A Merry Christmas

Our holiday began at Tsunami (a tradition for the last few years) with our family (all except the Bridegans, of course…missed them!) for an early dinner on Christmas Eve.

 

Then Sterling and I loaded up and headed to the cabin. The snow started to lightly fall on our way and continued during the night, so we woke up to a white Christmas. It was a quiet and relaxing morning…just Sterling and I, opening each other’s gifts and pondering on and visiting about the gifts we wanted to give to Jesus this coming year.

 

Later in the day, each of the families arrived in their pajamas or sweats in time to help fix a yummy Christmas dinner. Notice the handsome clean up crew…and without being asked or encouraged!

It was a wonderful day enjoyed with family. The only thing that would have made the day better is if the Bridegans were with us. We try to not dwell on the occasional moments of sadness when they can’t join us, and instead focus on our gratitude for Liam’s health, but they still come. I slipped away to have one of those moments when I read Shanna’s text on Christmas morning, “I had a moment to cry, thinking about all of you getting together to cook and visit and enjoying the day and long dinner and evening of chatting together.” Of course we FaceTimed and Shanna sent photos...so grateful for technology!

 

The morning after Christmas was special as we had a family meeting (including Shanna and Jared over Skype and all the grandchildren) to discuss our philanthropic plans. Up until now, we’ve only involved the adults in the decisions we’ve made, but moving forward, each family will take an active part in our planning. It was rewarding to hear the questions from the teenagers and to feel the energy from everyone, knowing that how we serve and what we give will be more meaningful to all of us.

The rest of our time at the cabin consisted of cousins playing happily, sledding and playing in the snow, table tennis tournaments, reading and napping, scrapbooking and crafting, movies and popcorn, and lots of chatting…a very merry and relaxing Christmas holiday indeed!

 

I hope your holiday has been and will continue to be filled with the sweet and enduring spirit of Christmas.

Another Fun Christmas Party

We've been gathering for Grandma Pat's Christmas party for so many years I can't remember when the tradition started. It used to be on a Saturday afternoon, but once the Kanab facility was complete, we started gathering Friday night through Sunday mid-day. It's a fun party we all look forward to every year! While everyone in the family can't always make the party, 72 people attended this year's. 

As usual, the kids ran around and played together, and it was warm enough they could play outside; Mom Pat planned the craft, which was the 25 Days advent boxes found in the Stampin' Up! Holiday Catalog; and the Christmas program included Christmas video clips that focused on Christ's birth, the traditional songs, a talent show featuring adorable little ones, and the family slide show...a year in review of sorts. 

What made this year's party different than others? Grandpa Christmas (Grandpa Paul) announced to the children his potential retirement, Vonna was so sick with the flu that we didn't see her until Sunday morning at church, and people seemed to hang around and visit more than usual.

I think everyone agrees that it's a wonderful time of year, especially when you get to spend it with so many people you love!



 

Thanks, Thanks, and Thanks

Sterling and I, along with a few other members of the corporate team, drove to Kanab early this morning to spend a couple of relaxing hours with our Kanab coworkers. We gathered first to thank everyone for their hard work, long hours, and patience as we navigate through the challenges of a changing business.

We then had the pleasure of recognizing and thanking five employees who celebrated their 10-year anniversary with Stampin' Up!, one who has been with the company for 15 years, and one woman who celebrated her 20-year anniversary...an incredibly positive example for all who know her!

And finally, we offered thanks for the food everyone brought, and enjoyed a yummy potluck lunch and visiting. The group here is smaller than in Riverton, so it's easier to come together for a luncheon...a tradition that started many years ago and one I look forward to every year!

Recognition and Treats

 I love days like today when we have the chance to recognize people for their hard work, commitment, and dedication to Stampin' Up! We gathered together this afternoon to visit with friends and coworkers, enjoy holiday treats, and to give some well-deserved accolades.

We recognized fourteen employees in Riverton, one in Europe, and one in China who celebrated their 5-year anniversary, fourteen who celebrated their 10-year anniversary, and eight people who celebrated 15-years with the company this year. We also honored one woman who has been with us for 20 years...pretty incredible! (We'll be celebrating in Kanab tomorrow.) Of course my favorite part of our annual celebrations is the opportunity I have to give my personal thanks and hugs to some terrific people!

It was also a treat to thank all the employees who spent time during their lunch breaks to tie quilts for the Road Home, a local homeless shelter. We've been working on these quilts for months, and a few departments even had their weekly meetings around the quilting frames. The 52 twin-size quilts will be delivered tomorrow, thanks to the efforts of many people. It was a nice way to serve during the holidays.

As often as I try, I don't think I'll ever be able to adequately express how grateful I am to work with such wonderful people, and my holidays are brighter because of them!

 

Hello December

Every year, just days before Christmas, I'm usually still struggling to come up with a meaningful gift for my parents. Well, this year was no exception, but I'm excited to report that I've finally come up with the perfect gift...a festive and nearly finished Hello December album!

We always take dozens of photos at our annual family Christmas party, and this year's photos will have a home practically the minute they're printed. I know it seems a little backwards (filling the page protectors with cards before the photos are added), but in a week or two, I'll send the printed photos to my parents, and all they'll have to do is slide the photos in where they wish. Of course I'll give them a couple of extra page protectors in case they want to add other holiday photos to their album, and they can journal as much or as little as they like.

