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Cherishing Christmas Traditions: A Reminder of Gratitude and Simplicity

Hey, Friends!! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! We spent time with family eating, watching football, and taking naps! I know it's "Turkey Day," but really, I'm there for all the casseroles and pumpkin pie. What was your favorite dish at Thanksgiving this year?

Anyway, I wanted to hop on and see how you were doing? We are now prepping to create all the Christmas magic. With two girls under 5, the excitement is in the air. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our elf on the shelf, Peppermint. She will make her grand arrival on December 1st! I just love all the traditions that come with Christmas!

This year I am combining two traditions: one is our elf on the shelf, and the second is trains. Trains are so special in our house because every year on Christmas Eve, my grandfather would gather all of us around to tell us "The Train Story."

The story was about when he was a little boy growing up with 11 kids. There was a Christmas when their mom took them into town to let them look in the toy store. They were extremely poor, but all they wanted for Christmas was a toy train. They all knew their mom couldn't afford one, so they didn't think much of it.

As it got closer to Christmas, the children started to search the house trying to find Christmas gifts their mom might have hidden. To their SHOCK, there was a box that had the letters T R A I N written on it!! My grandfather started to shout, "IT'S THE TRAIN!!! MOM GOT US THE TRAIN!!" All the kids SCREAMED in excitement as they couldn't believe that mom had figured out how to buy the train!! How were they going to pretend for the next week that they didn't know?!?

Christmas morning came, and all the kids rushed down the stairs knowing what awaited them. They began to open the gifts; some got socks, others got small wooden cars and new shirts. As they got to the end, they all looked at each other confused – where was the train? they wondered. As their mom left the room, the children sent my grandfather to ask where the train was. When he entered the kitchen, he found his mom looking out the window crying. He whispered, "Mom, where is the train? We saw it behind the piano."

His mom's response was heartbreaking – the train was for the kid down the street; his parents were worried he would find it before Christmas and asked his mom to hold onto it. "I couldn't afford to get you all that train," she explained. My grandfather said it taught him two lessons: one, don't be nosy (haha), and two, learn to be grateful for what you do have.

We always keep a train around at Christmas time to remind us of all we have to be grateful for. I wanted to encourage you today. Don't put so much pressure on yourself to keep up with the Kardashians or go so far into debt this season trying to impress your friends or your kids' friends at school.

You do what is in your means, and I promise your kids won't know the difference. I can think of so many magical Christmases that my parents made happen for us on the smallest budget, and we would say, "WOW, this was the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER," and it turned out to be a $12 Christmas because they were broke.

It's about the love and magic you put into it, not the money you spend. Don't stress yourself out or go broke this season. Love your family and have fun together, and that is what creates memories that last a lifetime! Merry Christmas, friends! Cheers to happy holidays!



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