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12 Days of Christmas (2017) – Day 7

10th Annual #12DaysofChristmas Giveaways (2017) at karenehman.com.


One of you WHO COMMENTS ON ALL TWELVE POSTS AND ALSO SHARES ABOUT THE SERIES ON SOCIAL MEDIA will win a grand prize from me, pictured here.

10th Annual #12DaysofChristmas Giveaways (2017) at karenehman.com.

REMEMBER…in order to win the grand prize, you must leave a comment on all 12 posts. You can start with Day One HERE.

OK, let’s get started with our seventh day’s guest, Heidi St. John!


A {simple} Christmas to Remember

Sometimes, creating Christmas memories isn’t very much fun.

Is it okay that I said that? Can I say that out loud? My friend jokingly refers to this season as the “hollerdays” but I think we all know there’s an element her cute description. Late nights of wrapping presents we couldn’t really afford and a strained bank account dot the landscape of my early years of marriage and mothering.

This year, I’ll celebrate 29 Christmases with my husband. It helps to put things into perspective. As the mother of seven and grandmother of two, I have a few Christmases to look back on. Growing up in the 80’s, Christmas was all about the gifts—but the funny thing is, I can only remember a few of the gifts that I received. Most of my favorite memories center around people: that time my grandpa took us out to see the lights and grandma put her special hot chocolate in “cold” Dixie cups so they melted all over the car… yes, most of my favorite memories are more “Griswold” than “Norman Rockwell…” and I’m glad.

I want something more for my precious family than a mad dash to open presents. My prayer for our family is that we look back on Christmas with a sense of grateful remembrance. I’ve lost both sets of grandparents to the arms of Jesus now—but the smell of hot Ovaltine and the sound of Carol of the Bells playing reminds me that I too am just here for a little while.

About twenty years ago, when I began to notice my grandparents beginning to decline, I decided to do something that would help my children remember how precious our time with loved ones is. I had a simple idea: to use letter-sized cardstock for placemats.

Each placemat had the name of a guest at our table. I carefully wrote one name on each placemat, and our five kids got in on the action by lightly decorating each placemat with small cutout stars, snowflakes of leaves, depending on the celebration.

After dinner, I put pens on the table and we passed the placemats to our right until every person had written a note to the owner of each placemat.

This season, if you come to my house, you will see our placemats from years ago displayed for everyone to see. Messages from my grandparents come to life—a note from my father-in-law reminds us of the wonderful legacy he left us, and the handwriting of a six-year old who is now a mother herself reminds us of how quickly time goes by.

People will always have priority over possessions in God’s economy. This Christmas, if you feel the financial “pinch” or you’re searching for a little more meaning to add to the celebration of the birth of Jesus, look at the faces of those who will gather around your table.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

Merry Christmas, friends.

Day Seven Giveaway

For the 12 Days of Christmas series, I am giving away my book, Becoming Mom Strong and the necklace pictured below!

10th Annual #12DaysofChristmas Giveaways (2017) at karenehman.com.

Heidi St. John has been married to her husband Jay since 1989. Together they have seven children and two grandsons! The St. John’s children range in age from early elementary school to adult. They have homeschooled the kids all the way through high school.
A favorite speaker and author, Heidi approaches marriage and parenting with humor and grace. Her passion to encourage moms and set them free to be who God has created them to be will bless and encourage you. Heidi is the author of six books. Her most recent book, Becoming MomStrong: How to Fight With All That’s In You For Your Family and Your Faith, released in the fall of 2017 along with a companion Bible Study and Journal.  In January 2018 Heidi and Jay are launching MomStrong International, a real life and online community of women learning to fight for their family and their faith together. 


12 Days of Christmas Giveaways Rules

  1. You can comment on all 12 days (once per person) up until midnight Pacific time, Sunday, December 17. All posts are linked on Day One here.
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  3. One daily winner will be chosen from each day’s comments and all winners (including Grand Prize) will be announced on Wednesday, December 20.
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  1. Since we live in a different state as all of our family, this year is the first time we had sent out Christmas Cards to remind them all we love them!

  2. placemat idea is really neat.. It is easy to have a pity party being a grandmother far away from her children……but I keep them in my heart praying for them to grow to be what God has created them for….thanks for the placemat idea

  3. Day 7 for me: I tell my children I’m not going to be around forever. I already have one bad kidney, and the other one gives me problems. I don’t know if they’re in denial, but some of them just go about their days without calling to see how I’m doing. I tried raising these children to love people and not to chase after money, but sometimes other people have more influence over their lives. All I can do is pray, and leave it to my Father in heaven that He’ll move in their lives before their grandparents and I are gone. Even if we’re gone, I pray now that God continues to work in all of their lives.

  4. The place mats are a great idea! My mom passed away just a few months ago ~ what a gift it would be to have a place mat she had written on!

  5. For the past few Christmases, the only gift that I want is time with my family. I now know why it made my mom so happy for the family to be home for the holidays.

  6. Heidi – Thanks for the wonderful placemat idea. It’s extra special to read notes from loved ones, especially the first year that we are without them here on Earth. I’m thankful for the promise that I will see them again some day. My sweet mother-in-law, Kay, went into Jesus’ arms earlier this year. I cherish the handwritten Scripture verse she gave me when I first met her. I use it as a bookmark in my Bible. “People will always have priority over possessions in God’s economy” is a wonderful reminder to keep in the forefront of this Christmas season.

  7. I love this idea, my Grandchildren range in age from 22yrs -8yrs time does go by to fast! I think we will try this!
    May God bless you and your family this Christmas season.

  8. Love the great ideas. The written memories from grandparents are so special. There are so many things I would do differently today with my children growing up if I had a chance to do things over.

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