The advent calendar has two ornaments on it. The tree is up — lights are on, no ornaments yet though. To our delight, we’ve discovered a neighbor family that put up a light show in their front yard synchronized to Christmas music (so cool!). It is definitely December.

Nathan puts lights on our little tree.

I’ve slowly been working on some personal goals for the month December. They include: Take a photo every day. Write more. Bake. Bake for other people. Enjoy cozy nights at home curled up with a book. Create. Spend time with others. Scrapbook. Oh, and blog.

So, here it goes. Why not start with a little prelude to the season and another link-up to Gussy Sews?

Her Inspiration Workshop prompt is …

Tips and Secrets for the Holidays

1. Take time to do something for yourself.
There’s so much going on … only 23 more days before Christmas! Work to do. People to see. Gifts to buy/make. Things I like to do for myself include: yoga, baking, going for a jog, reading, writing, crafting and cleaning — and sleeping!

Baking bread is good for me.

2. Enjoy the sunshine.
In the long dark days of winter, I know I get a little moody. Spending some time outside — even if briefly — is so therapeutic. I try to take advantage of the sunshine-y days and take a brief walk or even just stand outside for a little bit. The vitamin D helps a lot.

3. Remember, reflect, refocus and reassess.
It’s almost the end of the year. I am thinking ahead to how I’ll spend my 2012 — what goals I have, what I’d like to see happen in my life, and what I want to change or improve on in so many areas of what I do. This helps me keep perspective. And, if I start thinking about these things early, I can start making intentional changes and possibly get a new routine established before Jan. 1.

4. Cherish the traditions
This year, Nathan and I plan to open our stockings on New Year’s Day. This is his family’s tradition. We’ll have my family’s traditional French toast casserole on Christmas day. We have an advent calendar. I’m sure Julie will bring back some of her delicious holiday sweets she’s made a few years in a row for us to enjoy. Maintaining traditions is important to me as it helps bring back the wonderful memories I have.

My family made ornaments from paint swatches this year.

5. Try something new.
Nathan and I are planning to volunteer together at one of our church’s holiday programs. We’ve been able to enjoy decorating a new place with greens and lights and tinsel and a nativity. Two years ago, Nathan took me on a sleigh ride. Last year, we went downtown Chicago on New Year’s Day for lunch. I’m not sure what else new we’ll do this year … but I’m sure it will be an adventure. And that’s what I enjoy about the new traditions — even if they happen just once. They keep the holidays exciting and create new opportunities to connect with others that we love.

— Kimberly