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Trying to be Festive When Times are Tough

by | Dec 16, 2008 | Seasonal Decorating & Entertaining | 41 comments

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I popped around blogland a bit last night and WOW, so many of you are all ready for Christmas! Lots of parties and fun stuff going on. I love it! You guys are the best.

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Me? We got our tree this weekend, even though to be honest, we didn’t have time or money for a tree with all the moving prep and expenses right now. It was just too hard to disappoint the kids, so we got a Charlie Brown tree. It is smaller and less lush than our usual tree, but it is cute and we let the kids decorate it however they wanted to. They even made their own star for the top. And it is all good.

I have no photos of our humble tree yet, but I found some photos that inspired me at Country Living so this is my attempt at being festive today.

We are doing the best we can to keep up our holiday festiveness and not be overcome with the stress of the move and all that goes along with it!

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Here is what I am learning about enjoying the holidays when you are undergoing some stressful times:

Seize the moments.
You may not have the time or money to devote to amazing holiday festivities, but grab memorable moments while you can! Cut out paper snowflakes after dinner or have a quick hot chocolate break (with mini-marshmallows, of course). Look for little moments!
Keep some traditions.
Just downsize them! Simplify some of the things you enjoy about the holidays. Finding creative ways to keep your traditions or at least modify them will mean a lot to everyone and keep depression from setting in. Keep the traditions alive!
Lower your expectations.
During difficult times don’t put extra pressure on yourself to do more than you are able. Discuss with your family what they can expect and why this year might be different. It is a good lesson for everyone in living within your means and knowing what really counts.
Create new traditions for future holidays.
Those Charlie Brown trees and treasured moments creating paper garland might become the best memories ever.

All photos: Country Living


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    Thinking of you and praying for you during the craziness of the season and a move thrown in the mix! And I’m a big fan of keeping traditions even if they have to be made a bit smaller. Great advice, Melissa!

    Kristens inspiring blog post..Six Months

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    Hang in there Melissa, I think this is a really stressful Christmas for many this year. Your tips are so true. We have downsized our decorating and expectations this year and having some of the pressure off has been a a lifesaver. I pray for you that God will help you through this move and that you will have beautiful moments to treasure even in this hectic time of moving and cahnge in your life.

    Kathys inspiring blog post..A baptism and a tour

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    We’ve been through some rough Christmases & to be honest, the humblest ones seem to create the best memories! I think it just promotes a greater appreciation for the things you DO have. I’ll just bet your Charlie Brown tree will be the most beautiful ever!!

    Jinxs inspiring blog post..A Faerie Crown

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    Oh, you are going to look back on this and really enjoy future Christmases…this one will still have fond memories.

    I was at Walgreen’s and they have an ACTUAL Charlie Brown Christmas tree…complete with the ONE red ornament for $10!!! I think I’m going to go get it……

    Tracis inspiring blog post..Holiday Open House

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    This is our first relatively “normal” Christmas in three years time….losing both Dads and a grandparent…just made it hard to be “normal”. I found those years we bought more in an attempt to put the festivity where we did not feel it. It didn’t work…so I do hope that you can continue to enjoy your family and the process that you are in now.

    I love that you bought a Charlie Brown tree. Sometimes they are just the best. Memories…sweet…togetherness…creativity…planning…excitement…love……lots and lots of love!

    Becky K.

    Becky K.s inspiring blog post..So Sweet – Tea and Fellowship

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    Just focus on how great Christmas will be NEXT year, Melissa! That’s what I had to keep in mind 3 years ago when we were moving. I managed to get up my little tabletop tree, but that was all. We gotta keep things in perspective. Merry Christmas!

    Rhodas inspiring blog post..Foyer Christmas Magic

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    We haven’t done an ounce of decorating in my house yet, but since it’s just me and my grandmother we probably won’t do much. The big Christmas dinner will be at my mom’s this year.

    I can’t wait to see your Charlie Brown tree! I’ve always wanted one of those…

    Jaimes inspiring blog post..The Big One-Oh

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    Melissa, I am so sorry you are just buried right now in moving. It makes it o much harder to be happening at Christmas! Bless your heart. If all the people who love you and your fantastic blog could pop over and help it would all be done in a nano second! Keeping a prayer in my heart for you during this time!

