Usually the holiday season is an endless list of tasks and errands. Christmas Eve is usually at our house and then Christmas Day many times too. The last several years though the holiday season has been quiet, many times too quiet. This year will also be quiet, but Santa will still be making his rounds for the little ones.

It’s Christmas Eve and Santa Claus is coming to town tonight. If you have kids, or are just a big kid at heart, you can track Santa’s progress as he travels around the world on NORAD.

Merry Christmas everyone!


While there are family and even cultural traditions for Christmas menus, we try and vary it to OUR own tastes each year. Sometimes that is also dependent on regional availability of the specialty items needed to create those menus.

This year with it just being the 2 of us, we’re really making a super simple “trimmed” down menu. I’ve been searching for the fig jam and finally found a jar, the second to the last one in the whole area from what I can tell. The butcher is even cutting me an extra small prime rib 😀 but there will be enough yummy pieces leftover for the New Year’s black eyed pea chili.

BLOGMAS 2023 ~ DAY 29 ~ PRESENTS ~ BLOG 365.356

When does your family open their presents? Christmas Eve, Christmas Day – different times based on which side of the family?

This category has changed a lot over the years for me as I have gotten older and had my own family. Being a military family on a tight budget I’ve always  in the past started shopping early (like in January) to work everything in that we wanted to do so that it fit into our tight budget. It just became a habit 😀

But, my family traditions as a kid were of a BIG Christmas eve open with lots of family around. That carried on through college, but as we (cousins) all got older and started careers with odd work hours and began getting married with families of our own, our grandparents passed on, some of us moved away, blended families (each with their own traditions) were formed, etc… getting together for both Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day became harder and harder to do. 

Eventually Christmas eve became a MUCH smaller event for mainly immediate family. We would have a small dinner and open our gifts to each other that night. Christmas morning was for being at our respective homes with our own kids opening presents and then the larger family get together much later on Christmas day for dinner at just one place, usually my grandparent’s or parent’s house and then eventually it was at our house after my dad passed away.

These days with everyone all over the country, both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are mainly just hubby and I with LOTS of phone calls to family and friends and we open our gifts on Christmas morning.

We usually attend the Christmas party at the Eagles which this year has been blended into a Christmas Dance that I’m in the kitchen for a special meal of Tri-tip sandwiches made by our president with sides of homemade baked beans and pasta salad made by my girlfriend and I (we’re making them today in fact 😀 Hubby and will deliver the neighbor plates and gifts to friends on Christmas Eve. 😀


I’m a Virgo and as such tend to make lists and be over-prepared as a general rule.  So, the only last minute gifts I tend to need are a couple extras for those unexpected visits that come up like a surprise gift from a neighbor.

A few of the “things” I keep on hand (with a festive ribbon already tied to them) for those occasions are:

  • Coffee gift cards
  • Homemade JARS such as the Patchwork Bean Soup, Rice Pilaf or Holiday Nut Bread mixes like I did this year
  • Soft, comfy lap blankets
  • Homemade applesauce
  • Homemade jam
  • And closer to the actual day a plate full of homemade goodies

Homemade, store bought, gift cards… What do you prefer?  What are your thoughts about each? I do buy gifts and have even done gifts cards in a pinch, but prefer to not do gift cards as a general rule because they just aren’t personal enough for me.

Over the years I have made everything, and I do mean everything at one time or another to create a handmade Christmas. I’ve made rolls and rolls of butcher paper into wrapping paper, cut grocery bags into handmade tags, made enough fudge, cinnamon rolls, candies and cookies to feed a small country, as well as jams, jellies, soup mixes and Snowman soup!

My award winning jams were requested one year at the Church Christmas Boutique and I ended up selling there for another 10 years before we moved.  Now I make just enough for gifts for neighbors and family.  I started making Snowman Soup about 20 years ago for the girl scouts and it was a HUGE seller at our gift wrap days and later for the Church Boutique.

