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Christmas Countdown- 12 Days of Christmas Care Packages

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When I went to visit Anna at college in early December, I brought with me a large shipping bag filled with twelve brown paper packages tied up with string. Each one had a tag on it with the date of when to open it following a 12-day countdown for her to enjoy some Christmas cheer in this time before finals. They were simple gifts- a gingerbread house to make with friends, some candy canes, some Trader Joe's goodies, along with other treats to bring in the holiday spirit. The final gift was today, and she called me when she opened it. And lo and behold, it was a big surprise for her to find Gnome peeking through the clear top of the box to greet her. (After we left it in her kitchen when we dropped her off at college, she had brought it home for Thanksgiving and hid it for me to find in our room.) See below for the FaceTime call when she opened the box tonight! 

Gratitude Letters - a Thanksgiving Tradition

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I was asked to write up a post for Godspace for their gratitude theme for October and November, and this was published today:  https://godspacelight.com/2021/10/07/gratitude-letters-a-thanksgiving-tradition/?mc_cid=ca6746b6c4&mc_eid=508df85536 SPIRITUAL PRACTICES THANKSGIVING AND GRATITUDE GRATITUDE LETTERS – A THANKSGIVING TRADITION October 7, 2021 by  Emily Huff , This is what our kids have to deal with having a mom who is a teacher.  Our family assignment every year around Thanksgiving is to write a letter about what we are grateful for and to share these letters around the table. While there might be some eyes that roll when I remind them of this exercise each year, I am convinced that this is such good work for us all to build these muscles and to practice giving thanks together. The notebook where we keep all these letters from years past also serves as a pretty sweet time capsule (as we started it in 1995), and we get some good laughs looking back through different reflectio

Countdown Tradition

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Our friend Abby shared with me one of her favorite traditions below:  I was so excited to add this to our collection of traditions!  Here is the note I put in a little package I put in the mail for Miss Anna yesterday....  I was delighted to get to put this into practice earlier than expected this year  as Anna is coming home for her fall break :)  Nothing says "I can't wait to see you" quite like Oreo Rice Krispie treats 

Celebration Box

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 Over the last few years, I have been collecting and making things for Anna for her own celebrations throughout the year, and I gave her her very own "Celebration Box" for graduation in June. When she was packing for college, she went through her box, and she picked a few things out of it to take with her out of the box: sidewalk chalk, birthday hats, a Valentine banner, a trick-or-treat Halloween banner, and a birthday banner. It was such a joy to get her message that she used the birthday banner at a special dinner for a new friend last weekend.  Here is Anna's box and a few things that were in it: Celebration Box!  Thanksgiving Banner  Birthday Cheer  Christmas Cheer  Lenten wreath and Easter banner  Valentine's Day  Halloween banner    a book in the celebration box 

Open When Gifts

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I saw this idea to wrap "open when gifts"  in a  blog post  a week or so before we took Anna to college, so I went to the Dollar Store and stocked up on a lot of fun things as surprises for her.  When we were moving her in, I was able to hide them on her shelf in the kitchen. She found them later that night after we left, and they were a really fun surprise for her.     And as a bonus, I left Gnome there to keep her company.  He has a new home, and I'm sure he is loving life in sunny California!  Here are some of the labels for the little packages:  * for your first 13th in college (Happy 13th! 9-13-21)  * for when you are having a hard day * for your first hike up Potato Mountain (a  hike we did together in March )  * for your first moving night  * for when you are studying for your first big test  * for your first awards night at Revelle  * for when you are feeling stressed  * for a random Tuesday  * for when you have a sore throat * for a time when you feel hurt  * for

Neighborhood College Sendoff

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George and Alyssa Petrie started the tradition of gathering neighbors for a sendoff to pray for their girls before they headed off to college, so we made sure to keep that going with an event to honor the four graduates in our neighborhood (Jane, Ellie, Hendrik, and Anna) who are all heading to college in the near future.  It was such a gift to all of us. ❤ We set up tables to have everyone sign a paper that said "You are loved" and we gave the graduates two frames (one with the "you are loved" paper and one with a map of the UDistrict and a copy of the liturgy that I used for tonight.)  grateful for the faithful prayers of this neighborhood 

A Fancy Table

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 I know that Taylor kind of dreads having to write Valentine letters each year, but this tradition never fails to be a really sweet night in our house for all of us. We set a fancy table, get dressed up, and make a meal that's a bit different than the usual fare. I usually have a few lumps in my throat through the evening, and I always end the night with a full heart.  um- this is something I will never be able to do in the kitchen!