    Bonnie Mattsons inspiring blog post..Hooked On Houses Blog Party

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    Good, solid, valuable tips…even for those of us who aren’t moving. And the good thing is, this Christmas could go down as one of the kids’ fondest. Kinda crazy, but true!

    Vees inspiring blog post..I’ve Lost My Mommy

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    Melissa, I will say an extra prayer for you. Cheer up…a year from now you will look back and wonder how you pulled it off. But always remember we are pulling for you, wishing we were there to move boxes for you. One thing I do know, keep yourself built up. Fill yourself up, so you are not running on empty! The Lord bless you and keep you.

    Debbie @ ribbonwoods inspiring blog post..Holiday Open House Tour

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    Hey there :-)

    Thanks for the gorgeous photos. And I’ll bet your Charlie Brown tree is just beautiful.

    So many good thoughts your way Melissa – ho ho ho and thanks for the stress beating tips!

    Mavens inspiring blog post..Maven’s Make Ahead Christmas Dinner Planner

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    Love all the white and blue. Hang in there, theres always next Christmas. You have a way of pulling everything off in style so Im sure you will get through all this just fine.

    Mrs darlings inspiring blog post..Your Turn to Ask the Questions

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    sweet melissa, i love the title of this post…i am smiling through our little difficulty over here too….i am happy to hear you made a little charlie brown tree your home this year :) hang in there friend, this too shall pass (like gas – hehe) and in the meanwhile, ‘hold fast to that which is good’….

    hugs bff’er!

    shelbis inspiring blog post..HAPPY BIRTHDAY HONEY and a Give AWAY!

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    Such good tips! Your are not alone, I believe we are all cutting back this year. When I was a young girl we could not afford a star for the top of our tinsel tree, so my sister and I made one out of cardboard and covered it with kitchen foil. We were so proud of our star, I wish we still had it. God bless you and your family during this busy season…:)

    lisas inspiring blog post..

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    We’ve made a conscious decision to go much smaller on Christmas this year and it’s been such a breath of fresh air!

    We’ve focused on activities, rather than gifts. We’ve made lots of crafts together, had a lot of fun baking goodies and delivering it to neighbors, have had several family movie nights, drove around and looked at Christmas lights followed by hot chocolate… It’s been *such* a relaxing month!

    My kids will remember this one much more than Christmases in the past that flew by.

    PamperingBekis inspiring blog post..9 more days!!

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    Melissa, I predict your children will remember this Christmas more than most, and it will be a season they and you will hold dear to your hearts in the many years to come. The Christmases I remember most are the ones that were unusual for some reason. There were not many, which makes them all the more memorable. Blessings to you and your family. ~Arleen

    Arleens inspiring blog post..Holiday Home Tour

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    I have had a few Christmases when I didn’t even know why we were bothering with a tree.

    And I’ve had a few where I tried to do WAY too much. And those times are much harder than the skimpy times.

    So I guess we have to be Goldilocks and try and balance it juuuust right.

    I think we did it this year. It it has been the happiest Christmas I’ve had since I was the kid just getting to experience it.

    Hang in there Goldilocks. This porridge might be too cold…but there is always next year!

    Girly Stuffs inspiring blog post..Rockin’ Christmas Tour 2008!

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    I bet the children loved being in charge of decorating the tree! I did when I was little – and we didn’t have lots of expensive ornaments. Most of it was stuff that three children had made through the years. The tree still looked great! Good luck on the moving –
    My best tip is actually to try to find time to clean and tidy up! Then choose a colour scheme and decorate with whatever you find in your drawers and closets!

    The Deco Detectives inspiring blog post..INTERIOR PHOTOGRAPHERS & STYLISTS FROM REFRESH AGENCY

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    Thanks for sharing.
    Most of us are in the same situation. Even though we haven’t been hit with any financial hardships, it is only WISE to make better choices for our future. My children don’t care if my home looks amazing. My friends don’t need to be impressed by what a talented decorator I am. My husband doesn’t need to pay a ton of money so I can have the most amazing decorations ever.
    I have a home. My children are happy and healthy. My husband has a job. I know that this is the season to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to let others know that He wants to have a personal relationship with them.