Several years ago I missed the big Christmas Crafts Festival at the fairgrounds because of an ice storm, but I’ve tried to be at every one since! Then it didn’t happen a couple years because of the pandemic. This year was the 50th annual year. I normally go on Friday because there are fewer people, but we had a HUGE storm that weekend and everyone knew it was coming so I think they ALL went on Friday! It wasn’t as enjoyable as in years past though. LOL that didn’t stop me from getting much of my Christmas shopping done. 
For the things I don’t make myself, I am at least buying from local crafters.
As for receiving, I love ANYTHING handmade.  I’m a BIG believer that it’s the thought that counts and that caring action ALWAYS touches my heart though I’m partial to cotton crocheted dishcloths, my brothers photographs, my mom’s quilted totes and ANYTHING food.
I only have a couple baskets left to wrap of the homemade jars and goodies and WILL finish today so that everything can be distributed Saturday and Sunday 😀
Here are the recipes for what I’ve made this year. They are super simple to make and really tasty.
PATCHWORK BEAN SOUP – This recipe make 5 quarts.
1/2 cup black eyed peas
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 cup split green peas
1/2 cup red beans
1/2 cup split yellow peas
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup great northern beans
3 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • In a quart mason jar layer the ingredients in the order above for the best color. Gently bump the jar periodically to settle the ingredients as you go.
  • Add a gift tag and colorful ribbon with instructions for preparing the soup.
When making the Holiday Nut Bread be sure to pack the ingredients as tightly as possible. These fill the jar COMPLETELY!
HOLIDAY NUT BREAD – makes 1 quart
1/3 cup PACKED brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped apricots** (see note)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Add brown sugar to quart jar and press in as firmly as possible.
  • Add walnuts, pressing firmly.
  • Add sugar.
  • Add dried fruit, pressing gently.
  • Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Layer flour mixture over the fruit, gently bumping down the jar to settle the ingredients.
  • Seal with lid
  • Add a gift tag and colorful ribbon with instructions for preparing.
NOTE: I like to use a combination of dried apricots, golden raisins, craisins and dried cherries, but you could use any combination or single fruit you like according to your flavor preferences.
RICE PILAF – makes 5 pints
9 cups long grain rice
3/4 cup Parsley
3 tablespoons dried onion
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • Divide rice evenly into 5 pint mason jars.
  • Whisk together the seasonings.
  • Divide seasonings evenly into the top of the pint jars.
  • Add a gift tag and colorful ribbon with instructions for preparing.



I touched on this topic a bit in a prior post. But, just giving you some ideas didn’t seem like enough. There are questions. Lots of questions 😀 There are so many ways to wrap or bag presents!!

Do you save paper from year to year? My grandmother always neatly unwrapped her packages so she could save the paper to re-wrap something in the future.

Do you make your own fabrics or papers? My cousin is an artist and loves to die her own fabrics that she uses to wrap gifts in.

Do you write directly on the paper or bag or do you like cute gift tags? Do you make your own? Do you use last year’s cards to make this year’s tags? I do ALL of these!

Do you prefer gift bags? Do you use tissue paper? For me it depends on the size and shape of the gift to be wrapped. I like gift bags some of the time 😀

Do you use bows or ribbons or both? Do you add stickers? Do you add ornaments? Do you use decorative tapes? Once again I have been known to do ALL of the above – it really depends on my mood and time frame for wrapping.

Do you disguise the gift in the way you wrap them to try and confuse the receiver?

Or do you a little bit of all of the above?

I wrapped as I went again this year and boy does that make things easier than facing a large pile of gifts to wrap all at one time! I also went pretty simply with color coordinated papers, matching ribbons, cute little tags or their favorite character ornaments and colored twines – mainly because I was using the rest of the supplies I bought last year. For the munchkins I always have some fun ornament style tags made.

There are so MANY fun ideas to try ALL over PINTEREST, but these are some of my favorites!  These are also some simpler, but classic ideas! I LOVE that some of them are so creative and use plainer papers – papers that can be used year round and then spruced up for whatever the occasion is. SIMPLE IS GOOD and CLASSIC!




2013 – the year of the “white” one 😀 was the first truly white Christmas we had here. I have HIGH hopes for this year though.
That year hubby made this for me to wake up to in the back yard before the snow got too bad. The house across the street looked horrible that year, but NOT when it was under a blanket of snow. The “new” (2 years now) neighbors who purchased that house have made some rather nice updates.
Unfortunately, being in a cul-de-sac, delivery tracks leave MANY tire tracks at this time of year to mar the beautiful snow cover.
Even Rudolph was shivering that year! Last year as he was donated to charity😀
The first day after the storm was absolutely gorgeous though!
The duck pond behind the neighborhood was truly a work of art.
Obviously we hadn’t gone anywhere – no tire tracks!
The fish ladder was like glass with the cold and ice.

