This year, getting into Christmas was a struggle, because we were so busy and stressed with finals. However, with our tiny apartment and smallish budget, we did get some Christmas cheer in the way of decorations.

We found a beautiful Nativity on Black Friday:

I made a cute garland out of recycled Christmas cards:
(This is super easy if you have a circle die-cut. Then just adhere to string with tape....I used mailing labels cut in half.)

We also had a beautiful little tree. It had a sparkly gold star on top. I loved the red wooden beaded garland. And we each had ornaments from our childhood. We had so much fun decorating it while listening to Christmas music on Pandora. A couple of weeks later, I'd just put on the last of my ornaments, when one day out of the blue, the tree fell over. One of the plastic legs had bent. Instead of trying to rig it to stand, I undecorated it and we returned it, hoping for an exchange. Just our luck, Target was out of the 6' pre-lit trees. So we ended up not having tree for Christmas :( But, here is a tribute to our first Christmas tree (or Mismas Tree, as TJ called it):

Planning and giving gifts also helped me to feel Christmas.
Half of what we gave was handmade. I made banana bread to give to friends, coworkers, and neighbors. I even made something for TJ that wasn't edible! I gave him a new set of scriptures, because he wants to keep his mission ones in good condition. I also gave him a movie, iTunes gift card, and some caramel corn. Then I gave him a handmade key chain (51 was his number when he played high school football):

My favorite gift this year is one that I will always treasure. TJ gave me this beautiful necklace that he bought from Beki of The Rusted Chain:
I had shown the site to TJ, but didn't specify which one I he picked this one out all on his own. He picked perfectly; I almost cried when I opened the box. I told him he's begun a tradition of necklace-giving (he gave me a heart-shaped cubic zirconia necklace last year).

I loved the next gifts I made. I won't lie I almost kept them for me, but I loved giving them away even more. The white ones were for both of our mothers. They have both an alligator clip and a pin so they can be worn as a brooch. I drew TJ's sister Hannah for their family, so she got one pink one and the green one (her high school's colors) and my sister Kyndra got the other two (purple & gold for MESA!).

We decided that since we don't have children yet, traveling is easy enough so we could split our time between our families this year. We headed down to Mesa on the 23rd and stayed until Christmas morning. It was nice spending time with my family and going to L&L Hawaiian Grill for lunch with my siblings (if you go, you must get the Katsu chicken and their macaroni salad....we buy it by the pound). On Christmas Eve, we went to the annual Burgess Family Christmas Eve dinner. This year we kept it simple with nachos and sandwiches. There are so many of us now that it's hard to fit us all into Grandma and Grandpa's house, but we're still managing. New to the program this year was the great-grandkids acting out the Nativity while Grandma read. My mom and Aunt Robyn were in charge and made some really cute, simple costumes. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures. I was busy shuffling kids and fixing costumes. (If anybody has any, I'd love to get some!) We then went on our traditional caroling "Hay Ride," but without the hay this year. I was glad to show TJ one of my favorite family traditions.

After the festivities were over, we decided to go see the Temple lights, and brought Kyndra along with us. I love seeing the lights, and the new ones they add each year. I also love the Nativity scene they set up every year.

The next morning we woke up and opened gifts with my family, then scarfed down the traditional Christmas Morning breakfast burritos. Then it was off to Flagstaff to make it in time to talk to Skylar! The drive up was quicker than usual, and we listened to Christmas music the whole way. We got there a little before 11 am, when Elder Pond was scheduled to call. While waiting for the international call to work (Skylar is TJ's younger brother on an LDS mission in Cuernavaca, Mexico), I ate a yummy homemade cinnamon roll (one of TJ's family traditions). We also opened the sibling gifts. When we finally got through to Mexico, each of us took turns talking to the man of the hour. It was so good to talk to Skylar, especially because I hadn't talked to him since February. He's doing really well and talks about a mile a minute in both English and Spanish. TJ got to talk to him for a little longer than the rest of us I think...but they are best friends. All in all I think it was a total of 3 hours.

The rest of Christmas day was spent at TJ's family's house eating a wonderful Christmas dinner with the Elders in their ward and some friends, watching football and Despicable Me, and playing games. We headed home around 7, where we watched a movie and unpacked and then went to bed. It was a busy, but fun Christmas.

I'm sad it's over, but I'm looking forward to next year already. I've decided we'll do more homemade and we really want to start a Secret Santa tradition. I love all of the Christmas traditions: opening a gift on Christmas Eve, Grandma's homemade fudge and raisin bread, lots of oranges and pistachios, spending tons of time with family, music, movies, gifts....I'm so grateful for this time of year and the spirit of giving that is so evident. The greatest gift of all is the love that the Savior gave in his life and continues to give. I hope that we can all continue to be filled with the love and light of Christ throughout the year. Merry Christmas!


  1. I love your nativity! I forgot to ask you if you had one =/. I am SO glad you and TJ were able to be here for Christmas--it was WAY too short, though. =/
    I love you!

    xoxoxo, MOM

  2. I love this time of year too, and love making homemade gifts (I made little homemade gifts for my nieces and nephews this year). It may be more work, but in the end it seems to simplify life and help me focus on what is most important about this season.

    Thanks for sharing! :) Hope you have a wonderful New Year!

  3. Looks like such a great time! It always goes too fast for me too! Loved all the pictures! :)

  4. Ah, don't you just love Christmas traditions? Especially sharing them and making new ones <3 The flower clips are way cute; you find such nifty ways to craft things!


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