7 Quick Takes about coldness, Instaweather, and maintaining sanity on Christmas morning

December 6, 2013 | 63 comments

— 1 —

Greetings from the tundra! A big cold front is sweeping through Austin as I type, and we’re going to have lows around 25° F (-4° C), and maybe even a little snow! Sure, this might sound like nothing compared to what people in Canada and other parts of the US experience. However, when you calculate the Texas Adjusted Temperature, it’s quite shocking. Here’s how it works:

For any temperatures below 60 degrees:

  • Subtract one degree for every time the temperature was over 100 this year.
  • Subtract two degrees for every time you found a scorpion in your house this year.
  • Subtract 30 degrees for every time you have ever found a scorpion in your bed (lifetime applicability here).
  • Subtract five degrees for every rattlesnake sighting in your neighborhood this year.

Based on this extremely scientific calculation, when I am walking around in 45-degree weather tomorrow afternoon, the Texas Adjusted Temp is actually -5.

I should note that a similar system works for you folks up north during the summer as well. For any temperature above 80 degrees:

  • Add two degrees for every time you had to run errands in a snowstorm.
  • Add three degree for every hour you spent shoveling snow this winter.
  • Add five degrees for every time the wind chill was below zero.
  • Add ten degrees for every time you were snowed in.

So when I snicker at you referring to 92° F (33° C) as “hot” this summer, you can remind me that your adjusted temp is more like 120.

— 2 —

Given how much of a weather nerd I am, you can imagine how much it has brought my life to a standstill to have discovered the InstaWeather app. Combining weather with Instagram is like dropping a nuclear bomb on my productivity. When I realized that you can also post the forecast, I almost announced that I am withdrawing from society. After all, there is no more worthy endeavor that one could undertake than superimposing atmospheric metrics onto pictures.



And now that I have realized that I can see other people’s weather pics through the #instaweather hash tag, my new goal is to look up from my phone at least twice a day.

— 3 —

I don’t know when exactly this happened, but I can no longer deal with cold weather. I did fine living in Denver and Bismarck, so I must have had some sort of tolerance for cold at some point in my life — heck, at my North Dakota elementary school there was a rule that we kids had to go out on the playground as long as the wind chill was above -30. I don’t recall hating my life while I was playing hopscotch in below-zero temperatures, but these days I try to go to the grocery store when it’s 48 degrees and you’d think I’m Dr. Zhivago slogging through the tundra. I can never seem to put on enough layers to experience actual warmth, and I stew in misery for every moment that I am outdoors.

I keep trying to think of what would happen if we had to move to some place that had real winters. I guess I would do one of two things:

A. Toughen up and learn to accept the cold
B. Die

I’m really on the fence about which it would be.

— 4 —

Joe and I have been toying with the idea of doing Christmas presents on Epiphany (the 12th day after Christmas), instead of on Christmas day. That’s how my dad’s Mexican friends did it when he was growing up in Mexico, and the bigger our family gets, the more that starts to seem like a great idea. With our six kids and me and Joe and the grandparents and my grandfather and an occasional guest all gathered around the tree on Christmas, we end up drowning in boxes and wrapping paper, and the resulting chaos makes it difficult to focus on anything but the fact that it looks like a toy store exploded in our living room. In theory I’d be fine with limiting the number of presents each person gets, but that’s pretty much impossible given the number of extended family members who like to shop for the kids.

The most surprising part is that when I floated the idea to the kids, they were fine with it. At first they recoiled at the idea of just opening one or two things on Christmas morning and saving the rest for later, but when I explained the vision of having a peaceful and simple Christmas day, then receiving our gifts on the same day that Jesus received his, they were surprisingly enthusiastic about it.

We’re not ready to make the switch yet, but we may do it one of these years.

— 5 —

One of the things I’ve realized this year is that I need to practice a different kind of generosity at Christmas: being generous in receiving gifts.

I’m a big believer in not having too much “stuff” junking up our living space — and, frankly, the fight against clutter is a matter of survival when you’re trying to raise six children in a small three-bedroom house. Because of this, in past years I’ve been really uptight about the kind and number of gifts we receive. I’d pour a lot of energy into figuring out how to stop the seemingly endless inflow of trinkets and toys to the house without hurting feelings, and the main result was that it made me stressed and frustrated and the kids still received a lot of presents.