The Festival of Lights is a great way to kick off the holiday season. It’s ALL Volunteer and NON-Profit.  It began as a fundraiser sponsored by the Rotary Club to help get the city out of debt and then took on a life of its own and now helps with scholarships and special projects. The festival runs every night from just before Thanksgiving to New Years. So, if you have company in town for Thanksgiving it’s a great jump start to your holidays. You can drive your own car or take a horse drawn carriage ride through the displays. They have also coordinated a local radio station to listen to as you view the displays. The night we went through the fog was moving in early so a few of the pictures look a bit “smoky”.They have the world’s tallest (41 feet, 16,000 pounds with a working jaw) nutcracker built by a local company, 500,000 lights, 90 animated displays, 3D displays, horse drawn carriage rides through the displays and a Holiday Village with Santa, hot cider with a bake sale as well as a synchronized light show in the courtyard. The displays depict fairy tales, the military, patriotism, the local logging industry, local vineyards, local fishing and the traditional Christmas songs and scenes. People come from all over to see it. Unfortunately for locals, it doesn’t change much, but is still fun every few years.

That year 3 of my favorite munchkins were coincidentally there the same night we were so I had to snap a few pictures of their discussions with Santa. They have grown SOOOOOOOO much! The two oldest now tower over me!
Every year we also go to the Tinsel Town Timber Parade and the last couple of years the Eagles have had a float entered, but this year it started from our garage. The past couple years have been REALLY cold, but this year added in the fog making it REALLY eerie. The first set of pictures is from 2 years ago and the last 3 are from this year.

The fire truck below is the same one as above which really shows the fog difference!


I’ve always wondered why and where the tradition of matching PJ’s came from for Christmas. While I was searching for that answer I also came across the Icelandic tradition of spending Christmas Eve reading and drinking cocoa. What could be more relaxing than donning comfy new PJ’s and curling up with a good book and hot cup of cocoa?

Country Living and Southern Living articles were my main sources of good information. Jolabokflod was also a great source of the founding story for the Icelandic tradition.

Jolabokaflod, which translates roughly to a Christmas book flood and really sounds like the best way to spend Christmas Eve to me since I love to read EVERY night! All I need is a cozy fireplace and cup of hot cocoa with tiny marshmallows to make it perfect.

So let’s start with why Icelanders Spend Every Christmas Eve Reading Books and Drinking Cocoa. Jolabokaflod started during World War II, when paper was one of the few things not rationed in Iceland. For this reason Icelanders gave books as gifts because so many other commodities were in short supply. Ultimately this turned them into a country of bookaholics. According to this increase of giving books for presents has reinforced their cultural concept of being known as bookaholics.

Kristjan B. Jonasson, president of the Iceland Publishers Association, told NPR, “The culture of giving books as presents is very deeply rooted in how families perceive Christmas as a holiday. Normally, we give the presents on the night of the 24th and people spend the night reading. In many ways, it’s the backbone of the publishing sector here in Iceland.”

Since 1944, the Icelandic book trade has sent out a book bulletin to each household in the middle of November each year when the Reykjavik Book Fair happens. People use this catalogue to order books to give to their friends and family on Christmas Eve, the main gift-giving day in Iceland. After all the presents (books) are opened, everyone grabs a cup of hot chocolate and cozies up to spend the rest of the evening reading their new books.

And for a bit more of the worldwide growth of Jolabokaflod here is a bit more history on how it is coming to focus.

In October 2015, Christopher Norris, a senior executive-level media, publishing and social entrepreneur, was invited by BookMachine to write a regular blog posting for members of this international publishing community to read, having written a well-received piece about the future of publishing: ‘Publishing 2020: an Advent calendar of change‘. As he researched topics to write about, he read an in-depth review in The Bookseller about the book trade in Iceland, ‘In depth: Iceland’s book market‘, and came across Jólabókaflóðið for the first time.

As Christopher was a pioneer of World Book Day in the UK, serving on the steering committee for the inaugural event in 1996-7, he realized that the Icelandic tradition offered a fabulous opportunity to promote book buying and reading within the same initiative, so the seeds of Jolabokaflod CIC were planted.

Urged on by the BookMachine team, Christopher launched the UK-version of Jolabokaflod at an RSA Bounce event in London for entrepreneurs in November 2015.