Project Life by Stampin' Up! products make it so easy! I can be as creative as I want (and have time for), and I know this gift will be fun for me to make and appreciated by those who receive it. I don't want to sound like a commercial, but if you're looking for the perfect gift for just about anyone, this is it! It's so perfect that your someone special will love receiving it...even if it is after the holidays!

And yes, I'm making one for myself! You should too!

Sara TODAY

We're thrilled to be able to take part in the TODAY Show’s annual Holiday Toy Drive this year. Sara was in New York City to represent Stampin' Up!, and Sean and Sidney tagged along to support her.


 
I am so proud of Sara! Every time she does a TV spot I feel the butterflies for her; I know how tough it is to be on national television, and she did a great job!
 


And as Sara said on the show, this year was pretty special for us—Stampin’ Up! donated an all-time high of 2.8 million dollars worth of stamps and papercrafting supplies to this wonderful cause! Check out the video clip here.

A Sweet Angel and an Adorable Elf

Among all the holiday parties and gatherings of the season, I enjoy our grandkids’ performances most, and yesterday I had the opportunity to attend two in one morning...one right after the other.

Phoebe was a sweetly singing angel in her kindergarten Christmas devotional. The music was mostly sacred hymns, and the focus was on the gifts we can give Jesus. Phoebe had a small speaking part, played the xylophone, and took her role very seriously as she and the other students helped fill the room and my heart with the Christmas spirit.

Makai was an adorable little elf in his preschool Christmas program.  The stage was crowded with brightly dressed and energetic elves, and their music was as lively as they were. Several of Makai’s cousins have attended the same preschool, so I’ve seen the program more than once, but I loved watching him sing with his big smile and hand motions to match!

This is one of the reasons I’m grateful we live so close to most of our family, and it was a great way to start my day!

 

A New Adventure in Japan

From the moment we arrived on Tuesday until we departed on Saturday, our experience in Japan was absolutely delightful! The friendly and gracious people, the beautiful and clean surroundings, and the healthy and delicious food exceeded our expectations!


Sterling and I, as well as Donna, took our very first trip to Japan this week for two gatherings with our new demonstrators there. After arriving late and a good night's sleep, we were greeted by Yukiko, our business development manager, who walked with us to the office from the hotel. It was a beautiful day, and we were thrilled to spend it with our coworkers in the Ginza office preparing for the two events on Thursday and Friday.


Although the events were only a few hours long, they were both magical as we witnessed chatting, swapping, and stamping among demonstrators who have just begun their Stampin' Up! adventure in Japan, which opened for business a couple of months ago. We're now in ten countries! I loved meeting and visiting with our demonstrators there and felt such immense gratitude and tender emotion for the opportunity to be part of a company that makes a difference in the lives of people around the world.


Once the events were over and everything was packed away, we celebrated together at a cozy Italian restaurant (totally not what we expected in Japan, but yummy like all the other food we ate!).

It only rained one evening. The rest of the time was clear and sunny, allowing us to marvel at the never-ending skyline, walk the busy and safe streets of Ginza, and enjoy a stroll through the Hama-rikyu Gardens (just across from our hotel) the morning before we flew home...the perfect way to end our stay!


We're excited for the opportunity to return to Japan, and next time we'll plan to sightsee for a couple of extra days too!

Big News

Back in July, I told you I would share the projects for my monthly events through May of 2015. I even shared with those who attended convention the themes for each month. My plan for my December events was to focus on weddings and babies...new beginnings for the new year. It made sense back then, but now that I'm living December, it's not making so much sense!
 
I want to share my projects with you anyway, and you can save them for any month, because weddings and babies happen all year, right?
 
The set I chose is Big News...a great set for lots of occasions!
                                                                          
 
I'll probably choose this card for my Make & Take because of its easy and fun techniques, and everyone can use a birthday card! 
 
And here are some samples using images from the set, focusing on weddings, babies, and more.                                           
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

The Christmas Season

Today marks the beginning of the Christmas season for me. You know I listen to Christmas music throughout the year (when I’m alone), but now it’s publically acceptable to listen to it all month long…love it! I enjoy everything about this time of year from the holiday music, to the smells of cinnamon and cloves, to the lights and festive décor. Most of all, I appreciate the focus on our Savior, his gift to us, and the special time spent with family and loved ones.

I put up our holiday décor this weekend. For as many years as I can remember, I’ve gone all out and decorated in several areas of our home with lots and lots of decorations. This year we decided to simplify and only put out our nine nativities, a few angels, and some garland. Everything looks beautiful, but it’s going to take a little getting used to.

I’ve never thought that all my decorating took away from the spirit of Christ, but it will definitely be easier this year to focus on the reason for the season. In fact, when the Browns came for dinner last night, the first thing Phoebe did was comment on a few of the nativities that she’d never noticed before…probably because many of them were amidst the multitude of other décor. For example, in years past, this buffet and mirror would be covered with decorations…so much so that you could hardly see either piece.

This year will be different in the Gardner home. The focus (visually and in our hearts) will truly be on Christ…as it should be. I’d like to share a gift from me to you on this first day of December...

www.mormon.org/christmas

Hopefully it will help you feel the spirit of Christ during this wonderful Christmas season.