Merry Christmas to all & to all a good night!

I hope your day is merry in every single way!
From the Knight house we wish all of you a Very Merry Christmas
and a Happy and Blessed New Year!
God Bless You All!


Bingo and favorite snacks night!

Today is a special night for our family. I suppose any time we get to be with family is sweet. Tonight, my brother and his wife, their sons and daughter in law will come over to join our while crew for some long lived traditions. It starts with eating...something our family takes seriously. Tonight's menu is this families favorite...snacks! You know the holiday snacks that you love making and eating! Things like Sausage balls, Little smokies, Ranch Oyster crackers, Eggrolls not to mention all the desserts! Then comes the annual reading of a fun Christmas story, see my December 2007 blog for more info, it explains the another one of our traditions. Then we end the evening with a game of BINGO. Now, here is where it gets wild. We all bring a wrapped gift, this year the budget is $1.00. Yep, you saw that right! I've already checked the dollar bins at Target or Michaels looking for the perfect gift...the one everyone will be fighting over! As you can see, it doesn't take much to get this family excited! :) If you win a round at BINGO, then you get to select a gift. Next round, the whoever wins, they have a choice, to take your gift or open one of the wrapped gifts. You know the game, it can get a little wild at our house...seems there is always something EVERYONE wants! Even if it just cost a dollar! As you can see, our family is easy entertain!


The children were all snug in their beds or not!

From the time Zach and Ashley were old enough to know what Christmas was really all about, which actually meant Ashley probably didn't but Zach did, so the tradition started. On Christmas Eve, once they had taken their baths and put on their Christmas PJ's, they would sleep in the same room. They were so excited and would often talk and giggle...way too late for their parent's liking...but at the same time it was so sweet to hear! We had a rule about Christmas morning, it was as follows. When they woke up, first it had to be morning (morning might be 5 AM but that counted), they would come to our room, where we would all wake up and wait. Wait for what seemed like an eternity for the kids but Larry would go start the coffee, light the fire and often take out a load of trash! (This is the part the kids remember, but sometimes Santa had to leave trash for us to dispose of, after all Santa can't have all that trash in his sleigh!) Then I would go to the end of our hallway, camera in hand, make a huge gasp at what I saw Santa had left under the tree and then tell them they could come see! They would come running down the hallway together! Every year, we did it the same way. So, what do you think we did the year that Meg joined our family? THE SAME WAY!!!! The all slept in the same room. It was so sweet! Meg just joined right in as if it was her very own tradition! She loves Christmas so she was all about carrying on the traditions! The year before Ashley got married, it was Zach, Meg, Ashley and Owen in the bedroom. I think at this point it was getting a little crowded and no one got a lot of sleep! :) So, now each family stays in their own bedroom...but they all meet up by our room before they come down the hall together! I had hoped to find a picture of them running down the hall together...but that would require me digging through a bunch of boxes and Mrs. Claus just doesn't have the time right now! :)


The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

Our family LOVES stockings! My mother was a pro at "stuffing stockings". It's one of our favorite parts of Christmas! I've always made our stockings. When Larry and I married, we had simple red and white polka dot stockings with our names hand stitched across the top. (Sorry no picture) When the kids came along, I made them one. Then when the kids were in elementary school, a life long friend of mine, Cathy Potts and I made our families new stockings. We had so much fun picking out the fabrics, designing them and even sewing them! (I only say that because we both had wonderful mothers who sewed so beautifully and we always felt we were quite challenged in the sewing department). Those were our stockings until Zach married. At that time, I decided it was time to make some new ones for our growing family. I decided on the background colors and bought A LOT of extra fabric. So, as you can see from the pictures...we have gone from 4 stockings to 10!!!

Since I love snowman, I decided each would have one on the front, and would reflect that persons personality or interests! There is a funny story on one of these stockings. When I made Ashley's, she was a junior in High School. She loved winter so I decided to just decorate her with a snowflake theme! Little did I know that years later, she would actually fall in love with a SNOWman! Pretty cool huh!

So, here is a peek at our stockings...the wall is filling up but we can nuzzle in more!

Stuffing these stockings is my favorite thing to do! I love the hunt for the perfect little items. I have to admit, the older men in the family, Zach and David, can sometimes be a little challenging but Larry really helps me out. The girls...I am always on the hunt and pick up things throughout the year. Little things. We don't put big dollar items in the stockings...just fun little stuff! And of course, it is SO fun to fill the little ones stockings...it is just so sweet to buy toys again!!!