In December 2015, on a business trip to New York, Christopher met with Hlynur Guðjónsson, Consul General and Trade Commissioner at the Consulate General of Iceland in New York, to share the vision of spreading the custom and practice of Jólabókaflóðið to the UK and beyond. Mr Guðjónsson gave Christopher’s Jolabokaflod plans his endorsement and facilitated contact with Icelandic organizations of potential mutual interest, including embassies and book trade bodies, players in annual ‘Christmas book flood’.

At Christmas 2015, Christopher encouraged people all over the world to experience Jólabókaflóðið, the joy of giving books as gifts and reading them over the festive period, in a series of published articles and blog postings.

Between March and October 2016, the Jolabokaflod initiative launched its first crowdfunding project at CrowdPatch – called The Icelanders Cometh – which built on the strong connection with Icelandic literature by seeking funds for UK libraries to spend on books published in English by Icelandic authors. The project raised 103% of its target figure.

In November 2016, Christopher started a new Jolabokaflod-related crowdfunding project, to publish a UK version of the Book Bulletin that captures book recommendations and personal/professional profiles for sharing with people seeking to buy Christmas gifts for their friends and families. This project concluded successfully in February 2017, just after a Gala launch party held at the Hotel Café Royal. The Book Bulletin is now an annual campaign.

In spring 2017, Christopher established two companies to promote the ‘Christmas book flood’ tradition: Jolabokaflod CIC (a not-for-profit social enterprise); and Jolabokaflod Book Campaign Ltd (a commercial trading company).

Global interest in Jolabokaflod CIC at the London Book Fair in March 2017 sparked a year of visiting trade expos to spread the word around the world about the Christmas book flood tradition, notably to BookExpo America in May 2017 and the Frankfurt Book Fair in October 2017. International trade fairs continue to be vital to sharing the Jólabókaflóðið concept with the global book trade.

Jolabokaflod CIC and Jolabokaflod Book Campaign Ltd are on rapid growth curves, with interest expressed from people everywhere in the book trade and externally from the general public. Our founding story is far from complete.

So now that you’re ready to curl up in front of the fire with your new book and a cup of cocoa how about a new pair of matching PJ’s to go with the ambiance of the evening? Warm and cozy pajamas are in my opinion the perfect complement to snuggling up by the fireplace to read or watch Christmas movies.

Christmas PJ’s are the new ugly Christmas sweater – cute, kitschy and perfect for Instagramming, especially when the WHOLE family is wearing matching outfits. You are hard pressed to get through the season without seeing department store displays, catalogs or Christmas movies – especially in this age of multiple social media platforms. They have become so popular that many families have made them a holiday tradition each year. The tradition had begun to die off, but social media and influencers have revived it in a BIG way. A family from North Carolina released a music video parody on YouTube titled “Christmas Jammies,” in 2013 which they hilariously recap their year while sporting red-and-green sleepwear. The video went viral with over more than 18 million views making #ChristmasJammies a wildly popular Instagram hashtag.

But seriously how and where did such a strange tradition – one where grown men willingly suit up in festive onesies in the name of twinning with their 2-year-old—even start?

According to fashion historian Debbie Sessions, the holiday uniform first gained traction well before the dawn of social media. As early as the ’50s, holiday department store catalogs would advertise festive get-ups, aka PJ’s as we know them today, adorned with stripes, checks, and other holiday motifs for the whole family. The trend inevitably took off, sticking around steadily through the ’60s, ’70s, and ‘80s. Some companies even customize the PJ’s to match the books.


For me, stuffing stockings is one of my favorite things to do. I’m always on the look out for special little items that I tuck away ALL year long waiting for just this day.

Since the kids are grown, hubby gets my FULL attention and he hates it 😀 (sort of) because he says he isn’t as good at reciprocating the stocking process. But, he tries hard and is getting better at it every year. EVERY year though he complains about having to actually make things ‘fit’ into something stocking shaped. 

We have stopped “BIG” presents to each other so the stocking is our “main” or “BIG” present. We did convert to larger “bag” stockings and we individually wrap the presents inside the “stocking” for more fun. I found these cute bags at Marshalls a couple years ago. These bags are soooooo much easier!!
In the past I donated most of our leftover wrapping resources to our local Eagles Lodge for their charitable endeavors and the float they decorated for the parade. So, it was fun to pick out some new wrapping papers this year.

These pictures are from the last few years.

As for a WISH list, it gets smaller every year – we really do NOT need anything!




This has always been a really hard category for me.  I LOVE Christmas!  There is nothing about this season I don’t like short of maybe crowds of rude people and Black Friday.

