12 Surefire Methods For Getting In The Christmas Mood

There are exactly two weeks until Christmas Day (for those of you who are behind on your gift-buying, you’re welcome for that bone-chilling, adrenaline-kicking, stroke-inducing reminder).

For some reason, I’ve had a bit of a hard time getting into The Christmas Mood. I don’t know what it is, but I only really managed to snag the Christmas cheer this past week. Today, for anyone else whose spirits might be flagging, I’m going to share 12 surefire methods that are sure, beyond all shadows of any doubts, to get you in The Christmas Mood (because they’re basically science).

The Christmas Mood.jpg

Oh, look, a red snowflake. How festive.

1. Wrap a present. (Note: if you don’t have any gifts for wrapping yet, wrapping a present to get into The Christmas Mood will not exactly work since it’s not, strictly speaking, possible to wrap a gift you don’t have–unless of course you wrap a metaphorical gift, in which case, use your imagination and make it look real good). For those who struggle with gift wrapping, you may refer to this incredibly therapeutic post from Penprints a couple years ago (you’re welcome in advance).

2. Take a drive after dark to see the Christmas lights. It is so fun and cheering to admire the lights that so many enterprising, Already In The Mood people have taken the time to decorate with. So, don’t be afraid to go out after dark; instead, take advantage of any opportunity to see the lights.

3. Invent your very own festive playlist. This one is new to me this year, but I’ve got a specialized playlist for Christmas on Spotify. I encourage you to do something similar because there’s nothing quite like music to usher in Mood and Anticipation. Since the beginning of December, I have added at least one song a day to my playlist (you can listen to it here; for cute and fun, I recommend “Hey Moon“; for nostalgic, go for “To Be With You“; for haunting and hopeful, “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day” and “End of Exile“; for abstract and reminiscent of the tender tone of some of the O.T. prophecies, I can’t recommend “I Will Find a Way” enough).

4. Decorate with red and green and garland and lights and nativities. If I need to explain this one, well, I’m sorry for your childhood (or lack thereof).

5. Say “Merry Christmas!”, especially to strangers. You can’t use “Merry Christmas” more than five times without feeling The Mood come upon you. So say it.

6. Take quiet time away to reflect on Jesus and His birth and the hope of Him. Hope is so essential to the Christian life, and this time of year especially will be hollow if we don’t take time to recognize and reflect on what it meant back then and what it means today.

7. … And respond with joy. C. S. Lewis said that joy is not complete until it’s expressed. SO, when you’re thinking about everything Jesus’s coming means and the sheer joy of it hits you, express it. Sing. Extol God. Pray. Tell someone. Smile. The explosive joy of God is sometimes too much to explain or share, but try to communicate it anyway–to God, to your family, to your co-workers, to everyone.

8. Snuff some peppermint essential oil. Trust me, this is pure genius from yours truly. Bring up a chair, my padawans. Essential oils aren’t just about wellness.

dream bigger 1

Essential oils are about Mood, too. So, go out to your local Store and pick up some peppermint essential oil. There are a few ways to benefit from the fragrance. Put some in a diffuser necklace for easy access. During a hot shower, drip 2-3 drops on the shower floor. If you have a diffuser in your home, put a few drops in there and enjoy. It’s like inhaling candy canes and sleigh bells.

9. Following along the line of sniffing Christmas, light up a Christmas tree scented candle. Even if you have a live Christmas tree, there is never enough Christmas tree smell, and candles add to ambiance and Good Moods with the longer nights of winter. Plus, matches never get old. (If any of you thought we were going to make it through this post without a reference to fire, you were sorely mistaken.)

10. Write/design a Christmas card or two or three. This is good for you and good for the person(s) you send the card to.

11. Watch a Christmas movie. While Charles Dickens did not invent Christmas (obviously), The Man Who Invented Christmas looks like it would be a fun, festive one to go see in theaters this year. Other popular Christmas movies aka: the classics we watch almost every year at my house include: The Nativity Story, Elf, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (basically a Christmas movie), The Very First Noel, and The Muppet’s Christmas Carol.

12. Some sort of advent. There are so many options. Come Let Us Adore Him by Paul David Tripp is one that my mom is enjoying this year, but there are countless other resources available online and in bookstores.

And that is the most comprehensive, exhaustive, complete, surefire of all surefire lists of Christmas-y things to do you’ll find on the internet nevermind that Christmas cookies, caroling, jingle bells, Christmas pageants, snowmen, and like 300 other Christmas things were never mentioned.

