Just hear those sleigh bells jingling

What? You only hear crunchy leaves and dried corn blowing in the breeze? Come on, gather up your imagination – we’re on our way to a GREAT holiday season.

Three years ago, it was Jeff’s “turn” to provide the employee Christmas party. Finding something that would allow for the really odd blend of employees (Amish, English, married, single, wild ones, tea totallers) that he had, was a trick. After some prayer, we decided on a Saturday afternoon Open House for employees and their spouses. Read 54 people. 😯

At this Open House we served Christmas cookies, cakes, sausages, meatballs, a veggie tray, a fruit tray, punch, coffee….and atmosphere. In order to keep from interfering with everyone’s holiday plans, we settled on the first Saturday in December.

Ridiculously, we made the decision right around the first of November. Because our goal was to have our home holiday ready by the time of the party – we were CRAZY busy. BUT…..

But, after that first weekend, my December was the best, most delightful holiday we had ever experienced.

In the past, we had tried to be done early, but somehow something always came up at the last minute. This time, because I had a HUGE responsibility of feeding people and having the house ready AND I was pregnant at the time, I somehow managed to pull it off. (Don’t be fooled – the only way I pulled it off was PRAYER & GRACE)

So, as I work through my little fake “journal” here, I’m going to take you along – kicking and screaming if necessary – but come December, you will all line up to send me chocolate. 😉

So, here is your first assignment – meet with your hubby, in a quiet moment (NO, you can’t wait until Thanksgiving night, after the kiddos are tucked in!!) and ask him if he has anything that is vital to him to include in your holiday celebration. Once you’ve gotten his input, pose the question to the kiddos. (We are at the place now that Jeff simply calls the family meeting and we discuss all our ideas all at once.) We write them down and start praying over them. Sometimes the Lord has one plan for us – others years a whole different focus. Keeps it interesting and fun! 😉

Comment when you’ve accomplished this, so we don’t have to report you to the Holiday Planning Sheriff – it can get pretty ugly. 😉

As a bonus, here is a recipe for one of the cakes we served:

Black Forest Cake

1 Butter cake mix with pudding (we have used both chocolate and yellow)

3 large eggs

1 T almond extract

1 – 21 oz can cherry pie filling

2 c semi-sweet chips

Chocolate Glaze:

1 T butter

2 T milk

1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 c powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350`.  Grease and flour a 12 c Bundt pan; set aside.  Mix all but glaze together – bake 45- 50 min.  Cool for 15 min. and then glaze.  DELIGHTFUL!!

13 Responses to “Just hear those sleigh bells jingling”
  1. Sarah says:

    Oh YAY!!!
    I’ve been looking for a reason to get “holiday-ed” earlier! And despite HIGH expectations the week before Thanksgiving, we never get all our intentions fleshed out by January 4th (just ask my sweet husband about the year we took the tree down in March… I would LOVE to be kidding).
    So, THANK YOU, Dawn!

  2. Jenna says:

    Oh how I LOVE Black Forest Cake… *drools*

  3. Lynn says:

    Great ideas, Dawn! I love the idea of asking dh what he wants this season instead of just making “my” list and charging ahead. I am so looking forward to the holidays. Today we even started playing Christmas music and I lit candles. So cozy and peaceful.

  4. molleth says:


    *looks around nervously and feels stressed*

    Hahaha…just joking. I love Christmas time…I’m just not ready to think about it yet. Once the snow is here, then, fine. Until then, I’m enjoying this SUPER LONG-LASTING FALL (for us Alaskans, anyway) for every last snow-free drop it gives me. 🙂

    Good ideas, Dawn!

  5. javadawn says:

    BREATHE MOLLS, BREATHE!!!!! Ok, you can wait for Alaskan snow before you start planning – that should be…when?? Monday? 😉 (ducking and running FAST – even though I DO owe you!)

  6. whimsy says:

    Ha! It was 93 degrees here in MO yesterday. Crazy!! I usually don’t start thinking Christmas until somewhere around Dec. 20, so I’m going to let it cool off a little and jump back in. (I should still be ahead of my usually Dec. 23 shopping though right?)

  7. Tiffany says:

    *sigh* no holiday anything for us this year it seems….I’ll still be laid up from surgery. Makes me sad because this is the first year our daughter is old enough to really get it. *Normally* (as in what we did last year and hoped to do this year) is a sort of high feast day on Christmas, a day of feasting and singing and reading the word and time together. And then we wait and do presents on New Years Day. It was a lot of fun last year. I think I can safely say it was my favorite christmas ever. Well, next year their will be two girls excited about presents and good food and “cold” (about 70 degree) weather.

  8. javadawn says:

    OH Tiffany, it CAN be done. We did it last year immediately after my emergency C-section. I had dinner in the freezer for Christmas. I had cookies in the freezer. It CAN be done, you just have to do it sanely. (Read, NOT LIKE I NORMALLY DO) 🙄

    Make a list of the things that were most important to you about your time – then let’s see if we can’t help you get it all done, in time, before your surgery, so your family can still enjoy the holidays. (I’m praying, Sweetie!!)

