Thursday, December 18, 2008

Canvas for Christmas: Day 4

Blog peeps... it has been getting to read about all of your traditions and memories. If anyone is starting to feel "grinchy" about the spirit of Christmas, all they need to do is read yesterday's comments and they would be set straight and filled up again. I'm so glad to know you all.

Now, for yesterday's canvas winner:

Vicky!!!!! :) chose your entry:

I had to visit you several times yesterday to read all the great comments! This is so fun : )

While we were growing up our church group would go caroling the Wednesday night before Christmas to anyone unable to leave their house : ) One of the stops was always at my grandpa's and grandma's house. Only this one year, he was in intensive care in the hospital. Our pastor, knowing how much it would mean to grandpa, got permission for us to carol through the halls of the hospital so that grandpa wouldn't be left out. The only thing we brought was our voices, our scriptures and prayers, but the way it reflected in the eyes of the recipients I could tell it brought CHRISTmas.

Now for the boys I am still figuring this out! I hope for some good suggestions through your comments! Thanks for letting me share : )

Congratulations!!! Christmas Canvas Giveaway

Here's today's canvas giveaway: IMG_3731

One of the fun things we did as little kids was to draw names for our K.K.s. That's known to most people as Secret Santa these days, but when we were little we called it Kris Kringle. It was fun to play Kris Kringle throughout the season... we'd keep our K.K.s secret (or at least we tried) and do nice things or leave little notes for each other. Stretches of time might go by when it was forgotten about until somebody would mention that their K.K. sure was slacking off... and then an insurgence of notes would be found around the house again. And finally on Christmas Eve we would give the special gift we had gotten for our secret K.K.

My nieces and nephews now draw names for each other and exchange presents at our family Christmas celebration. The last time I was home for Christmas was 2006, and during the gift exchange I was, of course, taking pictures. Alex - being the oldest - went first in the exchange process and gave his gift to Anna. She gave him a hug to say thank you and darn it if I didn't miss the shot by just a second.

So I made them reenact it.

And they humored their Aunt Sara... but to make sure I got the shot this time I said out loud, "Ok, hug... and HOLD." That way that pesky little shutter delay wouldn't matter.

Being the obnoxious little twirps they are (wonder where they get that from?) every time someone would exchange a gift and go to hug, all the kids would say, "aaaaannnnddd... HOLD!" until I got the picture I wanted. I tell them that someday they will thank me for all of these recorded memories, but for now they just roll their eyes and think I'm crazy.

I missed all the hugging-and-holding last year, but I did get a lot of calls on Skype to show me their presents and fill me in on who had their name that year. I love that all the cousins are loving each other and seem to get closer every year.

Scrap pages of them appeasing their Aunt Sara :) [click to enlarge]scrap page 48

Answer this question in the comment section to win today's canvas:
Did you have celebrations or traditions
with extended family/cousins?


  1. We always saw extended family during Christmas, but we alternated which side of the family we spent it with. Santa and his elves came over to the house on Christmas Eve and we took lots of pictures, then each cousin opened one gift. After opening gifts first thing Christmas morning with our immediate family, all of the extended family got back together to open gifts and celebrate with a huge meal. Remembering all that makes me wish I was a kid again!

    p.s. I adore this canvas. When I found your blog the other day I put the joy button in my sidebar.

  2. Those pictures are great! LOL you can see 'waiting for Aunt Sara' in their eyes. It is so fun hearing about your huge family!

    We all go to my Aunt Patsy's house to visit. There is a huge spread of food, tons of laughter, and stories. Oh, the stories! I am quite sure the ancestors on this side of the family were the history keepers back when things weren't written down. There is always a corner somewhere with a great story taking place at this get together. The only thing that beats the stories is the new ones we are making together.