This year I’ve felt drawn to consider the fact that some people love shopping for kids and don’t have many young children in their lives to shop for, and that getting something for our kids is fun and pleasurable for them. It’s a new approach to Christmas to remember that being a good gift receiver can be as important as being a good gift giver. I’m going to make sure that nobody feels obliged to get things for us, and leave it at that. If I end up running out of space to put all the new stuff at the end of the Christmas season, it’ll be an opportunity to get rid of old things we don’t need anymore, and to be thankful for generous loved-ones.

— 6 —

I wasn’t sure if everyone would see the beauty of this gem from my Best of Comments folder. But if you find this comment to be a subtle yet perfect encapsulation of all that is funny, then we are the same person. In response to the Netflix post:

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 11.44.07 PM

— 7 —


I had the pleasure of hearing Patrick Madrid speak at the benefit dinner for the John Paul II Life Center last night. At the end of his speech about the fight that faithful Christians may endure against an increasingly secular culture, he read a beautiful piece of writing called The Fellowship of the Unashamed. It begins:

I AM A PART of the Fellowship of the Unashamed.

The die has been cast. The decision has been made. I have stepped over the line. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is in God’s hands. I am finished and done with low living, small planning, the bare minimum, smooth knees, mundane talking, frivolous living,  selfish giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, applause, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, the best, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith. I lean on Christ’s presence. I love with patience, live by prayer, and labor with the power of God’s grace.

Read the rest here.



  1. Jeni @ Patron Saint {of Poopy Diapers}

    Oh ok it’s an App! Cool! I saw that on Instagram and it didn’t even cross my mind it’d be something I could do too. It’s been in the mid 80s here this week. Super humid. What the heck. I just bought a coat and want to use it.

    ALSO, I never even considered this, “This year I’ve felt drawn to consider the fact that some people love shopping for kids and don’t have many young children in their lives to shop for, and graciously accepting their gifts is actually an opportunity to bless them.”
    Thanks — Nice words of wisdom to reflect on.

    Lastly, this best of comments folder… Is this something only you can see or is it somewhere on the blog and I’m just oblivious? Am I in your best of comments? Because I really want to be. And sometimes my comments are even funny.

    Happy Advent Jen.

    <3 jeni

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      It’s just a folder on my email, but I try to post highlights when I think about it. And if I recall correctly there are a few of yours in there, of course! 🙂

      • Jeni

        Woohoo–that totally makes my day. 🙂

        <3 jeni

  2. Amy F

    I love your adjusted temperature approach but today, when it really is -5 here in MN, I’m having a hard time feeling sympathy. The windchill right now at 1am is -16 and that’s just cold. On Wednesday, I gladly shoved the kids outside and we all shoveled and played in the snow for an hour and a half because it felt fine at 25 degrees (no wind!). But our first sub-zero night is not the right time to feel bad for Texas.

  3. J.R. Baldwin

    I FEEL THE EXACT SAME WAY. I grew up in Ohio, college in Michigan, am very used to the cold, it snowing between October and April, blah, blah, blah.

    Living in NOLA: it drops to 60, and where is my parka?!

  4. Meg

    My body has never gotten over leaving Houston, where I was born, and as such my temperature ranges are best expressed in Celsius : over 40 is hot, 30-40 is warm-to-hot depending on the humidity, 20-30 is neutral to warm, 10-20 is cold, 0-10 is freezing cold, -10-0 is painfully freezing, and below -10 is UNACCEPTABLE.

    In the DC area, we usually only have a few stretches wherein the daytime temperature does not rise above freezing, usually in January and February, but the real problem is the fact that it does usually unfreeze during the day. Why, you ask? Every noonish time, the snow/ice melts. Every night, all that melted stuff refreezes on the roads, sidewalks, etc. Every morning, the roads are cluttered with accidents on the freshly-frozen ice and my body is covered with bruises from falling no matter what footwear I use and how carefully I walk.

    I usually wear three to five layers in the winter, including heavyweight silk and/or wool long underwear. I do not mess around. I don’t care if I look like I just gained thirty pounds, I refuse to be any colder than I absolutely have to be.

    • Caroline M.

      I live in DC too, and you are so right! It would almost be better if it just stayed below freezing. And regular snow would be a huge improvement over that “wintry mix” that we get.

  5. Rosalie

    I love the temperature adjustor! By the end of March, though, I’ll be able to claim that last summer reached temperatures of at least 200 F… It was -40 F here in Alaska recently! In contrast, we are sure enjoying our 20 F “heat wave” going into this weekend.