Just as our presents, we don't all dive into our stockings at once. We take turns. We love to watch what each person get, so we go slow and methodical! :) Now that we have little ones again, we let them go first! I thought it would be where they could then play with their goodies, while we opened ours, but these little ones get just as much joy watching us! How sweet!!!

(I need to apologize for my photographs. My camera bit the dust at a recent birthday party, so I am having to use my phone! Not such great pictures but maybe it will give you the idea)!


Some activities we try them out...and some just fit!

We are on the every other year plan. What does that mean? Every other year we have all "the kids" home on Christmas. On the "off" year, we still celebrate but it is at a different time and a much more abbreviated time and sometimes not even at our house. On "our year", we have more time together so two years ago we tried a few new things and we loved them so much that they are our "newest" traditions!

Chef's of the Night:
Because there are a lot of meals to fix, we (each couple) each took a night and prepared a meal. If you are cooking then another couple is planning the activity for the night, such as game night, gingerbread contest, etc. It was so fun for Larry and I to witness our"kids" in the kitchen cooking together. PLUS, the meals were amazing! It was fun as we tried new recipes and tried and true favorites.

The Gingerbread Contest:
The contestants: Team Zach & Meg, Team David & Ashley and Team Larry & Mary Kay (last time the grands helped us but this year the little guys will have their own little house to decorate)
When we planned this activity, silly me envisioned us sitting around the table decorating our houses while talking and eating the candy. NO, not this competitive little group! It was all business. People started checking out all the embellishments, hoarding candies, whispering ideas to their partners...let alone making all sorts of additions and remodels to their house. But we had so much fun and the results were incredible! So, we are all looking forward to our next contest...I guess contest is a little deceiving...as there are really no cash prizes or gifts...just bragging rights! So, note to family...GAME ON PEOPLE!!! Be ready! Here are "the winners" from the last contest...we had a tie! :)


Christmas Eve Gift!

I am not sure the complete story on this one. But as long as I can remember, my Dad has taken great pride in trying to "Christmas Eve Gift" us on...what else but Christmas Eve. What exactly does that mean? It means as soon as the clock strikes 12 AM on Christmas Eve you better watch out! He will be lurking around when you least expect it and will scare your antlers off by screaming "Christmas Eve Gift!"at you at first sight! He says it started LONG ago with his mom. I have no idea where she came up with this crazy idea, but she must have been a fun lady! As the story goes, if you "get someone" then they have to give you a gift! Like so many of our traditions...we just have fun trying to "get" each other! Occasionally, I will have something on hand to give but most of the time it doesn't matter...the person who just "got" you is more excited about having the bragging rights! I can remember on Christmas Eve as a child, being very cautious in coming out of my room because if Dad was in the house...he was watching for you to appear! Around here, before caller ID, if the phone rang, you just went ahead and took the risk that you might make a fool of yourself but you answered it CHRISTMAS EVE GIFT! Trust me, it has saved me a few times, but more than that I have had to explain myself to some poor soul on the other end of the phone that I scared to death! It's a price you pay.

Funny thing is when I married Larry, his Mom remembers doing it as a child! So...I am not sure who was the clever soul who started this VERY old tradition (seeing my Dad is in his 80's and he did it as a child!) but I would like to thank you. You have provided us with many a laugh, instilled in us the desire to be sneaky and have caused some to stoop so low that they put their children at risk. See the picture below, it should explain everything!

Our doorbell rang on Christmas Eve 2005 and this poor child was sent to do his parent's dirty work! How low do you go!


Building our little village...

A long time ago, Department 56 Snow Village caught my eye. I had always loved little Christmas villages and this one really smiled at me! So, when my mother in law and mother asked what I wanted for Christmas, I told them of my desire to "build" a small village! The first year, Larry's mom gave us the cute little cafe and my mom gave us the bakery, a pretty fitting building since Mom and I always loved baked goodies! :) For several years, I was given a building for either my birthday or Christmas and usually my Mom would stick a little accessory in my stocking. I didn't need or want all the pieces, but I loved to find pieces that reflected our life and family.