  3. My mother's sister and family was usually with us (or we with them) at Christmas. That made 4 children instead of the 3 of us--not a great change. Then, as we entered our teens, two more babies showed up at my aunt's house. So Christmas was then about the two little ones -- a wonderful gift I think, though brought about, in part, through great heartache. No special traditions relative to cousins, though, except being together.

  4. Growing up, my cousins were all 12 years younger than me...and our parents did not get along so we never really spent any time with them. To this day I don't know much of anything about my cousins and their lives.

    And sadly my little ones are growing up without any cousins also. It is very high on my wish list that cousins might come into our family before our children are too old to have things in common.

    Your pictures really just reminded me again of that little spot in our hearts where cousins are missing. It's wonderful to see the fun your family was having! And I believe they will thank you for those photos one day!

  5. I am the oldest of 9 cousins on my mom's side, 7 of which are married now. (the 2 not married are 16 and 18) We have exchanged names for many years and lately it's been a CD, book, or movie exchange. My mom and her 2 sisters and brother would always give an ornament to each of the kids as we were growing up. We used to think that it was boring, but now my Christmas tree is full of ornaments that have so much meaning and I love to pull them out each year. Now that there are soon to be 8 great-grandchildren, we started the ornament tradition again for them. I love that we are carrying on that tradition. I'm sure my boys won't appreciate it until years from now, but we are very blessed to have the family we do.

  6. We have always had Christmas with our entire family. All the aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents! Everyone! We are not a huge family but it is so great to all be together. We buy for everyone, which can get expensive, but oh what fun to now see all the "kids" enjoying what we have enjoyed for years!

    The best part for me though is still the reading of the Christmas story right out of the Bible. It is normally my dad who reads and it is a sweet time to me!

    We are a blessed family. Even through all the losses and trials, Christ remains the center!

  7. Unfortunately my family did not live close to extended members while we were growing up. My fathers side lives thousands of miles away, and therefore we NEVER saw them ONE Christmas. With 12 brothers/sisters, it may have been fun??!!
    Now, we have a yearly 'supper' with one of my moms brothers and we enjoy good food, good company, and lots of laughter, no presents. I love it as it is new, and something we never experienced growing up.

  8. Great new Canvas!!!
    Hummm, there is only one cousin that I get to see all the time. It's Buddy, I think of him as a nephew because he's so much younger(I call him my nephew who thinks he's my cousin!)
    ...we argue about this all the time!
    We see Buddy a lot. He usually comes over on Christmas Eve and then has breakfast with us on Christmas day.

  9. We USED to drive all around Souther California, visiting all family members, distant or otherwise, and then one year we decided that we hated holiday traffic, so why do we keep killing ourselves in traffic? We asked family to come see us and they said that only morons drive on holidays in crazy California traffic.... We stopped our big family get togethers and holidays haven't been QUITE the same... However, I'm older and I appreciate having those memories. I just wish we lived in the same state as our kin so that Nicole could spend the holidays with her relatives! Now we have other doctors and med students share the holidays with us. It's fun, but not the same!

  10. Me? SERIOUSLY? You just sent two of THE most excited little boys out the door to school!!! 8-year- old was shouting and clapping and all excited, and then he asks the all important question "what's a canvas?"

    I'm beyond THRILLED! Thank you sweetie! You know I'll treasure it, how much I'll treasure it I'd never be able to express in words : )

    I have to answer your question today. "The cousins party" which it has come to be known as, is this Saturday. We no longer do gifts, but we do get together and have a potluck. There are 19 of us and we're all married with kids and those kids are starting to have kids! My cheeks will hurt from laughing so much all night. I will be sure to blog about it, although we're due for more snow : )

    Thank you! I'm so honored! Love you Sara!

  11. My Paternal Grandma had all her children and her sister's family over at her house for a Christmas Eve party. She had 8 kids (6 of which were boys), 7 of which had a minimum of 2 kids each. It was crazy to say the least! The funniest part of every party was that if you actually found an actual seat on the sofa or a chair and you stood up you had to shout to the world that you were coming back, or else your seat would be stolen in 2.5 milliseconds. But, if you said coming back and someone still took your seat you had full permission to kick them out.

