You’ve got Elf Mail!

You've got Elf Mail!

You’ve got Elf Mail!

Everybody loves an Advent Calendar. Opening the little doors each of the 24 days leading up to Christmas to see a fancy picture or perhaps even a bit of chocolate. Great holiday fun.

Elf Mailbox

Well, I was at the Family Dollar and I saw this adorable elf mailbox. At that moment, I got the idea for a new twist on the Advent Calendar. What if I made little letters for the kids for each of the 24 days of December leading up to Christmas Day? All great ideas need a little try and a little umph in order to achieve triumph!

Gift CardsSo, I went to the Walmart and found these gift tags that look like little Christmas cards. Bingo! The perfect thing to go in to the Elf Mailbox. I have four kids and 24 days ’til Christmas, so I needed to get 96 gift tags! These came in packs of 16, so I got 6 packs and I’m good to go. I got a variety of them so each day would be a colorful holiday celebration

Next, we needed something to put in the cards. I did a bit of research and it turns out that the weeks of Advent are thematically tied to the following ideas:
Day 1Bible Verses

  • Hope
  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace

Advent MessagesSo I found a collection of bible verses, motivational quotes and cheerful sayings to go with each of the themes of Advent. I’ve added an Advent Messages Planner Sheet for you to make your own Elf Mail Advent Calendar.

I think my kids are really going to enjoy this special, customized Advent Calendar. It’s a great opportunity to give them a special, personalized holiday experience and something special to look forward to on a daily basis leading up to Christmas Day.

Until you can get to the store and get your supplies, here’s a free Advent Calendar app for this year that you might enjoy.

Xmas Heroes – Parents

Xmas Heroes – Parents

What would Christmas be without parents? As much as Christmas has become a child-focused affair, it really depends on the parents to bring the magic to the holiday. Having been on both sides of the spectrum, I can say this is completely true.

My parents did such a wonderful job of making Christmastime special for my sister and me. My mother spent weeks ahead of the big day baking cookies. It was a great time for togetherness. She put on the Bing Crosby album and stacked up the Chipmunks behind it and we began making and baking the cookies that would go into Tupperware containers until family and friends came by. My father got out the electric racetrack and we raced our little cars for hours on end. We all sat together and watched Christmas specials and holiday movies on TV. We all got together and played board games and cards. Weather permitting, we went out and had snowball fights and built forts. It was such a wonderful experience and gave me a lifelong love for the holiday season.

On the flip side, as a parent I get no greater joy than burying my wife and kids in presents and watching holiday movies together. Creating a place where my kids can enjoy the magic of the holidays is an annual challenge and goal for me. If you’re anything like me, the thrill of finding a 24×7 Christmas music station is a harbinger of marvelous things to come. I’m no Clark Griswold, but I do like things to be a bit over the top for the holidays. I like having decorations in every corner of the house. I like having all the tastes and smells of the season available throughout the month of December and even the weeks before and after.

Honestly, I miss the days of counting down the days until Christmas and having a mountain of presents mysteriously appear beneath the tree. That was a real treat. It made the holidays genuinely magical for me. That being said, I never cease to be amazed at just how the magic continues to apply. As the parents, it is our job to make those presents mysteriously appear for Christmas morning. The amazing thing is that we actually put it together. Having slowly gathered and wrapped the presents for our munchkins, we tuck them away to await the big reveal. Stepping back from our late night Santa stand-in, we’re nearly just as thrilled and amazed as if we were the ones receiving the presents. It is a truly enchanting sight. The twinkling lights of the tree cast a special glow over the stack of presents we’ve assembled for the kids. It’s enough to give me a chill of delight just looking at it.

I’m so pleased to have shared this week of Christmas Heroes with you. Thank you for following our series. For the Twelve Days of Christmas this year, I have assembled a variety of obscure yuletide entertainments. I hope you will enjoy them as much as you have our Christmas Heroes and Historical Grinches.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Xmas Heroes – Francis Pharcellus Church

Xmas Heroes – Francis Pharcellus Church

A child asked a question that is of concern to so many children at one time or another. Virginia O’Hanlon asked her father, who referred her to their favorite newspaper. The family had often written to the editorial staff of the New York Sun to have matters clarified. Editor Frank Pharcellus Church took up the momentous task of addressing this most vexing of childhood dilemmas.

Frank was a graduate of Columbia College of Columbia University and a Civil War correspondent. In the post-war period, he saw a trend of losing hope and faith in the wake of great suffering. We commend him on his contribution to Christmas spirit and his kindness to Virginia in particular.

Here is the famous inquiry and the wonderful editorial response:

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Boxing Day, Again

Boxing Day, Again

As we said back on the Feast of Stephen, Boxing Day is stated as the first weekday after Christmas. So, while Boxing Day is typically the day after Christmas, this year Christmas fell on a Friday so properly traditional Boxing Day would be the following Monday. Hey, that’s today!

Some more about Boxing Day

Boxing Day, Again Boxing Day used to be a day in which servants and tradesmen got their gifts. In earlier times, it was also a time for alms-giving and charitable deeds.

In more recent times, it’s a time for sales. Rather like Black Friday in the United States, Boxing Day is a huge shopping day in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The Fourth Day of Christmas calls for Four Calling Birds, awww, sweet.

Four Calling Birds

Make A Gift Day

Make A Gift Day

It’s December 3rd, so you still have enough time to make some personalized gifts. In fact, prior to the turn of the 20th Century, most gifts were personally made rather than store bought. Christmas wasn’t the big commercial event that it has become.

