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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.
  2. U.S. Addresses only please.
  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. Having lost my own mother, I think this is a terrific idea! I’ll need to use it at our famiy gathering. Thanks for sharing it!

  2. Heidi, warm words spoken in truth! I, too, grew up in the 1980’s and remember time spent with loved ones over any gift I ever received. I miss my grandparents greatly, but they live on as things they took care to do with me, I have been able to do with my daughters. I am so thankful for my family and cherish the time I have with them.

    I absolutely LOVE the placemat idea. How special to have those memories in others’ handwriting!

  3. What a great idea to keep the memories of our loved ones. I would really love this gift. I’m a wife and working mom with two kids. I have a 13 year old son and a 5 year old daughter. By the end of the day I’m all stressed and tired. I need to recharge my faith and press on to keep going. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Day 7 Wow!! I love this idea with the placemats! What keepsakes they became!! Yes I too have more Griswold than Norman Rockwell memories but precious memories nonetheless. Thank you for sharing!!

  5. Thank you for the wonderful idea for a holiday tradition. I think I will have to implement this into our holiday celebration this year.

  6. The placemat idea is so sweet! To think that if we put our mind and it is truly important to us one can cherish things that bring back moments in time where love wins!

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