    Maybe part of the reason you dislike the cold so much more now than when you were young is that you live in a more humid climate? Winters in Ohio and Pennsylvania were miserable for me while I was in college; the damp cold got into my bones and thoroughly chilled me in a way the dry cold back home never did. I’ve never needed or wanted more than one blanket at night in Alaska, even at -50, but in Ohio I had such a stack of quilts on my bed, and still shivered under them.

  6. Erin

    Re 4- Why don’t you start doing it gradually, year by year.
    re 5- I DO get this, I really do!

  7. Jessica Krom

    We have always done Epiphany for our kids instead of Christmas. They get grandparent, etc., gifts on Christmas and get to enjoy those (expensive) gifts. Then on 12th night (Jan 5) they open our measly offerings. It is nice because they actually appreciate our choices and pay attention to them instead of casting them aside. And we can focus both holiday more one our faith and less on gifts.

    Some years, though, I am so sick of the Christmas clutter, and mess, and cranky kids that I hate epiphany and want it to be over. That’s only happened twice though, maybe three times. And now the kids are older and everything seems more manageable!

  8. Kathleen Basi

    Your weather reflections make me chuckle. I live squarely in the middle of your two extreme examples, so I guess I don’t get an adjustment factor. :

    As for the gifts and the clutter, you’re doing a good thing by looking for a good attitude about people buying for your kids, but I don’t know if I can follow suit. The clutter factor is a nightmare even with four in a house that’s probably bigger than yours…and there’s such a focus on STUFF. And so much of it is junk. I don’t know. I just wince at our clutter compared to how much could have been given to help those who really need help with, yanno, survival. I can’t figure out where the line falls between “it’s okay to enjoy the world” and “this is flat out immoral because others are starving.”

  9. christine

    After several years of my mother-in-law giving my kids junk toys or incomplete toys (for example, a leap pad without one single cartridge to go with it), I threw my hands up in defeat. The grandparents like to give the kids toys. Fine. That’s when I start giving them handmade shirts and things that they will have to wear, simply because the kids made it for them.

    My theory on the feeling of cold we now feel: We’re old. No getting around it. I’ve lived in this area of the country most of my life. Each year the cold makes me more miserable. Why couldn’t God have made us hibernators? A nice long sleep through the cold winter sounds heavenly.

  10. Amelia @ One Catholic Mama

    Regarding gift giving and clutter…what we do is give the grandparents/uncles/aunts ideas of what the kids want and sometimes we ask them to contribute to a “big” gift (like a a computer or funding piano lessons or a museum/zoo membership). This probably works best with people who DO NOT have gift giving as their love language. I think people who do have gift giving as their love language really enjoying deciding on a gift and picking it out and would not be happy about being told to just contribute to piano lessons. For example, my mom is more than happy being told what to get and having it made “easy” for her, while my SIL loves to pick out gifts and hand make something and put a lot of effort into it.

    Also, money has been pretty tight for us the last several years, so I’ve been incredibely grateful for the gifts others give my kids, because we haven’t been able to afford to get them much ourselves. I hate clutter and totlaly understand, but I’ve just been incredibely thankful that they have people in their lives that love them and want to give them gifts.

  11. Joan @ Everything is Yours

    Loved your post! I especially enjoyed the weather comment, I live in North Dakota, and it’s been miserably cold here!

    Random side note, but I had an issue uploading my first link (#46-when I clicked the pic it said link did not exist), so feel free to delete it. I was not able to figure out how to delete it before testing it out 🙁

  12. TheresaEH

    Dearest Jen, writing to you from the land of minus 30 degrees Celsius eh ;p I so understand why my dear Auntie used to visit her sisters in California promptly the day after Canadian thanksgiving in October and did not return to Canada until Easter…….eh;p

  13. Wendy from Zoom

    Just a thought with the gift opening: we open a gift or two each day from Christmas through Epiphany. The kids get to really play with each gift and really enjoy it! With six kids who love to give each other presents, it makes a mountain of presents manageable, and keeps the focus on giving and gratitude.

    Also: THANK YOU for the temperature adjustment algorithm! That makes sense of my world! I have a friend from Louisiana who was up in Maryland for a few years after Katrina, and he stated that hot chocolate was the only thing that *almost* made “winter” worthwhile. Hope you warm up soon!