For instance, I grew up going to the Paramount Theater to watch movies, our kids loved to go to the movies there with my Mom and Dad in later years and Ashley even performed in a Christmas Talent show when she was about 6! She got third place!!! She recited a poem that my Mom read to me and my brother every year at Christmas! Thus, when Dept. 56 came out with a theater, called the Paramount no less...it was surely on my Christmas list!

As was the Hardware Store...how appropriate for the Knight's who have always been into the construction field plus my hubby loves a good hardware store! He can wander around one for nearly as long as I can wander around a good card shop! :)

The log cabin was bought during the years when Zach worked in Colorado with Wilderness Trek and also where he met the love of his life. We spent many vacations there and this little house just reflects our love for the mountains and the fresh air!

I love all my little accessories, but this one really speaks to my senses...my love for their hot drinks! Going to Starbucks during the holiday season is such a huge treat for me. I love the Caramel Apple Cider with cream AND the Pumpkin Latte's. Yummy!!!

Or the little Fire truck to honor my brother who has been a fireman in Abilene for many years! I admire him and all his co-workers for their bravery and willingness to risk their lives for us!

Each piece has been lovingly selected and added to our little village. The most fun part of it though was setting it up when the kids lived at home. It became quite the family affair. We had to decide what the town would look like, build roads, "plant" trees and before we knew it the village came alive! I have such fond memories of Zach building tiny log racks to sit beside the houses or building a little road and laying little rocks along it to make it look real. Ashley always took pride in placing all the people throughout the village! It was such a fun time for our family!

I told Larry recently that as much as I love our village, I so miss the kids being here to help us put it out and hear all the chatter of what and where things should be placed! Now days the village is on our mantle and I like that it looks like a little street view and plus it's out of the reach of our little ones. There will be a day before long, when I will get the next generation to help me build our little village!

You don't have to have a village made of ceramic...get your kids and build one from blocks of wood, cardboard or even little paper houses. The fun part is watching them create and the sweet moments you will share as a family!


Larry...assume your position

The house has been decorated for weeks but yesterday, I asked Larry what traditions he thinks of when it comes to Christmas. One of the first he mentioned, made me laugh. It will probably seem strange to most but to this family is is truly a
"tradition". It comes to decorating the tree. I don't really know how or why this started but regardless Larry does it EVERY single year. He is always very helpful in getting the tree out of the box (yes, we have a fake tree...Larry is quite allergic to real trees) and helps us get it up, making sure all the lights are working and all the wires are hid! :) (I have a thing about wires showing...poor man...he has to put up with a lot!!). THEN, this is where he assumes his position. In the chair. He will make sure the boxes of ornaments are stacked beside his comfy chair and he then begins his "part". He unwraps each ornaments, makes sure it has a hook on it and hangs it off the side of the box. That is where the family would take the ornament and find it a home on the trees branches. We laughed as we talked about it yesterday...I don't remember him EVER hanging an ornament. He just gets them ready for the family to decorate. So, as you see it might be a silly little tradition but nonetheless if you asked my kids how we decorate the tree...I feel quite certain they will relay this same story. Now that we do the tree alone most years, nothing has changed it just takes me a bit longer to get the ornaments all on the tree. It's hard to believe how helpful his job is though, we don't deal with tangled ornaments, don't have to hunt for a hook and don't have to unwrap each one. In life he is pretty much the same way, he quietly goes about his job, takes care of his family and wraps us in his love! The way I look at it, the tree only has ornaments because of his part! Love you babe!


The little green pickle!

My parents once visited The Biltmore and returned with a little green pickle for their tree and a tradition began! I guess actually the Germans started this tradition but we loved it nonetheless. On Christmas morning, the pickle is hid among the branches and ornaments. The first person to spot the pickle gets to open the first gift! Like so many traditions, it really isn't about getting to open the gift but the hunt! We all love the challenge. If you find the pickle, then it is your honor to hide it the next year! As kids have married, we have gifted them with their own little pickle for their tree! A simple little idea (you could use any designated ornament if pickles offend you!) but just a fun little way to start Christmas morning!


A sweet little duo

My mother loved Christmas. She loved decorating, entertaining and she loved Santa's.
I love Christmas. I love decorating, entertaining and I love Snowmen.

After my mom passed away, Christmas was different, but I vowed to continue her traditions and start some new ones. She would have wanted that. My sweet friend Karen, started a collection for me several years ago and it has become so dear to me. It involves a very fun duo! Santa and his sidekick, the snowman. Kind of like me and my mom. We were very close. We did everything together. We cooked, decorated, crafted, shopped, sewed but more than anything else, we talked. We had a very close relationship. She taught me so much about life. About how to treat people. How to love God, my husband and my children.