    We also had the same thing for dinner; my Grandma would make stromboli with lefse. I now live to far away to attend this party and my Grandma is subcomed to Alzheimer's disease so now my Uncle and his family put it on-but they do not make the traditional dinner that Grandma made.

    Fun times.

  12. When I was very young, my family moved several states away from all of our extended family so we rarely spent Christmas with them. My dad's parents were amazing about driving the 14 hours to visit us several times a year. They always sent a box of gifts and homemade cookies so they were always a part of the festivities. Now, as they've gotten older, I send them homemade cookies and little gifts.

    I'm very grateful that my parents and my husband's parents are nearby so that our kids (when we have some :)) will have grandparents around for all the special events. Family is a blessing!

    PS. Loving each canvas more than the one before!

  13. Until just recently (the last few years), we all lived within 30 minutes of each other. Now they the kids are grown, and many have families of thier own, I guess that we will have to start some new traditions. In the past we've always celebrated Christmas Eve together and then Christmas Day everyone was "free" to spend in their own homes - except I always had breakfast ready for anyone who wanted to drop by, and more often than not, they did drop by! Oh how I will miss this!!! I love my kids and grandkids so much. I wish that I could be with them all each and every day!!!

    LOVE your scrapbook pages! Thank for sharing!

  14. This is about the same as my post yesterday. :) We would gather with my aunt, uncle and cousins and sing Christmas carols at our house on Christmas Eve. Then we'd go to candlelight church service. We would take my grandparents and cousins and drink hot cocoa while we drove around looking at Christmas lights either on our way to church or on the way home, depending what time service was.

  15. Our Christmas is all about extended family! Since all sides of both of our families live in the same town, we have always tried to do everything. We usually start Christmas eve, then have a lunch at noon, a 4:00 meal, then dessert/games at the final house. Every year we run like crazy people trying to fulfill all 4 of our different family obligations. This year, now that we are the ones that moved away, we are staying in Arkansas for Christmas. It is sad to miss out on all the traditional fun, but we are SO looking forward to making new traditions with our own children on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.

  16. My side of the family still all gets together with my mom's extended family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins . . . it's becoming a crowd for sure, but that's how we've always spent our Christmas Eves, and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Except maybe a "Choose Joy" sign made by you : ) My absolute favorite one, by far!

  17. I have three sisters but only one first cousin and our family got together with that family at Thanksgiving. So, no extended family Christmas tradition there. On the other hand, my husband has many first cousins and they all met at the grandparent's house the Saturday of the weekend before Christmas and all have wonderful memories of those times.

  18. I was an Army brat so I rarely saw any of my mom or my dad's families when I was growing up unless it was to pass quickly through their town on our way to Dad's next post. I knew my cousins, but was not close to them...and am not today. And I cannot remember a Christmas spent with anyone other than my immediate family.

    I had my children long before my brother had his so there is a 20 year difference in ages...and a huge difference in religious observance so we never celebrated with them, either.

    Today, we're just too geographically wide spread as a family to spend holidays together and the children are of an age that they prefer to celebrate at home with their families and friends. We will travel to our younger daughter's place 2 hours from here and spend Chritmas Eve with her and her family. I love our Christmas Eves together whether it is here or at her place. We'll spend time on the phone with the other kids and their kids and see them another time during the year for family time.

  19. Actually no, as sad as that is. When we were kids, we spent alot of time with our first cousins on the holidays, but now that we are grown up and moved away, we dont see each other anymore.
    :( Now I am sad!