    • MemeGRL

      Wendy, me too–I was an only child and first grandchild on one side and only girl grandchild (and only girl baby in 2 generations) on the other. My parents went to the “12 days of Christmas” model early and I loved it. Highly recommend!

  14. Marie

    Can you spread the gifts out throughout the 12 Days of Christmas? So presents from people visiting from out of town (if you have anyone left out of town) when they are there. A day for these grandparents, a day for those grandparents, a day for your presents? Or would that just make things worse?
    I have a friend with no nearby relatives so Christmas Day is presents from the immediate family and each day of the Christmas season the kids can pick 1 present that came in the mail.
    We normally travel for Christmas so presents naturally get spread out as we get together with different relatives. And we have our Christmas after we get back.

  15. mary@letlovebesincere

    Thank you for your ‘take’ on receiving gifts. It’s so hard. I have three boys, 2.5 and under…the thing is, we just REALLY don’t need a darn thing more. BUT, it’s not really about that, it’s about allowing people to love on my kids if the way they do that is through gifts. I, during this Christmas season will try to remember that and approach each gift with a grateful heart. Try.

  16. Lorelei

    I grew up in the Frozen Tundra of NE Wisconsin. You do need to adjust to the cold over a period of time. 40F feels chilly at the beginning of winter; but by March/April 40F is no jacket weather. It weird. My dad says your blood has to thicken up to deal with the cold….I think this has been looked into and disproved by science; but it certainly feels like it’s true!

  17. Sarah O @ Two Os Plus More

    #4 – We’ve been throwing around the idea of moving gifts to spread a further span. Our Christmas gifting is already pretty simple (stockings and one group present), but I do love the idea of having a focussed and simple Christmas day. My kids are still young enough I don’t know if they’d know better… kudos to yours for being so open!

  18. Maggie

    I know you didn’t ask and it’s a vanity type comment but I like your
    hair shorter-forgive me, but why else would you post pictures when you
    could just tell us you were at that benefit?-red arrow away. And you
    should probably delete this after reading it and saying under your
    breath-‘who asked you?’. I enjoy your blog anyway.

    • Sam

      Well, yeah. Who did ask you? I really don’t understand why people like you feel inclined to leave mean comments like this. Does it make you happy to hurt people? Because, just in case you’ve been lying to yourself, comments like these DO hurt. And in Advent, no less! I just…I can’t for the life of me figure out why you’d say something like this.

      For the record, I love the photos, Jen! Keep ’em coming, please!

  19. Amanda

    I just have to say that in western North Dakota this morning (at 8:15 am local time) it is currently -19 F with a wind chill/real feel of -43. Now THAT is COLD!!! And my kids are at school. No recess, of course, but we bundled up just to drive there! Enjoy your 25 as I’d even take your adjusted temperature of -5 right now! 🙂

  20. DanC

    I saw you at the John Paul II Life Center benefit last might! I love seeing internet celebrities in real life. I did not know any of the people they had speaking, but I mentioned to a friend that the surprise of the night was seeing Jennifer Fulwiler!

  21. Mary

    I love scrumptious baby picture in #2! adorable!

    I agree with the needed complicated math equations for people to understand the harsh weather conditions in Texas.

    Keep warm!

  22. Nina in WI

    What cold? Thermal undershirt 24/7 and fleece scarves until May in Wisconsin. My sister wears fleece-lined jeans (yuck, I’d suffocate) and she lives in Virginia. But she’s skinny.

    • Caroline M.

      I’d never heard of fleece-lined jeans, and I now I won’t rest until I own some. That sounds like the best thing ever.

  23. Beth P.

    Adding my thanks for your perspective on receiving gifts. We’re in a similar situation — five kids squeezed into a barely-three-bedroom house, and Giant Plastic Toys are the bane of my existence. But you make a great point — people are not buying those kinds of gifts to make our lives more difficult, or because they don’t know how to show love outside of material things. They just love our children and enjoy giving them gifts. It’s not really in the spirit of Christmas for me to get all judgey about it, even though it might require some household shifting.

    Sort of along those lines, I wanted to share something a brilliant mom friend of mine does to help her kids receive gifts graciously. She first reminds them that no matter what the gift is, it’s important to remember that the gift-giver chose it because they thought you would like it; even if you don’t like it, you can show appreciation, and that’s a way of showing love to that person. Then she has them “practice” giving and getting gifts. She gives each child a little bag or box, and tells them to pretend they’re giving a gift to a parent or sibling. Then they put anything they want in the bag, no matter how silly — a building block, a magazine from the recycling bin, a dirty sock, puzzle pieces from under the couch, whatever. Then everyone exchanges “gifts” and practices being excited and grateful. Our kids always find this hilarious, and it really has helped them be more gracious at birthdays and Christmas, even at a young age. (Thankfully, the exaggerated gratitude they show during the game is toned down to bearable levels in real life.) I also love that the game requires zero preparation.

