I didn’t blog last week, in case you didn’t notice.  I wish I could say it was because we were just so darn busy with, you know, the normal stuff—forming cheese balls in the shape of fat little turkeys, feeding the hungry at a local shelter, chopping down our own Christmas tree whilst wearing pricey L.L. Bean snow boots and stylish outerwear—but we weren’t.

Instead, I got the call to pick up Edy early on Monday of last week. She sat there waiting for me in the school office all sad-eyed and sickly. She still wore her white paper pilgrim’s bonnet and matching paper vest that she had made for her classes’ much-anticipated Thanksgiving lunch with the Indians from down the hall.

Her teacher has sent her to the nurse’s office mid-meal, and she was disappointed. So was I.

There went the week.

The fever took the kids down one by one, and there I went as well. Not sick, but certainly not feeling thankful.

And so began the holidays at the Hall house.


In the spirit of family traditions, I had collected some sticks one blustery day in early November and arranged them in a jar on our table for our annual Thankfulness tree.


Pretend you didn’t notice that I used this same picture last year.

I then mandated that we would each write one thing we were thankful for on a leaf every day so that by the time Thanksgiving drew near, we would be so darn grateful it would practically be oozing from us.  There go those Halls, people would say. What thankful people they are!


At some point, in an extreme bout of cleverness, I added the stipulation that those finding themselves with ungrateful attitudes in our house would have to add an extra leaf—just as a reminder of how good they had it.

Not only did that brilliant plan basically equate practicing being thankful with a form of punishment, but it also meant that by the time I dismantled that stupid tree last weekend I had several of my own extra leaves dangling from it.


I failed. Epically.


Naturally I was disappointed in myself. If ever there was a time to be thankful, this week was it. I’ve missed my chance! We’re all ruined! Ruined, I tell you!

But then there was Twitter to save the day. (And that is the first time those words have ever been spoken, by the way.) But I praise you, Whoever-You-Are in Social Media Land. When you quipped that gratitude was less about a list of things you’re thankful for and more about a way of looking at life, you gave me hope. Redemption was at hand.


Decorating with three small children. Realistically.

Decorating with small children. Realistically.

Hattie has asked everyday for the last week if tomorrow was Christmas. All the holiday talk and decorating is confusing apparently. But instead of being disappointed when I say no, it almost seems to please her.  There’s still more! It isn’t over yet! We can still celebrate! 

But it’s never over, is it? If we are followers of Christ, our season of celebration continues on. Even if we failed this year. Even if our “list” was pathetic (or nonexistent.) Even if our Christmas spirit is lacking. Nothing has changed about the good news of Jesus. All the intentional moments of gratitude, all the joyful expectation at his coming, all the sweet, sentimental feelings about his birth do not have to wait until the turkey is served, nor do they conclude when the lasts gifts are unwrapped.  We celebrate this season not just because Jesus came once as a baby, but because he is coming back again. For us. For a grand party. Forever!

This is hope, friends! 

Sick kids or no, Thankfulness Tree failure or not, list or no list, if my mind is centered on Christ, Praise God, I can have hope and gratitude and a season of joy that has absolutely nothing to do with the calendar. 

And even Cranky Hannah can be thankful for that.


So in the spirit of looking forward to the days ahead, let’s do a giveaway!

And how about double goodies this month, eh? My book, God Bless Our Christmas, plus one of my new most favorite things in the whole, wide, merry world. Read on, dear ones! 

One Loom is a new business with a mission. Started by my sweet friend, Angela, One Loom employs single mothers and artisans in Guatemala with a sustainable and life-changing income. These women weave beautiful fabrics through traditional methods and Super-Talented Angela and her super-talented team turn them into stylish, lovely and super-useful works of art. Like this key chain, which has forever changed my life. Super.

Dig around in a crammed-full diaper bag looking for your car keys just once, and you'll understand why I love this key chain so much.

Dig around in an overflowing diaper bag looking for your car keys with a child crying in the background just once, and you’ll understand why I love this key chain so much.

So do yourself a favor and check out One Loom’s website. (And I have one of those cute headbands on my Christmas list, in case you’re wondering.)

To enter to win, comment below or on Facebook with your favorite Christmas movie. (I will not tell you the correct answer, but I’ll think extra fond thoughts about you if you guess my favorite.)

You can also double or triple your chances at winning if you subscribe to my blog to receive e-mail updates and/or share this on Facebook. (Be sure to tell me in a comment if you’ve shared the link, just in case Facebook doesn’t.)

Ready? Go!