Sometimes seeing things through someone else’s eyes can give the same old traditions new meaning and in the long run that can also make the favorite traditions and the memories mean even that much more.

If I had to pick just one tradition though, it would be putting up the tree as a family while eating leftover turkey (from Thanksgiving) sandwiches. When I was a kid we usually put our tree up the day after Thanksgiving and would leave it until at least Kings Day, the Epiphany on January 6th.

Hubby and I USUALLY still do that and for that reason we like to go cut our own tree so it’s fresh and lasts the entire time. I use an apple cider/sugar mix that keeps the sap from forming on the cut area and keeps the water cool and full. But, again this is the year we broke with tradition and used the artificial tree, putting it up before Halloween and had prime rib for Thanksgiving so didn’t have any leftover turkey for the sandwiches 🙁

When I was a kid we did a BIG family get together with a HUGE buffet of fun food and we opened our family presents on Christmas Eve. My cousins and I were recently reminiscing about some of those holidays and LOL how horrible our wardrobes were back then. Thankfully, I’m not in the top picture because I remember what I was wearing! But I love my brother’s plaid pants and Monica’s floral blouse. If you don’t hear from me for a few days I’m SURE it’s because one them found me after seeing that I posted this picture LOL 😀😀FORTUNATELY, My mom retired that tablecloth finally! I never did like it so that made me very happy!

Then on Christmas Day we would do Christmas morning and “Santa” with just the immediate family followed by a BIG turkey dinner with all the trimmings including my dad’s stuffing and giblet gravy with ALL the family as well as extended family, which included crazy Aunt Louise and Uncle Herb. I replicated dad’s stuffing recipe a few years ago (Oatnut Sourdough Herb Dressing) and that is now a MUST TRADITION for the Christmas meal no matter what the protein is.

Hubby reminded me recently that a fun tradition we did when our youngest was at home was birthday cake for Christmas morning. LOL I didn’t really consider this a “Christmas” tradition so have never really talked about it. Eric’s birthday is on Christmas. My cousin’s is on Christmas Eve and I grew up watching her feel slighted because so many people would round her birthday and Christmas into one big ball. After we grew up I would send her birthday present wrapped in bright colorful paper in October 😀 She always knew she could open it early and it made her feel better. In that tradition I would make Eric a birthday cake for breakfast and we would start Christmas morning with birthday and then transition into Christmas around the tree.

But, what was is just that, WAS so our newest tradition in the last several years is watching Christmas movies, just the two of us and dreaming about moving to every small town depicted in them, kind of like Stars Hollow from the Gilmore Girls.  We loved that show!


Every year I think about the world and all that is going on around us looking for way to make Christmas better for others. This year has been different than others in this post pandemic era, but the need is still great so it has also been rewarding to be able to help others.

I’m actually a little late with this post because my friend, a social worker reached out hoping to add a last minute family of 7 to our list. I was especially touched when she told me it was a “whole” family struggling, but asking for everyday practical thing like tires which made me want to make it as special as possible with items they needed, but were fun too!

I’m always searching for inspiring stories that show the goodness in people as well as the true meaning of the season with maybe an uncanny miracle too. Here are a few new stories I found this year:


A Wonderful Way To Explain Santa To Kids Without Them Feeling Lied To
In our family, we have a special way of transitioning the kids from receiving from Santa, to becoming a Santa. This way, the Santa construct is not a lie that gets discovered, but an unfolding series of good deeds and Christmas spirit.

When they are 6 or 7, whenever you see that dawning suspicion that Santa may not be a material being, that means the child is ready.

I take them out “for coffee” at the local wherever. We get a booth, order our drinks, and the following pronouncement is made:
“You sure have grown an awful lot this year. Not only are you taller, but I can see that your heart has grown, too. [ Point out 2-3 examples of empathetic behavior, consideration of people’s feelings, good deeds etc, the kid has done in the past year]. In fact, your heart has grown so much that I think you are ready to become a Santa Claus.

You probably have noticed that most of the Santas you see are people dressed up like him. Some of your friends might have even told you that there is no Santa. A lot of children think that, because they aren’t ready to BE a Santa yet, but YOU ARE. Tell me the best things about Santa. What does Santa get for all of his trouble? [lead the kid from “cookies” to the good feeling of having done something for someone else]. Well, now YOU are ready to do your first job as a Santa!”

