In Food

A little holiday cheer

Posted by: on Dec 23, 2013 | 4 Comments

xmastownIn The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin says we derive much of our happiness from the preparation for or anticipation of an event. Without realizing it, I have been actively cultivating happiness or Christmas spirit by enjoying the preparation and anticipation of the holiday itself.

I’m usually pretty low key when it comes to Christmas. This year I started with a single strand of white lights. My husband and I hung them over the window in the kitchen. This single strand encouraged me to look for my other holiday decorations. I didn’t want to buy anything new this year. So, I rustled through the attic until I found a box with 2 more little 100 light strands, a few tiny ornaments, and a ceramic Christmas Tree. I purchased the 100 light strands and the tiny ornaments last year for our pencil tree. The ceramic tree was a gift from our favorite Christmas Spirit, Father John (affectionately, FJ or Padre).

My “Christmas Tree” last year:

This year's "Christmas Tree"

This year’s “Christmas Tree”


Ornaments hanging in the doorway between living rooms

And then I made a Christmas playlist. I looked for all my favorite Christmas songs (All I Want for Christmas, Mariah Carey… duh) and then added some of the well known classics. As we all know from Elf, “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” And I have been singing, mostly to myself. Although, I did make my own version of the Twelve Days of Christmas and sang it loudly to my husband. Don’t worry I only made it to the third day. He didn’t suffer for long.

I convinced my obliging husband to watch all three of my favorite Christmas movies: Elf, Nightmare Before Christmas, and Love Actually. In fact, my Christmas carolling may have really begun with “Kidnap the Sandy Claws,” from Nightmare Before Christmas.

I decided to only use gift wrappings I saved from last year or could find around the house. I had one Christmas themed gift bag to reuse, some nice little boxes from last year’s Harry & David gift from Max’s grandfather, a few pieces of Christmas tissue paper, and some ribbons. I also began to reuse the Christmas cards as they arrived, cutting out little pieces to use for gift tags. However, there were a few gifts that didn’t fit into any of these wrappings. So, I pulled out some plain paper bags I’d acquired from various shopping excursions. I cut a Christmas Tree out of a sponge and pulled out my paints. While blasting Christmas music, I sponge painted Christmas trees all over the bags. Then I went back and added little red and silver ornaments. I felt like a five year old, but it was really really fun. I may actually never buy Christmas paper again. And I am rather pleased with the results. It makes me feel good to contribute less to the massive amounts of waste and it made me feel happy to craft my own gift wrap. I’d call that a win-win.

Sponge painting bags

Sponge painting bags

Finished wrapping paper

Finished wrapping paper

xmaspresentsRecognizing the joy in the process, preparation, and anticipation extends the happiness gained to more than just a few hours on Christmas Day to a whole month of joy. Instead of stressing about making Christmas Day perfect, enjoy the moment and Christmas will be fun, light, and joyful for everyone around you.

My husband and I are also making dinner tomorrow night for his younger brother, mom, and her significant other. I plan to sing Christmas songs loudly in the kitchen while cooking.

Christmas Eve Menu

Rockfish (local)

Garlic mashed potatoes (local potatoes)

Mushroom gravy

Winter salad (homegrown hydroponic lettuce, VA apples, pecans, dried cherries)

Roasted brussel sprouts with quinoa and cranberries

Clover rolls

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Triple Chocolate Cookies


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours!


  1. Diane
    December 23, 2013

    Lovely post, Hali. Merry Christmas to you and
    “husband” and all the family.

    • Hali
      December 23, 2013

      You too, Diane! We miss you and often think about how much fun we ha last year with you!!

  2. Miriam Riggs
    December 24, 2013

    I found great inspiration in this post! This year Christmas preparations just overwhelmed me, as my work obligations ran right up to certain family/ travel times. Thanks, Hali, for bringing me back down to earth, strengthened and warmed by the good quality experiences you created for yourself. Actually, your discovery in life’s simple pleasures is a gift for us all.

  3. Betsy
    December 29, 2013

    Hali, Darling, I am So glad you have found the Gift of “Christmas Making”…! I remember the year I realized that Christmas would not happen in our house unless I did it! And That was when I realized how much I have always loved “getting ready” for Christmas! Probably because I love making things so much… and glittery things… I can go all out and not feel guilty! But it is the Lights I Need the most in the dark time of year. That is why I abandoned our family tradition of not putting up a tree until Christmas Eve! I am glad you strung some lights and Sang your heart out!
    I LOVE you! And I LOVE the little coasters you made for me… the fabric is beautiful! Are you SURE I can’t make them into dollhouse quilts???? LOL


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