Harken back to the olden days and make gifts for your friends and loved ones. I’ve tracked down over 250 ideas for gifts that you can make yourself.

Some of my favorite homemade gifts are the cookie kits in a mason jar. It’s fun because you make it look like sand art and it’s practical because they can just dump out the contents and bake themselves a bit of holiday fun courtesy of you!

The absolutely best thing about making personal gifts for your loved ones is that you’re genuinely giving them a bit of yourself. Even if you’re not the handiest or craftiest person, the fact that you’ve taken the effort to make something special will make the gift that much more treasured. To this day, I still remember the presents that my Nana made for us all. When you make a gift yourself, you’re making memories that will last a lifetime.

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday

I think it’s fitting that this year, December begins with Giving Tuesday. In contrast to the mad commercialism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is a chance for all of us to switch from consuming to giving.

The idea was proposed by the 92nd Street Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association and promoted by Mashable, Skype and Cisco. Over the last few years, it has been developing into a worldwide movement towards Effective Altruism.

Frankly, no matter how you go about it, Giving Tuesday is a great idea. It really puts us in the right frame of mind to start off the holiday season. Some things you can give are money for charity, canned or boxed goods to your local food pantry, your time as a volunteer or just random acts of kindness throughout the day. It is definitely more blessed to give than to receive.

Random Acts of Christmas

Merry Monday

Random Acts of Christmas

It’s so easy to get caught up in the commercial side of Christmas that we forget that it’s all about giving and togetherness. It is best to instill good morals in children while they are still young and to teach them the practice of giving back to others. It’s a great way to keep Christmas in your heart any time of the year.

Explain to your children that there are so many people out there who don’t have a warm house to sleep in or presents under the tree.  Some don’t have family members with whom to share their holiday or even health to carry them to next Christmas.

You aren’t trying to depress your children with this message, but you need to remind them that there are always those worse off than us.  After you have discussed this as a family, tell them that you can and will help those in your community who aren’t as lucky as you are.

Teaching children the meaning of Christmas


Encourage them to list ways they can bring cheer to those that sorely need it. This list can involve anything from donating old toys to thrift stores, volunteering at your local soup kitchen or holding a canned goods drive for a food pantry.

When every family member has written their list, decide on those that you can do as a family every day. It can seem daunting because it seems so time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be.  I think we could all agree that helping others, as well as teaching our children to do the same, is far more valuable than the time it takes to do so.

Bring baked or canned goods to your local homeless shelter. Take your children caroling at your local nursing home or to elderly shut ins at their homes. Help a single parent in your neighborhood by cleaning their home, hanging lights or babysitting the children. Just get out in your community as a family and make it better in some way, whether big or small.

We only have our children for a short time. They will soon have children and homes of their own.  This way, you can pass on a tradition that reaches beyond the four walls of your home and embraces your community in a warm, holiday hug! I guarantee you will not regret it!


Flowers For Mom

Flowers For Mom

 Flowers For Mom

What is a holiday household without Mom?  She shops, she wraps, she hides. She makes sure everybody has their fair share. She makes it all better when something goes wrong. Mom is the engine of any family and when her special day comes around, it’s only fair to show our appreciation. Flowers For Mom

Let The Woman Sit Down!

What kind of heartless Philistine are you?  Take over the chores without complaint.  Get her breakfast in bed.  Let her watch her favorite shows.  Calm down and take a big family breather. Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate the most important gift you’ve ever gotten. Life!  She gave you life.  If she’s your wife, she gave you your kids.  Isn’t that enough of a chore to thank her for?  Some people…

Oh Yeah, Don’t Forget The Flowers

One of the great things about Mother’s Day being in May is that there are any number of pretty flowers blooming. My darling wife isn’t quite as fond of cut flowers as she is of living ones.  She’d rather have a potted plant that she can sit on the counter for a few days and enjoy the aroma and then take that thing outside and give it a place to live.  However, she won’t say no to a lovely bouquet in a pretty vase. I’m pretty sure your Mom is about the same.  If you want to get some really spectacular flower arrangements, there are florists locally and online who know just how to wow. Flowers For Mom

 The Best Gift For Mom Is You

When all is said and done, what Mom really wants is to be with her family.  She’s a sentimental softy and a natural nurturer.  Give her what she really wants and just be with her on her special day.  She spent nine months carrying you around!  Can’t you spend the day letting her know how much she means to you?  Just this once?
Flowers for Mom

Happy Mother’s Day from Christmas All The Time! USA, LLC

22 Is A Magic Number

22 Is A Magic Number

I composed this little poem to celebrate my life with my wife.  I hope you enjoy it!

She’s sweeter than cookies
More wholesome than milk
Her cheeks are like roses
Her skin is like silk
There are bigger numbers than 22
And I want to spend all of them with you!

Happy Anniversary, Kelly

Knowing you is the best present I’ve ever received.

Forever & Always

Happy St Patrick’s Day 2014


Happy St Patrick’s Day 2014

Well, there are only 282 shopping days left until Christmas this year.  Have you started planning? Well, you may very well say it’s not even done being winter and we have to think about that?


C’mon, y’all.  It’s Christmas All The Time at this here site!  We’re excited about Christmas every day of the year.

That being said, as we push forward to Springtime, there’s something my wife really looks forward to and that’s gardening. Hoe, hoe, hoe! Let’s get out there and plant some flowers that will be every bit as grand and decorous as any Christmas Tree.  We can be festive all year long if we let our hearts be light and keep the Spirit of Christmas alive.

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