So now, one of my favorite decorations is a growing collection of Santa's and Snowmen. They aren't as easy to find as you might think (maybe that is also because I am kind of picky!). You can find tons of individual Santa's and Snowmen, but my collection of ornaments and figurines have to be of my little duo together...kind of like Mom and I, because even though she isn't on this earth anymore...she is ALWAYS in my heart and in my thoughts!

One of the first ornaments Karen gave me, was of a Santa holding a little snowman (above). It reminds me of the way my Mom always held me...where it was physically, emotionally or spiritually. The little snowman looks so happy and loved!

It is fun to get our decorations out each year, but getting these out, always makes me smile!

Here are a few of my favorites:

Don't these two look like they are having such fun! Mom & I shared a funny tobaggan story of when I was a child, so this one is dear to me!

Mr. Snowman looks as if he is asking for advice here, something I did with my dear Mom a lot!

Snuggling..even in my Mom's last days...we would snuggle up and talk!

I always looked up to my Mom (still do!), so this one says it all!
(Meg's mom has blessed my collection with 3 from this artist! So precious!)

Another sweet ornament. Meg and Ashley have found several sweet ornaments in the last few years! I love that these two look like they are about to dance! When I was a little girl, my Mom and I would "silly dance" together!

So what is the tradition you ask? I don't suppose there is a tradition here but more importantly something I have learned. Make your decorations have meaning. The decorations I love to get out each year have either a story to tell or remind me of someone very dear. After all, memories are really what make our holidays special! One thing, I have learned the hard way, if you start a collection..start a journal and write who gave it to you and when...for your sake and more importantly for your family!


Christmas Traditions...continued

In 2007, I thought I would be so clever and each week blog about a Christmas Tradition. I did two blogs, then we had a little car accident the week before Christmas and...well, things just got a bit crazy! But if you want to look back to 2007, there are two traditions that our family shares.

I will attempt again, to share some of our family traditions.

Family Ornaments:
Every year, since Zach and Ashley were born, we have bought them an ornament. We tried to always find one that represented something they had done that year or something they were "into" during that year. Whether it was a hobby, sport, big trips...whatever...I am ALWAYS on the hunt for the perfect ornament. It is a challenge...some might consider me crazy...but not me...I love it! Each year when we decorated the tree, the kids would have a special box that would hold all of their ornaments. Once they were a little older, decorating the tree was like walking down memory lane. In their box, with their ornaments was a list of ornaments and what year it was given. Inside the box were also other ornaments that were given to them by their Nanny and Pa (my parents). Mom always gave everyone the same ornament and it was on our dinner plates on Christmas Eve. I tweaked Mom's tradition a bit, buying each "child" a different ornament that represented them. As the family has grown AND grown it has! We know have 10 people at our house for Christmas instead of 4! Nonetheless, at Christmas Breakfast, on their plates will be a box holding their ornaments. As the family has grown, we have made a few modifications to our tradition. Now the couples, Zach & Meg and Ashley & David get an ornament that represents something that has happened in their life as a couple that year...such as a new baby, new house, etc. As grand babies are born, I give them an ornament that represents the theme of their nursery. Then, each year after that, I buy an ornament that represents the theme of their birthday parties. It is my thinking that about the time that they quit having "themed" parties will be about the time they start being involved in some type of sports, hobbies, etc. I must say, that sometimes it is challenging to find just the right ornament, and I might complain a bit...but I really do love the hunt!

My only regret in this tradition, was each year when I bought our kids their ornaments, that I didn't also buy one ornament for Larry and I of something we did that year! We did buy an ornament if we went on a big trip, but otherwise, I just didn't spend the time or money on us. When Zach got married at age 20, he took 40 ornaments (20 given by us and 20 that my Mom and Dad had given him) into his marriage. Great for his and Meg's tree...but ours looked a little bare! THEN, Ashley got married and took another big chunk of ornaments into her marriage! :) SO, though we do have plenty of ornaments, and so much more than so many, if I were starting over...I think I would have bought one a year for Larry and I! So...if you are young and decided to take this idea and make it your own tradition...just remember...those kids will get married one day!! :)