I loved Jana Morton's idea of putting together pages before Christmas so that I can just drop in the photos and add a few elements. I've decided to use Layered Templates along with elements and papers mostly from the Minted Christmas Collection because I absolutely fell in love with the colours. This year I really want to keep it simple and focus on the stories instead of the embellishments. To try things out, I did a page with a couple photos and a facing page with story describing my feelings about Christmas. I think for the actual book, my stories won't be nearly as long, so I may include a photo on this page as well.

Minted Christmas Collection
Hinge Pack
Flourishing Fir Brushes, Stamps and Rubons

Minted Christmas Collection
Worth Repeating Brushes and Stamps No. 19
Christmas Village Element Pack
Gingerbread Whimsy No. 01

Holiday Word Art Vol. 02
Holiday Word Art Vol. 03

Journaling: 2012 was the first Christmas in a very long time that I actually liked. Isn’t’ that terrible! It just isn’t my favourite holiday. To be honest, Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday because the focus is on giving thanks for what we have and for the people in our lives. You share a delicious meal of sumptuous treats, teach the kids about traditional food, and it is all round a lovely time. There is no pressure or expectations.

Christmas, on the other hand, is about trying to keep up with everything. The lists every day of the zillion things that need to get done creates incredible pressure. Everything must be perfect. The advent of Pinterest and blogging has only intensified the image of magazine-worthy decorations, cute ideas for making the kids’ Christmas memorable, magical cookie decorations that take hours, gifts to buy, gifts to wrap, gifts to make...And now, I have added the task of memory keeping and trying to capture those perfect photos to keep our memories in a special Christmas scrapbook. There is some focus on giving, but also a huge focus on getting and an enormous expense regardless of how thrifty one tries to be. We also have all three kids’ birthdays over the holidays, so throw in party planning as well! I don’t sleep during the holidays, and can often be found at 1am either in the kitchen or wrapping gifts. This is all while trying to maintain my full-time job and keep up with the everyday tasks of running a household.

Honestly, it all makes me feel disappointed because my expectations for perfection are set so high. Every year it is the same. Christmas ends and I feel exhausted, irritated with the influx of toys and junk, overweight from eating so much, and broke! How is this the best season of the year?
To add to the mess, we have often travelled home to where we grew up to visit our families. We drive 12 hours on treacherous snowy mountain roads to get to there. Then we try to spend enough time with each family by staying two days at each house. Pack up. Unpack. Pack up. Unpack. Drive around. Eat. Drive around. And at the end, everyone is disappointed with us because we didn’t spend enough time with them. Then we spend 12 hours driving home where I try to muffle my tears of yet another Christmas where things just didn’t make me happy.

Last year was different.

We stayed at home and slowed things down. The families were disappointed, but I had to just let it go. I told my girlfriends, with whom I do a cookie exchange every year that I didn’t want to do cookies because I just don’t have time. I made jars of caramel and chocolate fudge sauce instead, which meant a lot less time in the kitchen and more time with my kids. I bought many of the gifts ahead of time, so everything was wrapped and ready to go, leaving my evenings free to focus on photos and memory keeping. We also bought less and focussed on one special gift for each child along with some small stocking stuffers. We drew names and the kids bought a small special gift for one sibling that they had to pick out and wrap.

There were tons of outdoor activities including tobogganing, skating everyday at the free ice-rink downtown, and a ride on the Christmas train. Most of all, we spent a lot of time together as a family. At the end of the holidays, I also found myself in tears, but it was because we had a beautiful Christmas, and for the first time in years, I was happy after the holidays.