What do you do to get in The Christmas Mood? Any favorite traditions? What is something new you’d like to try this season?

With love,

Rosalie <3

P.S. – To all you lovely people who took the time to leave comments these last couple of months: I shall enjoy re-reading your thoughts as I finally reply to all your wonderful comments this week. I love getting and reading your comments, but for reasons unknown, I never reply to them in a timely fashion. I know. I’m a very bad blogger person.

I shall make it right.

P.P.S. – Just another friendly, give-you-heart-spasms reminder: two weeks until Christmas.

Advent: Of Love and Mary

Christmas is days away, and as you may have noticed because this post is late, I don’t have all my eggs in a row (or maybe it’s supposed to be ducks in row…). So this post is a few days late. Regardless, we have come to the fourth and final week of advent. So far, we’ve looked at the prophets, angels, and the shepherds. This week we’re going to look at Mary.

Advent 4.jpg

Mary has been portrayed a number of ways in books, movies, and plays, but she’s often just, well, she’s just Mary. We often forget that something was special about Mary.

Imagine this:

You are Mary, favored one of God, of the Most High.

You’re young, just a teenage girl, and you find yourself holding a baby in a chilly cave in Bethlehem. He’s beautiful. Perfectly formed fingers and toes. A patch of dark hair on his head. A tiny chest that steadily rises and falls. Bright, clear eyes that peer up at you. He’s breathtaking, this baby boy of yours.

You glance at Joseph to see that he sleeps. You’re glad he can finally rest; these last few months, these last few days, these last few hours have been so much. And the Most High has brought you to this. You look back down at your baby. His eyes are heavy too. You rock back and forth a little, humming softly.

You don’t think you’ll ever forget the day the angel came to you. It’s hard to believe it’s already been nine months. It’s hard to believe that it’s only been nine months. The angel’s words echo through your memory. “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you.” You remember the initial fear. You remember the confusion and awe. The wonderful things he said of the baby you would bear. Great. Holy. His kingdom will never end.

The Most High, the God you worshipped, called you to be His Son’s mother, and while you didn’t understand, you believed.

For the first few days, you could only think of the privilege and honor, and you puzzled over why He’d chosen you of all the Jewish girls. Favored one. But why? You weren’t exceptionally pretty. You didn’t have any special talents. You honored your parents, loved your siblings, and tried to keep the Law of the Most High, but you couldn’t see how those things made you favored.

But then you started wondering about how to tell your parents and Joseph. Joseph. Thoughts of divorce and stoning made it hard to sleep. And even if he didn’t accuse you of adultery, you would be shunned. Always. A baby outside of marriage would always stain you, and gossip would only make things worse.

But looking back over the last nine months, you can see how the Most High moved. When you visited Elizabeth and learned of Zechariah’s encounter with an angel of the Most High. When Joseph upheld your betrothal and told you of the angel sent to him from the Most High. The safe journey to Bethlehem. The stable to stay in. The delivery of a healthy baby boy. The Most High provided.

You wonder what it will be like, raising the Son of the Most High. You’ve worried if you’ll be a good mother, or if maybe you’ll do it all wrong. Shouldn’t the Most High have chosen another girl? Someone wiser? Someone kinder? Someone better? But after the last several months of carrying this baby inside, you find you love Him more than you thought possible, and you’re thankful that the Most High chose you even though you aren’t the wisest and best.

You kiss His forehead and set him in the manger Joseph dragged over. He hardly stirs. You may be young and still a little frightened, but you intend to be the best mother you can because you love Him.

In the remaining days before Christmas (and even the days after it), I encourage you to look at Mary’s response to Gabriel’s words.

We don’t know a lot about Mary, but her willingness to obey and serve God is quite clear. So often, we are willing to serve God in comfortable ways, but if He calls us into something different and, heaven forbid, hard, we backpedal and ask question after question. God called Mary to a thing that drastically changed her life in many difficult ways, but Mary asked only one question. One question. And then she basically said, “I’m God’s servant; let’s do this.”

I don’t know about you, but I want a heart like that—a heart that loves and obeys. So, think about Mary’s response and look back over some of your own responses to God. Are you His willing servant? Do you love Him enough to serve Him? Find a way to serve Him that’s outside of your comfort zone.

Some passages to look at are: Luke 1:26-38, Luke 1:39-45, Luke 1:46-56, and John 14:15.

Let’s drop a gift-wrapped bookend on this post.

What do you think? What are some hard things God has called you to? How do you respond to God? What strikes you about Mary? What will you do to serve Him in a way that stretches you?

