are hung by the chimney with care."  No, I didn't needlepoint our stockings, as many people asked me yesterday.  I ordered them here.

In the kitchen, I have my Santa collection displayed.  It was not intentional on my part to start collecting Santas.  A gift here and a gift there, and the next thing you know, I have these and...

all of these!  The three little guys on the bottom shelf are the ones that started it all!

Having a collection of nativities was an intentional effort on my part, since they do serve as a constant reminder of the reason behind this special season that is often overcome by commercialism.  Mark and I bought this set for our first Christmas together, and it has travelled many miles with us.  This is the third parsonage it's lived in!

This table shows several of my favorites.  The Jim Shore nativity there in the middle is earmarked for Benjamin one of these days.  Mark and I decided that we wanted our children to have a special "First Christmas" gift that would always be memorable to them and us, so we chose a nativity set for each of them.  We will give them their set when they have a home of their own in which to put it.

This set is Hannah's.  I will have a hard time parting with both of them when that time comes--they are two of my very favorites.

For now, though, Benjamin claims this one as his...

...and Hannah claims this one.  Notice how she set this up.  When I display mine, my focus is on getting everyone positioned just right so that their faces can be seen by those admiring them.  When Hannah and Benjamin set theirs up, everyone faces Baby Jesus--no worries about perfection, just focused on the "main thing."  Quite a lesson for this mommy.

We're getting close to the end of our tour.  These are a few of my favorite decorations.  They sit in my kitchen and were given to me a few years ago by two families in our congregation.  They are just so colorful and fun!  I can't help but smile when I look at them, and I use the platter every chance I get during the Christmas season!

Benjamin and Hannah's bathroom becomes adorned with snowmen at Christmas!  Shower curtain, bath mats, towels and all!

And a few more here...

...and there.  No, I do not spend a fortune on Christmas decorations.  Being a pastor's family, we often get gifts during this time of year, and many of them are decorations!  So we certainly have many more than we did when we started almost ten years ago!

These also hang in the kids' bathroom.  They didn't cost me a dime, but they are priceless.

You'll notice a few more nativities on my bedroom dresser.  (I love how this picture turned out!  It was not on purpose, believe me!)

The last thing I want you to see is our newest family tradition, most likely to become my favorite.  This is our Jesse Tree.  I had never heard of a Jesse Tree until a few months ago, and I absolutely love the concept.  This is the book we are using.  I hope to eventually gather "real" ornaments for each story, but for now the paper ones I printed out work just fine.  It's not the ornaments that are the most important part, anyway.

I know the rest of your day is busy, but I'm so glad you took a few minutes to drop by.  Please come back again when we can sit down and just visit.

Merry Christmas!

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