  9. Tiffany says:

    That’s a good idea….actually when it comes to Christmas dinner my husband is an excellent cook. Really excellent actually. So, I’m sure we’ll do a ncie dinner. Just might skip using the crystal and all of that this year so clean up is easier (clean up he isn’t so good at….). It is the decorating that I fear will have to go. My husband is fine with things being decorated but really hates doing the decorating. No problem most years as I really lvoe decorating it works out great. But with everything else he will be taking on while I’m recovering I don’t feel like I can ask him to decorate. Although my mom will be here the first part of december and I know would put everything out for me, I don’t know if I would feel like putting it away before March, ya know?

    Although your question has me thinking….what is most important to me for the holidays….???….beyond Christmas dinner and decorations I’m not sure what should go on the list. I would like to be able to do something special during that time as it will be at the end of 2 rather difficult months and Nolan has the week between Christmas and New Years off. Looking forward to reading others thougts.

  10. javadawn says:

    whimsy – 93?!! It just hit me what you wrote – BLECH! That’s too hot for October, in my estimation. (Not that anyone is asking me…) 🙂 I think as long as you manage to stay ahead of your normal schedule, it’ll be good. 😀
    Tiffany – I read your response and was off working and praying for you. Suddenly it came to me – LET THE GIRLS DECORATE. Ok, let your oldest girl decorate. (Your babe is younger than ours, right? All that would end up with is colorful diapers, at my house) 😆
    Mentally change your definition of “decorate” – get a copy of Ann’s book – her Jesse tree book. Find a special candle that you can keep near your “recovery” area. (something to light it as well) Before surgery, buy and wrap some special colored pencils or crayons, as well as some scotch tape. Make sure you have copies of each days ornament – and from your chair, you can celebrate and prepare for Christmas. 🙂
    The first day your daughter can open the gift of crayons, tape, whatever. Tell her how you’re going to celebrate THE BEST gift for the next few weeks. Light your candle and read to your daughter from the Jesse Tree book – let her color and hang the ornament. (If you’re feeling up to it, you could even keep some yarn and a pr of scissors near you, so she can hang her ornaments. Really, they’re just LOVELY.)
    (PS The next blog is ALL your fault.) 😉

  11. Tiffany says:

    can’t wait to read the blog that is all my fault 🙂

    That is a really great idea! However, I just found out that in stead if surgery atthe end of the month, it is going to be in 9 days. Ack! So, the idea is going on the list of thing I hope to get done before then, as I think it would be just fantastic….but we’ll see. I made the mistake of starting to paint my bathroom (thinking I had 2 more weeks….)….it is complicating matters a wee bit. Maybe I’ll just leave it primed and put color on it after I’m better. 🙂

  12. javadawn says:

    NINE DAYS?!! What does that do for your help? Does that allow your family to get there to help?!!

    Ok, Tiffaroni, make your list – what are THE most important parts of your holiday celebration? Come on girl – hurry, we need to help you accomplish this in SHORT order. 😉

    You said hubby could prep the meal – you will have paper products for a while, for dishes, RIGHT?!! If not, you could get them for the holidays, right? (If nothing else, we can send you some!!) So, the dishes part is taken care of.

    Decorations – I will take care of that. I will make certain that you have all you need, arriving at your doorstep in time for Jesse Tree prep.

    What else, kiddo? (NO wishing for a laptop, either.) 😉

  13. Tiffany says:

    Ah, no laptop!!! are you sure?? 😉

    Yeah, we’ll do paper dishes for awhile (going to hit costco this weekend) and we have a pretty good dishwasher that can take care of everything else.

    Most important part of holidays….

    Thanksgiving day meal with other people (going to get ourselves invited somewhere else this year I think instead of having people here….I should feel up for it by then)

    A house that feels like it is the holidays. For me this generally means Christmas music playing most of the day starting after thanksgiving, a tree, stockings, and a few festive pieces around the house, something that smells good cooking/baking as often as possible, and an advent wreath-haven’t bought that yet-was going to get it for this year.(I have a fantastic Christmas villiage that was my grandmothers that immediately gets me in the holiday mood…but it is a lot of work to unpack and repack. so this year it does not make the most important list)

    Hospitality and lots of it….does having people come over to take care of my girls count as hospitality? 😉

    Christmas Eve Church service, simple dinner

    Christmas Day Feast Day

    New Years Presents, something “fun” to eat

    Ok, now that I list it out, it does seem a bit more doable….I could make up some cookie dough and freeze it, along witha few other dishes that my husband loves but doesn’t know how to make (lentil lasgne is our new favorite) and I’ve already decided that we’re going to go over the grocery budget a bit and buy more prepared stuff from costco to make life a bit simpler for everyone.

    As to help by then….I honestly don’t know how much help we’ll have in all of this. I’m under a lot of (well meaning) pressure to put the girls in school and I just don’t know what to do about that….but it is just so important for me to heal well….to top it off my husband defends for his masters on the 25th….so taking time off after the surgery is almost impossible for him.

    Alright, time for to stop using your comments box as my personal prayer request blog. Thank you so much Dawn! You make me feel very well loved and cared for. You know, I’ve always wanted to live in amish country….

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