Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Link Love 2013

Aaaah, are we really half way to Christmas Eve already?

I swear this year the time seems super-charged, speeding by daily even faster than before. There are moments when I feel like the days are zooming away from me and I am sitting in stillness watching them. When I have moments when I look up and become aware of it, I get a feeling of vertigo in my heart.

Is this really the last year I'll celebrate Christmas with my baby before "Christmas break" will become a factor in the process? *sniff*

OK, shake it off, shake it off... the last thing I need is to be sitting in stillness and gloom. So... let's shift the focus, shall we?

How's the holiday decking, prepping, and shopping coming along?

I'm sure everyone who knows me- either in person or through this space- knows how I feel about the commercial focus on the winter holidays that seems to be unavoidable these days. I believe that we are robbing ourselves of something truly meaningful and special when we let the pressures and expectations of the gifting portion of the season rule. Easier said than done, I know, but if we all take just a tiny half-baby-step out of the mainstream every year, we might actually make a shift of focus happen, don't you think?

I mean, honestly, be fair: the logistics, the meals, the family dynamics... they all deserve their turn at burdening you, too! (ha!)

All kidding aside, though, wherever you are in your planning and such, I'd like to offer this quote that I found inspiring, from the editor of taproot and a blogger I much admire:

"Each year, we have the choice to reclaim these yearly celebrations. These long-held rituals and holy days can be what we want for them to be. When the holiday blur stars to appear, when I find myself counting down the days and making another holiday to-do list, I try to remember this. Simple and special. We can create days of celebration to reflect the way we live, and the ways we'd like to be. It's about how we want our precious family days to be spent, how we choose to live, love and share together, without breaking us down with stresses and deadlines and broken budgets, or fretting the days away. The effort we extend to those around us as we celebrate these days can lift our collective spirits, and honor the very hearth and homes that nurture us all year long." ~Amanda Soule

So well said, don't you think? I've carried this sentiment with me every year, and even though I too have to take baby steps in the direction I'd ultimately love to stride in, I feel like every little handmade thing, every moment spent with mind cleared and family encircled, and every decision made consciously and deliberately inches us closer to that ultimate goal: simple and special.

I am not, however, anywhere close to being free of to-do lists and pressures. (Were you picturing me frolicking in a winter wonderland with hair flowing, birds singing, and my children prancing around me in perfect harmony?) I have, however, found a few things that seem like they might make me feel a little closer to it (the free of pressures part, not the frolicking part).

Need a little extra inspiration? Here's what I'm appreciating so far this season:

This fabric has inspired tons of homemade gifts, gift tags, and ornaments. Love it.
These markers have also enabled some cool crafts and projects that will be gifted this year.
A favorite standby for friends and family of all ages is this tutorial, and the possibilities are endless!
I'm also a huge fan of consumable gifts, and in the past we've found hits with both sweet and savory options.

Already wrapping? Try these too-cute free printable labels!
Save a little money and think outside the box for wrapping paper.

And- of course- for some gift ideas with a capital 'G,' many of the ideas in past link love posts are still good ones; for women in your life revisit this post, for men, this one, and of course there's always the tried-and-true still-good stuff here.

However you approach this creature that is the winter holidays, do it with conviction that they will be what you make of them. So ask yourself: What do you want them to be?

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