    Just wanted to share that because it’s been helpful for us. 🙂 Thanks for your always-timely posts!

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      I love this idea! Thanks for sharing!

  24. Amanda

    Only tangentially related to this particular post but I had a nightmare last night and I thought of you (I promise it makes sense and is not insulting!). We’ve recently moved to Houston area and while I haven’t seen a scorpion as of yet it’s clearly been on my mind. I dreamed last night that I was surrounded by scorpions, of all shapes and sizes. They even had names (frightening, incomprehensible names) and some of them were deadly. I was terrified and didn’t know what to do. At that moment in reality my baby daughter poked me with one of her fingernails and I woke up, sat bolt upright in bed yelling sure that a scorpion had stung me and looking around frantically to kill it and get it away from the baby. My poor husband woke up and sleepily tried to reassure me while trying to understand why I was babbling about scorpions in the bed. *shudder*

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Oh my gosh. That is hilarious – and I can say that because it is soooo something that would happen to me.

  25. Kelley

    Of course you are cold! Didn’t you know that redheads are more sensitive to thermal pain?! It’s real science!


    You also tend to need more anesthesia than those with non-red hair. I discovered this a few days ago while trying to figure out how all six of my kids could have different hair colors. Now I guess we have to quit telling the redhead to suck it up every time she complains about being too hot or too cold.

  26. Sheila

    Greetings from the NC tundra. I’m from Mass. originally but I’ve lived here so long that I find myself wrapping up even in August.

    Growing up, our family tradition spread gift giving over several weeks. Each family member selected a single gift to open on the feasst of St. Nicholas, Christmas eve and Epiphany. The remainder of the gifts were opened on Christmas day. It certainly helped us to experience this time of year in a more spiritual and loving way because we weren’t focused so much on a single day of receiving gifts. I hope y’all will enjoy giving it a try someday soon.

  27. Jen

    Greetings from sunny Alberta! It is currently -38C with the windchill (I’m not sure what that converts to in Fahrenheit). Last night I was scraping ice off of the inside of the windshield of my van. We comfort ourselves with the thought that the cold kills off all of the bugs (no scorpions!).
    Have a great week!

  28. Carolyn Svellinger

    Madrid! The Fellowship of the Unashamed! I am excited to read more at nap time. It encapsulates a subject my husband and I have discussed since we were preparing to get married. I recently looked at him and said, “You know we are going to look REALLY weird to everyone else, right” when talking about living out our Catholic faith and raising our children that way. He said, “I’m sure we already do.” Happy St. Nicholas day to you and yours!

  29. Laura

    I need to work on graciously receiving gifts too. Mary is an only grandchild so far, as well as an only greatgrandchild, so we get more than a little inundated with presents. She’s one kid! She can only play with so many toys! We are living in temporary corporate housing with most of our belongings in storage! But you’re right, Christmas is about giving, and I need to learn to let go and GIVE loved ones the chance to shower her with gifts. It can be my present to them.

    We do our little family Christmas on Epiphany. We travel to GA for Christmas Eve/ Day, so it makes sense to do our Christmas when we’re back in our home. Last year, Mary wrote our 10-month-old child a letter from Santa explaining the complicated logistics of how Santa would visit on St. Nick’s at our place, GA on Christmas, and our place again on Epiphany.

  30. Lynne

    As a native Texan through college, with 15 years of Colorado living experience and another 8 in Minnesota, I can appreciate variations of weather. But Minnesota is really ridiculous. Today I made my weekly half-hour shopping trek before the sun rose. To my surprise and horror (I don’t have phone apps) I saw my rear-view mirror registered the temp as -4. It was only after I scurried to load the groceries in the car and felt my exposed facial cartilage go numb that I discovered that the wind chill was -20. And then–YEA!–the radio went from weather to talk and guess who was beaming into my frigid Morning Air??? Yippee–even here in this frozen wasteland there are unexpected joys! And truth be told, Minnesota doesn’t have any poisonous spiders or snakes. Maybe there are small benefits.