How to Wrap a Gift (for the exceptionally challenged)

The days until Christmas have dwindled into single digits. People are running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to get last minute shopping in. Children stalk the presents under the tree. Mothers angst over the big Christmas meal. Sweethearts kiss under the mistletoe. Blah, blah, blah.

This post isn’t about any of that.

I’ll do some real advent posts next year, but for 2015, this shall be the only Christmas post I write.

I think that this is an issue that a lot of people struggle with. I mean, there are those few out in the world who have this down and make the rest of us want to gag, but I think that this doesn’t come naturally to most of us. It’s a real, deep struggle.

I am, of course, talking about gift wrapping.

how to wrap a gift (for the exceptionally challenged)So, here is a four-step tutorial on how to wrap a Christmas gift, and because I am exceptionally challenged, this should be suitable even for even the most inept.

Step 1: Assemble your supplies

Find your wrapping paper. If you cannot locate any wrapping paper in the house, you must venture out of doors and buy some from the nearest store. Choosing the correct wrapping paper isn’t that big of a deal; all you have to do is make sure it’s pretty. However, I recommend paper with one side as a grid because this makes cutting a relatively straight line a world easier.

Find your scissors. This can be difficult. Pull out all of your drawers, and if you still are unable to locate them, dump the contents of the drawers on the floor in a fit of frustration. (It helps.) Even in a pinch, DO NOT USE KITCHEN SCISSORS UNDER ANY CIRCUMASTANCES. I cannot emphasize this enough. Using kitchen scissors will only elevate the already high risk of mental breakdown.

Find your tape. Don’t buy unproven, cutsy holiday tape. Even if it says it’s “specifically for” gift wrapping, don’t believe it. (It’s a trap!) If you already possess trustworthy holiday tape, go ahead and use that, but otherwise, buy some good old, clear scotch tape. For the inept, this is a must because you will most likely end up using obscene amounts of tape in an effort to wrap your gifts, and cute tape will make it look more like even more of a mess than it already is. For the advanced, use this holiday tape at your own risk.

Find your fine-tipped Sharpie. This is for labeling your gifts once they are wrapped. It is best to track this bad boy down at this time so that you can label your gifts as soon as they are wrapped. Use fat Sharpies at your own risk.

Pro-tip: never let your mom “borrow” any of your supplies as the odds of seeing those supplies ever again are extremely slim.

Step Two: Wrap the gift.

Pick the gift you wish to wrap first. Usually, it is best to start with something fairly simple like putting the gift in an Amazon shipping box. Find a flat surface to be your operating table. DO NOT USE A BED. This is the worst place to wrap gifts because beds usually an odd height and squishy which usually means lots of unwanted rips in your paper. I highly recommend the floor instead of a table because you will likely be sinking to the ground in a heap of tears at some point anyway.

With your supplies assembled and your gift chosen, you can begin wrapping the gift. Begin by unrolling a portion of your paper and placing the gift in the center. Practice wrapping the gift before you cut. Figure out how much paper you will need, and then cut the appropriate amount of paper with your scissors.

Start folding the paper around your box and tape as needed.

At this point, you will discover that you have too much paper, so find your scissors again and trim the paper.

Eat some chocolate and start folding the paper around your box and tape as needed.

At this point, you will realize that you trimmed too much paper and do not have enough to cover the box.

Drink some wine and start over.

After three tries, you have the right amount of paper cut. You’ll start folding your paper around your box, but when you reach for your tape, it is gone. Pin the box and the folded paper to your chest and feel around for the missing tape. Once you have rediscovered your tape, use your free hand and teeth to get a piece of the tape. During the struggle of getting a piece of tape, you have ripped your paper and dropped your box.

Cry for a while and start over.

After failing to wrap the box two more times, you have finally successfully (more-or-less) wrapped the box! Congratulations!

Step Three: Label the gift

Whip out your Sharpie and prepare to finish this! At this point, it has been two hours since you put the gift in the box and began wrapping. Now, you no longer remember what the gift is or who it is for.

Take some time to throw some things and cry, and then go through your gift inventory to see what is missing. Theoretically, the missing item will be the item in your box.

Wipe your eyes, steady your hand, and carefully write the recipient’s name and then your name on the paper. Do this SLOWLY. If you do end up making a mess of writing the recipient’s name, find some labels and put it over your mistake and try again.

Step Four: Repeat Steps One – Three as necessary.

There you have it!

This is generally how gift wrapping goes for me, and so I wanted to share my process with you all. :) :)

Merry Christmas!