  20. I can vividly remember going to my Grandma's house around Christmas time and walking into her house so full of excitement. The first thing I saw was fresh apple and cherry pies sitting on the ledge to the kitchen ( surprised we never knocked them off the ledge since my sisters and I were pushing each other out of the way to get close to them!). We would ALWAYS get a new pair of Grandma-made jammies for our gift, eat a big meal, and hang out in her lovely home.
    Now, we go to my Mom and Dad's house for a a fun and crazy day of food, fun, and lots of family. I have 4 sisters and we LOVE to be together at Christmas. There are 9 grandchildren and they LOVE to go sledding on Christmas in the backyard. I love seeing my Mom and Dad at the back window watching their grandchildren...they always have big, beautiful smiles on their faces!!!!

  21. We always spent Christmas with my Grandparents on my dad's side of the family. I had one cousin who we shared Christmas with! It was the best of times.

    My other cousins lived in other states, we usually saw them a couple of times a year, but never during the holidays.

    Wonderful week we are having reading all the much fun!

  22. I'm not leaving a comment for this particular blog but just to say that I read your comment on MckMama's blog and wanted to let you know....I read the comments you leave on other's and am always impressed! You have such a tender heart. You are the embodiment of a single woman that is not sitting around waiting for something or someone but rather reaching out and touching all who come near with love, life and joy!
    Thank you for sharing your life in the blog world!

    Pamela in TX

  23. For as long as I can remember my Mom's side of the family has always gotten together for Christmas. We actually just had our Christmas get-together this past Sunday.
    There is my grandmother, who was widowed in 1968. My mom is one of 5 children. I am one of the 11 grandkids,and there are currently 9 great grandkids. As the years have gone on you can imagine how our numbers have grown. We used to do a gift exchange where we would pick names, but we no longer do that. A couple years ago we tried doing a "dirty Santa" gift exchange...I've heard it called other names as well. It's the one where you get to steal gifts from one another if you like the other person's gift better. Well that got a little ugly so we have not done it since. LOL
    Right now it's just about getting together with one another and food of course. We have started a new tradition over the past few years where my mother makes a birthday cake and we sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. I know this tradition has really helped my 4 yr old son have a tangible impression of why we celebrate Christmas. Any time I ask him why we celebrate Christmas he confidently replies...."because it's Jesus' birthday!"

  24. can i buy these from you next year as christmas gifts? i love them!!

  25. Growing up my mom's side of the family would always get together on Christmas Day. We cousins would have a blast playing together. But then we grew up & some moved away, we got married & started having kids. So we don't get together for Christmas anymore but we were all together recently on Thanksgiving Day...1st time in many years.

  26. We always do Christmas with My MOMs side of the family on ChristMAS IN THE AFTERNOON. we SO A WHITE ELEPHANT GIFT EXCHANGE WHICH IS ALWAYS A BLAST

  27. To the choosing machine ... pick me! pick me! :)

    And to you Gitz, these are awesome. I think today's canvas is my favorite! You sound like me with the camera. I document our whole lives and it is AWESOME! Of course I am nine years behind in scrapping, but someday! :) You are so creative ... seriously!

    As to the traditions, we didn't live close enough for traditions with my cousins, although now my mom's side of the family gets together every year for what we call "Hoopla" on Memorial Weekend, so the cousins and all are kids are drawn together in this wonderful tradition.

    But, my hubby's family (8 kids, plus their kids and now grandkids) get together on the first Saturday of December to celebrate Christmas. All kids 18 and under get their names drawn for a gift that all adults 18 and older get to give. It is great fun to just spend the day together catching up, playing, eating and enjoying one another's company.

  28. We used to do a family drawing with everyone (50+ people!). Well, two drawings: adults & children. But that went south a couple of years ago when one person failed to buy their person a gift. Broke my heart (not because I was the one who didn't receive a gift) but because it was my favorite part of Christmas with my extended family. We would all open our gifts one person at a time - it took HOURS. Hours filled with cheer and food and love and happiness and not a little teasing and horsing around. This year, though, we are all (well, a lot of us) are getting together at Gram & Grampa's the Saturday after Christmas, and everyone is bringing a $20 gift. We'll randomly draw & figure out sharing when we get there. I see a lot of trading and wheeling & dealing in our future. Should be a blast!

