Monday, December 22, 2008

Week 7 -- Day I -- more on caring for people

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

This will be a short week due to Christmas. And, we won't try to do anything that adds to our usual just keeping the house neat and tidy. Instead, we'll press on in our study or caring for the people in our home.

Here's a quote I like:

"Never hesitate to do your best, no matter what your situation...I knew of a young woman who lived in her garage on a farm while waiting for her house to be built. this was not a garage in the form as we know it today, for it had nothing but a dirt floor and crude walls of boards. It was separate from the house, having been built in the 1930's. People in the church who knew her said she didn't let that stop her from doing the Lord's word. She put out handmade braided rugs on the 'floor' and hung her pictures. She got out her furniture and set it around in a pleasing arrangement. She practiced hospitality and had people over for meals after church. This simple story has inspired me forever." By Lydia Sherman.

She opens her arms to the poor; Proverbs 31.

After a couple of very warm days, the temperature here has plummeted. It was only 12 degrees this morning!! That's not usual for our part of the country. I was thinking this morning how blessed we are if we have a roof over our head, warm clothing to wear, and warm blankets to snuggle in. There are so many who don't have these things.

Christmas time is a good time to think about ways that we, as home keepers, can extend our arms to those who are less fortunate. It's also a good time to train our children to be sensitive to this, as well. Remember, historically, churches and homes were the most important centers of charity in a community until people began to think of the government and secular charities as the entities to take care of the poor. I'm not saying that it's bad for the government and charities to get involved. However, churches and homes should still be on the forefront of helping people. In some ways, they can do a better job of ministering to people. In the days when churches and homes were such an important part of taking care of a community's needs, women were an integral part of this. Think how many novels and histories from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries portray women as ministering to the sick, taking baskets of food to the hungry, etc. There's no reason why we can't follow in our fore mothers' footsteps in this regard.

Here are some ideas which can be done now or at some later point in the new year:

1) Sew baby blankets and buy a few inexpensive children's books. Deliver to local hospitals for mothers who might need them. At some of our local hospitals, there are mothers who give birth and do not even have any clothing to take their children home in.
2) As a family, volunteer to help in a shelter for an afternoon.
3) Have a garage sale. Clean out junk, make a little money, and give some of the profits to charity.
4) As a family, help spruce up the home of an elderly person or couple. Many older people cannot do the upkeep on their homes that they could when they were younger. You can help a lot simply by doing a little yard work, placing light bulbs in areas that are too high for older people to reach, cleaning walls and windows, checking gutters, etc.
5) Keep a change jar and donate the savings every time you accumulate twenty dollars or so. Let even young children contribute a penny or two of their allowance to the jar.

Ideas to help children focus on true values during Christmas:

1) Talk beforehand about the importance of listening to older relatives. Sometimes, young children grow bored when older relatives talk about the past, as older people so often love to do. Help your child understand that if he or she listens, she will learn a lot about your family's history, as well as history in general. Teach them to ask questions and take note of the answers. Afterward, point out things that older relatives shared that are worthy of taking notice. Often, older people will pass on a lot of wisdom in their conversation. (You can also enlist children in recording family history in a notebook. This will peak their interest even more. It will become a treasured resource in the years to come, when older relatives have passed on. I used to love the family history passed on to me by my older relatives, and I so wish I had written down more of the details!!)
2) Let children pick a gift for someone else to open from under the tree.
3) Involve children in gift wrapping.
4) Involve children in meal preparation and clean up.
5) Let children help you prepare a room or sleeping space for out of town company.

Taking care of guests:

1) Have little samples of toiletries in a basket in the bathroom. If guests forget something, they'll appreciate having these things at hand.
2) Place a pitcher of water and cups in the room where guests are staying or have small paper cups (like Dixie cups) in the bathroom they will be using.
3) Prepare a little basket of snacks for your guests to choose from while they are in your home. That way, if someone needs to eat at a time other than meals -- to have a little food in their stomach when they take medicine for example -- the guest will be able to help themselves.

On an entirely different note, I am looking forward to sewing an apron project in the new year. I saw some darling colorful and vintage inspired ones in a store called Anthropologie, but they came with a rather large price tags for aprons, I thought. In January, for all who want to join in, we'll create some cool looking aprons for a fraction of the cost!

A friend of mine told me about a site called "My Publisher." Many of you may already know about it. You download their software. Then, you load in pictures. It walks you through the steps of arranging the pictures to form a paper or hardback book. (The least expensive book is about thirteen dollars, and they have a coupon to get one free with your first order). They will turn your pictures into a book and mail them to you. My friend did some lovely ones of her grown children's early years, which she is giving as Christmas gifts. My daughter-in-law was just now able to give me the CD's of pictures from our son's wedding photographer. The wedding was in Septmber, but it's taken this long to get all of the photographer's package. So, I was eager to try out My Publisher. I did two paperbacks to give and a hardback book for us to keep. I should have thought about this a little more, though, as it broke our Christmas budget. It would have been better to wait until after Christmas. And, I should have consulted DH, who is watching our budget carefully right now. So, that was an opportunity for me to learn!

Speaking of opportunities to learn, I read a long time ago in a book about marriage and family that it is essential for us to do two things: 1) Keep a sense of humor and 2) Forgive ourselves when we mess up. Along the way, we will make mistakes. We will fail to accomplish all that we set out to do in a certain week. We will spend money foolishly on occasion, or we will burn something we cook. We'll sew a seam and have to rip it out. We'll slip and that beautiful cake we just iced will tumble to the floor. We'll get to the grocery store and find that we lost an important coupon.

We must keep the balance between striving for excellence and being patient with ourselves. If we excuse everything with a glib "oh well", we'll never improve. On the other hand, if we fret over every flub, we'll become discouraged. A healthy attitude is to assess both our successes and our failures and determine what went well and what can be improved. We must also depend on grace.

I finished sewing curtains for our living room, though I do need to hem them. I learned many things about sewing, and, if I had to do it over again, I think I could do a better job. But, you can't really see the little things that bug me when the curtains are draped properly. And, the material really brings my living room and kitchen together. It feels great to get that mostly done, as this is a project that's been sitting in my sewing room for quite a while.



topaztook said...


If you are thinking about doing more photo books in the future, almost all of the photo sites let you make them -- Shutterfly, Snapfish, etc., as well as places like Walgreen's and CVS. If you keep an eye on blogs like, you'll get a heads-up on when discounts are available for such things -- I did three photo books for Christmas this year, and two of them were free. Next year, I plan to start designing one early and saving it in my account -- and then I will just be ready for the discounts!

I also have my two-year-old making simple Christmas gifts for others this year (bookmarks with foamy stickers from Michael's), so that she is giving and not just getting -- I hope to do this each year of her childhood.

Hope you warm up soon! We will take every one of your 12 degrees: it's 14 below here!

Elizabeth said...

Brrr -- 14 degrees below! Stay toasty!

It's so wonderful that your little one is beginning now to make homemade gifts. Those will be the ones that people keep to treasure in the years to come, I'll bet.

Thanks for the information about making photo books! I wondered if I could do one on site somewhere. Now, I know how to be more frugal next time!