Monday, December 12, 2011

What do you want Christmas to be like?

Yesterday, I had this grand idea that we would spend our "Family Time" making these cute snowman ornaments I saw on Pinterest.

Oh I wanted cute ornaments made from my children's handprints. Cute and crafty and creative ornaments. . .ornaments with matching snowflake ribbon that went with the theme of snowmen. Transformed ornaments that would remind me in years to come of how small my kids' hands were.

I envisioned all 7 of us painting and creating while we laughed and talked and enjoyed being together.

And then I lost it.

Because 2 ornaments broke before we even got paint on them. . .I mean in the first 2 minutes.

Because Rob insisted we put down a drop cloth and I could not wait the 3 minutes for him to go find it. . I wanted to start creating beautiful art now.

Because the kids were so excited to get started that they painted their own hands and then grabbed the ornament and it looked like a big ol blob of white paint. .and each kid had to go wash their hands. . .me yelling not to touch anything. . .and we had to wash the paint off all the ornaments, dry them, and start over.

It was not as easy or as quick as I had envisioned when I read the tutorial.

Because when I was teaching the kids how to draw hats and eyes and carrot noses, they were not listening. . .they just wanted to be artists and go for it. . do it their way, not mine. And I wanted them to look pretty.

Because David wanted to draw baseball caps on his snowmen and I said no. And so then he drew tongues sticking out of the snowmen's mouths. . .until I told him to stop. . . in not the most pleasant voice. Do you see the tongues below?

Oh, we so set the tones in our homes. And it is a privilege and an honor that we as moms and wives get to create the home atmosphere for our family. And I so messed up. Ugh.

I want a home atmosphere of peace and joy. . .and especially at Christmas.

And here I have gone into Christmas with massive to-do lists. Christmas (and just regular life) is not about moving thru the to-do list.

You'd think I would know that. . me who writes at The Intentional Home. . me who wrote a post about this exact topic last year.

I need to stop and think about what I really want this holiday season to be like for my family, for my home.

I need to figure out if my expectations of Christmas are realistic?

What stresses me out this time of year?

What activities do I so want to make sure happen this Christmas?

What would make this Christmas the best one yet?

I am going to ask Rob and the kids these questions over dinner tonight. What do they want to make sure happens this Christmas season? What would they rather skip? I am also going to apologize.

I should have started this Christmas season not with a to-do list, but by being intentional. By figuring out what we Soutters want Christmas to be like. And I did not. I got swept away with decorating and putting dates on the calendar and making lists and shopping and making handprint snowman ornaments.

Tell me. . .what do you want your Christmas to be like?

And even after reading this post, if you still want to make some handprint snowman ornaments, check out the tutorial here.


  1. Thank you for your honesty!

    PS - there's no way I'm trying to make these after your experience :)

  2. I think all of us have had moments like this at some point but the good thing is when we realize what we are doing and learn that all important lesson. I love the tongues ;) and with grown boys can promise you that 15 years from now you will all laugh as these come out of the box to hang and be filled with love at the story.

  3. I saw these and was very sad to think that my kids may be too big to do them. My oldest is 8 and will probably add mustaches and who knows what else! So I am happy to see yours (tongues and all) because now I think maybe they have not gotten too big to give it a try. Regarding the rest of your blog, please know that your honesty blesses us. We need to know we aren't the only ones who are imperfect! I am sure you and Jesus will redeem the crafting experience to one that can be used for Kingdom glory. Also - I have a little Christmas notebook/journal, mainly for listing out who got what each year. This helps me to not repeat gifts, mostly, but it also helps me keep a little perspective. There are random reminders in it, like "Remember who's birthday we are celebrating!!" My favorite one is this - and I need daily reminders of it: "Make your family feel just as important, welcome and loved as your holiday guests."
    Great post!

  4. You have no idea how much I appreciate you keeping it real here. Some of the blogs I follow say that their home is nearly always orderly (and they have 9 kids). I spend the rest of the day beating on myself after I read that kind of thing. I love your transparency and appreciate your wisdom so much!

  5. Ha ha! I can so relate to your post! I love you Su Soutter. You are so real and honest.

    I wish my kids had small hands so we could do that craft, but I would need cantaloupe sized ornaments now! :)

    I really want to check out the nativities from around the world next year, and I plan to go see the gingerbread houses in Cary this year! Thanks for updating that post about Christmas events in the Triangle.

    Some of the highschool productions are fabulous. I saw Leesville's Choral Winter concert because my daughter sings in it. It was so moving, I cried! Only $3 a ticket but it sells out quickly.

    I'm going to Joy of the Season tomorrow. If High School kids can sing and bring music to the Hallelujah Chorus, they can sing at the end and get in free. I think this might be for anyone, but it may be just for Leesville Choral students since the director at Leesville is good friends with the Joy of Season director.