    BTW, the family is in Iowa, so I'll be up there SOON! :)

  29. My family was too far away from relatives and so we had our own Christmas's. We celebrated on Christmas Eve because my dad usually had to work on Christmas day. I still love Christmas Eve.

  30. We used to always get together on Christmas Eve, but now the family is so large! It's been a few years since we've done it. Have a great Christmas!

  31. When I was little we would spend the night at my Granny and Papa's house with our aunts and uncles and cousins. We'd wake up together and do breakfast and presents then have a late lunch/early dinner. I remember me and my sister putting on a "play" for everyone or doing a dance for them in our new outfits. LOL! I always loved spending that time at their house. As a kid it all seemed so magical!

  32. Not really "extended family" I guess since the cousins on my mom's side live amid the knee deep snow and my dad's one brother lives clear across the country.

    My siblings and I along with their families plan a day--usually a weekend day and we get together and exchange presents. The adults all draw names on Thanksgiving so everyone has time for a stress free shopping experience--usually. Of course all the nieces and nephews get to ramble around together and open a ton of presents. One of my sisters compiled a dvd of the 1997 celebration and I have to say I really enjoy looking back and remembering all the fun we've had together. God has truly blessed me where family is concerned.

  33. Most of my family live in Middle Tennessee, so we see each other pretty regularly. Other than going to my Grandmother's house, we don't really have any that sad or what?

  34. We have a HUGE family on both sides, Mom's and Dad's, so too many cousins to really count. I mean, my Aunt Mary alone has 11 children, so there you go.

    Anyway, extended family Christmas' were lively and chaotic and fun as could be, and we were never at a loss for playmates. That said, I'd have to say that my favorite tradition with extended family has less to do with the cousins and more to do with the Uncles and Dad, and this would pertain to the Christmas get-together on Christmas Eve on my mom's side.

    At some point in time after our light supper and after we kids opened our gifts (NOT one at a time but all at once!), my dad and the uncles would loudly announce that they were going Christmas caroling. Now, it was completely plausible to me that they would do so for I have a Dad who has a singing voice very much akin to Frank Sinatra, and that's no joke!
    So I was really proud that Dad was a part of something that would give anyone priviledged enough to hear him sing such great pleasure! was years later that I was completely shocked to learn that the Christmas caroling never happened! Nope, instead, they went to each other's homes and 'played Santa Claus so that when we left for home afterward, we would come home to find that Santa had already been to our house!

    Beautiful canvas!, pick me, pick me! :)

    Blessings to you, dear Sara!

  35. My dad would always hold an auction on Christmas Eve. It's kind-of hard to explain, but dad would gather gifts throughout the year and use them at the auction. The youngest cousin would draw names out of a hat and the person picked could pick between two items my dad set aside. When everones name was called they had the choice of auctioning their gift off, trading it, or keeping it. The gifts ranged from a shovel, bath items, or a ham! It was always a lot of fun!

  36. We've never lived close to family, so we didn't have any celebrations or traditions with extended family. Just lots of talking on the phone to send happy wishes.

  37. I love reading your stories about your family.
    Our Christmas tradition is spending Christmas Eve with all of the aunts, uncles, and cousins on my mom's mom's (my nana) side of the family. My Nana has 10 brothers and sisters who all have kids and grandkids, and they've been doing the annual Christmas Eve thing forever. We all meet up at the "old place," which was my great grandparents house. This house is way out in the country, and most of the family ended up living "in town," and through the years, going out there has become known as "going across the river." In the old days, before there was a good bridge, going across that river was a big deal. Not everyone comes every year, but that little house is always bursting at the seams. We eat lots of great food, and exchange gifts with people whose names we drew. To end the night, the guys shoot off a fireworks show for everyone to enjoy while they're standing around the bonfire.