Make sure you maintain the proper conspiratorial tone.
We then have the child choose someone they know–a neighbor, usually. The child’s mission is to secretly, deviously, find out something that the person needs, and then provide it, wrap it, deliver it–and never reveal to the target where it came from. Being a Santa isn’t about getting credit, you see. It’s unselfish giving.

My oldest chose the “witch lady” on the corner. She really was horrible–had a fence around the house and would never let the kids go in and get a stray ball or Frisbee. She’d yell at them to play quieter, etc–a real pill. He noticed when we drove to school that she came out every morning to get her paper in bare feet, so he decided she needed slippers. So then he had to go spy and decide how big her feet were. He hid in the bushes one Saturday, and decided she was a medium. We went to Kmart and bought warm slippers. He wrapped them up, and tagged it “merry Christmas from Santa.” After dinner one evening, he slipped down to her house, and slid the package under her driveway gate. The next morning, we watched her waddle out to get the paper, pick up the present, and go inside. My son was all excited, and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. The next morning, as we drove off, there she was, out getting her paper–wearing the slippers. He was ecstatic. I had to remind him that NO ONE could ever know what he did, or he wouldn’t be a Santa.

Over the years, he chose a good number of targets, always coming up with a unique present just for them. One year, he polished up his bike, put a new seat on it, and gave it to one of our friend’s daughters. These people were and are very poor. We did ask the dad if it was ok. The look on her face, when she saw the bike on the patio with a big bow on it, was almost as good as the look on my son’s face.

When it came time for Son #2 to join the ranks, my oldest came along, and helped with the induction speech. They are both excellent gifters, by the way, and never felt that they had been lied to–because they were let in on the Secret of Being a Santa.

CREDIT: Charity Hutchinson


Here are a few more stories from CAMILLE STYLES that I found inspiring.

When Michigan resident Chad Rose just happened to have an extra Christmas tree that was used on his business’s parade float, he did what any decent person would do: he posted on Craigslist to give it away for free. For some, a tree is an annual necessity and integral part of the holidays, but for many it’s an expense that needs to be saved for daily essentials. After posting the ad, his inbox was immediately flooded with touching stories of why various families deserved to have the tree.

With each e-mail he read, it became clear how significant a simple tree can be in contributing to the holiday aura. One email, which he shared with, read, “Having a real Christmas tree would be such a great blessing this year [because] usually we draw a Christmas tree on a large poster and hang it in the corner.” Realizing that $25 towards a tree was too much for some families to spare, Chad went out and bought 40 more to give away for free. He spent most of the next day going over his list of emails, checking it twice, and not paying much attention to who’s been naughty or nice – just deserving.


Canadian airline WestJet delivered holiday cheer for 250 passengers on a flight to Calgary. The airline placed a digital Santa Claus at an airport, and asked passengers what they wanted for Christmas. While everyone was in the air, 175 WestJet workers sprinted to nearby stores and bought everything they asked ‘WestJet Santa’ for — from pairs of socks and underwear, to big-screen TVs. When the passengers arrived at their destination, every one was met with their dream gift at baggage claim.

This isn’t the first time WestJet has whipped out the holiday cheer, either. Last year, a flash mob of 150 volunteers performed a jolly dance in the waiting area for a red-eye flight, complete with Santa on the tarmac and stockings stuffed with new iPods.


Sixteen year old Jordan Cox has a knack for extreme couponing, a talent he uses to help he and his struggling mom get by, according to the Telegraph. But this Christmas season, the savvy teen decided to also use his unique skill set to help struggling families in need. Jordan collected hundreds of coupons and purchased about $935 worth of groceries for less than a penny. He then donated it all to Doorstep, a nonprofit that disperses food to disadvantaged families.

“I decided I wanted to help as many people as I can, and to also show that it’s possible to shop very cheaply, if you know how,” Jordan said.

But my all time favorite is a true story from Pastor Rob Reid:


The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities.

When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.

They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc. and on Dec 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished. On Dec 19 a terrible tempest – a driving rainstorm – hit the area and lasted for two days. On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high.

The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home.

On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.

By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later.

She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. “Pastor,” she asked, “where did you get that tablecloth?” The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria. The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the tablecloth.

The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. She was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again.

The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home, that was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a house-cleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return.

One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn’t leaving.

he man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike?
He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety, and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between. The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride.

They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier.

He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment, knocked on the door and there he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine and was blessed with the ultimate Christmas gift.