  31. Emily B

    Yes, Yes, Yes! to gifts on Epiphany
    My youngest is 16 so it is too late for me but I wish I had done this when they were younger. A friend of mine who has 7 kids has always done it this way and she says that besides being less stressful on Christmas day you can get some good bargains in the after Christmas sales. She doesn’t bother shopping until after Christmas because she waits to see what the kids get on Christmas day.

  32. Caroline M.

    Or you would do C) Never leave the house. Given the rest of your post, this sounds like a viable option.

  33. Melody

    Regarding the weather: I live in Northeast Ohio and the gloom has descended. I will not be warm again until June. It was below 20 degrees F last week and half the people in line at the store were not wearing coats. We have become numb to it. Like cold little drones.

    Regarding #4: That is really a beautiful idea. We have never done Santa and that helps curb the insanity. We also limit to 3 gifts plus a stocking and that helps. The grandparents have also been talked down out of their buying frenzy (our perpetually growing family helped them sober up a bit). But it still piles up and we’re always trying to find ways to separate the stuff from the main point. Perhaps your idea, that of literally making the separation, would be helpful.

    Regarding #7: Awesome. Thank you for sharing that.

  34. Emily Davis

    We have the same problem with clutter/giving… here are my solutions:

    1) every year, my child must give some of his toys to Charity. We only have a certain amount of space. 2) for his birthday (which is exactly two months before Christmas Eve) we ask friends to bring canned/dry goods and take them to a local food bank. Family typically sends him cash (because we live far away) so we put at least half in the bank and he spends the other half on something super important like a wii game or lego. Sigh. So we give a green light at Christmas. With his friends, we get together and ice cookies and they do a gift exchange.

    I like the idea of gifts on Christ’s Birthday. That is why we don’t switch to the Epiphany, but lots of people do.

    Great picture. And great comment… ha!
    You get some good ones.

  35. Juliana

    And for those of us who live in Swampland and get both ends of the temperature spectrum, we get to subtract and add with impunity! Yay for Temperature Adjusted Weather!

  36. Christina

    Thanks for mentioning the pleasure others get from shopping for little kids. I have been slightly bothered by the amount of stuff my kids get for Christmas and birthdays. I often wished we could get memberships to theme parks or children’s museum. Thanks for pointing out another viewpoint :). Also, we always save some gifts for the Epiphany. We just don’t put these gifts under the tree until Epiphany morning. This works very well for us 🙂

  37. Leslie

    Two years ago, on Christmas morning, we opened our family gifts around the Christmas tree, happy joy, the kids got down to business playing with their new toys. Then I announced it was time to go to Grandma’s, and oh, the wailing and gnashing of teeth! I decided right then, not worth it. We now do stockings Christmas morning, and our own family gifts on Epiphany, with gifts from everyone else coming somewhere in between. It really helps Christmas last longer, plus they seem to enjoy each of their gifts more when they only get a few at a time. With local grandparents, not-as-local grandparents, our own family, plus a birthday thrown in there, they have presents to open just about every day!

  38. Rakhi @ The Pitter Patter Diaries

    First, you make me giggle every single time, and generally during naptime. It’s quite a conundrum. I’m learning to laugh on the inside.

    I really appreciated your reflection on being generous receivers of gifts. I definitely struggle with this, especially with two grandmas whose love language is gift giving. We are usually drowning, and I’m usually the one grumbling about how much “crap” we have to find room for instead of thinking of how blessed we are to be drowning in love. Thank you – you may have saved my Christmas. 🙂

    We are still in the midst of figuring out our family traditions, but have also talked about opening the bulk of our nuclear family gifts on Epiphany since we have so many other gatherings over Christmas Eve and Christmas. I’ve also tossed the idea out of after our gift exchange, spending some part of that day going through our things to gather up a few bags of toys and clothes to give away. As the wise men brought their gifts to Jesus, we can share our blessings with Christ among us disguised as the “least of these.” Ain’t nothin’ been settled yet, though. 🙂

    Finally, that poem is amazing. He will be here next month, but I think the Hubs will be flying solo for that one…

  39. Suzanne

    I absolutely ADORE that poem. I wish someone would artistically sell a poster (framed) on etsy. I would buy in a flash!

  40. Katherine

    I was in the middle of season 5 too!!! And then it was just gone! Fortunately it was right around my birthday and my mom bought me the full set of DVDs, so I haven’t been in hell, but I share the frustration at Netflix.