    Carla D.

  6. i think they are adorable ornaments!

  7. This is a great post! It reminds me of last year when I set up a craft for the family to do on Christmas Eve. We each had about 2 words we needed to choose to describe what Christmas is about. Not everyone was as enthusiastic as I was but we had a nice time. I used my card stock scraps, I bought foam dots to create a layered pop effect and we cut out ransom letters. At one point I was so concerned about the final outcome that I almost missed the moment of togetherness itself. Thanks for reminding me again to keep the main thing - the main thing!

  8. We have been so busy running around and shopping, having playdates and decorating that we hadn't done any real relaxing and talking about what's important this season. oh, we bought presents for children whose parents might not be able to help Santa this year, but i felt like even that message was lost in the rush and bustle of Target. So this past Sunday we took a break. We went to church, had lunch at home and then the kids watched a christmas special. When it was done we tidied up their rooms and gathered to do some important things. We caught up on our advent calendar (11 days worth). We brought out all of our holiday books and put them in a pile to read one each night leading up to the big night. We opened our "what does God want for christmas" kit - by the makers of resurrection eggs - and read the first 4 stories. My boys opened the boxes and placed Gabrielle, Mary, Joseph and Jesus in the nativity scene. At dinner we talked about what it is that we're getting ready for at this time of year and why it's important that Jesus chose to be born (in order to save us). a new week has started, super busy again, but next weekend we'll take some more time out to talk about what's important to us this season.

  9. I so appreciate your humbleness in the post. I, too, have an agenda and "lose" it with my children. I have often had to apologize multiple times. We are all sinners and broken and in need of Jesus…especially in this season of expectations. I will pray for you and me that the season….is all that we expect and Jesus' birth will be enough. Thanks for all your wonderful posts!!

  10. THANKS for making me feel "normal" and reminding me of what is important and letting go of "my idea" of how the project should be. It is the memory of making the ornament that they will remember (and us yelling at them....).

  11. Oh Su, you made me laugh more because you are so transparent and sweet, and what happened to you, happens to everyone I'm sure! might not be decorating ornaments (which by the way are ADORABLE!!) but with many other small things, deep inside we mean well, and you know something?

    Some of the chaos growing up, getting ready for Christmas Eve (midnight service, eat late, dance, open gifts and do it again Christmas Day and New Year's (big partay till 6 am the next day), and of course Three Kings Party with literally the entire neighborhood (in a small house with no backyard) the food prep, the decorating, the hosting tons of people, the zillion kids running everywhere, are some of my MOST favorite memories ever, it's what our kids loved when they would experience it in Mexico (here is kinda of not boring but much low key because it's only us and a few friends).

    My point is that the chaos is sometimes fun, more if it's not often, we are humans and sometimes things don't happen perfectly, being together, all healthy, caring and helping each other in different ways is what matters the most, decorating the tree together singing songs, making cookies, giving to and doing something for others, playing in the snow if get any are some of the ones they will remember forever. Kids grow up and some of these activities might not be the same and even when mine whine about having to do some, they will always remember them, like baking a cake and singing Happy Birthday on Christmas Day for Baby Jesus.


  12. We want to live this Christmas as a family and with intention! and to make this happen we want to plan a Christmas Family Meeting. It is not too late to do it!

    Here is a simple plan on how to have a Christmas Family Meeting. You'd be surprised on how much you can learn and how much fun you can have.

    1-Look at your calendar right now, yes, now! and choose a night, or morning, whatever works better for your family, and reserve 1 hour for a family meeting.

    2-Have your family commit to this time as family time (you could even send e-vites or make simple invitations)

    3-Make a plan for your Christmas family meeting: Write down all the activities that are coming up in the following weeks, plus the ones you would love to do, and the ones you will need help with. Also, write a theme you would like to discuss, like family goals for the next year! All this will be discussed during the meeting. Ask everybody for their plans...and dreams if you'd like! The purpose of this meeting is to learn everybody's expectations for the holidays and organize the family calendar together for the rest of the year.

    4-Choose a game, a Christmas craft, jingles, or a Christmas movie to enjoy at the end of the Family meeting.

    5-Make it happen and don't forget to have fun!

    A gift for you from Families to Families

  13. Loved reading this, Su! Love your transparency and honesty....and the ornaments. They are full of your family's personality. My favorite is the one with the tongue out. :)

    Thanks for giving me the link to this one on my blog. :)


  14. PS - If I remember right.... I think a friend of mine is (or was?) your neighbor....? Lisa Harmon? Or maybe Christina Gainor? I think it was one of those girls who led me to your blog....

    1. Hi Dana-

      Yes, Lisa is my neighbor. She and her husband are funding my kids' summer mission trips. Matt and Lisa hire my Anna to babysit (which she love their kids) and David to mow their grass. I look forward to getting to know them even better.


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