Contributor Archive

Holiday Spirals Craft

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Here is a quick and easy holiday craft that, while simple to make, adds extraordinary beauty to your home. All you need is a needle, thread, scissors, paper (colored origami paper, gold paper or slightly stiff paper all are good choices) and tape. Simply cut out a circle of paper—four to six inches in diameter. Then with scissors, gently spiral your way to the center of the circle, cutting a quarter-inch in from the outside of the circle as you spiral your way in. Once at the center, leave a half-inchwide
center piece and use a needle to attach a knotted thread to the center. Make the thread long enough to dangle from your ceiling at a pleasant height. Attach your spiral to the ceiling with tape.

We dangle spirals all over our home and let them dance and sway in the gentle breezes of the blowing furnace. You can also hang them high above a lighted candle (high enough that it won’t catch on fire) and have the spiral spin continuously. These spirals are especially pretty when made with gold or silver paper, as the metallic sheen of the paper glimmers in the light.

Letting Go During the Holidays

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Sometimes my unbound enthusiasm can make me go a little bit overboard during the holidays. My mind, buzzing with creative ideas, keeps coming up with just one more thing to cook, to make and to experience, until I am simply exhausted, thus losing the fun of the holidays by trying to do too much. I have bestowed on myself the huge responsibility of making the holidays magical for my family. This responsibility used to be a joy back when our family was smaller and the children were younger. But our increasingly complex lives now make this joy feel more like a chore.

The paradox is that the very things I like the most about Christmas-the magic, the surprises, the joy-were being destroyed by my best efforts to make sure they happened! It has taken years, but I have finally learned that the less I do and the more I can just be present in the moment, the more likely it is for my mythical, magical Christmas feeling to appear.

So if you find the holidays somewhat lacking or even forced (as if you have been trying too hard for too long), try simplifying what they mean to you. Identify the essence of the holiday and make sure to choose activities that celebrate the true meaning of the day (or days). Once I simplified my expectations, my true desires seemed much more manageable and made much more sense to me because they were now undeniably heartfelt.

And you know the funniest thing is, once we started really focusing on what Christmas truly meant to us, our material wants diminished and all the magic I was seeking flourished in our hearts quite by accident.

The Gift of Self

Monday, December 15th, 2008

When it is time for gift-giving on any occasion, consider making and giving coupons to your children. The sky is the limit. “This coupon good for one breakfast out with Dad.” “This coupon good for staying up late on one weekend night.” “This coupon good for one bike-riding afternoon with Mom.” What is so wonderful about coupons is that they can so easily translate into time spent together with loved ones, rather than just another thing to accumulate. We started this tradition early in our family and it wasn’t too long before we parents started getting lovingly scrawled coupons from the children. It is a sweet way to teach that gifts of self are often so much more meaningful and fun than gifts that originate in the wallet.