by | Dec 20, 2017 | The Writer's Life | 4 comments


by Sonja Stone

“And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,

Stood puzzling and puzzling: ‘How could it be so?

‘It came without ribbons! It came without tags!

‘It came without packages, boxes or bags!’
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas . . . perhaps . . . means a little bit more!'”

Giving and receiving gifts is a joyful way to celebrate love and friendship. As a kid, the gifts were the most important part of my Christmas season. My family moved around a lot, but Santa always found us–even on Guam, where we had no chimney. Every year he dutifully stuffed our stockings and littered presents around the tree. 

Naturally, the older I get, the less important the presents become. This year, I’ve set aside a day for baking, a day for crafting, and a day for reading my favorite (children’s) Christmas stories and binge-watching watching holiday movies. If you need inspiration for lightening up your holiday season, check out my list below. Maybe you’ll start a new tradition with your family!
Get in the spirit with a holiday jingle! Nothing says wintertime like Dean Martin’s Marshmallow World. If you’re looking for something a little less mainstream, check out The Five Strings version of Amazing Grace (featuring Alex Boye´).

It’s perfectly acceptable to spend days in the kitchen during the holiday season–crafting sugary works of art takes time! The gingerbread church shown below (from a Good Housekeeping magazine from the 80s) is lit from the inside with a plug-in candelabra. The stained glass windows–made with crushed and melted jolly ranchers–glow throughout the night.

Gingerbread church with stained-glass windows

We were pretty strict parents, so when my kids were little, my handmade coupon books were always the favorite gift of the season. I made the books with craft paper and ribbon, and hung them on the tree to be opened Christmas morning. Coupons included things like, have waffles for dinner (instead of what I cooked), enjoy popcorn and a movie on the couch, stay up a half-hour past bedtime, get out of one chore, etc. Every year without fail, my daughter would spend her coupons by the end of January; my son was another story. His coupons were cherished all year, spent carefully and only after much deliberation.

I’m not super-crafty (unless the craft is made with sugar), so I keep it simple. A few years ago I bought a book called Fa la la la Felt, by Amanda Carestio and Kathy Sheldon. I’ve had so much fun making little ornaments and tiny stuffed owls–this is truly a great gift for a beginner. The best part is that I can stitch away while rewatching six seasons of Downton Abbey with my son!

My holiday bunny

P.S. I just got myself an early Christmas present–DARK WATERS, by fellow rogue Chris Goff!

What are your favorite holiday activities? Please leave ideas in the comment section below!

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  1. Karna Bodman

    What great Christmas ideas — especially the coupons — so clever!!! Yes, this is a wonderful time for family, gifts, baking, sharing, and music! Thanks for a great post – and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

  2. Gayle Lynds

    Wow, Sonja, you are so creative! I love the coupon books especially. That extra half hour of being able to stay up is a real winner. What I would've given for that! And your gingerbread church is stunning. I always love your blogs. Thank you!

  3. Chris Goff

    Sonja, I'm honored that you're reading DARK WATERS. I hope you find it a worthy Christmas gift. Coupon books were a favorite gift to give as a child and to receive as a parent. It was a time of connection. As a child it allowed me to connect with my parents, giving them things that I know they would love. My dad loved to have his back scratched. My mother loved to have someone else do the dusting. As a parent I was often amazed by how well my children knew exactly what would make me happiest. Great blog post.

  4. Anonymous

    this cake is perfect !