  41. Jennifer @ Little Silly Goose

    I can appreciate your thoughts on the weather. I live on the west coast, and we’re whining today because the high isn’t going to get above 60 today. I’ve been to Chicago in the winter, so I know this isn’t real cold, but apparently it’s more than we can handle.

    I think I probably need to practice more generous receiving too because we live in a condo and more stuff is really the last thing we need. I also want my kids to be able to appreciate gifts. You make a good point though, so maybe I need to loosen up a little.

    #7- So beautiful! Maybe someday that will be true about me– it reminds me how far I still have to go.

    P.S. Is this post appearing in anyone else’s Feedly? It’s not appearing in mine yet.

  42. Francine

    I knew I should have commented this morning… there would have been so much less scrolling! I’ve never heard of gifts on the Epiphany, but it’s a cool idea. Plus, since your kids are homeschooled, they won’t have to hear all of their classmates bragging about their gifts a week before your kids open theirs. 🙂

    Oh, and the Murder, She Wrote comment? The best thing I’ve read all day… maybe all week. (no offense, bloggers, but you understand)

  43. Kelly M.

    Needed to hear number 5! My oldest is almost two and I’ve already been having panic attacks about what this Christmas will bring into our house. And not to mention that I don’t want her little life already swamped with stuff. But I KNOW how excited everyone is to give her a gift – and I can’t ruin that fun! thanks!

  44. Hope

    Hubby had to use a blow torch on the vehicles this morning to thaw them out enough to drive them. It was -46C with the windchill factored in.

    We have just become grandparents for the first time so we are mulling over what we want to do for gifts and what precedent we want to set. It’s good to read your thoughts from the other end of the spectrum.

  45. RMB

    Going off the Epiphany idea. When I was younger, my best friend’s family used to do gift giving like this… 2 presents on Christmas Eve, 1 on Christmas Day and then 1 each day after that until the presents ran out/during the 12 days of Christmas. This might be a little more work for Mom and Dad to try to “equalize” things. Not sure how they managed all that, but I know that everyone was always excited for a new gift each day!

  46. Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

    I have always enjoyed the colder weather but when it gets into the negative degrees its too cold even for me.

  47. Nod

    Hey Jen,

    Having read of your great love for all things creepy crawly, I thought you might like to know that Durango, Mexico is called the Land of Scorpions!

    You’re welcome! 😉


  48. Audrey

    In my family, we open presents from each other on Christmas Eve/Day, and then gradually open the rest from aunts/uncles/grandparents between then and Epiphany. One time a neighbor came over a few days after Christmas, and in tears my sister told her that we wouldn’t let her open her presents. But I think that most of us will try the same with our families someday.

  49. Kaitlin @ More Like Mary

    We only have two under two here, but we’re planning on trying gifts on Epiphany. We have to travel to be with family over Christmas so it just seems right to wait until that whirlwind is over and do our own family thing. And the good part, if we don’t like they’re too young to remember anyway!

  50. Smoochagator

    First of all – OH MY GOODNESS how cute is baby Joe with his little tummy hanging out and the weather forecast hovering to his right? REALLY REALLY CUTE, that’s how cute he is. Secondly, I love your idea of being a good gift receiver. I have a hard time with that, too, and I’m going to make a concerted effort to receive gifts graciously and GRATEFULLY this year 😀

  51. Chantal

    Just learned Texas had a little of a cold snap. We are going through -35 C for the past week. (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)

    When the snow and the cold finally hit this year, I just kept saying, “The cold and the snow kills giant centipedes and scorpions that can crawl into your bed at night and sting you.” I prefer the cold. Honestly..

    Despite the cold, if you dress well, you can actually sweat after walking a few blocks. Today, I was actually sweating and it is -20 C or so. I look like a mummy, but I was warm. My hands were red because they were hot not cold.

    I did notice that “fake materials” don’t keep as warm. I have a wool scarf, mitts and socks. I double up on everything. Thinner socks and then thick wool socks and boots.

    Hot Chocolate, tea, movies and blankets are a great way to hibernate in the house.

  52. Margie

    Thank you for posting about #5, it is exactly what I needed to read. Really, thank you 🙂

  53. Valerie

    Thank you so much for talking about being generous while receiving gifts. Our kids were spoiled by just about everyone this year. I constantly kept thinking of your words and told myself that there is nothing wrong with neighbors and grandparents wanting to buy presents for the little ones. We’ll find room for it all.

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