i am a gift-giver, and i tend to get carried away at christmas time, often to the point of getting really stressed out because i'm trying to find or create the perfect gifts that will perfectly communicate the love & knowledge i have for my loved ones. and... far too often i wait until the last minute. but i was determined to approach the season differently this year. the stress & intensity i take into the month can so easily over-shadow the season of celebrating Christ's birth. 

so i planned way ahead this year. i started making lists for each person months ago, mostly kept to it, & kept it simple. the kids each got some new books, jammies, a softie, a down comforter + duvet (per already had one, so i made him a pillowcase), a couple of instant-gratification playthings (miniatures for heron's woodland scenes she creates in vintage crates on the wall beside her bed, some Legos & playmobil things for the boys), and wooden blocks to share.

christmas day was followed by two celebrations with extended family--the garrels/bent family for the following two days after christmas, then the ramsdales after that, along with my mom out from north carolina for the week, into the new year.

what a perfect end to 2015! a month of mostly rest, followed by familial celebration. we felt wholly ready to embrace the new year, to dive back into work & school & routines, after a whole month away. i am liking this year-round schooling thing!