Thursday, November 12, 2009

Holiday Spirit

The holidays are upon us, whether we like it or not. To most people the holidays mean stress, unless list of what to buy, make and cook, more stress, more list and stress. This is how the holidays can get when the meaning gets lost in all the craziness that the commercial world tries to thrush on all of us, especially our children. Believe me I'm so guilty of this problem. When things get out of hand I pull out this layout:

I made this layout a few years back when I went to CKU-Detroit. I'm happy to say it won for best journaling - a huge shock for someone that is not considered a good writer. But I think that what I wrote really helps me keep the holidays into perspective and I try to think about it when I start to feel the stress monster trying to take over. Here's what I wrote:

My first memory of this photo was when I was about 7 years old. I could tell by the tree in the background that it was Christmas time, but I couldn't understand why everyone looked so sad. When I asked my mom about this she explained that it was during the war. It was a scary time. The didn't have much, and they lived with daily air raids and Nazi's in town. They always had to cover all the windows with heavy, dark blankets so no light would be seen from the outside. Their lives consisted of things like air raids, out houses, one-room schoolhouses, Nazi's, and war. I could not relate.

Then her eyes lit up as she pointed to the doll. "You see that doll. It was my favorite. I got her every year for Christmas with a new outfit." To a 7 year old, that was a very strange comment. To get the same small doll every year, and be happy with it, was she crazy? At Christmas, I expected a tree surrounded by presents, and not the same ones as last year.
Now that I'm older and have my own children, I look very differently at this picture. I wish I could teach my children the sory the picture tells. Christmas is not measured by the amount of presents you get, or if you received the latest gizmo or the coolest techno toy. It's about family. About being safe. It's knowing that someone loves you enough to make a new outfit for your favorite doll. I don't see sadness in the picture now. I see the love and pride it took a family to get through the hard times of war, and the joy that Christmas time brought to them.
I see the true meaning of Christmas.

The grey text says die zutreffende Bedeutung von Weihnachten; which is the true meaning of Christmas in German.

The picture was taken in 1944 in German.

Well, I'm in tears now from re-typing the journaling. My kids thing I'm crazy, but this really makes me grateful for what I have and everything my parents and grandparents had to live through.

What helps you keep your sanity during the busy holiday season? I would love to know.


  1. Wonderful journaling and layout. Easy to see why you got an award for it. Thanks for sharing it with us.
    Popping in from Shimelle's class.

  2. Thank you for sharing your childhood memorie.
    My mother was a little girl in Norway during the war and I don`t think there was one Christmas without her telling stories from those Christmas celebrations. How her mother tried to save apples to hang on the tree, the lack of gifts, the joy of receiving a pair of mittens...
    My mother is not with us anymore and I wish I had payed more attention to her stories.


  3. What a wonderful today's commercialised world,it's good to try and show children the true meaning of mum told similar stories of living through the blitz in London.

  4. Wow, your story brought a tear to my eye. It really shows what Christmas is all about. Thanks for this beautiful reminder... and you are a great writer!

  5. Hi, just checking in from the HIH-class to see how things are at your spot of the world. Love this LO, the photo and the junaling! No wonder it won - what a beautiful reminder of the true Christmas spirit - love & togetherness. Thank you for sharing! :)