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    Hi Melissa,

    We’ve still got you on the Prayer List on our Tuesday post, Come to Jesus and Pray…and Tom and I say a special prayer every day for you and your family during this stressful MOVING time!


    Jans inspiring blog post..MORE Antique-ing "Pretties"…ORNAMENTS!

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    This is exactly what I posted about last night.
    I walked around my own thrifty home and gathered quite a few photos that I just know you might like.
    I applauded women just like you…’ll see
    Thanks for the reminder that we can use what we have .
    Fall in love with your home again…and move over Martha.

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    I’m sure your kids are enjoying the Charlie Brown tree just as much! It’s hard to be festive during moving! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas nonetheless!

    Reynies inspiring blog post..Pretty Stairs for Christmas

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    I think the world around you responds to YOUR efforts! So, no matter how the ‘world’ is responding, take care of your family’s LOVE and you will have a great Christmas! LOVE is not commercial, nor is it seasonal!

    Mary Ruths inspiring blog post..Christmas Mantel decor

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    To really enjoy the Spirit of Christmas a few suggestions to pass along.
    Joy. Compassion. Rejoicing. Generosity…just to name a few..all tied up w/ heartstrings!
    Happy Holidays -^.^- NG

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    you are making the best of a bad time and doing a great job.
    this too shall pass so keep up the positive attitude and I am sure you have given a lot of folks food for thought.
    i personally think it is timely to look at what we have been doing and that there is room for change.

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    Your home looks so beautiful and I’m sure the kids will have wonderful memories of decorating the tree the way they wanted to! We are in a bit of a bind with two house payments and no work! It’s all good though! I think we are learning as we go! We are gonna be smart!
    Take care!

    Kim@ForeverWherever.coms inspiring blog post..Easy Reindeer Cookies

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    It’s the small things that really matter. I have some of the best memories of the smallest things that my mom (and dad) did when I was a little one. The gumdrop tree-that mom says she only did a couple of times, but I remember it. Christmas lights intertwined on the rails of the front porch, Santa always bringing us packages of Swiss Miss in our stockings-the only time we had this. We always had Charlie Brown type Christmas trees. We always went into my grandparents pasture and cut a tree. It was all good.
    Every year I want to go out and buy new ornaments/bows,etc. This year those same feelings came around-I just couldn’t justify it. After putting up all of the things we have used for at least 8 to 15 years. I just love it all.
    As someone above said, “You are not alone.” Love your blog.

    Christinas inspiring blog post..Christina’s Christmas Decorations Part Two

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    I think the most memorable Christmas was not the year hubby got me diamond earrings or a trip to Hawaii… was the year we bought our first house and we were BROKE from all the bills. I am an avid COW lover (as well as cat lover)…so he picked up a cute little cow print cereal bowl and an apron for me (we werent supposed to get each other anything that year, we were in the midst of packing our apartment)….well we are together over 25 years, and that little cow bowl sits on top of my dining room breakfront to remind me its not how big the gift is, but the thought behind it.

    CatHerders inspiring blog post..UGH

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    AHH – electricity. We just got it back after being out for 5 days and today we are getting snow and ice, so it could be temporary. I just wanted to say that I missed checking your site! HAPPY HOLIDAYS and as usual thank you for sharing all your inspiration. I used some of your ideas for decorating with nature and wow did I get a lot of compliments when I hosted my work’s party. The best part was that it didn’t cost a dime, just a little time. I used winterberry from trees on the side of the road and some pine from the yard to make beautiful vases for my mantel. Thank you for the inspiration!

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    i have lately been inspired by the blogs of young mothers and so much see myself years ago in the content and comments.

    You are lucky to have the wisdom early of what will and will not matter years from now. My 25 year old son and 30 year old niece that lived a few years with us have both told me of things that meant so much to them and most are so small that i don’t recall them.

    They were not the things i so worried for, or what i struggled to make happen for them, but the tiny, subtle and meaningless (so i thought) incidental moments that they remember and hold close.

    an ad libbed story that took 5 minutes but made a big impression
    all of us piled into my bed during a thunderstorm
    an impromptu gingerbread house of simple graham crackers and cake icing
    a long car ride where we read “A Christmas Carol” out loud
    dressing up the dog in a muffler and hat

    …and a million other tiny, “worthless” moments that cost me nothing but the time it took to be part of them.

