I am extroverted by nature and love spending time with lots of people. I am energized by the crowd. Sometimes; however, when I spend a lot of time with people and have lots of different conversations, I have a hard time winding down and falling asleep. Last week at MOPS we brought our entire remote staff in to engage in our annual strategic planning. I was thrilled because the majority of my staff is remote and we spend most days connecting via Facetime, phone and Zoom so having time in person was wonderful.
I found myself restless at the end of the week. I was processing plans, replaying meaningful conversations and honestly had a lot planned for the weekend as I was hosting a large party at my house. I decided to stop tossing and turning and make my way downstairs so I didn’t wake my husband.
I walked around the Christmas tree and began reminiscing. My tree is a story tree. It is a bit of a hodge podge so to speak but so many ornaments hold sentimental value to me. A green felt ornament with my oldest son, Justin, centered in the middle with his first grade smile. An ornament with Spencer’s old football number, Taylor’s picture secured in a hot glue gunned popsicle stick triangle. Then there is Lexi’s picture,surrounded by gold painted noodles her beautiful smile and the “ I cut my own bangs with play scissors” look that she sported as a preschooler one year. Our first year married Christmas ornament which is now 33 years old. The beautiful ornaments my sister has given me over the years and the ones we have collected on our travels. Then one in particular caught my eye – It says, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”. Santa is kneeling in prayer at the manger. It is sweet. I then glanced over to my nativity scene and the lights from the tree reflected so beautifully on the manger scene.
It is the season, the birth of the Christ child. The celebrations of it all. Looking at the baby Jesus in the manger made me grateful that He is not just the reason for the Christmas season but He is the Reason. The meaning to our earthly lives. This Christmas let’s not leave baby Jesus in the manger. As fellow Christians let’s love all people well and share the hope that is only found in Him. Those thoughts allowed me to settle back into bed and I slept so peacefully.
I realize Christmas can be so hard for many. I know we have had our years when the thoughts of Fa La La seemed impossible. This year many we know are struggling with health issues and the sadness that comes with the loss of those we love. Even more reason to stop and share God’s love. Let’s be mindful of the Reason this holiday season and beyond.
Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas!
Isaiah 9:6 NIV For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
2 Qt Cranberry/Mango Juice
2 Qt. Pulp Free Orange Juice
2 Liter 7 Up
2 Mandarin Oranges
1/2 c. Pomegranate seeds
1/2 c. Fresh Cranberries
Fresh Rosemary Sprigs
In large punch bowl combine juices and 7 Up. Add ice
Then slice oranges and limes. Add sliced fruit, pomegranate seeds, cranberries and fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish.
- This can easily be turned into a Holiday Rum Punch by adding Blue Chair Coconut Rum *
Dissolve : 1 Large box of orange jello in 1/2 c. boiling water
Add: 1/2 c. orange juice – pulp free
1 lb. of cranberries, finely chopped ( use a blender or food processor)
1 1/2 c. pineapple tidbits , drained
1c. chopped apple
1c. chopped walnuts
1/2 c. chopped celery
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
3/4 c. sugar
orange zest of 1 small orange
Mix well and chill overnight.
Cheesy Brussels Sprouts
4 slices of Bacon
1 Large Yellow Onion, chopped
1 clove Garlic, minced
2 lbs. Fresh Brussel Sprouts, cut in half
1 1/2 c. Whole Milk
1 c. Chicken Broth
4 Tablespoons of Unsalted Butter
5 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
3/4 c. Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Tablespoon Dried Thyme
Ground Pepper to taste
1 1/ 2 c. Grated Sharp White Cheddar
Paprika for Garnish
Step 1 :
Heat a large skillet and crisp cook the bacon. Transfer to a plate and cool. Pour off all but approximately 2 Tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan. Add the onion and minced garlic. Cook until onion is translucent. Scrape the onions and garlic into the bottom of a large shallow 9×13 baking dish. Spreading evenly across the bottom. Set aside.
Preheat Oven to 375 degrees. Bring large pot of salted water to a boil then add the sprouts and cook until tender. Drain thoroughly and transfer to the baking dish.
Combine Milk and Chicken Broth in saucepan Bring to simmer, remove from heat.
Melt butter in a large saucepan . Add the flour and cook at medium heat for approximately 1 minute until golden brown. Whisk in half of the hot milk and broth. Heat and whisk for another minute or so until mixture is thickened. Add the remaining liquid and cook for 5 minutes, whisking frequently.
Whisk in the parmesan cheese , mustard , thyme, salt and pepper. Pour the sauce mixture evenly over the sprouts. Crumble the crisp bacon over the top and then sprinkle evenly the white cheddar cheese. Dust lightly with paprika.
Bake at 375 degrees in center oven for approximately 30 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.
It is Thanksgiving week in the United States and nothing screams tradition to me more than the Thanksgiving holiday. We have traditions in our family and I bet you have them in yours. Where did they come from? Are they worth passing on? Those are the questions I have been asking myself at the beginning of this holiday season.
“It’s that time again!” Having something to look forward to that is just around the corner is a wonderful part of our human experience. I will be hosting Thanksgiving dinner for my side of the family and I am really looking forward to it. We eat a very traditional meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pie and the like. We are a family that is ok with trying new things too and many of the recipes we have explored in recent years have now become part of the tradition. Our favorite being a brussels sprout casserole and a cranberry salad. I might add that only my sister in law, Tanja, is allowed to make them. She just has the magic touch. * see sherricrandall.com for recipes*
Food and the holidays can trigger nostalgia and anticipation. I realize for many it can also trigger unpleasant memories and can be a difficult time of the year. The great thing about traditions is you get to decide what you want to move forward with. I am challenging myself to think about why I have continued with something and have I made it worthwhile for my kids to continue one day when they have their own families. Good things to ponder.
Traditions help us with a healthier and happier outlook on life. They bond us with our family and friends. I believe we have an innate drive to build them which in turn helps with our finding fulfillment and belonging. It is the anticipation and the joy.
Traditions may change and evolve over the years and some just need to stay the same. I hope I got you thinking about yours. From my home to yours – I wish you a season to be thankful for!
I would love to hear about your favorite Thanksgiving traditions.