End of the year. [601-645]

I had a whole post typed up about why it didn’t really feel like Christmas for us this year. It was full of a lot of rambling emotion and more information than you probably needed. Upon reading it, I realized that it wasn’t something I wanted to dwell on or remember in the future, so I erased it.

I was still happy about Christmas. My favorite time of the year. And I’m thankful for my family doing their best to share a little Christmas with us this year, even from miles away (this was my first Christmas away from ‘home’). And I’m thankful that my husband did not work on Christmas (he worked over Thanksgiving) so we were able to enjoy the holiday together, the three of us, our new little family.

I’m looking forward to the year ahead. Praying that it will be an easier year than the last two. Praying that next year will bring more joys and successes than the last two. Praying for peace. Praying for calm. Praying for positive change.

And with that, here the final gifts I thought to note for 2016….

601. gingerbread cookies. 602. foggy morning. 603. sliver of sunlight at the end of the day. 604. kisses upon soft baby cheeks. 605. white holiday lights. 606. magazines in the mail. 607. fleece leggings. 608. slippers. 609. warm electric blanket. 610. peppermint candy. 611. fluffy, cozy black cat being a sleepy bum. 612. jealous dog love. 613. first snowflakes on the ground. 614. peppermint fudge. 615. peppermint mocha. 616. smile in my baby’s eyes. 617. swaddle blankets. 618. strong mama hen surviving a fight with a predator. 619. chickens taking care of each other. 620. finding baby chick alive after thinking it was dead. 621. holiday brunch with dear people. 622. warm, sticky cinnamon rolls. 623. holiday dinner with a group of wonderful people. 624. lovely house all decked out for the holidays. 625. wintergreen. 626. white fir. 627. clean baby after a bath. 628. baby sleeping a lot at night. 629. unusual sixty-degree day sandwiched between two cold days. 630. cinnamon-scented pine cone decorations. 631. icy imprints of frozen leaves. 632. husband working long hours to keep us financially afloat. 633. marvelous Christmas program performed by the kids at my church. 634. real smiles from my little baby! 635. Kyle being home for not just one but three days! 636. baby being awake for longer periods of time and interacting a bit. 637. friends that have become family. 638. light flurries on Christmas. 639. strange warm weather being a tease. 640. clearing out clutter. 641. packages arriving through the mail. 642. Costco membership again! 643. quick coffee. 644. hope for the year ahead. 645. having this place to write….

Cheers. ❤

Meowy Christmas.

Hardest season so far? Yep.

Also one of our most exciting seasons! Funny how that works.

But…. Incredibly blessed to have wonderful family and friends (our friends are amazing) saying prayers and sending words of encouragement our way. Thankful that we are all still in good health. That’s what matters the most, right? That, and we have a place to call home, even if some nights are really cold and our pantry is just an assortment of flours and croutons and sauces on most days.

Most of all, thankful for God who has been working beautifully through everything. Surprises have brought me to tears. Faith is stronger each day. In awe.

Hardest season? Yep. But honestly, I’m glad we had it.

If anything, it’s making us more appreciative of this life we have (as if I haven’t been showing enough gratitude — you know I love to list the things I’m happy for), and stronger for any hurdles that may be ahead.

Again, soooo thankful for each and every one of you. I am filled with love constantly. Words cannot express how much all your support means to us. I want to give every one of you a giant hug and a million dollars.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas, joyous season, and blessed New Year! ❤

Or as our cats would say….. “Meowy Christmas.”

Bogart being silly. Zuka didn't want anything to do with this.
Bogart being silly. Zuka didn’t want anything to do with this.

Ten Gifts For A Minimalist

I had a conversation with a co-worker about the upcoming winter break in which I expressed looking forward to extra time for myself to pursue passions. She told me that she wasn’t looking forward to how busy she was going to be. I asked why she would be so busy and she responded with, “I have to do so much Christmas shopping!” Later in the afternoon, I contacted a friend to wish her a happy birthday and ask how she was doing. She responded back with, “I’m doing good, busy with looking around to buy gifts for Christmas.” In both of these exchanges, I informed the women that I was not purchasing holiday gifts this year for anyone and had requested that people do not buy me gifts. I then rattled off my reasons – most of which were addressed in my previous post. Overall, I thought about the huge sense of relief I get from knowing that I don’t have to buy gifts this year!

But then, it got me thinking. What does one gift to a minimalist, especially if they really want to continue in the holiday ‘tradition’ of buying gifts for their friends and family? I came up with ten things a minimalist would love. Most of these gifts are also great for people who aren’t considered minimalist:

1) eBooks. eBooks are perfect. They can be cheaper than hard copies and a minimalist can have an entire library of books in one device! A person doesn’t actually need a Kindle or alternate eBook device to receive these books; several eBook apps are available for various smartphones. I have the Kindle and Borders apps on my own iPhone. Personally, I would rather have a hard copy of a book because I love the ability to borrow and exchange books as well as flipping through pages, but I wouldn’t turn down an eBook.

2) Restaurant gift cards. This is actually one of the gifts I requested (and received) during a Secret Santa gift exchange that I had to participate in last weekend. I don’t want things. I don’t need things. But I definitely appreciate a nice meal out! Good food goes a long way.

3) Tickets. One thing I have come to value lately are experiences. Experiences matter so much more than possessions. As long as it matches their interests, tickets to a concert, movie, art show, sporting event lecture, etc. will provide your minimalist friend with rich, memorable experiences they can take with them wherever they go.

4) Gift memberships. Whether it be a year’s membership to a local gym, museum, zoo, and other cultural endeavors or a six-week yoga course, a membership is a wonderful way to allow a person to enjoy exercise and culture in a meaningful way.

5) Charitable donations. If your gift recipient is passionate about a cause/charity/organization, a charitable donation made in their name is a very thoughtful gift.

6) Something handmade. While minimalists may not like to acquire stuff, they would prefer a handmade item over something that has been mass-produced in the store, purchased, and handed over without thought. Going handmade means you put consideration into the item you give them – whether it be knitting a scarf in their favorite color (think grays, blacks, and whites – perfect for a minimalist wardrobe!), painting a beautiful picture of their favorite spot, burning a mix CD (or even better – a playlist that can be transferred to their mp3 device), or framing a great photo of the two of you.

7) Wine. Cheese. Chocolate. Coffee. Minimalists prefer consumables over things that just take up space. Consumables will be appreciated and enjoyed without creating much clutter, so don’t be afraid to buy them that wonderful glass of wine or expensive chocolate!

8) Cash. Can’t make a decision? No one turns down a cash gift – the gift receiver can use the cash however he or she wishes and the gift-giver will have peace of mind knowing that the person is using the gift exactly how they want to – whether it be for living expenses, a nice dinner, or to help save up for a trip!

9) Time. Good company and conversation is always appreciated! The two of you can bond more over a cup of coffee than you would during a simple gift exchange. It’s not too often that people take time out of their busy schedules to sit and talk with another, so this valuable time can be quite a gift. You can even stretch it out into regular occasions.

10) Nothing. They probably requested that you don’t get them anything and the best thing to do is exactly that!