    That’s all that our children really want, and the better part of what they will one day recall as “happy”… the time we take with them.

    So you are right not to put the emphasis on what you have and what you don’t. It’s your smile and your love for them that will impress them, and the five minutes it took to scoop them up in your arms and make them smile will be the best spent of all that you do.

    Merry Christmas…

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    Good advice! Now if we’ll all just do that. :-)

    We’re going through some toughness right now and I first thought I’d skip some of the decorations … then I decided that the house needs to look cheery, dang it! Plus, we didn’t buy anything other than our one real (slightly smaller than last year’s) tree — everything else was dumped down from the attic. (So it was more about making time for me to put everything in place as opposed to spending money.)

    I think those visual cues can help us feel more festive too. Many prayers that everyone will have a blessed holiday season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May 2009 meet us and treat us well.

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    HI Meliassa, I want to say…and agree with others that the specialness of this season is not in the SIZE or PRICE of gifts but the thought and intention. This year (for the first time) we are doing a family Pollyanna, and on Thanksgiving when we drew names, my daughter said to me “this will be the first Christmas Eve when I won’t feel like crying”. Oh boy, did that hit a nerve! She has always felt so STRESSED that she didn’t get everyone something good, didn’t get the right things, etc., etc. Now she is relaxed and enjoying the festivities of the holidays. The gift of HAVING each other and being together is what it is all about. God bless you and I will be thnking of you and your family. Hugs, Pinky

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    These are the types of posts I love the most. I just finished wrapping the first presents for 2 of our children, and every single one of them was second hand. But you know what? They don’t care because it’s exactly what they want. The great thing raising children with a more thrifty mentality is that having a big name price tag on it just doesn’t matter. :)

    Jen@Balancing Beauty and Bedlams inspiring blog post..Christmas traditions – 2

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    This must be a very difficult time for you with the upcoming move. Thank you for posting on a topic like this. It’s been quite a stressful time this year at my house. But I still want to keep certain traditions going even though we’ve cut back so much. I’ve had my tree and decorations for years so I’ve got that up. Maybe I’ll take a few pictures and post them on my blog. Hang in there, Melissa. The Lord has plans for you and your family.

    Debbies inspiring blog post..Holiday Weight Gain

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    Great advice! The magazine photos are pretty, thanks for sharing them. I hope you will be more blessed than stressed and have a very Merry Christmas!

    Miss Sandys inspiring blog post..Warm Winter Wishes…..

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    I think that a charlie brown tree is awesome…so many are feeling the pinch! I hope that you are feeling inspired and less stressed very soon!

    Sunday Bakers inspiring blog post..Graham Cracker Christmas Houses

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    With th 6 kids, hubby working and going to school full time, I feel like this holiday season has been so much more work. I’m completely frazzled (as is evident by my lame”ish” posting of late) and not quite in my usual Christmas spirit. I determined this year to keep it simple. So, I gifted to the neighbors on my street- a small token- and nixed the rest. I came to the peaceful understanding that no one “expected” me to deliver gifts but myself. Anyone who has been close knows why I’ve simplified this year and is forgiving… anyone who doesn’t know what’s been going on this year certainly aren’t the ones waiting by the door for my delivery.

    Great reminders today. I will take time to make cinnamon rolls with my kids and a gingerbread house. We’ll still manage to get all 8 of us out of the house for a night of caroling. Those are memory makers and worth taking the time to do.
    Take care of yourself and enjoy the browsing of blogland. I’ve loved the sneek peeks into the life of other women. Aren’t we all fabulous!
    Love and warm Christmas wishes dear friend,
    Pretty Organizer

    Pretty Organizers inspiring blog post..Spashes of Christmas around my house

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    I can’t believe the beautiful Christmas decor I have seen since visiting these sites. It is amazing and this one is gorgeous. Unfortunately…it made me feel like I live in a closet ~smile~ but I love my closet.
    I find such inspiration and joy just looking at the different beautiful rooms and decorations. It’s an amazing and sweet addition to Christmas fun. Merry Christmas!


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