i have to admit. i have mixed feelings about the holidays, christmas in particular. i love that christmas brings family together, i love the cozy feeling of being cuddled up on the couch during holiday vacation with the soft glow of christmas lights in the background. i love the smell of pine tree in my living room. i love the feeling of waking up late, wearing fuzzy socks and pajamas all day. i love the concept of giving. giving feels good…when it is genuine and comes from the heart.
when i was a young girl christmas was my most favorite holiday. each year we would travel by horse and sleigh (literally) with an axe into the woods to search for the perfect christmas tree.we would proudly come home after our conquest to a warm fire in the wood stove, the glow of light from kerosene lamps and mugs full of hot cocoa.
we baked our own ornaments made from flour and salt and spent hours painting them and putting them together in order to hang them on our tree. each year we strung fresh popped popcorn onto a string, threading each one carefully, working tirelessly to make the string long enough to wrap around the entire tree.
every christmas eve before bed i would hear my mom scrambling about to get the last bit of sewing, wrapping and stocking preparation done in time for christmas morning.
the stockings were the best part of the entire holiday. we would go to bed early with flashlights by our sides in anticipation of waking before dawn to scramble through our stockings in search of treasures. our mom always had a way of stuffing our stockings with great finds. we never had a lot of money for lavish or expensive gifts but somehow our mom would stuff our stockings to the brim with what we thought were the most amazing treasures. the secret to her technique was adding handfuls of clementines to the stockings to give it that extra overflowing, bulky, this stocking is amazing kind of vibe.
these are the things that stuck out to me the most. not expensive gifts or buying new ornaments every year but the experiences of chopping down our own tree, making our ornaments, opening carefully hand sewn dolls by my mom, waking up in the middle of the night to rummage through our overflowing stockings. the smell of clementines…
it seems more than ever that we are consumed with acquiring more “stuff”. buying more things. shiny ornaments, expensive wrapping paper, manufactured christmas cookies, gifts that serve only the purpose of crossing a name off a list. i long for the days when christmas was about giving from the heart, giving of yourself and even more important, giving to those in need.
over the past few years our family has taken on a new tradition. rather than feeling obligated to buy gifts, we choose names from a hat and our gift to that person is a donation to a charity we think will be meaningful to them. we still experience the spirit of giving to our loved ones and the fulfillment of giving to others who are more in need.
a few years ago we decided to forgo buying new ornaments every year. instead my daughter and i make fresh homemade fruit ornaments to hang on the tree. the smell of the fruit baking in the oven and the experience of making the ornaments together brings me back to the days when i was a child. complete nostalgia.
these ornaments add a natural touch to a christmas tree and fill up the room with fruity aroma.
homemade fruit ornaments
you will need…
3 medium size apples
3 medium size oranges
slice the apples the round way so you are able to see the star shape in the center (not too thin or too thick)
slice the oranges the round way (not too thin or too thick)
turn oven to 250 degrees and lightly rub olive oil on bottom of pan in order to prevent sticking
place apple and orange slices on the pan
bake for 2 or more hours. the key is to cook the fruit at a low temperature to create a “dried fruit” look.
poke a hole through the top of the fruit slices, loop twine through and tie
hang the homemade ornaments on the tree
or use them as a decorations on mason jars of homemade apple butter, orange marmalade or other gifts. they are also great for adding a little color and flair to gift wrapping.
slow down. be present. your worth is not defined by the number of gifts underneath the tree. give from your heart. make a homemade ornament. give to a local charity. snuggle with your loved ones. read a good book. smile at someone you don’t know. be kind. share as much love as you can…the world is in need of more love than ever before. love is the greatest gift one can give or receive.
much love, Shawnee